Why Declaring Victory in the Third Inning
September 16, 2003
Discussion Threads - Comment #s: 492 "The Werther Solution"
[Ref.1] David Rohde, "Taliban Officials Tell Of Plans To Grind Down The Americans, " New York Times, September 12, 2003
[Ref 2] Lauren Sandler, "Veiled And Worried In Baghdad," New York Times, September 16, 2003
The US strategy of pre-emption in the War on Terror has landed the United States on the flypaper of two Fourth Generation Wars: [see 4GW] one in Afghanistan and the other in Iraq. These wars seem to have at least four features in common:
Consider please the following: On October 3, 2001, for example, four days before the US began bombarding the Taliban "infrastructure" and the entrenched positions in northern Afghanistan with a barrage cruise missiles and precision guided weapons, a report in the Telegraph [UK] noted in passing that the Taliban leader "Mullah Mohammed Omar, recognizes that his regime may soon be ousted and forced into fighting a guerrilla war." ... and that ... "most Taliban officials have fled to the hills and that Mullah Omar has left the city in fear of his life and never spends two nights in one place."
This week, almost two years later, two Taliban officials told David Rohde of the New York Times [Ref 1] that they have regrouped and will pursue a a strategy of small guerrilla attacks, possibly for the next 10 to 20 years, with the aims of frustrating and bleeding US forces and fanning popular discontent in the Afghan countryside due to the lack of security and slow pace of reconstruction, with the ultimate objective of grinding down US by forcing it to expend billions of dollars in military costs. The rising tempo of combat in recent months, together with reports of decreasing security in the countryside and the slow pace of reconstruction, are consistent with their statements.
Before the war in Iraq, there were many news reports speculating about how Saddam had learned about the vulnerability of deploying forces in static positions from the bombardments of 1991. These reports speculated he would disperse his forces in front of a US attack, then use guerrilla tactics to draw our forces into a bloody urban battle for Baghdad, while irregular forces attacked our long lines of communication [see, for example, "Guerrilla tactics work for Iraqis," USA Today, 24 March 2003].
In the event, this Iraqi scenario did not happen (with the exception of a few small attacks on our communications), but Iraqi troops dispersed and many if not most disappeared, and although they lost much heavy equipment, the Iraqis were not disarmed, because the rising tide of guerrilla attacks makes it clear that Iraq is littered with hidden weapons dumps containing thousands of AK-47s and RPG-7s and millions of rounds of ammunition. Like Mullah Omar in his mountains, Saddam disappeared into the vapors of the Sunni triangle, and may or may not be directing or influencing the shape of these attacks. Whatever the case, several months after the President declared victory, it is beginning to look like the Unites States is stuck in an increasingly bloody and horrendously expensive fourth generation war in a country that is rapidly becoming a petri-dish breeding fourth-generation warriors and terrorists.
These evolutions illustrate the seamless nature of fourth generation war in the 21st Century
Bear in mind, much of what we are seeing is not new: As if heeding the words of Sun Tzu, today's 4GW warriors disperse when faced with a "superior" threat. Like T. E. Lawrence, they aim to retain the initiative by operating autonomously in small groups, attacking with tips, not strokes, trying never to be on the defensive except by accident or error. So, much what is happening is plain old guerrilla war with a good dose of anarcho-terrorism to boot.
But these "guerrilla" actions are also taking place against a the new background of integrating and disintegrating pressures created by a host of globalizing technologies, as well as variety of latent demographic/cultural forces that were unleashed by the collapse of the bi-polar cold-war world order. Included in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, is a bewildering variety of vendetta cultures, tribal politics, and historical legacies (including the unfinished legacy of the Ottoman collapse in 1918) that defy a neat compartmentalization.
A failure to appreciate the seamless nature of Fourth Generation War (4GW) and its cultural background can lead to unintended consequences in the short term (see Ref 2, for example, which describes how the re-emergence of veils in Baghdad (what was one of the Arab world's most cosmopolitan cities with women represented in all the professions) and how the growing terrorization of women have attended the American "liberation") and perhaps defeat over the long term.
Fortunately, there are some patriotic military people in the United States who understand the long-term implications of the seamless nature of 4GW. Unfortunately, as George Wilson, the dean of Washington's defense reporters, points out in the following important essay, their voices are being drowned, like those of their predecessors during the Vietnam War.
I urge you to carefully read Wilson report.
"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison, from a letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822
[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]
Taliban Officials Tell Of Plans To Grind Down The Americans
By David Rohde
NEW DELHI, Sept. 11
Hajji Ibrahim, who identified himself as a Taliban commander, said the group's goal was to tie down the United States in Afghanistan and force it to spend huge sums responding to limited attacks that draw American forces "here to there, here to there."
Mr. Ibrahim said he was a commander of 2,000 Taliban forces and 200 Pakistani volunteers on the front line just north of Kabul in the fall of 2001. He gave extensive and accurate descriptions of fighting in the area at the time.
They confirmed reports that the Taliban leadership held a meeting in late June at which Mullah Omar announced a new military strategy. Since then, Taliban attacks on American and Afghan forces have increased to the point where American soldiers come under fire almost daily.
Four American soldiers died in August alone, after only five were killed in the previous seven months.
The United States is currently spending roughly $11 billion a year on its military deployment in Afghanistan and $1.8 billion a year on reconstruction.
"Maybe it will take time, maybe it will take 10 or 20 years," he said. "But we will continue our fighting."
Veiled And Worried In Baghdad
By Lauren Sandler
"Under Saddam we could drive, we could walk down the street until two in the morning," a young designer told me as she bounced her 4-year-old daughter on her lap. "Who would have thought the Americans could have made it worse for women? This is liberation?"
In their palace surrounded by armed soldiers, officials from the occupying forces talk about democracy. But in the same cool marble rooms, when one mentions the fears of the majority of Iraq's population, one can hear a representative of the Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the police, say, "We don't do women." What they don't seem to realize is that you can't do democracy if you don't do women.
"We never investigate these cases [honor killings] anyway - someone has to come and confess the killing, which they almost never do," said an investigator who looked into the case and then dismissed it because the sisters "knew one of the men, so it must not be kidnapping."
This violence has made postwar Iraq a prison of fear for women.
But to understand the culture of women in Iraq, coalition officials must venture beyond their razor-wired checkpoints and step down from their convoys of Land Cruisers so they can talk to the nation they occupy. On the streets and in the markets, they'll receive warm invitations to share enormous lunches in welcoming homes, as is the Iraqi custom. And there they'll hear this notion repeated frankly and frequently: without hima [security] for women, there will be no place for democracy to grow in Iraq.
Lauren Sandler, a journalist, is investigating issues of women and culture in Iraq for the Carr Foundation.