Monday, June 13, 2005

By Other Means 2

By Other Means observed that US casualty figures in Iraq have remained at about the same level as last year and Iraqi government losses have substantially risen. This leads to the near inescapable conclusion that combat against the insurgency has been intensifying. That is almost self-evident. A succession of offensives have been added to the ongoing 'routine' security operations since the Second Battle of Fallujah. The implied question is whether it is enough to merely stay the current strategic course, trusting that current trends will eventually break the enemy, or find new methods which will accelerate victory.

Planners in World War 2 solved the problem of accelerating enemy collapse by destroying the societies on which their war-making potential rested, as an alternative to a protracted battle of attrition. They were totally ruthless in selecting their ends; the problem consisted only of finding the means. In the European Theater of Operations, deep strike strategic bombing was largely ineffective until German cities and petroleum refining capacity was destroyed on a large scale. In the Pacific Theater, the US maritime campaign only began to bite when its submarines began annihilating Japanese merchant shipping, after a futile period of attempting to hunt down the Imperial Combined Fleet. For nearly a year, General Haywood Hansell attempted to reduce Japan by conventional high altitude precision bombing. He was replaced by Curtis Lemay after it became clear that his methods were not yielding results. Lemay embarked on a campaign of attacks on Japanese cities unparalleled in history, killing more people one night in Tokyo than in either of the atomic bombings and repeating the performance night after night.

The chosen method of American deep strike against the 21st century terrorist enemy has been to foster democracy in their home countries. 'Democratization' is fundamentally an attempt to destroy the fabric on which the terrorist war-making potential rests. It is the American weapon of choice in lieu of the Atomic Bomb. But the constant rate of casualties in Iraq is an objective reminder that however successful US attempts have been within the theater, the enemy strategic rear -- especially in Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia -- has been merely damaged -- not destroyed. The question that must be facing American planners is whether we are at a Haywood Hansell-Curtis Lemay moment: whether some qualitatively new approach must be taken to accelerate the process of democratization in the enemy's strategic rear. Michael Ledeen, writing in the National Review, said:

more time has passed since 9/11 than transpired between Pearl Harbor and the surrender of the Japanese empire, and our most lethal enemies are still in power and still killing our people and our friends. It is good that the desire for freedom is now manifest among the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is very good that dramatic strides toward self-government have been taken by the Georgians, Kyrgistanis, Ukrainians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. But it is not good enough. Indeed, it is shameful that we have yet to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the terror masters in Tehran and Damascus, who represent the keystone of the terrorist edifice.

Our enemies know this, because, to their delight and perhaps their surprise as well, they are still in power throughout the Middle East. Until and unless they are removed, the terror war will continue, our friends in the region will be killed, tortured, and incarcerated, and the president’s vision of regional democratic revolution will go down the memory hole.

Ledeen's boilerplate closing 'Faster. Please.' is less a demand for reckless adventure than a warning against stasis. One of the reasons the Cold War lasted so long was that the United States could muster neither the will nor the method to undermine Communism's strategic rear in Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union. It was content, for the most part, to embark on a strategy of containment by challenging its foe on circumscribed battlefields lest things 'escalate', where it typically won, at least in the military sense. The historical Communist response was counterattack on the domestic American political front, a strategy which, until Ronald Reagan, proved largely successful. The deep seated Leftist belief that 'Time is not on America's side" arises from the conviction that that no series of foreign military victories can offset a determined depiction of defeat at home. For it is not only America, but terrorism and before it Communism, which wields the weapon of the 'deep strike'. Its goal is identically to destroy the fabric on which America's war-making potential rests and it succeeded once in Vietnam. The challenge then, is for America to find ways to dramatically speed up the collapse of the despotic systems from which the enemy draws his strength. This is far from impossible. Only a small fraction of America's strength consists of  direct military power and only a small fraction of that military power has been employed against the enemy. By any accounting, the US is still only fighting the War on Terror with its little finger. But it will require creative strategic thinking to mobilize and employ the untapped wellsprings of the nation's strength. US troops in Iraq are doing well. But the nation owes them better than use them to attrit the enemy. Faster. Please.


Blogger desert rat said...

Exactly on point
Take down their infrastructure, if not with bullets then with ballots.

There is no substitue for victory

6/13/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Bellarion said...

Don't leave the Saudi Wahhabists out of the picture. How much pressure has been put on them to cease exporting their vicious culture around the globe.
Why not support the right of Iraqi forces to pursue insurgents back into Syria and Iran?

6/13/2005 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

First the evidence for Iranian and Syrian involvement must be made public,for some reason this has not been done.Whether the intelligence is still hot, there is sufficient plausible deniability or there is not a high enough link to the two regimes but information has not been forthcoming.Perhaps the administration is using the information as a lever.Perhaps it is thought unwise with a still formidable "insurgency" able to function in the rear.
There is no way, without some credible casus belli that public opinion would easily accept a broadening of the war.Sadly the debacle over the intelligence about WMD has mudied the waters.

6/13/2005 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Wretchard says, "The question that must be facing American planners is whether we are at a Haywood Hansell-Curtis Lemay moment: whether some qualitatively new approach must be taken to accelerate the process of democratization in the enemy's strategic rear."

The answer is yes.

But we must frame the war in a larger context. It may require the Lemay Option - but within different context (sure some countries may require the actual Lemay Option - others special operations). It's well known that the terrorists in Iraq are supported by 1) Syria, 2) Iran, 3) Saudi Arabia, 4) possibly by disgruntled countries or entities in Europe or Asia.

Further, the state supporters of the terrorists not only provide shelter but provide the explosives and money to make them dangerous. Thus, each country must be analyzed - somewhat like a cancer patient is analyzed. The war planners must decide whether the above countries are terminal, or can be altered by surgery (removing the real gangsters who provide the men, money and materials).

I do not have the information the Intelligence agencies have. But, my guess is Syria is terminal. It's festering with Baathists. It's time for a complete change in Syria. The change may not be possible without force and the Lemay Option may have to be used - even if it means leveling Damascus.

Iran is on the tipping point. But, because it is a police state, said police apparatus must be neutralized and a change must take place (it possible to have proxy fighters remove the security apparatus with the help of highly trained special operatives - or just cause enough turmoil so the security apparatus is unable to project power). But if that fails then the Lemay option should be used.

Saudi Arabia, is cancerous. But, probably can be handled with surgery (the real bad apples must be taken out and friendly ones put in). But, again if it's found that the National Guard or other security apparatus is corrupt said corrupt security apparatus must be dismantled.

One point that should be discussed is the disposition of Saddam. His presence gives the Baathist in Syria and his supporter in Iraq hope. He must go (his war crimes trial is past due). With Saddam gone there will probably be confusion, depression and a power struggle among Baathists - which will degrade their abilities to wage gang warfare.

