General Odierno, our number two guy in Iraq, needs a sit down with Benjamin Franklin. He has the symptoms of insanity. Franklin apparently was the first to note that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" (others credit Albert Einstein with this insight; I don't know, let's thank both of them). Having learned nothing from the battles of Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tall Afar, U.S. Generals launched another feckless attack on alleged Al Qaeda insurgents in Baquba this week. The New York Times Michael Gordon reports:
In an otherwise upbeat assessment, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, told reporters that leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had been alerted to the Baquba offensive by widespread public discussion of the American plan to clear the city before the attack began. He portrayed the Qaeda leaders’ escape as cowardice, saying that “when the fight comes, they leave,” abandoning “midlevel” Qaeda leaders and fighters to face the might of American troops — just, he said, as they did in Falluja.Let me see if I have this straight? We go after a supposed concentration of Al Qaeda. We encircle a city filled with civilians. We blow the living shit out of the place. And guess what? The terrorists aka insurgents beat feet and melt away. The so-called cowards won't "stand and fight". Well, looks to me like those cowards are much faster learners then we are.
General Odierno ought to go back and read some good old fashioned American History. There was this guy, General Francis Marion, who got the nickname "Swamp Fox" from a fussy British Colonel (Tarleton) who complained that Marion did not fight fair:
When British forces captured Charleston in 1780, American troops pulled out of South Carolina. Marion, however, stayed and organized a small force of poorly equipped men, training them in guerrilla tactics. Living off the land, Marion and his men harassed British troops by staging small surprise attacks in which they captured small groups of British soldiers, sabotaged communication and supply lines, and rescued American prisoners. After these attacks Marion withdrew his men to swamp country unfamiliar to the British. Colonel Banastre Tarleton, a British commander, gave Marion his nickname when he complained that it was impossible to catch the "swamp fox." Near the end of the war, Marion and American General Nathanael Greene joined forces. In 1781 they successfully fought at the Battle of Eutaw Springs and forced the British retreat to North Carolina.Sound familiar? Despite our decided technological advantage we are fighting insurgents on their home turf. There is a home advantage in more than football.
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The current U.S. offensive will fail. We will punch ourselves out on an enemy that is smart enough to retreat in the face of overwhelming force. We will go house to house rousting able bodied men from their sleep and humiliating them in front of their wives. We will detain some of these folks but eventually let them return home. When they return home they will be fully prepared to support whatever insurgent group will help them reclaim the honor we took from them.
We have employed these insane tactics for four plus years. And what have we achieved? A steady increase in terrorist violence and insurgent attacks. More U.S. soldiers have died in the last six months then in any six month period since the war began. And what do we have? A modern version of Colonel Banastre Tarleton whining about the insurgents who run away. Well General Odierno, those run away cowards are kicking our ass. I suggest you pull your head out of yours and come up with an effective strategy that does not play into the hands of the "terrorists".
What should we do? It is very simple.
1. Recognize that we are fighting a hydra-headed insurgency. There are at least 20 different insurgent groups. There is no single enemy. Ironically, we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about "Al Qaeda". We deceive ourselves that Al Qaeda is the main enemy in Iraq. It is not.
2. Disengage from attacking the Iraqi people. Immediately institute a moratorium on kicking in the doors of suspected weapons sites, etc. Whatever value has been achieved by capturing small caches of weapons has been grossly overshadowed by the ill-will we have spawned among the various factions in Iraq. If a house has to be invaded let the Iraqi police or soldiers do it. Our boys and girls need to sit this one out.
3. Empower local sheiks and tribal chiefs to secure the roads and infrastructure in their area. Pay them to keep the roads open and free of explosives. Provide training and support to those tribes. We do not have enough troops to secure the roads and infrastructure. We would need at least 500,000 troops to accomplish that objective. We do not have them and we do not have a plan (e.g., draft) in place to produce such numbers in the foreseeable future. We need to stop bullshitting ourselves and work with the tools we have, not the tools we would like to have.
4. Convene a regional peace conference. We need Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria at the table. We must negotiate our way out of Iraq while preserving our own interests in the region. Like it or not we have created a majority Shia state in Iraq that will not willingly relinquish power. Yes they will be favorably disposed to Iran, at least for the near term. But we can accomplish more through diplomacy in the region then thru military action. Our current approach is tarnishing our reputation with each new report of an offensive to "root out" Al Qaeda.
5. Deploy an international peace keeping force to Baghdad. As long as U.S. troops are the face of the military action in Iraq, we foster the impression that we want the chaos. Most folks in the Middle East still believe we are a superpower. By definition nothing happens unless we want it to. Therefore, the violence in Iraq is a deliberate choice of the U.S. superpower. Otherwise, because we are a superpower, we would exert control over the insurgents and stop the violence. For some strange reason the the Arabs and Persians don't comprehend, we are allowing Iraq to fall into chaos and disorder. If we did not want that outcome then we would do something different because we are a SUPERPOWER.
I know one thing for certain. The approach I have outlined above will work far more effectively in helping the United States achieve tangible, positive results in Iraq then the madness and insanity of General Odierno and his strategy of punching the bag of jello known as the Iraqi insurgency.
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