T Nation

Bush Not Aggressive Enough?


#1

Rather than having another quagmire, could we please have leaders that actually want to fight to win? I don't care about the perception of the U.S. around the world, or whether we will offend Muslim sensibilities! We nuked Japan and they're a peaceful democracy and support us. We turned Germany into a dump heap and, while they don't love us, are not marching into Paris. GD IT George, WIN the f'in thing already!!!


#2

What constitues a win in your view? Turning Iraq into a radioactive glass desert? You've already won the war proper. The Iraqi army has been disbanded (big mistake, IMHO) and Saddam is sitting in a jail cell. Remember the "Mission Accomplished" dog and pony show where your President pretented to be a pilot? That was for winning the war.

What you're bumblingly trying to do now is "nation building" and it seems you went at it without a plan. You're trying to force a secular civil society on a nation of warring religious tribes. Shiites and Sunni hate each other with a passion and you're trying to get them to play nice and ratify a constitution together. Maybe if you did care a bit more about other culture's sensibilities, you wouldn't find yourselves up shit creek without a paddle.


#3

You're probably right about all of this. We'd be better off overthrowing Iraq, withdrawing, and letting them fight it out among themselves. Then, if we didn't like whoever came to power, we could invade and overthrow them. Withdraw, see who comes to power, repeat if necessary.


#4

Or we could have recognized that Saddam did in fact possess NO WMD's and that he posed very little threat to society and never have gone in to the country in the first place... but thats just my crazy, pussy, liberal side talking i guess.


#5

Here's some commentary by John Hawkins.

If you are going to try and refute it please try and stick to the points he makes.

Begin:

There's A Quagmire In Iraq All Right...
Liberals, who always seem anxious to relive the "glory days" of the Vietnam anti-war movement, have frequently exclaimed that Iraq is a quagmire. Believe it or not, they are correct. Iraq is a quagmire all right: for the terrorists.

Of course, you'd never realize this if you just get your news from the mainstream media because they present such a myopic view of Iraq. Every day they talk about the American and Iraqi body count, highlight every bit of negative news, and present no real context of the conflict.

The focus is always on how long can we hold out? Why aren't we making any more progress? Is there any point in continuing? Yada, yada, yada...

Well, let's change the focus a bit and look at what's happening from a different perspective: the perspective of the terrorists.

Currently, they hold no territory, they're wildly unpopular, they have no open bases of operations and even if they did, they couldn't hold them. That was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in Fallujah & when Muqtada al-Sadr's uprising was crushed.

Furthermore, the sad reality for the terrorists is that they're supported only by a minority of the minority Sunni population as it is. On top of that, given that the Sunnis don't intend to boycott the elections this time, the terrorists are doomed to see their allies in Iraq continue to dwindle as more Sunnis become involved in the political process.

Given that's the case, the terrorists have one strategy left that they can pursue: Drive the United States from Iraq using terror tactics, topple a weak Iraqi government, and then takeover.

So that means roadside bombs, kidnappings, and suicide bombers are their tactics of choice. Those tactics produce casualties, terror, and gory videos, all of which are designed to lessen the confidence of Iraqis in their government, slow progress, and most importantly, influence the American public through media coverage of their activities.

Unfortunately for the terrorists, America has turned out to be considerably more tenacious and resourceful than they expected and that has left the terrorists in a hell of a spot.

You see, the American strategy is to help the Iraqis form a legitimate, stable, and Democratic government that's capable of handling its own internal security. Once that happens, the window of opportunity for the terrorists will close.

Why?

Because theoretically, the terrorists might be able to create enough political pressure in the States to convince the Americans to leave, but the Iraqis live there, so they can't cut & run. Instead, the Iraqis are going to stay, fight, and eventually they will greatly reduce the effectiveness of the terrorists or destroy them outright. This is a pattern that has played out time and time again in nations all over the world.

As you can see, it's not a pretty picture for the terrorists. They can't make Bush quit, the political process is continuing to move forward, & the Iraqi troops and policemen are becoming more capable by the day.

This is devastating news for Zarqawi & Company because once the Iraqis can stand on their own two feet, the terrorists will be put in a position where they have to keep fighting an embarrassing "can't win battle" against other Muslims or else they'll be humiliated and lose prestige throughout the Middle-East as they're forced to admit defeat.

That is what a quagmire really looks like...

End

As to Bush being more agressive, absolutely, he would have broad support. There's a lot of Monday morning quaterbacking going on but the military always learns from each battle and engagement. The Anti-
War movement is largely driven by activists and the media.


#6

I'm afraid the author seems to imagine that the terrorists think like us. I doubt that they have the concerns the author raises.

Anyhow, it's a feel good piece. It would be nice if it was completely accurate. It will be interesting to see if the Terrorism levels will drop after the US leaves the issue in the hands of the Iraqi populace.

Will the government hold? Will the nation split into regions? Will their be civil war five years down the road?

Good questions. Hopefully the right things happen from our point of view!


#7

From a military stanpoint if you cannot hold ground and don't enjoy the support of the majority you can't win.

If you can't win and have no possibility of an ally coming to your aid it's just a matter of time until you are wiped out.

Not a feel good article. A lot of tough work ahead. The author, in my opinion, uses the word "Quagmire" correctly. I think the MSM has used it to hype stories.

I don't want to derail this thread so I'll try and focus it back. I think we should use greater force. I don't think there should be any question of troop strength. If the commanders want them they should get them.


#8

One point I feel the article does not understand correctly is that the terrorists don't need to control any land. They're not trying to conquer Iraq by conventional means. They simply need to last long enough and to create enough American/coalition casualties for the support for the war to dwindle. Once (if) America pulls out, they'll use the remaining power vacuum to try and install their favorite despot in power. Back to square one you go.