Further, the financiers of the terrorists must be identified and stopped (most of them are probably from the above listed countries - Special forces must be use in conjunction with normal investigations). It's not enough just to take away the money - we must also take out the men. That goes for the propaganda arm of the terrorists. We have been far to lax on media personnel who have become agents of terrorist's (Wretchard has noted several examples). Those who spread propaganda must be neutralized.

Also, Iraq has far too much heavy weapon ammunition - most of which is too old to use - and ends up as car bombs. There is no need for that amount of ammunition at this point in time.

The Army engineers (and the Iraq security forces) should immediately destroy as much of the heavy weapon ammunition as possible (Japan was force to destroy all of its weapons - this should happen in Iraq to lessor extent). The remainder should be safely secured for Iraq to defend itself once we leave. There is no reason for 155 mm mortar shells, TNT, or RPGs to be available to the average Iraqi on the street.

Lastly, "Clerics" or other high profile individuals who issue death threats against the Coalition and Iraqi government people must be arrested and jailed (this may require a warrent with a large reward - even death warrent - as in the case of Saddam's brutal sons). If they go into hiding their friends and relatives should be bound over for a court appearance. When in court is said friends and relatives are found to be giving false information to authorities or aiding that instigators of death, then they should be jailed for contempt of court or other similar laws. That goes for all of Saddam's family/friends, Bin Laden's family/friends, al-Zahrawi's family/friends and all of the deck of 55 wanted men's family/friends. The rewards for these thugs and their family/friends must be increased to produce results. No more death threats for Americans. Said threats should be countered with force.

These thugs are playing a clever no-holds-barred game. It's time to turn the tables on them and play and smarter and more effective no-holds-barred game.

6/13/2005 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Exactly. We should have leveled every Ba'athist city, village, enclave and crossroads - requiring them to spend their energy surviving and rebuilding, rather than waging "insurrection".

It's not too late to begin. Damascus beckons. Just use a dozen or so missiles to wipe out Syria's infrastructure and villages between it and the Iraqi border, and let's see what impact that has on the terrorist resupply line - and Syrian shenanigans.

Spot on, W! Once again you go right to the nub of the matter!

6/13/2005 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I am not advocating an invasion of anyplace. But if the game plan is to collapse the enemy regimes in order to drain the swamp then ways have to be found to speed things up. It is entirely possible that those means have been sought, but not found. It's one thing to want the Elixir of Eternal Life and another to produce it.

But in any case, part of what's needed to make the democrtic transformation of enemy regimes happen is domestic commitment to the goal. Right now, that goal is regarded with a kind of dread by nearly half the population. It's possible that the majority of Europe would rather that it didn't happen. We can at least start there.

6/13/2005 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Adding to what ledger says, we must remember to not only take out the men providing terrorists their funds, but their families, too.

To do any less will merely postpone for a generation or two this conflict. If we are going to do anything, do it once correctly, once and for all.

In all of history, that was the only pacification method that worked for more than a handful of years - as brutal as it was.

6/13/2005 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Wretchard wrote: "But in any case, part of what's needed to make the democrtic transformation of enemy regimes happen is domestic commitment to the goal. Right now, that goal is regarded with a kind of dread by nearly half the population."

In "domestic commitment" and "nearly half the population" you are talking about the USA?

Could it be that a larger percentage of Iraqis are committed to democracy in Iraq than are Americans?

6/13/2005 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Strategic patience is a good thing.

Ralph Peters cautions us that Attrition is a valid strategy. Wars of Manuever are often followed by Wars of Attrition.

While its true that a narrow front strategy could have ended WWII in Europe, its also possible that it could have led to guerilla war for a few years after. SS Units led by the likes of Joachim Piper could have caused mayhem especially if Hitler or others had survived. The German Resistance was quite strong even after total collapse - witness Goring comitting suicide by a poison smuggled in by a guard controlled by the resistance.

Lemay's genius was finding that Japanese AA coverage had a hole at 10-15K altitude and then he used that chink to firebomb the Japanese cities.

We don't have to invade Syria. Jordan has more than enough reason to do this. In one fashion or another.

6/13/2005 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

As an Air Force brat in England, 1958, I was very impressed when my father, the base PR guy, had a chance one morning to photograph Gen. Curtis LeMay.

Dad took a couple or seven shots, and realized that LeMay was frozen, important, unsmiling...

Then Dad faked a fit, pretending that he might have left the lens-cap on, and LeMay broke into a broad smile, and grin.

Those two pics are cherished family mementos of an American whose duties must have heaped heavy weights of unsmiling effort on him!

6/13/2005 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

My point is all options have to be on the table. While it is very true that I don't have the inside intelligence on who is supporting the terrorists, my gut feeling is that it's a state and it's very close to Iraq. Your are not going to stop the terrorists unless you cut off their sponsorship. That requires having every tool at your disposal. And, one of those tools is the Lemay Option (it may be used physically or as a deterrent - as in the cold war). But, going on my hypothesis that the terrorists are state sponsored, some form of force may need. All of the other options I mention should also be studied.

I will say this, Bush/Rumsfeld has done a terrific job so far. And, they has superior knowledge about the sponsors of the terrorists (thus their actions). But, according to Wretchard's statistics in the previous post, we are simply not stopping the terrorists fast enough. Speed kills and it kills the enemy. Why prolong this war if you know is behind the enemy? Why not neutralize the sponsors, give the Iraqi security forces a real chance, save American lives and save Iraqi lives.

6/13/2005 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

And as for 'Faster. Please!', mount an effort at getting literature out to the people of Syria, Iraq, Iran; get the airwaves filled with ideology-dissolving discussions (in Arabic and Persian) of the merits of Baha'u'llah, the Lord of Hosts.

Such an effort would yield Democracy-Squared good results!

6/13/2005 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Geographically, spiritually, financially, and logistically the axis of terror has been split on the bisect of Iraq and Afghanistan. Aggressive terrorists and clans must now reside in regions that once exported terror – not incorporated it.

Our current conflict is similar to those fought by the Roman Republic against border barbarians. Rome would divide and conqueror – often without overt military action. Similarly, our ‘counsels’ can travel the world and make things happen as a result of ‘saying what I mean, and meaning what I say’ diplomacy.

Faster, Please…
Syria is on the ropes. Its regime based on a strong man that is no longer such a strong man. Iraqi action could push the issue - and I mean Iraqi action.

Iran is militarily, diplomatically, and culturally vulnerable. If Europe and Japan could be coerced into purchasing oil from a resurgent Iraq (whose production is increasing) than Iran is in a world of sh*t. This coercion could take the form of an overt or nuisance blockade. The UN will soon back this – and Iran is not in a position to break the blockade. We have to get Iraqi oil production up to compensate Europe and Japan for the loss of Iranian production. Let China try to break the UN sanctions that are to come.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest danger long term. They can collapse, but have no structure to sustain order. They are not necessarily a direct enemy, but they are a weak and unbalanced player in our rear. They have also spent decades supporting terror – when it was possible to direct it outwards. It is now directed inwards.

Egypt can recover. It did not have the oil resources to isolate itself.

