Defense and the National Interest

Iraq & the Middle East

Updated 7 February 2005

Although allied coalitions have won two Gulf Wars, Kuwait was liberated, and Saddam deposed, major issues remain unresolved.  We still don't have a good idea of how the events of September 11 and our subsequent responses alter the situation in this historically volatile region.  As of this writing the outcome of the insurgency is anybody's guess as is the shape and composition of the new Iraqi government.  Even the existence of Iraq as a unified state is not guaranteed.  Perhaps most vexing, the Iraq wars have left unanswered the question of how the United States and its allies can or should intervene with military force to protect their own interests or to solve the problems of the region.

This section deals with these and similar issues specific to the Middle East that do not fall under "fourth generation warfare."

9/14/2007 The Unlearned Lessons of 9/11, by COL Douglas MacGregor, USA, Ret.  What the Army and the country are missing from Iraq.

9/14/2007 The Urge to Surge, by Dr. Herman Mindshaftgap.  Some things that may have escaped your attention concerning the "surge" in Iraq. [262 KB PDF]

8/05/07 Don't go to Pakistan, by Adam Elkus. Some unintended consequences are predictable.

3/17/07 Israel's Last Chance, by Gabriel Kolko.  Become a normal nation, or else.

3/12/07 War Clouds Gather Over the Golan, by Martin van Creveld.

1/29/07 Make a Deal With Syria and Weaken the Iran-Hezbollah Axis, by Martin van Creveld.  Perhaps we could do something clever, for a change?  Republished with permission of

12/11/06 Is Iraq Vietnam?  by William Christie.  The answer is no, of course, and yes.

10/30/06 Islamic Fascisms? By Ismael Hossein-Zadeh

10/22/06 In Troubled Times, by Martin Van Creveld

10/20/06 The Lancet study I was trained as a mathematician, not a statistician, so I can’t comment on the methodology. However, I do know how difficult it is to get published in any peer-reviewed journal, much less one at the level of The Lancet (such journals typically publish fewer than 10% of submissions). This is no guarantee of infallibility, of course, but it does suggest that gross errors of methodology, such as those being claimed by non-specialists in the popular press, can safely be ruled out. Dr. Warf’s article explains this in greater detail.

10/09/06 It's the Tribes, Stupid, by Steven Pressfield.  Back in 1991, in The Transformation of War, Martin van Creveld predicted that tribes would be major players in what we now call "fourth generation warfare." So what is a "tribe"?  How do tribes differ from other types of organizations, particularly those common in the West? What happens if you have to fight one?

10/06/06 Hizb Allah, Party of God, by Nir Rosen.  Why Hezbullah has become the most popular political party in the Middle East.

9/28/06 The Pope's Evil Legend, Mohammed's Sword, by Uri Avnery.  Reprinted with permission from CounterPunch.

9/10/06 Doing what our enemies want, by Victor O'Reilly.  Osama has claimed to be in the vanguard of a long-term movement.  So, how do our chances look, long-term?

9/08/06 Crossroads at the Litani, by Chet Richards.  Can Israel operate inside Hezbollah's OODA loops?  It is possible.

9/04/06 Coalition fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan, through August 2006. (14 KB PDF)

7/28/06 The Fate of Israel, Revised.  Fabius Maximus places the events of the last two weeks into the grand strategic framework he began in February.

7/17/06 More Forecasts – Part Two: The Future of America, by Fabius Maximus.  Revelations continue from the prodigal prophet.

7/11/06 More Forecasts – Part One, by Fabius Maximus.  Mr. Maximus returns from his sojourn in the wilderness with new visions of the future.

7/11/06 Knowing Why Not To Bomb Iran Is Half the Battle, by Martin van Creveld. In case you missed the original in The Forward.

7/07/06 Coalition fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq through June 2006 (14 KB PDF)

6/26/06 Have questionable incidents gone unnoticed? SOME TROOPS QUESTION RIGOR IN ROUTINE PROBES OF IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS, by Elaine M. Grossman, Inside the Pentagon.

6/05/06 Coalition fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq through May 2006 (14 KB PDF)

6/04/06 Familiar Foreign Policies and Familiar Wars: Vietnam, Iraq … Before And After,
by Gabriel Kolko. The problem isn't intelligence; it's the uses to which intelligence is and isn't put.

6/03/06 Whose Security?  By William Christie

6/01/06 Why we lost in Iraq, by Chet Richards.  A few thoughts on the subject.  PowerPoint (794 KB - play as slide show) and PDF (861 KB).

3/16/06 US & Iran: Comparison of their strategic environments (163 KB PPT or 17 KB PDF).  DoD has cited Iran as potentially the greatest future threat to US national security.