I hope that's not the scenario that plays out. I was not in favor of the war at it's inception, but since we're now before a fait accompli, let's hope for a good resolution.

My pessimism comes from the experiences we've got with mixing conflicting religious views (Catholics/Protestants, Israelis/Palestinians, etc). The Shiite majority was brutally repressed under Saddam and probably hold grudges... it won't be easy to get them to all agree to get along. Islamic nations also don't appear big on the idea of "separation of church and state"; avoiding an eventual Islamic Republic (like Iran) will take some doing.

As for more force, definitely. It's been asked for many times. Colin Powell, if I recall correctly, even supported the idea. The Rumsfeld doctrine, calling for quick intervention by small, well coordinated forces doesn't seem to be working too well.

So basically, in my view:

  • Pulling out is NOT an option.
  • Limiting civilian casualties should be paramount. Any remaining good will towards the coalition will erode quickly if civilians keep dying. Less good will equals more recruitment opportunities for the insurgents, equals more civilians casualties. You don't want that feedback loop to operate.
  • Because of 1 and 2, more force would definitely be a good idea.

#9

Pookie

I'll disagee with the land issue. They need a base and they need to build support among the population. If they can't hold ground they will lose face. They lost it along with any sort of ability to win over the population. All they have now is fear and the fear is falling away. The locals are tipping off the Iraqi police and coalition forces.

Fallujah was thier last gasp as a military force. Now they are nothing more then criminals and terrorists who see the handwriting on the wall.


#10

It's getting easier and easier for small groups, or anyone holding a grudge, to get ahold of very destructive weapons. My point is that we've got to overwhelmingly win NOW, totally wipe these guys off the planet, before we get hit again. Not going all out because of world-opinion or because Muslims don't want their favorite mosque bombed is simply a recipe for disaster.


#11

I'll argue the opposite. They don't need a base. They use Mosques for endoctrination/recruitment. They can hide in the homes of sympathising civilians between operations. Their weapons are very low-tech, consisting mostly of car bombs and guns. A booby trapped car looks just like a normal car, until it blows up. Park it in a garage and nothing about it says "terror weapon". A suicide bomber walking down the street looks just like another civilian until he detonates... this is urban guerilla warfare, not a conventional engagement between armed forces.

Similarly, Al-Qaeda can coordinate widely separate cells across the world using the internet and other modern communication technologies. With good encryption technology, they're communications can be secret even if you manage to intercept them.

The internet becomes their base in some way; just at T-Nation is a community of people who've mostly never met each other.

I hope you're right. They spent 10 years fighting the USSR in Afghanistan until, eventually, the USSR couldn't afford to go on and pulled out. Simply getting the U.S. to waver in it's resolve is a partial victory. The longer the war goes on; and the least progress the population at home perceives, the more likely that the next administration will be elected on a "quick pull-out" platform. That would be a disaster, but that's their "victory conditions".

We've been hearing this, or variations of it, for over a year now. The car bombs don't seem to be abatting. Will the situation be the same next year? And the next? I hope you're right and that we'll see the end of the insurgency soon, but I'm not quite as optimistic as you are on that point.


#12

Just like in this country, the borders need to be controlled. If the US military were more aggressive guarding the Iraqi borders they wouldn't need to be as aggressive in the interior.


#13

You seem to be missing some very important truths. If we get hit again, chances are, the people that do so are already here...not over there in Iraq fighting our soldiers. "Sleeper cell" is a very important term.


#14

I'm not sure people realize how hard it is to control a nation, or a border hundreds of miles long.

It's not something you "just do", it is a very huge undertaking... especially when the bad guys are indistinguishable from the good guys.


#15

I never said it was easy, but it is necessary.


#16

A civil discussion about the war?

Fantastic.

I believe Bush not being aggressive has caused more US casualties, but will ultimately win the war sooner.

For example, in the old days we would have leveled Fallujah with artillery and air power, instead we sent the Marines in to do house to house fighting. This caused more US casualties.

Leveling Fallujah would probaly have been a mistake as it would have turned the population against the US.

Believe it or not the majority of Iraqis still want the US there.

At some point (hopefully soon) the Iraqis will need to take a stronger role in their own security.

The media is reporting that very few Iraqi security forces are actually trained. The Army is saying a lot are trained. The truth is in the middle.

Regardless of how many are trained and ready to go, as long as the US is going to take the risks and fight the battles the Iraqis will let us.

I am not convinced we need more troops over there.


#17

No kidding. If you Canadians didn't talk so funny we would have an even harder time keeping you out, eh?


#18

It not being easy is quite an understatement. You can hardly do it at home with Mexico; what chance have you got of closing off the Iraqi borders when your troops are woefully outnumbered?


#19

Refreshingly so.

I believe that Bush being too agressive, in the sense of not being able to build a true multilateral coalition like you did in 1991, and deciding to go at it alone (or nearly so) was the first mistake.

Wholesale slauther of civilians is never a good policy. What difference would there be left between you and the terrorists?

That's why I think that disbanding the Iraqi army was ill advised. Getting rid of the loyalists would've sufficed; I'm sure many of the soldiers would've stayed on in the new Iraqi army, for the love of their country instead of for Saddam.

But the sooner the Iraqi can police and rule themselves, the better. The longer this plays out, the more it appears that no progress is made or worse, that you're losing. That perception must be avoided at all costs.

Ideally, getting troops from other nations involved would be best. Unfortunately, the arrogant attitude of the U.S. at the start of the war and the "if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists" posturing has cooled down foreign relations a lot. I'm sure many countries would probably accept (maybe reluctantly) to lend a hand, but you'll have to beg for it.


#20

Don't look now, but Quebec is slowly invading Florida, using sleeper cells composed of old french speaking retirees.

Be afraid.