In all cases, excepting Iran, we want the people in the region making the first move. Iran must be dealt with directly through diplomacy and trade (blockade).

And let us not forget that (somehow, just somehow) Hussein will be in court in July/September. Ahhhh, the joy of watching a dictator (much like their own) get convicted of ‘crimes against humanity’ – and by Iraqis. It might also bump up Coalition moral.

Faster Please… But right now we have to wait…

6/13/2005 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The Saudis’ are sending the detritus of their own society to the Iraq theater. The longer US forces attrit Arab jihadists in and around Iraq the easier it will for the Wahabists to keep the fabric of burkhas on at home. Not very promising in itself but the spread of democracy in the region coupled with liberalization of women’s rights will takes its toll.

Meanwhile the EU is playing toesy with the mullahs, the US must be weighing its options of a nuclear Iran.

We got a hard slog to win the hearts and minds of Americans at home. If not our generation will future generations take up the mantel imbued with the knowledge of the righteousness of our endeavors? One can only hope that the victims of our current educational system will rebel against the tired Trotskyites of academia.

6/13/2005 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

As far as sponsorship is concerned, churches and religious institutions are the greatest contributors of charity. This is perhaps potentially the most insidious conduit of money. (Expect the IRS to get very proactive in the US on this) It seems the only weapon against Wahabi madrassas would be to turn a reformed Islam back upon itself. Who will be a partner with civilization to achieve this goal if not a democratic Saudi Arabia?

6/13/2005 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

It needs to start with better PR from the administration, and they also need to convince the Democratic leadership to stop playing partisan games with the future of the world. I never thought I would say this, but I actually see Hillary C. playing a positive role in that respect.

6/13/2005 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger husker_met said...

This is one case where history puts us out of our element, I think. We live in (sadly) different times than the visionary military leaders of the past.

During WWII the Allies, as well as the Axis, were committed to total war. Levelling cities and destroying the psychological and industrial capacity to fight may have been a direct reflection of the kinds of casualties (an average of more than 400 per day for the US over the four years of our involvement) we were sustaining.

Total war in the context of shortening the conflict by some months or years saved a lot of lives, and the American public understood that. Hence the relatively unblinking decision to nuke Japan when faced with the alternative of a bloody invasion.

As long as we are losing 5 here and 3 there (not to negate the importance of these lives), the public's stomach for levelling cities will be limited. The nattering public hasn't reached the widespread realization that this thing is not only important, but ours to lose.

Further, during WWII the majority of the country was 100% behind our actions. People trusted FDR and Truman to fight the war to a quick and victorious end, whatever the cost. Even Axis leaders understood that a change in US leadership didn't signal a change in resolve.

Today, nearly half of the country is openly skeptical of GWB's methods and motivation. Terror leaders and clergy still believe they can wait it out until a less hawkish Administration takes over.

And of course, anything short of made-for-TV precision warfare with few or no casualties will elicit the familiar howls from the American Left, and concern from the center.

The great legacy of OIF is that we have made the threat of force much more real thas it has been since Reagan. Few bad guys question the capacity of Bush to take it to the wall when he thinks it's important to do so.

Whether we have reached a LeMay moment is a different question altogether. A LeMay-esque change in strategy suggests not only capacity but will.

The Iranian and Syrian juries are still out on whether the US has the will to take it to the wall, and whether that will can span several Administrations.

FWIW, I too am still unconvinced on this last point.

6/13/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

boghie said
Saudi Arabia is the biggest danger long term. They can collapse, but have no structure to sustain order. They are not necessarily a direct enemy, but they are a weak and unbalanced player in our rear...

In some ways, the Saudis are the worst. The most corrupt, and a shell of a state, hollowed out by the House of Saud. When it goes, the implosion will be like a black hole--gonna take a lot of surrounding geography with it.

Their inevitable destruction will cause mayhem for a generation.

6/13/2005 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger someone said...

Bush is losing on the domestic theater because he's stopped engaging the enemy. Where's the initiative? The administration's simply reacting to ongoing -- and metastizing -- media offensives.

Where's Rice? Why has Rumsfeld been neutered? Where, in fact, is Bush himself? He's a past master of timing political counteroffensives, but I see no strategic hand working today.

6/14/2005 12:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone said "Where's Rice? Why has Rumsfeld been neutered? Where, in fact, is Bush himself? He's a past master of timing political counteroffensives, but I see no strategic hand working today. "

I think it's Iraqi's country, they have to make decisions. If you want faster, let them know that America is going pull out evenually and they need to make long terms plans. Or maybe we just grind it out, until there is a more permanent government which has the political capital to do what they think they need to do.

As far as Rummy being quiet, I see that as a good sign- on American domestic front the public seems somewhat bored [or exhausted] of what going on. Bush is going to be in office for a few years, so that means we could go for a slow and systematic approach- it can be afforded as far as US domestic public. Also I think there are intensifying miltary efforts [the recent news being just the beginning], but there isn't any value is stirring up the press- it's not as though they are helpful.

6/14/2005 03:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Peter UK said...
"There is no way, without some credible casus belli that public opinion would easily accept a broadening of the war.Sadly the debacle over the intelligence about WMD has mudied the waters.
I'm with Peter here, as I pointed out in the last thread, the time the public was behind this sort of thing was at the beginning/"winning" phase when even the embeds were more or less on our side, and there was kind of a win the war fever that inevitably accompanies a successful and forcefully executed endeavor.
Comparisons with WWII on this matter are not helpful IMO wrt the end of that war, and the present point in this one...
As husker points out, the public was very well aware of the daily cost of the ongoing World War, and had few qualms about doing whatever was necessary to end it as fast as possible.
I find it unfortunate that some calls here earlier for greater use of force were rebuffed, and now are being proposed.
The timing is backwards IMO. Leveling Tikrit would have been accepted in month 2, but not now, and not Damascus either.
(at any rate this is just a discussion, the real unfortunate thing is that the powers that be did not excercise more muscular options back when they were politically viable.)
Bringing up Rice brings up the State Dept and Rice.
Think it was Ledeen that warned of this, but the sad fact seems to be that she is no Rummy, Wolfie, or Bolton, and this evidently suits W.
So where we are going, I have no idea.
Would be nice if a revolution would happen in Iran or Syria, wouldn't it?
RR would probably see to it, even if it meant conscripting the aged Sir Ollie.
Lady ~ D said...
"Their inevitable destruction will cause mayhem for a generation" of our friends the Sauds.
Funny, I was thinking the same thing today WRT our earlier discussion of a possible implosion of the PRC.
We do live in interesting times.
Carridine's post regarding the information war that wasn't is the most baffling thing of all, IMO.
Do we live in such politically correct times that this cheapest and sometimes most effective weapon is off-limits?
I fear so.

6/14/2005 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Yeah our PR on this point has been pathetic. Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt--whoever: these all must be publicly outed.