2/16/06 A Short Checklist on Why the Iraq War Will Fizzle, by Bryce Lane.  A martial artist's view.

2/07/06 The Fate of Israel, Part two in a series of articles about grand strategy in a 4GW Era. Demonstrating the difficultly of distinguishing strong from weak in 4GW,
and that choosing the wrong grand strategy can be terminal for a state. By Fabius Maximus

1/31/06 The Theory of Counterinsurgency in Six Easy Paragraphs. Former Marine William Christie reduces it to its barest bones.

1/18/06 Still Looking Out From the Forest of Iraq: At Iran, By William Christie

1/12/06 Before We Rush Out of Iraq, by Bob Howard

1/1/06 Bush and Blair Plot Their Exit Strategy, as the Nation Falls Apart at the Seams - The Year in Iraq, by Patrick Cockburn.  Republished from Counterpunch.

12/29/05 Lessons Learned from the American Expedition to Iraq, by Fabius Maximus.

12/17/05 Defeated in Iraq, Bankrupt at Home, Despised Around the Globe (And That's Just the Good News) The Decline of the American Empire, By Gabriel Kolko

12/10/05 The United States Is Backing Out of Iraq, By Bevin Alexander

12/02/05 Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War, by Martin van Creveld. Originally published in The Forward.

11/30/05 Forecasts for the American Expedition to Iraq, by Fabius Maximus

11/29/05 Safer Today? By Jack Shanahan, VADM, USN (Ret.) Originally published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Oct 21, 2005.

8/08/05 Looking Out From the Forest of Iraq, by William Christie. Getting in was the easy part.

5/18/05 Iraqi Insurgent Sniper Training (646KB PPT)

2/28/05 Geographic Distribution of US Killed in Action (KIA) (209.92 KB)

2/07/05 Conscription is not the answer; real transformation is. by "SteveD."  A veteran intelligence analyst offers his unvarnished view of what we need to do to win in 4GW - not just in Iraq.

11/2004 Defending Israel, A Controversial Plan Toward Peace, by Martin van Creveld
St Martin’s Press, 2004, 182 pp., including extensive notes, Reviewed by Chet Richards,
Editor, Defense and the National Interest.

9/21/04 Incident on Haifa Street latest post, 9/19/04, from  Unduly pessimistic, or a realistic description of Iraq at the tipping point?

7/29/04 Into the Abyss, Martin van Creveld. Although America won the openingcombatphase, it is losing the occupation phase.  The consequences may be disastrous, and not just for the US.

7/27/04 Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did, Martin van Creveld.  Moshe Dayan's 1966 trip to Vietnam: "he who fights against the weak and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses."

3/10/04 Iraq: Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) Swamp, Col G. I. Wilson, USMC. Perceptive article predicting the long, hot summer of 2004.

12/30/05 The Middle East and America in 2005: How the Region Has Changed, By Juan Cole

12/23/03 Second End to Major Hostilities, Winslow Wheeler (15KB .pdf)  What it will really take to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Iraq Report: by an anonymous military historian. July 2004

War in Iraq: New developments & implications, by an anonymous military historian. How are we doing in Iraq? November 22, 2003

A brief look at Coalition Progress in Iraq by an anonymous military historian. How are we doing in Iraq? 9 November 2003.

A one month follow-up to my September "posting" on how we are doing in Iraq? By Lance, an anonymous military historian, 31 October 2003

How well are we doing in Iraq? How well is our opposition doing?  By Lance, an anonymous military historian, 22 September 2003.

Phase Four Operations in Iraq and the RPG-7, by George J. Mordica II, Senior Analyst, Center for Army Lessons Learned, November - December 2003

Letter from Iraq, 9-2003.  A remarkably insightful letter from an infantry officer now serving in Iraq.

FY 2004 DoD Supplemental Request (to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Iraq & Transformation: from SIRIUS: The Strategic Issues Research Institute Benjamin C. Works, Executive Director.

Water & the Arab-Israeli Conflict.  The key to survival in the Middle East is water.  Unfortunately there is not nearly enough to go around.  A new report illustrates how water may be the problem that undermines any attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (821 KB PDF)

Letter from the Middle East (III).  Our latest commentary on the mood in the Arab street from Cairo, Beirut, and Damascus. After a brief flare up of anti-American passions, the Arab street returns to business as usual. Exclusive to DNI, May 31, 2002.

Letter from the Middle East (II).  In this exclusive to DNI, our anonymous professor updates us on the mood on the Arab street 90 days into the War on Terrorism. January 2002.

"Letter from the Middle East (I)."  An American with vast experience in (and affection for) the Middle East gives DNI readers an insider's look into how the man on the street saw the events of September 11.  Disturbing in places, but taken in all, a encouragingly optimistic report from the largest Arab country. October 2001.

