Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Should Have Just "Shocked and Awed"

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group delivered, in stark terms, a broad indictment that U.S. policy in Iraq is not working. The panel, headed by former secretary of state Jim Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, describes our situation there as "grave and deteriorating."

As Homer Simpson might say, "Doh!"

Tell us something we don't already know!

Most people now agree we should never have gotten into this war in the first place. But once our troops did invade Iraq, we should have just stuck with our initial shock and awe warfare strategy. During those early days of the conflict, the ways in which this war was waged were indeed remarkable. American troops reached Baghdad in record-breaking time.

Bush's mistake was not bringing the troops home immediately after he raised the now infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. We should have left Iraq then and there leaving behind the simple message that America can really kick some ass when it wants to.

How in the world did George W. Bush get himself into the business of nation building? I suppose Haliburton might have gotten itself rich, but America has gotten herself into another Vietnam-like quagmire. The main difference is there's no draft this time around.

The problem with asymmetric warfare is that military power doesn't work against an enemy who uses civilians as a shield. How do you prevail against an enemy whose primary objective is anarchy?

During World War II, America was determined to achieve victory at any cost. Military leaders were willing to kill civilians, if necessary. Consider Dresden or Hiroshima. During the Cold War, the U.S. "MAD" strategy of "mutually assured destruction" was premised on countless civilian casualties.

The biggest lesson the military was supposed to have learned from Vietnam was never again to go to war unless we intended to win at any cost. That would mean the American people were fully supportive, willing to make any sacrifice. That would mean rooting out and destroying an enemy even if it meant killing civilians. In other words, never again get into a frivolous military venture.

The United States spends more money on its defense budget than all other nations combined. This has resulted in an impressive array of shock and awe weaponry. What good is all that power if we can't intimidate our enemies with it?

Iran and North Korea, America's biggest current foes, would be behaving very differently today if our troops had come home after Saddam's government was originally toppled. Had that happened, what would Iraq look like today? Who knows? But, I doubt the circumstances could be much worse than what's happening there now. With private Saudi citizens reportedly giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq, Iranians training and arming Shi'ite militias, and who knows what is being done by Syria, the only thing for certain is American soldiers in Iraq are targets to be killed by suicide bombers, improvised explosive device (IED) roadside bombs, and even shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

Imagine that the U.S. withdraws all its troops. What's the worst that could happen? If need be we can always invade Iraq again, can't we?

Meanwhile, what would happen if American shock and awe air and sea power were used to take out Iran's fledgling nuclear weapon-making facilities? I imagine the price of oil might skyrocket to well over $100 per barrel. Tom Friedman of the New York Times thinks that could be good news since it would finally break our addiction to foreign oil. As he says, "the sooner oil reaches $100 per barrel, the sooner it will get back to $20 per barrel."

If American victory means imposing a democratic government onto the people in Iraq, then we need to send the 500,000 soldiers that would be required to oversee a conquered people. On the other hand, if U.S. troops aren't an easy target for Iran, then there's a military option to take out Iranian nuclear weaponry plants if indeed they are a legitimate threat to America.

President Bush should heed the advice of his fellow Republican presidential predecessor, Teddy Roosevelt, who said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." With America's current military relatively small in number and bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush has been guilty of the opposite. His many loud threats are virtually ignored by enemies who perceive America as soft and weak and unwilling to fight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. I love the, "How do you prevail against an enemy whose primary objective is anarchy?"

2:34 AM  

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