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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Generals Are Revolting, Again and Again

The discussion on this original post have gotten so long, they deserve to be published in their own post, re-starting the thread. Last week, I wrote that the Army and Marine generals (unsurprisningly now joined by Paul Van Riper USMC, Ret) who have lately come out against the portion of the war currently being fought in Iraq were mud-minded scoundrels and poltroons for openly opposing a war while our troops were still dying in it. Izmud has defended them, particularly their right to speak openly as private citizens. While I agree with this last aspect (I could hardly do otherwise, since I am myself a retired military officer who mouths off obnoxiously about topics related to national security), I felt that the real issue was that Izmud disagreed with the President's policies in Iraq and I agreed with them. We pick up the thread here:

In what ways are Dubya & Co. screwing up? What alternatives do you think that we have?


To which Izmud responds:

Well, since you ask, here's what I'd do differently. As politically unpopular as it would be, I think we should temporarily double the number of troops on the ground and systematically disarm the entire populous. Any militia is disbanded or destroyed, Sadr especially. That should take about 6 months, then draw back down quickly to about half our current level and play on-call cop for the Iraqi forces for a couple years, then half again. Concurrent with the disarmament plan we forcibly relocate some of the population to reduce some hotspots--compensating those who are moved. We have to be a lot more "in your face" about this internecine killing of Sunni Shiites--that has to stop. Toleration is a way of life they need to learn. I think I'd set up a performance-based awards program run by Americans but rewarding Iraqis who do the right thing--whether it's ratting out bad guys, teaching school in dangerous areas, making it through basic cop school, passing certification to run the hydroelectric plant, whatever. Bonuses, with perhaps bigger follow-on bonuses for continued excellence. We have to break the typical Arab mindset of not wanting to do hard work and corrupt business practices.

Most of the rest of the stuff I've read about sounds like good efforts, I just think we screwed up badly in the beginning. We sold the war the wrong way and on faulty data, and then we didn't leave an adequate force in place with a good plan to do the clean up, and we're paying the price now.

Cheers, Izmud

"As politically unpopular as it may be..." it is a central tenet of an effects-based approach to operations that the various aspects or instruments of nantional power cannot be considered in isolation. That being the case, the politcal feasibility of doubling our troop stength when the war's political opposition is calling for a concrete timetable for drawdown from current troop levels is nil. This would probably cause the defection of all of our remaining allies, including Britain (which, by itself, would draw troop strength on the ground down by a third.) I don't think this is politically possible for a president with popularity in the low thirties.

"...Temporarily double the number of troops...disarm the militias...that should take about six months." Try four time the number of troops and six years, not six months. It's part of the culture; I don't think they'll take a militarily imposed solution. No; we've got to find some way to get those who are in the militias now engaged in the serious political process and let them find a stake in peace rather than war. In the land of a thousand hornet's nests, which one do you squirt with Raid first? And what do you do once you've squirted it (and the remaining 999 nests, or at least the hundred right near you) become angry and active? Do we, rather, set the hornets about the job of building a single large nest among themselves? How do we do this? I don't have a good answer and I don't think the administration does either, but I do know it's imperative -- the only solution. If we begin to see civil war really errupting, we should pull out, completely and apruptly, and let the Iraqis sting each other until the nests settle down.

We are already playing on-call cop for the Iraqis in most provinces. In others, we are systematically rooting out the foreign fighters and extremists; pouring oil over the water, as it were, and letting it spread. I don't disagree with you here; I just point out that this is what we are already doing.

"Forcibly relocate the population..." it did work to a degree in Malaysia and South Africa, but I wonder about its political feasibility today, in the age of Abu Ghraib "torture." I think such a scheme does have the possbility of rapidly becoming more like Stalin's forced relocation of subject nations than a "strategic hamlet" program. Remember that the term "concentration camp" came from the Boer War in British usage. Its provenance today doesn't bode well for an American president.

"Toleration is a way of life they need to learn." Agreed. Do we teach it to them by sending in twice the current army, shooting them, taking the AKMs from their corpses, and relocating their surviving families to concentration camps? Not bloody likely. They need to learn it through a supervised political process, much as the Japanese did after WW II.

"Bonuses and bigger follow-on bonuses" -- now you're talking. We need to provide a positive incentive for every negative one the extremists through at them. Couldn't agree more.

"We screwed up badly in the beginning." I agree, but not because we sold the war on faulty premises. We did do that, but it was a misguided effort to involve the UN, which I think Bush assumed would sweep up the mess after our troops were back home parading. The UN said, "F&&k you -- it's your mess, you clean it up." And we did no planning to do just that -- that was the screw up. We had more than enough troops and aircraft to defeat Saddam's armies and overthrow his regime. We had no plan for what to do after that happened. I don't think any other administration would have, either. The Democrats, if they'd ever been forced into the Iraqi campaign in the first place, would have planned just as little for the aftermath. It's in our nature as a people to think about the decisve battle, but not beyond it. This is especially true of peoples observing democratic forms of government. This has also been true since Athens went to war against Sparta and Boeotia. We're not suited for the long war, but we're forced into it by the condition of the world and the nature of our enemy, who has been waiting since 1683 to give back the last "decisive" pounding he got. We have no choice but the long war now, like it or not, and the solution won't come in six months (or six years). We proved that we could fight this kind of war against the former Soviet Union. Russia was once a mighty foe; now it's a pornographic bunion on the foot of Europe. We can do the same to extremist islam if we face the need to fight the long war with all of our national resources.


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