Sunday, November 13, 2005

We've Already Won Iraq; Some Folks Just Haven't Figured It Out Yet

For all intents and purposes, we have won in Iraq. Iraq is and will be a democratic country in the Middle East. No power can stop it now. Nothing can change it, but the will of the Iraqi people and they have already spoken twice, soon to be three times, on where they stand: Democracy, self rule, and liberty.

What we see now is "mop up".

Why did we win and why have people been predicting a loss or some sort of draw? As my friend recently noted from the Strategy Page, as a nation, we have a built in three year war rule. Nobody likes to have war forever and once you've experienced war for three years, people get tired, they get confused and they get dispondent. The war seems never ending and life seems like it will never get back to normal. When you're at war, you're afraid. You're afraid what might happen today, in the next hour, the next minute that will change your life forever. You're afraid that the war will go on and on and your children will fight it and their children.

Some of the fear is correct and some of it is irrational paranoia brought on by the length of the war. Like soldiers that get the thousand yard stare because they've been in battle so long. It used to be called "battle fatigue", now we call it PTSD, but I think for the general public "battle fatigue" is a better description.

Fortunately, battle fatigue works in our favor in Iraq. People don't really want to live in conflict, in fear, in danger and uncertain of their future or their children's future. In the case of the insurgency, what does the "insurgency" have to offer, but a continuation of death and destruction? In places where these so called "insurgents" settle in and take control, they make life miserable. There is no sense of security or normalcy or even future. Not simply because people must fear that the presence of the "insurgents" will bring the Coalition forces, but because these "insurgents" only know how hurt, maim, torture, kill and put people in fear.

They cannot provide public services. Their brand of "civil affairs" means extorting money from the locals, extorting food, demanding that men allow their vaunted "mujihadeen" to marry their daughters, some as young as 9 (allowed because Mohammed married Aisha and slept with her at that age) in order to secure some sort of "loyalty by marriage" (trying to work off tribal loyalties); measuring men's beards or lashing them if they shave it off; improperly covered women get lashes, too. And that's on a good day. They set up impromptu sharia courts, prosecute and execute people in heinous ways for these little things or less. Crap, maybe they don't like the color of some guy's dishdash.

Now, even your most faithful Sunni Muslim knows that the rules of his religion and general convention says that they can follow any one of four Sunni sects and still be considered "faithful" so when some schmuck from Arabia comes into your town and starts telling you that what you've done for 20 years is apostasy, starts intruding on your very person with rules about your facial hair, the clothes you wear, who you talk to, is not going to be very happy. Sure, these guys are fellow Muslims, but there are limits to anyone's acceptance and limits to which you can abuse somebody's hospitality. Lashing some dude for the length of his beard, stealing his bread and money and screwing with his family (the source of his honor) is not going to win you friends and gain you influence.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not the US that is pissing off the locals with unreasonable demands, it's the mujihadeen and their fellow crackpots, some of which are even worse, follow no rules and act like gang members dispensing "street justice".

How do we know this happens? Everywhere the marines go, somebody is extremely happy to see them. They tell them where the bad guys are, we capture or kill them. We have CAP (civil affairs patrols) which gives out food, clothing, schools supplies, treats the sick, looks for projects to build, includes the locals in decision making at the local level and helps them get their voice at the national level. Can Zarqawi do that?

The answer is "no".

One of the problems also facing Americans is that we have a tendency to look at history through mythological, mystical monumental moments. We think those moments define the historical event.

Like World War II for instance. Everyone knows that we dropped two A-bombs on Japan and they surrendered 10 days later. The one big "battle" and it's all done ideology and so every American is looking for the "one big battle" in Iraq or with Al Qaida so they can brush off their hands, breath a sigh of relief and declare the war over. That's what history says so we should see that in Iraq, right?

Let me repeat that it took 10 days for Japan to surrender after we dropped the second bomb. Ten days. For those who are remiss in their history, the only reason they surrendered after 10 days was because some Japanese officers were sane enough to look around, see their people were surviving on half rice rations, note that 3/4 of their forces were gone or marginalized, and that they were arming their citizens with sticks, rocks and hoes to defend the "homeland". They realized it was suicidal to continue. In those 10 days, they orchestrated what amounted to a coup against the military junta that was in control of the palace.

