Skip to comments.Our Iraq Strategy is Now a Tale of "Diminishing Returns"
Posted on 08/15/2009 7:02:22 AM PDT by Kaslin
Question for Americans: How can we as a nation even consider using our military for another "surge" in Afghanistan when the "surge" in Iraq has left little more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?
This, to clarify, is not the antiwar Left writing. I am writing from a pro-military, anti-jihad point of view that has long seen futility in the U.S. nation-building strategy in Iraq, and now sees futility in the rerun in Afghanistan. Problem is, the same blind spot afflicts both strategies: the failure to understand that an infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. This, in essence, is what President Bush and now President Obama have ordered our troops to do.
I don't suggest these missions are ever considered in such terms, which implicitly acknowledge intractable differences between Judeo-Christian-based Western cultures and Islamic cultures. Doing so, of course, is a taboo thing -- a grievous violation in the PC realm where decisions are made. But the omission helps answer my opening question. I seriously doubt Americans would approve of re-running the surge in Afghanistan if there were an honest reckoning of the religious, cultural and historical reasons why the surge failed to achieve its promised results in Iraq.
This is not to say the U.S. military failed. On the contrary, the U.S. military succeeded, as ordered, to bring a measure of security and aid to a carnage-maddened Islamic society. Given U.S.-won security, surge architects promised us, this same Islamic society was supposed to then respond by coming together in "national reconciliation." They were wrong. Not only did Iraqis fail to coalesce as a pro-American, anti-jihad bulwark in the Islamic world (the thoroughly delusional original objective), they have also failed to form a minimally functional nation-state. And the United States is now poised to do the same thing all over again in Afghanistan.
I write this as the volume of talk of an Afghanistan "surge" is getting louder, drowning out the quiet undercurrent of eye-opening reports now emerging on post-surge Iraq. Late last month, for example, the New York Times reported on a bluntly revealing memo written by Col. Timothy Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military's Baghdad command. In it, Reese urgently argues that the United States has "reached the point of diminishing returns" in Iraq due, among many other things, to endemic corruption ("the stuff of legend"), laziness, weakness and culture of "political violence and intimidation."
Reese considers Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) "good enough" -- just -- to keep the Iraqi government from toppling. That's reason enough, he writes, to leave early, by August 2010 instead of December 2011. Reese describes a "fundamental change" in the U.S.-Iraq relationship since the June 30 handover -- a "sudden coolness," lack of cooperation, even a "forcible takeover" by ISF of a checkpoint. While Iraq will still "squeeze the U.S. for all the `goodies' that we can provide," he writes, tensions are increasing and "the potential for Iraqi on U.S. violence is high now and will grow by the day."
And that's the good news. The Washington Times this week reported on an even more dire prognostication to be published by National Defense University written by Najim Abed Al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi police chief and mayor. Al-Jabouri focuses on problems within the ISF, where, he writes, the divided loyalties of what is essentially a series of militias beholden to competing "ethno-sectarian" political factions could easily drive Iraq to civil war. He writes: "The state security institutions have been built upon a foundation of shifting loyalties that will likely collapse when struck by the earthquake of ethnic and sectarian attacks. Iraq's best hope for creating a long-term stable democracy will come from an independent national security force that is controlled by the state, and not by political parties competing to control the state."
Al-Jabouri insists the United States should exert its "leverage" to revamp the ISF, which, given Reese's evidence of plummeting U.S. influence in Iraq, seems farfetched even if it were a good idea. Which it is emphatically not. An infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation -- a truism that, in a more rational (non-PC) world, might bring surge enthusiasts to their senses.
This writer is seriously deluded about our impact in Iraq, especially the “surge” in Iraq. It plainly won that war!
Does she think that protests would be so bold in Iran if not for a functioning democracy next door? Sure Iraq has political problems, but every nation does.
The bottom line is that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not comparable.
“this writer is seriously deluded about our impact in Iraq, especially the surge in Iraq. It plainly won that war!”
but, Obammy is pissing away our hard won victory.
In a narrow military-sense, perhaps. The problem with all insurgencies is that the central government -- in this case, Baghdad -- has to 'seal the deal'. I think that they can, but 'our' part of this fight is rapidly coming to an end.
By their very nature Guerrilla wars are unwinable. All you can hope for in the end is a sustainable peace for an extended time. When every house is a possible enemy castle occupation is like walking on broken glass. Look at our own Revolution! “From behind every hedgerow, tree and boulder”. In the long run the Brits could not sustain their position. (Tip to Bambi)Same holds true now.
The correct reply would have been the author is severely mistaken. Notice, I did not write the editorial
Time will only tell.
Once again, we have used our military in a manner that falls way short of the stated purpose of war - the total defeat of ones enemy.
Once again we, with overwhelming military might, after the initial victories morphed the military into a nation building/status quo maintaining organ.
One would think with all the experience we have had since WWII in using the military for less than all out warfare that eventually we would get it right.
Time will tell.
Obviously, I am not at all certain the time and treasure we expended will achieve much at all and just might well be not more than a ripple in the sands of Mesopotamia as the author suggested. And if we are to win the greater battle against the Islamists we will have to eventually use our military, backed by the entire nation, to totally annihilate "the enemy" - Islam as practiced by those whose goal is to annihilate us!
History shows that you are wrong to state that guerrilla wars are unwinnable, if by that you mean by the other than the guerrillas. Various Helot revolts against Sparta failed. Rome crushed all Jewish resistance for hundreds of years and fought a three war war to defeat an Illyrian insurrection. The Caste War of Yucatán raged for fifty years before Mexican troops put the Mayans down for good.
In modern times successful counterinsurgency operations have been conducted in the Philippines, Malaya, Northern Ireland, and even in Vietnam, but in the latter case the field was ceded to the Communists by the Democrats in Congress.
It is difficult, but not impossible, to defeat a guerrilla force.
I agree wholeheartedly with you. From here on out, it is up to them....
Afghanistan is a whole different bucket of worms. If it were me, I would darken the sky with drones. Then put in a nighttime curfew, and a three mile no go zone on the borders. Kill anything that moves that shouldn't. Make the Afganis stop the terrorist bombings or continue suffering the innocent deaths.
War over in one year.
The Iraqi Shiites are going to crush the Iraqi Kurds. Doesent mean its not a “nation state”.
The Iraqis despise al-Qaeda. Leave the minutemen-al Qaeda analogies to the Michael Moores of the world.
I agree with you- this author is seriously deluded.