I wonder whether the basic problem isn't that Pakistan is a powderkeg, and keeping the operation's ambitions to the (revolutionary) minimum of iraq- and afghanistan-specific proportions maintains the uneasy status quo there. I've often heard lately that the reason we can't go into the the Pakistani tribal areas is because it would lead inexorably to revolution in Pakistan, thus handing nuclear weapons to Islamists almost overnight.

The downside, however, is far worse. The Arabs especially will evidently not run out of morons with AK47s and trucks full of dynamite, or whatever low-grade explosives they use. With the Arab-style squabbling of the Iraq government taking its inevitable Asiatic toll on things, I hope we're already knee-deep into a strategy of killing as many people in as many appropriate places as humanly possible.

Besides, the media's not changing its position will grow increasingly worrisome as the present situation continues.

6/14/2005 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Exactly,it would be the Wests MSM who would be in the target zones and relaying images of the death and devastation wraught by our bombing.
The MSM would have got their Vietnam and would wring the last ounce of propaganda out of it.Their would be endless shots from inside hospitals,there is no chance that collateral damage would not provide more photo ops.
As you say it could have been done then,but not now, not without monstrous provocation.

6/14/2005 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Fire with Fire/
Our Conventonal Force is tied by political strings and unable to pursue our foes across the borders and around the Globe. Many on both the Left and the Right think we have already over extended our military.
Clandestine Operations, exported Insurgencies, Sabatoge and Mayhem.

It may have begun in Iran, two more bombings reported there over night.
The Fourth Conjecture in action, non nuclear, but just as effective and even more denialable.

6/14/2005 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Dsert Rat,
I would reckon that the frontier areas of Syria and Iran have been a special forces adventure theme park from day one.

6/14/2005 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Heck with the Border areas,
the new wave is getting people all wet in Tehran.
Increased levels of directed violence in Tehran, Damascus and Cairo. Look for this in the next phase, if we do not use are Conventional Force to topple the foe, and I believe we will not, soon then other means must be used.
The LeMay option of overwhelming force will not be implemted.
Let the Mullahs fight an Insurgency in Iran. For US it is easier, cheaper and in the short term doable. Conflicts but not War

6/14/2005 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

The problem we face is that the Arab world is a corpse animated by the oil money. Reduced to beggary, overlorded by ancient tyranny, thrown back in desperation on Islam, with no spark of rational individualism, aside from certain aspects of Sufism, in their mores, there is actually no hope for them to become a mild-mannered bourgeoisie squabbling over bank deals and mortgage rates and fascinated by the latest Alisha al-Hilton tabletop dance scene. We, in our extreme advancement, have evidently forgotten what a culture of barbarism constitutes. The Arabs are such a culture.

So the problem is not how do we release the democratic soul of the Arabs, but how do we create it? Out of what spiritual bric-a-brac?

First and foremost: money. We must pay them. That, I gather, is what these negotiations between some of the insurgent leaders and the Administration amount to. The Administration, however, will soon tire of this as it yields few results, since the Arabs are essentially mean little people, culturally speaking. Blanche at that statement all you want, it is simply a fact. So we must pay who we can, and in fact I wouldn't be surprised to learn that our most loyal people in the government have been so paid. This a barbarian culture we're talking about, which means tribal thinking rules. That's why money is effective; it trickles down.

But secondly, we must kill people. Lots of people. I vote we do this ourselves. Being barbarians, unleashing the militias will sooner or later result in some genuine atrocity which will be like a winning lottery ticket to our media parasites. We must do it ourselves. We must use native informants, but we must not flinch at destroying a village to save a country. If there're hundreds of fighters in a particular town, the whole town is guilty. Otherwise where did they come from? Why did they go there? How do they stay--merely through intimidation? To descend into such niceties is what a legal system is for, not a marine battallion.

But the basic problem is Islamic, insofar as that stands not for an actual articulated religion but a historical temperment, and for that we must look to Iraq's neighbors for resolution. And this is our big problem. We should push the Iran nuke question as hard as possible in the Security Counciil, up to the point of obtaining the plausible justification of blocking the Straights of Hormuz and whatever other ports they have. Without sanctions, this is an act of war; with sanctions, there political options will be vastly smaller in the event of a blockade. Our main problem is that this will send China into some sort of aggressive action, more missiles will be going over the bow of Japan, and Europe--that is, the French--will be encouraging their Arab clients to go screw with something in Amman or whatnot. But it will have the effect of allowing a much bigger naval presence aimed specifically and patenly at Iran.

We could also hope that the Iranian government's open discussion about moving its Arab populace in the Southwest enmass somewhere else--like the Chinese evacuating Muslims in its Northwest after the Nian Rebellion--would have the effect of moving the Arab world to outrage, and some war would start.

The whole point really is to push the region into war, in my opinion, nasty as that is. Otherwise we just can't do what we need to do. And frankly, with nukes proliferating and Arab/Islamic machismo being what it is, there'll be a nuclear exchange there sooner or later, unless they have an experience like the experience that is responsible for OUR current unhistorical reluctance to flew our muscle as much as possible as quickly as possible.

And what is that experience? Why, it's World War II.

The Arabs have yet to feel the full effect of industrial nation-state war. They have no idea what nuclear weapons can do--absolutely none. They just don't get anything.

But once the war started, we could take out Tehran and Damascus from the air. Nothing would happen in Russia, Europe, China (except maybe taking Taiwan), South America, Africa.

Seems pretty opportune, beginning with the Iran nuke crisis at the Security Council.

Or we could just putter along into an eventual general catastrophe.

Or maybe I just haven't had my coffee this morning. Who knows.

6/14/2005 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

I probably agree with all posters.

But what to do?

We're facing a problem. Only one 'discourse' is going to survive out of all of this.

No prizes for guessing which one I want it to be. No return to the barbarism that is the Middle East.

So I don't really care about the ME. I want Homer, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Newton, Einstein to survive.

In WWII, nobody cared about Japan either (correctly). If we are to go faster, we need to get our (actually, who is OUR?) population to cease caring about our enemies.

Sad as it might be, we will probably drift until Chicago is nuked. Then we'll have a Curtis LeMay moment.

Answer W's question, you have prevented 1m deaths in Chicago. These are the stakes we are playing for.


6/14/2005 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Desert Rat,
The Border areas are a starting point bu also most important.To maintain plausible denyabilty there have to be secure escape routes,it would be a disaster if there was a re-run of the Jimmy Carter mission to rescue the hostages in the Embassy in Tehran.there needs to be secure supply routes,special forces have to built up contacts amongst indiginous dissidents who are willing to provide intelligence and can be built up into a force to combat the Mullahs. Takes time and access.

6/14/2005 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Tilo Reber said...

I have been wondering, for a long time, why we are not supporting insurgencies inside Iran and Syria. I'm not sure about Syria, but I think that Iran is very ripe for an internal revolution. They just need a little support, a little leadership, and a catalyst. After that it will be a ball rolling down hill.