Those A bombs were important, but they didn't win the war. The war was won through dogged persistance, continuing to attrit their forces and resources. We had more men, more money, more resources, better industrialization that had not been bombed so we could keep turning out weapons, tanks and ammunition. That's what won the war.

That's what won the European theater, too. Not one decisive battle. Many battles, some won, some lost, but we were constantly able to replenish our forces and resources. The German's couldn't do it at the rate that we could. The war was not won in one decisive battle, but many battles with many different strategies. Some battles we "won" because the German's left the field, but we lost many men, tanks, artillary, you name it, we lost it, but we won the battle. The battle by itself did not win or lose the war.

Can you name the battle that won the civil war? Can you name the last battle? Did the last battle win the war? No. The Union won the war the same way we won WWII. Long, hard slogging up and down the country, attritting Lee's forces and resources. You could say that Gettysburg was the turning point, but a reminder would tell you that the war went on for another year. A year of Grant chasing Lee up and down the country while Sheridan went smashing through the south destroying as much of the manufacturing and agriculture that he could to reduce Lee's resources. Yes, Lee surrendered ten months after Gettysburg, but the war was not over at Appatomatic Court House, just the war for Lee. We still had to round up some other folks who hadn't yet got the message.

By the end of that war, the people were just plain tired. Reading history, the thing that the Union feared most was that Lee would not surrender, but would disband his forces into guerilla troops to continue the war indefinitely, so, Grant kept pursuing and Sheridan kept burning until everyone was ready to go home and see if they could grub some corn out of the soil to feed their families.

That is how you win the war. Long, hard, staying on target, on course and going until the enemy realizes that they cannot hope to match you.

We are seeing that in Iraq today. WE have the money. WE have the men. WE have the resources. They couldn't match us if they wanted to. They know that. They've written and said it so many times it's not even funny anymore. The only thing that keeps part of the "insurgents" (read, "Islamists") going is fanaticism. The suicidal (duh) fanaticism we saw in the Japanese military junta that was ready to sacrifice their entire country for the sake of their honor. The same fanatacism we saw in the Nazis, still fighting street to street in Berlin when that was all that was left to them because they just could not imagine that they could lose.

But they could and they did. Not simply because we have a better ideology than they did, but because we were better at churning and slogging.

That's the shitty thing about long wars. Long wars means churning and slogging, not quick decisive on off battles that start and stop the war. Desert Storm was not an abberation, by the way. We never stopped being at war with Saddam, we just had different rules under the ceasefire agreement. It was really an 11 year war that we just pretended we didn't have. Tell that to the guys flying missions over and into Iraq for the 11 years before we finally did the big push. I'd bet that they did not consider themselves peace time police patroling the skies of Baghdad. It was war every time they went up because the Iraqi forces consistently and continuously targeted them with radar and sometimes actually shot at them.

We just pretended not to notice over here with our digital bubble boom and our Starbucks lattes.

So, we've got the so called insurgents beat on the political and civil affairs side. They couldn't match us if they wanted to.

What about the military part? I really love to hear people talking about the "mistakes that have been made". Really? The wars not over yet (though, I maintain it is won in Iraq) and people are writing history already? All I can say is that it's a damn good thing that we weren't such a bunch of pansy ass Monday morning quarterbacks during most of the wars we've fought. If we're judging wars by the wins and losses of battles before the war is over, I suppose we should dig up Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR and Truman so we can impeach them for their disasterous war plans that cost us billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of men for the stupid mistakes they made. While we're at it, let's dig up the Generals and Admirals for general Courts Martial. We can get a two for one with Washington. I mean, hell, if you want to look at "failed" battle plans, he'd be a damn good candidate with the number of battles he lost.

