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September 12, 2006

Rationalizing Our Way To Disaster Global Guerrillas  Iraq  War and Peace

John Robb talks sense, as usual:

We are now at the start of a long process of rationalization over the US defeat in Iraq. The most common of these rationalizations include: if only we had "...not disbanded the Baathist army," "...sent in more troops," or "...become better at nation-building." However, in each case the approach is one dimensional, since we tend to view ourselves as the only actors on the stage. The actions and reactions of the opposition are discounted and explained away as fluff and background noise (those pesky terrorists...).

A better, and more sane approach, is to embrace the concept that war is a conflict of minds. There are two sides. For every change in approach there will be counters mounted by the opposition. In the case of Iraq, that opposition was extremely difficult to beat since it was organized along the lines of open source warfare. This organizational structure gave it a level of innovation, resilience, and flexibility that made it a very effective opponent. Given this, the simplest explanation for the outcome in Iraq is that we were just beaten by a better opponent (the Israeli's seem to be getting this, why can't we?).

The real question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not our maximalist goals in Iraq could ever have been achieved given the capabilities of the opposition and the limited levels of commitment we were able to bring to to bear on the problem. I suspect the answer is no. The goals didn't match our capabilities and there weren't any simple tweaks to our strategy that would have changed the outcome. This was a difficult way to learn this lesson, but given our tendency towards rationalization, I doubt that it will be learned at all.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. [Emphasis added]

There's a fundamental irrationality in the Pentagon's approach to fighting this new kind of war: namely, its reliance on high-tech weapons — i.e., machines that kill — instead of methods that produce a political outcome. No amount of killing will produce the desired political outcome. Working at a political level is hard work, though — all those languages to be learned, and so on. Not much money in it, either. Way more fun and way more profit in building high-tech weapons, even if, in the long run, they cannot win. The weapons makers still get paid regardless, and if there's anything humans are good at, it's rationalizing their own self-interest.

Posted by Jonathan at September 12, 2006 10:50 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


I'm constantly amazed by the arrogance of the US politicians and the insulated and oblivious nature of the people of the US.
What gave the US the right to start the war against the Iraquis and Taliban? Greed and a complete lack of belief that any culture exists in the world except the US is the answer.
Don't get me wrong, I believe that the terrorists are gutless scum and the extremest Muslim view is wrong. They are insane and twisted individuals that follow it. The Islamic religion, generally, I'm sure, preaches a peaceful line and just consigns all non-believers to their fate as all religions do.
But for the "world police" in their isolation to believe they have the right to fight wars to further their intentions to control everything makes them no better than the terrorists.
Yes, political resolution is a way to resolve things, but not the best way. Politics being politics dictates corruption and self-serving actions. This is true the world over but the US system has made an art of that.
What's wrong with just looking at everyone as another human being, with different beliefs and expectations and just accept that alone, and then take an approach which offers the best results for the broader community.
Offer real and severe punishment for ANY human being involved in extremist behaviour and apply fairness and common sense in all things.
Who else believes that may work?
There's not enough room here to discuss all the ramifications, but let's get real; we're all human beings just wanting the best for ourselves. Let's just be fair and use common sense about it.

Posted by: at September 14, 2006 03:10 PM