Thursday, January 04, 2007
and comments by Liberty or Death
Col. Tom Snodgrass posted an article on the Free Republic web site that provides, so far the best analysis of our situation in Iraq and offers his version of a military solution, sorta. I say sorta because he ends the article by basically saying it is too hard. Read his article before reading the rest of my piece.
I would disagree with several of the Colonel's points. His quoting from Clausewitz is appropriate. In my words, "will and capabilities". He proceeds to discuss conventional military solutions to the current asymmetric guerilla warfare by militarily attacking the conventional components of insurgents; that is supply of war material. This sounds like an offense, and it is at the tactical level but at the strategic level it is defensive, that is removing the enemy's war material.
I submit that this is containment not winning. The enemy still exists, his will is untouched, he can still wait patiently for American loss of resolve to recall our troops and they are back in business.
He sites Vietnam as an analogy. It's a poor fit but lets discuss his points. He states that we lost in part because we failed to disrupt the resupply of the North Vietnamese. He talks about the asymmetry of the enemy's tactics but goes on to talk about our capabilities in conventional terms. Those that have read any of my posts know that I am a fanatic adherent on asymmetric warfare. Winning in Vietnam or Iraq didn't/will not happen by applying overwhelming force to the resupply capabilities of either North Vietnam or Iraq. He even mentioned bombing the sources of supply in Iraq's neighboring countries, as if they were maintaining supply dumps like we do. That is not the case in Iraq. Asymetric but not realistic. It was the case in Vietnam only because we let them get away with it. Had we bombed their supply dumps, they would have dispersed them. Lets take the Colonel's thought to the extreme. Assume we could have eliminated 90% of the North Vietnamese resupply; war over? Nope. A significantly reduced capability, but not zero. More importantly Uncle Ho was never attempting to defeat us militarily. He correctly reasoned our will could be defeated in time with propaganda. Same is true in Iraq. The enemy is attacking our will to fight with propaganda and time.
We will always lose the propaganda war for the foreseeable future because of the leftist control of the "image" media. Conservatives can control 100% of talk radio and win every written argument, but will fail to win over a single open minded person because our culture is one of images and sound bites.
Ultimately time and winning are the critical variables. Fight too long without clear images that we are winning and the left will wear the American resolve down to dust.
So, any American Commander in Chief needs to take these two variables into account before committing troops to any endeavor. Any president automatically gets about six months to do anything he wants before the forces of the left get mobilized and their message gains traction with the American people. This time limit can only be extended by a clear perception that we are wining. Schwartzkopf was a master at controlling images. Daily he flooded the American people with images of our forces winning. He was more charismatic than all the CNN repoters.
The American people insist that we not only win, but that we are constantly winning. Scwarzkoph gave the American people what the wanted to see. CNN whining from Baghdad was ignored, we were clearly winning. Vietnam and Iraq were/are not losses but did evolve from winning to containment, which to the American people is a stalemate. Americans hate stalemates worse than losing. Just as in Vietnam, they prefer packing up our marbles and going home to a stalemate.
Surprisingly, even as a super hawk, I agree with that sentiment. Stalemates are more hateful than pulling out. Pulling out is not a loss in the mind of Americans; it means we just don't want to play anymore.
But what about asymmetry? I didn't forget. Never fight by the enemy's rules. He wants to pit his guerrillas against our foot soldiers. He eliminates our tech advantage by hiding amongst the so-called friendly people. He knows our culture won't allow us to bomb western Baghdad and its entire people into dust. So how does one employ asymmetry? Don't play on his field or by his rules. Attack his will not his means. How do you do that? You can't just snuff out the will of anyone to fight. Recall what it took in WW II. So what do you do? You give him a problem that he cannot ignore and that will accomplish two things simultaneously. One, it will refocus his war fighting capability to solving the more urgent problem and two it undermines his will to fight.
What could possible cause the Iraqi bad guys to change focus? The Sunni people. What you say? The Sunni people are the center of gravity for the insurgents. They harbor the remaining Bathists and 95% of the insurgents. They feed the fighters and tend to their wounded. Get rid of them. What! You can't just kill them. Of course not, but you can do something even more effective. Drive them out of Iraq and into Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Kuwait. If they refuse to go, load them on trucks and drive them to the border. Give these four countries a major migraine of millions of Sunni refugees. Along with the Sunnis, you also drive out the Bathists and insurgents. Seal the borders. All 4 countries are Sunni and they will be forced to spend their war fighting capability caring for their displaced brothers.
But they will starve or get sick on the trip, unacceptable! Drop them food, water and medicine till they are over the border. Once there, not our problem. Do not let any Iraqis enter the void. Keep it void so that anyone in the void is automatically an enemy combatant.
Do not let any American food supplies reach the Sunnis directly or indirectly through the UN. Make China, Russia and Iran feed them. They are aiding and abetting the Sunnis anyway. There are a lot of Sunnis. You can be certain that this method will cause incredible hardship on these 4 countries for years, the same way the Palestinians overwhelmed Jordan after the Arab Israeli wars.
Liberty or Death
I happen to like your analysis becuase it rests on the unstated premise, which is true, that Iraq does not represent a People and historically never has.
President, Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)
But I used to think it would help bring peace to the Iraqi people. I was wrong. Oh, it will help and it is the best solution at the political level. It will appease the militias that are fighting for independence from the Iraqi Central Government. Lots of Kurds and Sunni here. There are 4 problems festering in Iraq. first, Shia militias fighting each other in the south. This is about power. Second, the civil war between the Sunnis and Shia, again about power. Third, the insurgents, mostly disaffected Sunnis and some outsiders recruited by the wealthy Baathists and funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf moderates. They are killing Americans and Shia. Four Al-Qaeda, no stake in Iraq, soley there to cause mischief. Killing Americans and Shia.
The problem still remains the Sunnis. After the divide they will be very unhappy. They harbor the insurgents and Al-Qaeda and will not accept going from 1rst place to third in the pecking order. They will continue to fight and get external funding. All the pundits predict the moderates gulf states will support the Sunnis, Turkey will go after the Kurds and Iran will support the Shia. A blood bath.
My answer to them is so what? We pull the Americans out of the Sunnis areas and send a no uncertain threat to all participants that disrupting oil in any state will be punished severally. The middle east is in desparate need of a blood letting. Far too many hot heads in every country. Mutual killing of hot heads is a good thing. We just need to referee to keep one faction from dominating.