6/14/2005 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

According to Seymour Hirsh we are engaged in Iran. I believe the piece ran a few months ago in NY Times. I hope that we are. The Kurds of both Syria and Iran are our natural allies in the region. They are a sizable minority in both countries.
Proxy forces in this next stage may be the plan.
I hope there is a plan, it is not articulated by the Administration and the Admirals claim there is no "Clash of Civilizations", no "Global Conflict".
That is why Covert Action is a plausable alternative and would explain the Silence.
Our actions will not be a repeat of Desert 1, no it will be more like the Montngards of 'Nam & Laos in the early '60s.

6/14/2005 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Apologies to the NY Times
The story is in the New Yorker
reads as if the course of action proposed and authorized is a bad and dangerous course to take,
the Hirsh spin.

6/14/2005 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Covert action would have two main virtues,one it would make the Mullahs aware that their actions are not pain free and two any serious unrest in Iran could be attributed to democracy in Iraq.
If the coalition stays the course in Iraq there will be a greater incentive for Iranians to rise up and a safe haven from which they can operate.

On a different subject,
The Mullahs had an enormous slush fund to propagate their interests in Iraq,isn't it time we were looking where it goes.How much is the going rate for a journalist?

6/14/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Rat--Hopefully the Admin can use the fact of Iran's media control, the result that no one really believes anything they say, to out advantage with the Spec Ops.

As for proxy armies, I think that leaves too much room for co-option by Islamists. Frankly, there are no other ideological alternatives, and a force needs something to fight for. It has been rightly pointed out that, in reality, the idea of "Iraq" is somewhat superficial--because all other intellectual resources talk about Arab racial destiny and the Ummah. "Nations" are only 80 years old to these people, and those 80 years have not been a renaissance so much as a period of mutliple fascist revolutions, failure to modernize, discovery of oil, and decision to side with the Soviet Union--partly out of sympathy with anti-colonial rhetoric, partly out of proximity (fear), partly because RUssians are also barbarians and its funner to be on the side of machismo.

But if proxy armies can somehow be effective, and then we can figure out how to induce the resulting victors into some sort of neutrality or alliance, then hey why not. The problem is China just signed a $100 billion oil deal with Iran, and since China is resource poor and an enemy of Russia, there aren't many other places for it to go.

Thus we must also cause the collapse of North Korea before the Taiwan issue raises its ludicrous head. There's no winning that one, the world giving as little of a crap about democracy as its mild Leninism allows.

But whatever is supposed to happen better happen fast (within 5 years). The nuke is coming. Better to conquer before Chicago is a crater. I like Chicago.

And besides, speaking of Cleveland, and since I live here, I always wonder whether a city like mine wouldn't be a better target, on the Hiroshima/Nagasaki logic. The Islamists & Axis could believe that a nuke here would cause a global retreat of US forces.

See, the problem is the abject stupidity of our foes. It really, really is. Stupidity is more unpredictable than insanity.

6/14/2005 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Speaking of China though, why isn't it possible to simply make them a friend of ours, over the longer (though medium) term? Eh? I know about all the cultural reasons and whatnot, but China is surrounded by countries that hate it; it is resource poor; it has 600 million people living in AD 700 conditions. Also we pacified Japan. I just don't see how there isn't some way we couldn't make them come our way after all. There must be Something reasonable we could do.

6/14/2005 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Yeah, we could borrow Billions of dollars from them, while buying all sorts of things from their new factories. We could offer them Most Favored Trading partner status and membership in the World Economy. We could seek their help in dealing with their client states, like NKorea. We could leave Tibet out of the War on Terror and the March of Freedom.

Oh Yeah, we already are doing all that.

6/14/2005 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

In Iraq we have aprox 4 milloion Kurds that are are staunchest allies in the country. There are 2 million of their cousins in Syria and at least 5 million of them in Iran. These 11 million Kurds are our best asset and the quickest route to both Damascus and Tehran. It will annoy the Turks, they like to oppress their 9 million Kurds. Then again Turkey acted against US in the era prior to Iraqi Freedom.
Paybacks a medevac

6/14/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"I've often heard lately that the reason we can't go into the the Pakistani tribal areas is because it would lead inexorably to revolution in Pakistan, thus handing nuclear weapons to Islamists almost overnight."

You are partly right. Task Force personnel can go into Pakistan.

For exactly two reasons.

And we have to know exactly where either of the two are before we do.

And everyone and their mother - everyone and their mother and the SecDef - have to give the go-ahead. Takes precious time, that does.

There are undoubtedly similar restrictions and demands in place elsewhere. That's the kind of war it is.

"(T)here is actually no hope for them to become a mild-mannered bourgeoisie squabbling over bank deals and mortgage rates and fascinated by the latest Alisha al-Hilton tabletop dance scene. We, in our extreme advancement, have evidently forgotten what a culture of barbarism constitutes."

I applaud this realism, which ought to lead to identification of realistic goals and means, but instead, dan, you forsake reality and end by proposing
"push(ing) the region into war." How our need to defend ourselves and our interests abroad against a rising tide of Islamism might be met by inducing a state of chaos across the Middle East, is a mystery. Observing that state of chaos while paying a king's ransom for a tankfull of gas will be...the American people - half of whom already fear and suspect just such a near-term (I should say "this term") eventuality, the other half of whom would be looking to distance or divorce themselves from the domestic handmaidens of that political disaster.

6/14/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Hepzi said...

In addition to the political and military prongs, I also believe that we should take a technological/economic tack.

I would like to see the federal government/pentagon spending as much on development of alternative energy technology as the GWOT.

If we rolled out some new technologies, this would be tantamout to a tourniquet to the snake's (Saudi) blood supply (money).

I also think it would spawn enormous innovation with regard to competitveness vis-a-vis China.

6/14/2005 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well, I suppose that is true, trish.

The problem is partly with my perspective. I am in no way an expert in the kind of numbers and whatnot evidently required to be competent on these issues in any specific way. What I'm interested is intellectual trends and their consequences, most of which manifest themselves and then subsequently engender empirical events.

From my perspective, as I've been reading about China recently, following on a reading of Middle East history from a sufficiently apolitical altitude over a period of time utterly unknown to the average anchorman or US representative, it seems that there is little hope of ultimately overcoming the ancient attitudes of the Middle East. You'll notice, for example, that Soviet Russia sure looks a lot like Tsarist Russia, that Maoist China sure looks a lot like the Qing dynasty, and centralized France seems to be alternately tugged by Soviet socialism and its aristocratic past. I may be no expert, but these certainly seem to be the salient perspective within which to understand techtonic problems such as those unleashed by the French Revolution, WWI/II and the fall of the Soviet Union. This is the sea the fish are swimming in, these are the currents.

The Arabs and the Islamic world are characterized by a machismo, a chauvanism, and intellectual aridity, an ideological rigidity, and an addiction to tribalism that will change only under the conditions of a substantial, long-term revolution that will rather resemble the Roman adaptation of Hellenic culture or an American translation of British culture than a fantastical, historically unprecedented mass conversion of sensibilities.