The 27 Articles of T. E. Lawrence.  Advice that is as pertinent today as in 1920.  Pretty good rules for any consultant for that matter.

"Sticks and Stones Can Break an Army" by Stan Crock in BusinessWeek OnLine. Fourth generation warfare is not academic speculation.  When armies fight teenagers, the "better" the soldiers do, the worse it looks on TV.  Which is the whole idea.  Readers may want to follow with Hal Gould's analysis in Comment 392.

Data from the Al-Aqsa Intifada.


546 Degaussing the Iraq Body Count, January 10, 2006
545 Do We Live in the United States of Amnesia? .. or .. Why the Iraq War May Cost More Than $1 Trillion, January 8, 2006
544 Election Blowback: Has US Policy Created 2 Talibans in Iraq?? December 21, 2005
543 Clearing the Cobwebs Out of Our Strategic OODA Loops, December 20, 2005
542 Werther:  George F. Will and the Collapse of Historical Knowledge (Part II), April 28, 2005
530 Forget Ernest Hemingway, Where's the RDX?  A Review of the Duelfer Report   November 13, 2002
512 Who is Ahmed Chalabi??? May 20, 2004
498 Is Israel Building a Security Cage??? October 1, 2003
487 Is US Troop Morale in Iraq Deteriorating??? June 15, 2003
486 Lies, Damned Lies, & Military Intelligence, June 12, 2003
479 Did Iraq use a Toyota Production System to Hide its Weapons of Mass Destruction??? May 1, 2003
466 The Third Reich Syndrome: George Will and the Collapse of Historical Knowledge, December 31, 2002
461 Wilson Report: Will a War in Iraq Go Nuclear?  October 12, 2002
460  Why the Reckless Push for War, October 12, 2002
459 Conditioning the Masses in the Hall of Mirrors, October 12, 2002
457 Is Egypt in Play & Why is it the Prize? August 16, 2002
437 The Peters Principle: How Unpleasant Fictions Fuel a Culture War, January 6, 2002
436 How Pakistan's Triangular Tar Baby Lead to War Drums in South Asia, December 29, 2001
435 Revolt of Islam or Revolting Islamicists? December 13, 2001
434 KRUMM REPORT: Why the Marines are In Afghanistan, December 1, 2001
433 Islam: Its Conflict with the West, November 29, 2001
430 One Guy Who Got it Right, November 14, 2001
428A Correction for the Record, October 22, 2001

A Grunt's View of the Saudi Volcano, October 4, 2001


The Struggle for Israel's Soul, August 20, 2001

424 Saudi Arabia: An NCO Reports, August 15, 2001
411 Why Did Sharon Go to the Temple Mount? May 5, 2001
408 The Iron Wall, March 11, 2001

The Other Side of the Coin, December 17, 2000

392 The Palestinian Question - Is it a Colonialist War?  October 21, 2000

Coup in Pakistan—An Expert' Initial Observations, October 15, 1999

171 Food for Thought: Fourth Generation Warfare & the Relation of Military Strategy to Grand Strategy (II) August 28, 1998
170 Fourth Generation Warfare & the Relation of Military Strategy to Grand Strategy
August 26, 1998






CERTAIN TO WIN: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business, by Chet Richards. Boyd's real OODA loop and ancient strategies working for business today. More...
Advance Reviews;
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RAISING THE BAR, by Donald Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.) Published by the Center for Defense Information Press. Read the DNI review. Order from Amazon.


SCIENCE, STRATEGY AND WAR, by Col Frans Osinga, RNAF. Read the DNI Review.  Order from Amazon or B&N. New! Now in paperback directly from Routledge, $35.95.


NEITHER SHALL THE SWORD, by Chet Richards.  If you thought A Swift, Elusive Sword was too tame.  Read the Introduction and view the Briefing. Podcast review.  Available now on Amazon


BOYD: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
Amazon & B&N.


BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION : A Future Worth Creating, by Thomas P. M. Barnett. Read the DNI review. Buy at Amazon and B&N


NOT A GOOD DAY TO DIE: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, by Sean Naylor. Read the DNI Review; Amazon and B&N


THE WASTRELS OF DEFENSE: How Congress Sabotages U. S. Security by Winslow Wheeler.  You'll be disgusted, then just mad.
Read Comment #527.
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THE AFGHAN CAMPAIGN, by Steven Pressfield.  Read the DNI Review. Amazon and B&N.


The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
Read the DNI Review.
Amazon and B&N. Now in trade paperback.


The Sling and The Stone by Col T. X. Hammes, USMC
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