No? Not interested? We won those wars? How do you know? Were you there when they were sending back dispatches and the news papers were reporting defeats and people were milling around the local government buildings for a look at the casualty lists? Are you sure we won those wars? You know, I think that people that lived through them might have argued the point right in the middle of war. I'm thinking, at the beginning of 1943 the American people were probably thinking that there was a real chance they were going to lose the war and be subject to some giant fascistic global junta. Maybe even imagining something foolish like suing for peace in hopes of cutting their losses and getting back their daily lives, hopefully without having give up to much to those ass holes.

Amazingly, somehow, we did it. WE turned it around and kicked ass. Not easy, not bloodless and not gutless. We never surrendered. We lost that somewhere around Korea and finished divesting ourselves of the last traces in Vietnam. Why? Because people were tired. They wanted to have peace and live a normal life without much intrusion. We really like it like that. Which is nice, if you can get it, but the world is full of ass holes who think that they should rule the world or at least their tiny part of it. They can only do it if we let them.

Now, the difference between all these wars might be that people felt invested in the outcomes. Nobody really wanted to live with a fascistic junta hanging over their every moment of life or even contemplating taking over our country. People don't feel invested in Iraq. I can't tell you how many times I hear people talking about Iraq as if it was a civil war. "Why can't we just leave and let those people sort it out for themselves?" Those people. People we don't know who aren't like us. They don't speak our language, eat our food or worship as we do (in general; we certainly have a number of "those people" living here, but that's here after all).

People think that Iraq's success or failure has no bearing on their lives. They don't get our strategy and they don't get the enemy's strategy. They imagine, four years after 9/11, that outright war is not necessary. They just want to go back to their normal lives. They want it to be quiet. They want terrorists to be handled like they were handled before. Track them with our intelligence agencies (what a laugh), toss a bomb (at empty camps), assissinate a guy or two, call it a day so they can get back to their ham sandwiches, potatoe chips and beer while they watch Sunday football.

They have no affinity for "those" people. The only reason they are concerned is because the nightly news keeps telling them about explosions and dead people. Funny, most of the dead people are "those" people. Maybe they are just irritated because the nightly news has five minutes less about the football standings becaue they have to report the bombings?

Probably not. Mostly, it's about Battle Fatigue.

I recall reading in history (and watching the movie "Patton") when Patton walks in on a young guy crying in a tent. First, he's all concerned that the guy was injured. Then he finds out that he has "battle fatigue" and Patton is pissed that he's in the same tent, crying as the men who were injured and dying, fighting. He slaps the piss out of the guy. Back when that movie was filmed, it was, in many ways a statement about how Hollywood saw the military. Sure, Patton was a hero in WWII, but don't forget that he was a crazy, mean, unfeeling son of a bitch who was largely concerned about the image and the glory of the army and himself to the point that he'd sacrifice the mental and physical well being of his soldiers to achieve it. I can't tell you how wrong that is, but this is not a time to hash out how hollywood and even his contemporaries saw fit to castigate him over the years.

Frankly, every time I saw that part of the movie, I always felt empathy for Patton. There have been too many times lately when I want to slap some whiney ass "we are losing, there have been so many mistakes", "battle fatigued" blow hard it's not even funny. I could make an entire three hour movie, including editing out the less photogenic moments, from of re-enacting Patton's slap. I could probably make a sequel while I'm at it. I think I'll call it, "Patton Strikes Back".

History has not been written for Iraq nor for the war on Islamo-fascists. You could say that I am prematurely calling the war in Iraq a win, but I would counter by saying that, while no battle is ever really the "decisive" battle that ends a war, battles can be the tipping point and the tipping point was November 2004 in Iraq. Contrary to popular belief, the "insurgents" do not have us running all over Iraq, we have them running all over Iraq. I guarantee you that there is not a night that the leaders don't sit down to eat dinner or lay on their blankets when they are not worried that the door is going to come crashing in or that a laser beam is tagged on the window, waiting to deliver that instantaneous death.

We have them running from one town to another, unable to get all of their intelligence at one time or meet with their assets regularly. They don't have time to breath, to think about creating the political vehicle they need to convince the locals to join them (that's why they resort to extra foul tactics of repressing the locals and why the locals invariably give them up). They don't have time to set up a civil affairs arm to give money, food or medical treatment. They don't have time. All they can think about is surviving one more day, one more hour and one more minute.