Even the Islamicization of the Byzantine Empire, which led to "Arabs" discovering algebra, is a figment of ignorance rather than anything else: the Arabs were nerf-herding (Star Wars reference) barbarians eating out of eachothers' skulls prior to their conquest of the aging, conflicted Byzantine Empire, at that point representative of the oldest most vibrant culture on earth outside of China--does anyone really believe that the Arabs suddenly became mathematicians in some extra-terrestrial leap of imagination? Hell no they didn't. They Greeks took Arab names for fear of being dhimmis; their overlords let them live because of the service they could provide, chiefly in the form of glory, a sentiment that stills rules Arab, as barbarian, minds.

So, with that as the background, and a general sense of the persistence of cultures, it seems to me a form of folly to actually believe Iran will give up its nuclear ambitions, for example. This is not so much a consequence of statecraft considerations as a manifestation of the kind of machismo that cannot be irradicated unless it is actually irradicated. They will never give in to diplomatic or economic considerations. Ever. It is a matter of pride. And they know that since most cultures operate on that fundamental imperative, angels of heaven will flock to them in their boldness--principally, as it happens, from China and Russia, who are the arch-quasibarbarians in this regard. They do not understand our mindset. They see only a challenge and an enemy; they do not see a Reason.

But nor does any other country, mostly by virtue of having hostile neighbors of ancient rivalry. We credit ourselves, sometimes, with an enlightened attitude. False: we are surrounded by ocean, a northern country as barren as the moon, and a southern culture about as a heat-lazy as exists anywhere. It is amazing, and unprecedented. Just look at the occupation of Japan; how easy it was! Because it's AN ISLAND!

Anyway, the point is, Iran will get nukes; we cannot let them get nukes. How to prevent this? Only to destroy their regime. Through revolution? Perhaps. But it looks exceedingly unlikely that a revolution will occur spontaneously, or that, should occur, it would occur before the mullahs get their nukes.

If the mullahs get their nukes, it will be delivered to Israel and the United States. Why? Because even if they do not immediately deploy them, they will use the cover to Severely Screw with the other powers in the region in order to facilitate the dictates of their revolutionary government. Oil embargo with impunity, anyone? Why do you think we decided to take over Iraq and Afghanistan? And have bases in Uzbekistan and other -stans now? Because one way or another, Iran will be the cause of war, or we will be the cause of the war for the purpose of preventing the Middle East from going nuclear. Israel will be nuked; Delhi will be nuked; Washington will be nuked.

The coming cataclysm will be very terrible if left to the initiative of the Tehrani morons, the super-sensitive Israelis and the Arab weirdos, who will evidently bow to any Islamic actor who beats them hard enough.

If these attitudes seem reprehensible, I urge you to get thee to a library and start reading, and attend a family dinner of your neighborhood convenience store owner or even cradiovascular surgeon. 9 out of 10 times they will be Islamist-sympathizers, regardless of what they think they are, or Communists. It's not my fault that that's the way it is.

So the bottom line is, do we want a bunch of nuclear Middle Eastern countries who are about one inch of historical soil away from their Turkish/Arab nomad army forebears, or do we want them pliant, and introverted, and regarding the modern world with a sufficient amount of awe and humility and interest and excitement?

The first way to accomplish the latter, the generous way, the Good way, is to decapitate a despot--just pick any government there--and try to herd them into a constitutional republican framework. Very flexible, very free, very friendly; add economic inducements; covet no territory or people. This is what we are doing, and I am all in favor of it.

But that is only the first, and nicest way to do it. Special operations are a nice idea, I agree, but we are facing a huge problem: the modern world keeps moving ahead without regard for the ancient cultures that lay half in ruins, struggling, all around it. It is moving too fast for them "accomodate"--hey just look at how badly France and Russia are doing it.

You'll see.

6/14/2005 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

Dan said, "there is actually no hope for them..."

There is no hope for deep, broad democratic transformation in the near- to medium-terms. In the long term, there is. I think we'd make that term longer if we do as dan suggests.

There are probably all sorts of policies, general and specific - as well as, in promising circumstances, some covert tinkering - that can have good results over a number of years. But democratic transformation of the Middle East I think is best understood, as Rice herself indicated, as a process spanning generations.

6/14/2005 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger opotho said...

It's rare that I can comment at my favorite blog (ever!) since 9 times out of 10 the "blog-ads" appear right down the middle of the current and most recent two or three posts. I can only read them when they're a week old and visually unobstructed.

I'm not sure which of the BBC's hydra-headed broadcasts were aired today on my local (NY) public radio station, but listeners were treated to a British "public school" accent delivering an extended report on the actual freedoms that people in Iran enjoy today.

The correspondant interviewed, among others, a woman painter of non-objective art who said that she is "free" to paint in her own way. Other interviews conveyed the reality of a blase attitude about poltics among Tehran's youth, who would rather spend their time partying into the wee hours than take such things seriously. Without as much as a hint that human rights abuses persist in Iran, the report ended by suggesting that such things belonged to Iran's past. Naturally there was no mention of the nuclear issue either. (When anyone visits the UK next, tell me if you don't agree that the BBC staggers the content of its reports throughout each day in order to create an overall argument and impression?)

Back to NY, the VERY NEXT THING that listeners heard was a public radio editorial from someone named "Paul Leisch", to the effect that FCC restrictions on any funding of speech that criticized US government foreign policy would be inevitable, and also "unconstitutional". This was one of the worst days of propaganda-mongering that I've heard since before the election. I really wonder why? Because of the Energy Bill? What?

I immediately phoned to leave an irrate comment with the radio station, but was not permitted to do so after I refused to submit my correct name, correct address and correct telephone number. They should get my taxes though, right?

6/14/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...


Perhaps what needs to be done - or needs to be offered here at Belmont - is a general survey of the conditions favorable to democratization, which would require looking at those countries that have more or less recently, successfully undergone that transformation. Identifying those conditions, which are largely cultural and material, would stand us a better chance of forming policies and implementing actions that at best encourage, and at least do not further retard, societies that have not reached the threshold of democracy.

6/14/2005 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Trish, I agree with you that's it possible, if they are open to the influence. They're just people, and it's possible. But considering the recalcitrance of their culture to outside change, and considering the fact of Iranian nuclear ambition, the Israel problem, and sundry other conflicts in the region, I'm just not very confident that that will be achieved without real war.

I hope, for the record, that I'm wrong. We shall see.

By the way, I was exaggerating on the whole 9 out of 10 thing. I know many Russians and Arabs who really love this country and are grateful for it and how they are left to live in it in peace. I should've said 5/10 are either Islamist-sympathizers or Commies. My fault.

6/14/2005 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

But as I see it the basic problem with the present is this. There is a "volk" issue. Say the modernizing, liberalizing forces do win out, as they presently are in Iraq. Modernization is inevitably difficult--various imbalances exist; we see that in Russia, for example, they sure liked that robber baron idea. The problem is, however, that in the midst of such a strong cultural milieu, when modernization fails (as it repeatedly has in the Middle East) there will always be very strong opposition candidates decrying the corruption of "the West," and argue that the problem is the lack of Islamic/Arab/Egyptian values. This, for example, is what led to the success of Communism/Socialism against the Mandate powers after World War I.

