Sunday, April 06, 2008

Knee Jerk

And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?

Did you really believe them when they told you "The Cause?"

Did you really believe that this war would end wars?

Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it all happened again,

And again, and again, and again, and again

Green Fields of France,
Dropkick Murphys version


Ranger's letter-to-the-editor was published in his local paper today, and is re-published below. It was in response to a piece by Capt. Hsia in the same paper about clearing and re-clearing insurgents ("Debate Iraq Strategy, Not Troop Numbers"):

U.S. strategy in Iraq is knee-jerk at best

"It is an extreme kindness to call U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan a "strategy." In fact, U.S. policy is knee-jerk, piecemeal reaction contingent upon the adversaries' actions, as well as those of the "friendly" Iraqi government. Reacting to tactical crises on a daily basis is not a strategy.

"Jumping reactively through ad-hoc hoops is a sign of loss of initiative on the part of the U.S. military. Lacking initiative, there is never a victory.

"Not only does the U.S. lack clearly defined objectives, it also lacks a clear definition of the adversary. Against whom and why are we expending combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?

"Capt. Hsia's article is a fine company-level assessment of the situation on the ground, but it stops short of drawing the obvious conclusion: U.S. forces must evacuate both countries and allow the local populations to decide their own destiny, for better or worse.

"Providing security to Iraqi citizens is not the mission of the U.S. military. The security of America is not contingent on peaceful streets in Baghdad."



Anonymous Chris Inns said...

American strategy was based on the romantic notion of Iraq consisting of a homogenous group of innocents oppressed by an evil overlord, who were overwhelmingly yearning to be set free. John McCain believed this too - read his well intentioned but foolish 2002 essay "The Road to Baghdad". In reality, the response to American invasion was mixed, and Iraqi society is highly factionalized.

No matter how tempting it may be, using the US military as a tool of regime change and forced democratization (which is what John McCain seemed to advocate in his essay in a coy, roundabout way) is invariably a bad idea.

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 6:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Countries get the leaders that they deserve. They got Saddam and we got GWB.And which is the evil overlord.? jim

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 9:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 9:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...



bravo zulu from the jungle grunts.

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 10:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

if you want to find an accurate historical parallel examine thucydides again.

the athenian campaign in sicily was dependant on wish fulfilment (the population would welcome and support an unprovoked invasion), a series of succesful chance happenings and the continuing power and influence of popular demagogues. alcibiades, the architect of the disaster was arrested and tried in absentia before the campaign disembarked the invasion ships. rather than go back to an almost certain execution he instead chose to go to the spartans (that was the enemy), and then to the persians where he sold out his athenian home. they still took him back twice more. same as we took back the discredited minions of richard nixon (cheney, rumsfeld to name two) with the same disasterous results.

thucydides is clear. wishful thinking is no substitute for long term strategy. fond dreams and fantasies are not sound bases for forming battlefield tactics. when i was holding forth on 'red team' duty one of the first things i would say after delivering the swift and humiliating ass kicking that was my delightful job to hand out if a major component of your plan is for me to be stupid you've already lost.

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 11:08:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you once again for a superb analogy from our not-so-distant past.

Unfortunately, those who like to think the 1970's are old school do not see the immutability of human behavior, and the way we war.

To Rumsfeld and Cheney we might add Wolfowitz, and many others in the legal chain.

Has anyone drawn these excellent parallels to present day occurrences? If not, perhaps you could be the one. [We have enough for a book if we merely collate your comments here and those from our own site, with some extension.]

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 12:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I'm glad you always talk about this Thucidides guy; have they translated his stuff to English yet? Graphic novel form, perhaps?

As you observe, nothing changes, SSDD. Ecclesiastes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 2:24:00 PM GMT-5  

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