Thursday, November 16, 2006

Additional Iraq perspectives

That last posting I did on Iraq sat in my draft folder for a number of days, and kept growing as a result. There were a couple of articles I wanted to link to in it, but I didn't want them to get lost in the longer text. All are worth your time.

Mark Steyn on "the first superpower with ADHD":

"What does it mean when the world's hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it 'redeployment' or 'exit strategy' or 'peace with honor' but, by the time it's announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation."
William Stuntz on why the marginalism of economics and business is not the right approach for military matters:

"Warfare is not like investment banking. At precisely the moment an economist might say to stop throwing good money after bad, a wise military strategist might say to double the bet.

Why might that be so? For one thing, willingness to raise the stakes often wins the game. Why do insurgent gangs, who have vastly smaller resources and manpower than the American soldiers they fight, continue to try to kill those soldiers? The answer is, because they believe they only have to kill a few more, and the soldiers will leave. They need not inflict a military defeat (which would be impossible, given the strength of the American military)--all they need to do is survive until American voters decide to throw in the towel, which might happen at any moment. . .

War is not poker; the stakes in Iraq are much higher than a little money or a few chips. But war's psychology bears some resemblance to a well-played game of cards. The only way Americans lose this war is to fold. That seems likely to be the next move, but it is the last thing we should do. Far better to call and raise. Our cards are better than theirs, if only we have the nerve to play them."
And finally, Fred Kagan on the folly of basing quick reaction forces (QRFs) out of country:

"The bottom line is that the QRFs will have virtually none of the advantages our troops now enjoy, while facing far greater risks. Those who claim to care about our troops cannot possibly support such a proposal.

We face a stark choice now. We can either maintain bases and large forces in Iraq, or we can withdraw. If we withdraw, the Iraqi Army will collapse, and we will not be able to help it except by re-entering the country in large numbers and in a much worse situation. Attempts to mask this reality with militarily nonsensical solutions are dangerous. They will lead to higher U.S. casualties or to defeat-and quite possibly to both."
Things to think about.

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