But ok, as for positive, democracy-building initiatives, I certainly think it would be helpful for the US government to increase its eloquence and forthrightness when it comes to characterizing the actions or rhetoric of different regimes. The only thing you can do with militias, though, is pay them to disarm, offer them asylum in the USA or offer them government positions, I think.

One problem of course is we know very little about actual conversations between the representatives of countries who know very well what the other party is thinking, and how that ultimately works.

But what are your ideas about how to avert the looming crises? Maybe a big terrorist attack in Russia would give them some political incentive/cover to help us out with respect to their providing Iran fuel and technologies? Or maybe we could start something out of the bluce, almost, like the "US-China Friendship Initiative"--some Eastern Rim-sounding title like that? Surely this Muslim terrorism threatens other countries than ours. Or perhaps we will find Europe doing an about-face when Schroeder and Chirac lose their next elections (presuming Le Pen doesn't win in France)? Something like that might go a long way.

I personally think all this would be over tomorrow, almost literally, if Europe would just enmasse get on our bandwagon. Despite the popular view of their populations, perhaps new leadership in Europes' largest states would accomplish that?

6/14/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

There may very well be little or nothing we can do, dan. And I certainly do not believe that it is our duty to try. Not last I checked the Constitution.

I don't want to see us cling to or insist upon the impossible. I don't want the Republican Party brought low because of it. (Shameless partisanship, I admit. Though I'm not a registered Republican.)

When you let go of (near future) transformation of the Middle East as a cornerstone of foreign and defense policy - then what? What takes its place?

Hard reality of some sort or another. One hopes.

6/14/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/14/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But trish, the mid east is only one of the battlefields in this war. I do not believe the idea that US can pick and choose which battles to engage in, while ignoring those threats that continue to fester in the arenas we chose to "Blow Off". Along with the idea that the existence of a Mugabe or the Sudanese rape squads or even Chavez/ Castro Axis do not empower our enemies is naive.

It is not really up to US, they all believe the US is their enemy, they're right.
The Defense of the Republic is paramount in the Constitution. All else is secondary, either you see the Global threat or you don't. You poor eye sight would be a terrible reason for the US to be at risk, especially when the eyes of the elected can see it so clearly.

6/14/2005 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

"Say the modernizing, liberalizing forces do win out, as they presently are in Iraq."

I would argue that they aren't winning out in Iraq, precisely because there is no broad modernized, liberalized base in that society to support and secure a concommitant government and regime of law. But here again I believe it would be helpful to take a look at societies that have made the transition successfully, identify what they have in common, and compare that to various Middle Eastern countries. Stable democracies have cultural prerequisites above and beyond the absence of a harshly repressive regime.

What preexisting characteristics did Japan and Germany possess that leant themselves to democratization? And how does this differ from the general character of the Arab world?

6/14/2005 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"The Defense of the Republic is paramount in the Constitution."

The defense of the Republic by removing every undemocratic regime and replacing it with a democratic one?


6/14/2005 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

One other consideration--and I know I've warn out my welcome on this post--that is interesting to me is: if you or anyone else--NPR? my annoying android-liberal friend Kristin?--thinks OUR economy is so fragile, how fragile do you think a country like Iran's, or Syria's, is? Eh? Think about it from their point of view.

6/14/2005 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Defense of the Republic by removing the Government of States that Support Terrorists or are a part of a anti Anglo/ Western Global Insurection. What we replace them with is problematic. That we remove the threats is not. In a Nuclear World any State and even some nonState actors can disrupt the World Order and threaten the Republic.
That is the first order of business.

6/14/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"What preexisting characteristics did Japan and Germany possess that leant themselves to democratization?"

I put that rather sloppily. Germany WAS a democracy before it wasn't. That certainly helps. A lot. But there are other factors as well, such as a high general level of education, the presence or rise of a substantial middle class, industrial and/or other economic development, secure private property, widespread social trust, etc.

6/14/2005 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I think you have it backwards, trish, those are the results of liberal democratic reform.
Not the Cause but the Effect

6/14/2005 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

desert rat,

Make a list of all the undemocratic regimes that, from your point of view, absolutely, positively must go. Don't omit anyone. Let's have the full rundown.

6/14/2005 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

One thing that neither Japan or Germany had at that point (1945) of their history was drastic religious AND tribal splits. (The tribal splits sometimes being along religious lines, sometimes not) I think that is the biggest problem with the Middle Eastern countries going to democracy. The Sunnis and Shiites need to get along politically before democracy is going to work. And the same holds true with the various tribes/families.

6/14/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"there is actually no hope for them to become a mild-mannered bourgeoisie squabbling over bank deals and mortgage rates "
Some very well respected conservative commentators contend that is exactly what is going on, and that patience is called for.
As always,
The Truth Will Out.

6/14/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...


I've got all the patience in the world. Are we merely discussing having enough patience? Desert rat has most certainly not been proposing applying patience to the as-yet undemocratized of the ME, such as the Syrians or the Iranians.

I have patience for Iraq, as well. But their endeavor intimately, immediately involves us, and this complicates matters. The (new) state of Iraq sits on the shakiest possible ground. That state cannot defend itself from within. It cannot defend itself from, or with, its own citizens. Not today; not next year; and probably not the year after that. And how much time really do we have at our disposal to stay and act as their proxy national defense/police force?

6/14/2005 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Today the primary list
South America/ Chavez-Castro
N Korea
Obviously UBL and his group as well as Hamas and Hezbollah would qualify as non state actors that would make the list.

If we could finish with Iran quicly we could end our support of Uzbeckistan, both saving $300 million annually and helping the State along on it's own march to Freedom
Not all require US Military intervention, but all would be on the list. Others could be added as required

6/14/2005 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

the difference in opinion is I think the Iraqis will be capable of defending themselves, by December

6/14/2005 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...


Love your posts, tho they're a little bloody, but you're kidding with this question, right?

"Speaking of China though, why isn't it possible to simply make them a friend of ours, over the longer (though medium) term? Eh?"

We might get them to agree not to go to war with us for a hundred years, but "friend" is not part of the lingua franca.

6/14/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

You said: "Only a small fraction of America's strength consists of direct military power and only a small fraction of that military power has been employed against the enemy. By any accounting, the US is still only fighting the War on Terror with its little finger. But it will require creative strategic thinking to mobilize and employ the untapped wellsprings of the nation's strength. US troops in Iraq are doing well. But the nation owes them better than use them to attrit the enemy. Faster. Please."

I reply: Not to belabor the point too much, but I've been waiting almost four years for the country to mobilize to some significant degree to win over the Middle East, and I'm out of time. It dawned on me finally that the bulk of the nation's pursuits are trivial, and that unless one wants to starve to death you've got to be willing to service those trivial propensities. I know this sounds cynical, but I'm not convinced that it is.

