Archive for the 'Iraq and the Middle East' Category

It’s Not All About Iran


Global Security Newswire

© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, March 13, 2008

“The last thing the Middle East needs now is another war,” a senior Defense Department official recently said when asked about the prospect that President Bush might order airstrikes on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities.

Were those the famous last words of Adm. William J. “Fox” Fallon — the nation’s top commander, who resigned under pressure this week after the publication of an Esquire profile describing him as “brazenly challenging his commander in chief” by resisting war against Tehran?

Not exactly.

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Doug Macgregor on the “surge”

An interview with Steve Paikin on Ontario public television.

Streaming video - takes about half an hour (you’ll need a good broadband connection, but well worth a few hiccoughs).

The Rule of Law

In the United States and in the developed world generally, we take the rule of law to be the foundation of our societies. The alternatives are usually thought to be gang/mob rule, anarchy, and a return to pre-civilized days (as in The Road Warrior).

Personally, I think there’s a lot of truth to this, especially if you want a functioning modern economy (It’s well beyond my competence to discuss alternatives, such as tribal societies).

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On War #253: Linearity

By William S. Lind

One of several dead hands the First Generation of Modern War lays on contemporary state militaries’ throats is linearity. Most state militaries both seek and expect linearity on and off the battlefield. Sometimes, this manifests itself in tactics that offer magnificent if unintentional tableux vivant. I recall a field exercise years ago with the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejeune where, rounding a bend, we found a lieutenant had built a perfect 19th century fortress wall across the road, complete with firing step. The Division Sergeant Major, in whose jeep I was riding, said, “My God, it’s the siege of Vicksburg!”

More often, linearity manifests itself in a military service’s culture, as a subtle but omnipresent mindset. It is easy to understand why this is so. Both on land and at sea, tactics became linear right at the beginning of the First Generation in the mid-17th century. In armies, that was when lines of infantrymen two or three deep replaced the square formations of the tercios. In navies, beginning with the British Navy in the Dutch Wars, the line ahead replaced the general melee. The two developments were causally related: the line ahead was adopted when generals took command of the British fleet under the Commonwealth.

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Unintended, but predictable, consequences

Statement Submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight

By: Douglas Macgregor, PhD, Colonel (ret) U.S. Army

February 8, 2008

Click here to download (68 KB PDF)

COL MacGregor provides a penetrating analysis of the implications of ad-hoc agreements with the current Iraqi government. We can’t say we weren’t warned.

On War #249: Die and Win

By William S. Lind

One of the more intriguing questions Clio poses is the degree to which great military victories were the fruit of smart plans as opposed to dumb luck. Did the North Vietnamese expect the Tet Offensive to be a tactical defeat but an operational victory? They now claim they did, but we will not know until their archives are opened.

The war in Iraq poses a similar question: to what degree was the Sunni insurgency part of Saddam’s plan, as opposed to a reaction generated largely by bad American decisions after his government fell? The January 26, 2008 Washington Post ran an article about Saddam Hussein’s main American debriefer, George Piro, which may shed some light on that question. According to the Post,

Hussein’s strategy upon facing the U.S. invasion was to tell his generals to try to hold back the U.S. forces for two weeks, “and at that point, it would go into what he called the secret war,” Piro said, referring to the Iraqi insurgency.

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On War #246: Side Effects

By William S. Lind

As we observe the slow and increasingly certain disintegration of Pakistan, we should force ourselves to confront an uncomfortable fact: events in Pakistan are to a large degree side effects of our war in Afghanistan.

The January 12 Washington Times headline was “Pentagon spies al Qaeda in Pakistan,” as if this were somehow news. It quotes the JCS Chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, as saying:

There are concerns now about how much (al Qaeda) turned inward, literally, inside Pakistan…so (the Pentagon is) extremely, extremely concerned about that…

One can only respond, quelle surprise! Of course al Qaeda turned inward inside Pakistan. First, Pakistan is strategically a vastly more important prize than Afghanistan or Iraq could ever be. Second, when guerillas are put under pressure in one place, they go somewhere else. Third, we have allowed ourselves to be put in the position of fighting the Pashtun in Afghanistan, and there are lots of Pashtun in Pakistan. War with the Pashtun is war with the Pashtun, to whom borders drawn in London mean nothing.

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Bowling for Boghammers … 2008 Edition

The Small Wars Journal has a superb post by Malcolm Nance on the recent incident in the Straight of Hormuz.

In addition to the excellent open source analysis of events, Nance highlights the influence of a strange aspect of locked orientation known as “scenario fulfillment” and commends the mental agility and professionalism — as Don Vandergriff would call it, the “adaptive leadership” — of the US Navy commanders on the scene.

[Many thanks to SWJ Editor Dave Dilgge for bringing this to my attention.]

On War #245: Kicking the Can Down the Road

By William S. Lind

A piece in the December 27, 2007 Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Vote on fate of Kirkuk postponed,” by Tina Susman and Asso Ahmed of the L.A. Times, reported that

Kurdish lawmakers agreed Wednesday to a six-month delay in a referendum on whether the oil-rich city of Kirkuk should join the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan or remain under Iraqi central government control. …

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Destabilizing the Islamic World

In this case, Pakistan. DNI is publishing an excerpt from Gabriel Kolko’s 2002 book, Another Century of War? that provides interesting background about what’s going on in that country.

Read more (on the original DNI site)