Currently generating a new wish list, since all my wishes were granted over the Holidays.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Some truthiness from the U.S. Army....

well sort of. This is an article that was published on the U.S. Army's Professional Writing Collection section of their website, it is titled "Why the Stong Lose".

Initially I was skeptical, since I assumed I would be reading propaganda, but the points are legitimate and well thought out. The author, Jeffrey Record, is a professor at the Air War College in Montgomer, Alabama, so we can safely say "He knows his shit".

I could suggest another title for this piece,"Will we ever learn from our mistakes?"

Though it easily polished off Milosevic's Serbia and Saddam's Iraq, the United States failed to defeat Vietnamese infantry in Indochina, terrorists in Lebanon, and warlords in Somalia. In each case the American Goliath was militarily stalemated or politically defeated by the local David. Most recently, the United States was surprised by the tenacious insurgency that exploded in post-Baathist Iraq, an insurgency now in its third year with no end in sight.

The phenomenon of the weak defeating the strong, though exceptional, is as old as war itself. Sparta finally beat Athens; Frederick the Great always punched well above his weight; American rebels overturned British rule in the Thirteen Colonies; the Spanish guerrilla bled Napoleon white; Jewish terrorists forced the British out of Palestine; Vietnamese communists drove France and then the United States out of Indochina; and mujahideen handed the Soviet Union its own "Vietnam" in Afghanistan. Relative military power is hardly a reliable predictor of war outcomes.

One of the main reasons the strong lose, according to Record is:

the materially weaker insurgent was more politically determined to win because it had much more riding on the outcome of war than did the stronger external power, for whom the stakes were lower. In such cases:

The relationship between the belligerents is asymmetric. The insurgents can pose no direct threat to the survival of the external power because . . . they lack an invasion capability. On the other hand, the metropolitan power poses not simply the threat of invasion, but the reality of occupation. This fact is so obvious that its implications have been ignored. It means, crudely speaking, that for the insurgents the war is "total," while for the external power it is necessarily "limited."

The piece is relatively long, but definitely worth the read. If you don't get to the end, here is his conclusion:

The strong, especially democracies, lose to the weak when the latter brings to the test of war a stronger will and superior strategy(emphasis added)reinforced by external assistance. In the case of the United States in Vietnam, a weaker will and inferior strategy was reinforced by an apolitical conception of war itself and a specific professional military aversion to counterinsurgency. In the case of Iraq, the jury remains out on the issues of will and strategy, but the unexpected political and military difficulties the United States has encountered there seem to have arisen in part because of a persistent view of war as a substitute for policy and an antipathy to preparing for war with irregular adversaries.(emphasis added)

Maybe Wolfie, Rummy and Bushie should have consulted Mr. Record, before the decided to go with The Greet Us As Liberators Plan.

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