Pleonexia: Beyond Hubris

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

An Opening for American Victory In Iraq. Why Censure is Not Enough.

Today, I was watching CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interview Time Magazine’s Iraq correspondent Michael Ware. Ware has just posted his latest article on the Iraqi insurgency and is one of the only members of the western press in Iraq to have such access to the major insurgent groups.

During his interview, Wolf asked him about what drove the insurgents’ zealotry and the answer he gave motivated me to write this piece so that what he said would not be left “inaudible” to the rest of America. This is what Michael Ware said; (full transcript from CNN’s Situation Room Aired April 4, 2006 - 17:00 ET)

WARE: All right. Talking about the Sunni insurgents, the mainstream, the main body, by and large, these are former military officers, former Ba'athists, members of the intelligence services, secret police. These are relatively well-trained individuals. Many of them, the U.S.' former allies from the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

These guys are essentially jockeying for some kind of power, some kind of a carve up at the political table. It's very (INAUDIBLE). But then the military action is really just an extension of the politics.

They believe that by putting military pressure on, that gives them a stake that they didn't otherwise have in the military game. Unlike the al Qaeda extremists, unlike the Islamic militants, they are not fighting a global holy war. They are not fighting to create an Islamic state, like these Sunnis on one side and the extremist Shia on the other.

They want largely a secular society. They've said they're prepared to host U.S. bases, akin to Germany and Japan. Let's normalize relations. We share common enemies, Iran and al Qaeda. How did we end up on the wrong side of this?

Three things jumped out at me here (bold), but first I must take on the hidden key. Michael used a word that most people would be hard pressed to pick up on, as a matter of fact, I don’t even think it’s a word that’s been used much outside of a West Point classroom or textbook. The term, transcribed as “INAUDIBLE”, is Clausewitzian, describing the theories of Carl von Clauswitz.

Clausewitz was a Major General in the Prussian Army during their war with Napoleon, and penned one of the leading military philosophies of the 19th and early 20th century, “On War”, published after his death in by his wife in 1832.

One of his main points in his teachings was war as an extension of politics. I learned of Clausewitz while reading John Keegan’s “History of Warfare”. He explained that there were two different types of major warfare, “Total War”, and “True War”. Total War is a political tool, used to gain some monetary or policy victory. Such “acceptable” types of war could lead to compromises and later reductions of tensions between combatants.

True War lies well beyond the state. This is a more personal and destructive type of warfare, the type that rarely leads to treaties or moral victories. More often than not, they lead to genocide and environmental catastrophes. These are usually based on Religion or Ideology. Many blame this philosophy for leading Europe into WW1 and WW2, though I think it was more than just a book.

Second is the breakdown of the different insurgent groups. We know that most of the insurgency has nothing to do with al-Qaeda. We also know that even Saddam didn’t trust al-Qaeda. Now, our biggest problem is Iranian influence in Iraq. This is not just a problem for the US either. The Arab world is worried about Iran as well. The AP just reported today that diplomats from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey have been meeting in secret over the last few weeks to prepare for any civil upheaval in Iraq.

Their biggest concern is Iranian influence in Iraq. According to the Associated Press, “Arab nations, mostly Sunni and traditionally suspicious of Iran, are deeply concerned about what they see as Iran's growing influence in Iraq”. They went on to quote Jordan's King Abdullah II accusing Iran of trying to influence events in Iraq. He warned that Iran was seeking to create "a Shiite crescent" that would disrupt the balance of power in the region. (Haaretz/AP)

According to Michael Ware, most of the insurgent groups want stability as well. The Sunni’s and secularists don’t want Iran’s influence, or an Islamic Theocracy. Some are even willing to host US military bases in Iraq, just what the Bush administration wanted to do in the first place. But the problem is they don’t trust Bush. They were willing to accept the Americans as liberators at first, but the mishandling of the post-invasion, disbanding of the Iraqi Army and Police (most read the pamphlets dropped over the years by US/UK forces telling them that if they laid down their arms when we invaded that we would take care of them), the disintegration of public services, failure to secure the conventional weapons depots, and later, the treatment of Iraqis at Abu-Girab, lead directly to the strife today, and turned Iraq into a violent free-for-all ripe for an insurgency and teetering on civil war; truly a failed state.

Saddam is gone, so let’s get this right. We need to fix this thing as soon as possible and I think that this is a viable option. We need to identify the insurgent groups that are willing to set aside the missteps of the past and settle Iraq now. By doing so, we will regain a measure of respect from the Arab world and be prepared to deal with the threat from Iran.

As things are today, with Iran’s “Prophet War Games”, our troops bogged down in Iraq, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, China’s call to divest their US debt holdings, Venezuela’s moves to isolate America from South America, and our slowly crumbling relationship with Russia, we are in a precarious position. If we went to war with Iran under the current world situation, we will have to commit too large a force to wage it. In the opening salvo, we’ll probably loose half of the 5th Fleet, and we will be vulnerable from our flanks, both tacticly on the ground in Iraq and the Gulf, and strategically by China in the Indian Ocean and Asia Minor. Though we could hold off much of this, it will only escalate as others join in the fight against us at other weak points left open when we pull troops and equipment from Europe and South Korea.

I know this sounds grim, but this will only lead to what Clausewitz called a TRUE WAR, one in which our only defense will be nukes.

After considering all of this, I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer support the Censure of President George W. Bush. Nothing short of a full Impeachment of him, Dick Cheney and members of his cabinet wick do. And it must be done sooner rather than later. We can say that the technical reasons for Impeachment are things like spying on Americans (FISA), breaking international treaties (torture and the Geneva Convention), lying to Congress (WMD at the State of the Union), election rigging (Diebold, Florida and Ohio), or breaching national security (outing an entire CIA intel operation), but we must make it clear that the true reason is to stop Bush from starting the war that Einstein predicted. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”. The longer they run this country, the more dangerous this world becomes for America and the world. If we sit back and wait for 2008, it may be too late.

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