For those confused about our strategy for winning the military side of the endeavor, see Bill Roggio's nice map. It's called "sucking them in". At our leisure, we pause and let these thugs think they can set up camp in some town and then, when we have our intel and forces in place, we surround them, pin them against the river or the border, close the door and hammer them to pieces. We follow that up with security and civil affairs patrols. Strangely, the enemy keeps falling for it, from Fallujah, to Mosul, to Ramadi, to Husaybah and Qaim. They have no choice because, in order for them to actually begin their "winning strategy" they need an operations base, an Amirate, from which they can launch their version of political and civil affairs functions to win over the population.

Until then, they have no choice but to focus on their own security which by necessity means that they will repress the local population, giving us the "in" we need before we even get there with bandaids, money and humanitarian rations.

I keep recalling the words from the last Zarqawi letter where he says that the people's hearts are with the mujihadeen, but their swords are with the winner. It is ever thus, and it spells defeat for the party who can't win, who can't buy the swords and doesn't know how to turn them into plow shares.

We're the winner.

Don't forget that.

As for the so called "mistakes" that allowed an insurgency to occur by all those who don't want to be called "Bush's Cheerleaders", I say, "drop dead". It cracks me up, really. Besides judging the war before it's done, these same folks accusing the administration and the military of acting like they are indestructable, infallible gods, area acting like the military is full of infallible gods that can actually control the enemy. They believe, in some mixed up over confident omnipotence, that we some how control the strategies and planning of the enemy. As if these men are really the camel humping, goat herding cave dwellers that they accuse people like me of believing to the detriment of the war effort. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

We can, to some extent, control certain elements in the political, civil and military arena that can "shape" the battle field, but it in no way means that we actually control the enemy. Frankly, I get confused by the rhetoric sometimes. First they tell you that there was no plan to fight the insurgency and then they tell you if some other strange and unknown tactic had been employed there would have been no insurgency to plan for. So, which is it? We should have known there would be one or we should have done some mystical, magical movement on the battle field that would have precluded it?

Is it both? That's where the "What? Is the military actually like gods on Mount Olympus that can control all the people on the battle field? If they could, why didn't they? Because they were too stupid? All the Monday morning quarterbacks have it all figured out. They've got the war on Tivo so they can rewind it, watch every move made, analyze it to death and then tell the world that, had they only been the coach or the quarterback calling the plays, they wouldn't have made the same mistakes.

Easy to make that call when you're watching the game on Tivo from the comfort of an over stuffed recliner.

I don't care if these folks believe they are some sort of expert or even have a military background. I call "bull shit" on them. I especially call "bull shit" on all the non-military assholes who don't have to make these calls every day who are repeating some crap they heard from Clarke or McCaffrey on MSN Bull Crap while they sucked down their second egg McCardio arrest of the morning. I mean, who knew so many people wanted to be John Kerry?

"I have a plan. It's a good plan. It's the same plan the President is using, but I would have done it better. I don't know how since I've never actually seen the plan and can't seem to read a map to figure out what's going on now, but, I have a plan and I know some how I would not have made the same mistakes."

Well, good-F'ing gum drops for you. What I am pretty damn sure of is that these same folks might not have made these mistakes, but they would have made some other mistakes and, who knows, maybe those mistakes would have put us in a worse place than we are now. It's all irrelevant because you dance with the demon that brought you, not some shit head writing an op ed for the NYT whose greatest worries are how much whip cream somebody put in his latte, making the deadline and spellcheck.

So, screw off you big whiney ass babies. We're at war. We're winning the war in Iraq. We will win the war on terror, despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Excuse me if you just haven't figured it out yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

August 10, 2009.

What utter bullshit. Please. Grow some balls and tell the truth now. It's almost four years later, sectarian violence is on the upswing again and, because of people like you, America is broke. The only reason there's been any progress in Iraq is because we finally got the balls to start pulling out, no thanks to you, but because Bush finally realized his legacy was that of a total fucking loser so he started to do the right thing before Obama came in and made you all look like the violent drunk-with-power losers you really are.