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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


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Sunday, November 21, 2004

Right converges with Left and issues a warning

Martin van Creveld via James Wolcott:
"...[He] who fights against the weak--and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed--and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish."


"As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat; if U.S. troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last U.S. troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters' skids."

So prophecizes Martin van Creveld.

Who he? as Harold Ross would ask.

He is a professor to history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and author of The Transformation of War, an indispensable book to understand why retribalized warfare (from militias, ideological insurgencies, drug lords) threatens to overthrow the top-heavy hegemony of nation-state military power. It is a key text in what has come to be known as 4th Generation warfare.

Before the reader gets to American soldiers grasping for helicopter skids, van Creveld explores the military education of legendary Israeli general Moshe Dayan, who in his younger days went to Vietnam as a war correspondent. What Dayan saw, what he learned, is a lesson the American military under Rumsfeld seems to have forgotten as it wages counterinsurgency in Iraq.

William Lind, an expert in 4th Generation warfare and no lefty, reaches the same bleak conclusion regarding the Vietnam-Iraq parallels.

Since Saddam's fall, we've been stomping around Iraq like Godzilla. Lind: "The result is likely to be more flattened cities like Falluja, more victories on the moral level for our opponents, and in the end, ignominious withdrawal and defeat."

So thick is the euphoria and triumphalism post November 2nd that I wonder if most of our media, never mind the bovine American public, have any inkling of how ghastily Iraq is going down the drain, and taking the American military with it. We've been so bombarded with "Failure is not an option" that few are willing to assert, as van Creveld and Lind do, that failure may not be an option but it damn well may be the outcome, and quicker than anyone contemplates.

Andrew Sullivan and Thomas Friedman can petition for more troops all they please. It's too late for more troops. We don't have troops to spare as it is, but even if we did, it's too late. It's too late for everything. The blundering mistakes that were made in the first days and weeks of the occupation can't be reversed now--they're incorrectible. The window of opportunity dropped like a guillotine while Donald Rumsfeld was regaling the press corps with his pithy wisdom.

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