The country really wasn't much mobilized during the Civil War, and Foote argues that the North won with one hand tied behind its back. The country clearly never got seriously mobilized to fight WWI, since it barely even entered the fray. (I have a button hook that my grandfather, a WWI aircraft mechanic, made for my grandmother of airplane parts from a Spad, so I admit that we were a little engaged. But the primary hardship he recalled from that experience was living on one potato on the troop ship that delivered him to France, and losing a suit he had shipped home from Fleet Street on his way back.)

WWII is perhaps the only war in our history where we became more than 50% engaged, and although I intuitively see a danger in our general indifference to the current conflict I can't really say that it's not a strength. I just don't know.

But the jig is up for me. I'm moving from understanding the culture and values of Americans and their enemies to understanding our market and buying habits, because I'm just tired of being poor. If it turns out that my intuition, literary construction, and mathematical/statistical expertise were actually necessary to the effort then it'll take a lot of convincing, and probably a lot of money, to turn my head. I'm fed up.

No, we aren't really serious... and it's not surprising that there's little employment for those of serious purpose.

And in the back of my mind is this: Qutb thought that "the West" had a fatal schizophrenia that made it vulnerable to a sustained and principled attack from within the "shade of submission to God." When one looks at the degree of fascination we have for a pop-star pedophilia trial and for every cute blonde highschooler who falls victim to some predator in a vacation spot, while we yawn expansively at the mass atrocities taking place in Darfur and quibble over marginal affronts to the dignity of terrorists, indignities of lesser moment than are generally encountered in most fraternal initiations...

one fears that Qutb may have seen past the superficial attitudes directly into the heart of our values, after all. We are a neurosis, if not a psychosis, of distraction from purpose. Were it not for the genius of Madison, we'd be total lightweights.

6/14/2005 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony said...
Love your posts..
Me too.

6/14/2005 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I hadn't even read your post, demosophist, then I came back to the computer, and there it was.
Will have to revisit it again to maybe pick up more.
How did you pick your name?
Does it mean you deal with the fallacies of the people?

6/14/2005 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I am exhausted from reading the many fine comments. I wonder if the comments that I initially tapped out while reading them aren’t by now, somehow off topic. Here goes nutin’

The operating space made available within the envelop of “plausible deniability” allows a new front in the seething miasma of the ME. Iran is now an Area of Operations.

The tyrants of Iran will make more bellicose assertations to be sure. These mullah bastards have been pulling strings and making hell for the US and its’ allies in the region for long enough now. With the Iraq beach head (Tinian Island) new rules are definitely in play. Like a good hand of cards they need to be played carefully.

As a general rule no country has ever invaded another country that has nuclear weapons. This must be the thought process going on inside the mind of Our Dear Leader. Kim Ill has China to protect him, they have not chosen their friends well, but the Mullahs will have no one to come to their aid but a belligerent French government spokesman whose tired agitprop will no longer serve his deceitful ends. May the rule persist.

China has done well in its proxy wars against the US, Vietnam, Korea, and others. The more time China has to cozy up to Tehran the more satisfying it will be to hand them the laundry ticket for an account past due and a payback that they desperately deserve.

North Korea is so busy falling through its’ own @sshole we couldn’t do more to accelerate its’ demise. As far as Formosa is concerned, strategic ambiguity is working. China has donned the Golden Strait Jacket and would go from host of the 2008 Olympics to the worlds largest suburb of Tijuana if it makes a play for it.

While Ledeen and others say “Faster Please”, I say “Steady as She Goes”.

6/14/2005 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Let's think out of the box for a moment. This war really doesn't have boarders. The enemy doesn't think in terms of boards - it thinks in terms of targets - where ever they maybe. The enemy doesn't think in terms of "rules of warfare." Why should not we think in the same terms.

The enemy has the mind set of "we are great and everyone else in inferior" and should be "converted" or killed. In doing so, the enemy feels free to use every horroble method in the name of some prophet: deception, plunder, and violence (and violence against men, women and children). Nothing is off limits in their heads.

The only thing that stops the enemy is force (of various kinds). So why not use all of our tools to defeat them including the Lemay Option (or make them understand they are vulnerable to extinction). They can hurl threats and swear six ways to Sunday; the "infidels will die in a river of blood." But, that will not save them from destruction when the full Lemay treatment is used on them.

As Dan notes: "...The problem we face is that the Arab world is a corpse animated by the oil money. Reduced to beggary, overlorded by ancient tyranny, thrown back in desperation on Islam, with no spark of rational individualism... Arabs are essentially mean little people, culturally speaking. Blanche at that statement all you want, it is simply a fact..."

[I agree particularly with the "... corpse animated by the oil money..."]

"...The Arabs and the Islamic world are characterized by a machismo, a chauvanism, and intellectual aridity, an ideological rigidity, and an addiction to tribalism..."

"...And frankly, with nukes proliferating and Arab/Islamic machismo being what it is, there'll be a nuclear exchange there sooner or later, unless they have an experience like the experience that is responsible for OUR current unhistorical reluctance to flew our muscle as much as possible as quickly as possible... And what is that experience? Why, it's World War II."

Speaking of WW2, did not we go on the offensive and attack the enemy from Island to island, country to country, and sea to sea? The notion of boarders was secondary to destroying the enemy.

Now, I do realize it is a different time and place. But, American ingenuity can be very adaptable and very effective.

In Afghanistan did we not use a variety of tactics to defeat the enemy? Those would include the entire spectrum: spies, proxy fighters, foreign bases and 15,000 lb. daisy cutters. It also included forming relationships with groups and handing out various rewards. Also note, there were many defeatists who said we would be bogged down like the Russians and eventually driven out. That simply did not happen.

To win the war we must take the fight to the enemy. We must be fast and flexible. And, we must use all of the tools at our disposal.

As Sun Tzu remarked: "... the impact of your army may be like a grindstone dashed against and egg, use the science of weak point and strong. Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him... If the enemy is taking his ease, harass him; if quietly encamped, force him to move; if well supplied with food, starve him out. Appear at point that the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected... just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions ." [1]

In this new world of "battle fields without boarders" we must use innovative materials and methods to achieve age old objectives. I would use all tools - including the Lemay Option and adjust them to suit our needs.

For specific ideas, which may have to be slightly modified for the situation, see my first post and see Dan's post's (and all of the other can-do posters).

[1] The Art of War, Sun Tzu, by James Clavell, Delacorte Press, 1983, page 25 & page 29.

6/15/2005 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

can do
love it
a long while since I've heard it,
used to live by that motto.
can do

6/15/2005 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

That's what it's all about - finding solutions not problems. Can-do'ers get the job done.

6/15/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The difficult we do immediately
The impossible takes a little longer

6/16/2005 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

Hey, I got an idea on how to make the war go faster: you enlist.

6/22/2005 04:52:00 PM  
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