Wednesday, March 7, 2007

To The Kingdom of Idiots, And Step On It!

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So, three wars. Too many, too few, or just enough? Discuss.

I've never read Von Clausewitz, and while I've read or heard many quotations, I've never read Sun Tzu, either. Somewhere in amongst all the advice about tactics, training, and so forth, did one of them say that if you're losing a war the best thing to do is start another? I have read Patton's memoirs, and Bradley's. They never wrote any such thing. I think even Patton would have thought it was a bad idea. Babylon 5's Londo Mollari certainly did. He uttered what may be the best diagnosis of our current foreign policy:

Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts. Tell me, ... is there anyone with whom we are not at war?

We are well on our way, it appears, to the Kingdom of Idiots. We aren't even stopping to use the restroom. Most days, there is some new bit of Administration propoganda, breathlessly relayed to us by the Washington Post or the New York Times, decrying the evil ways of Iran. Here is today's:

A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran's ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official.

Former Iranian Defense Official Talks to Western Intelligence

The evil Iranians, we are reminded, are associated with Hezbollah, whom we don't like very much. Thanks WaPo, you earned your biscuit today.

Yes, we don't like Hezbollah very much. I don't like Iran's government, either, to tell you the truth. I have something against theocracies as a rule, no matter who is running them. That latter clause is what seems to differentiate me from many folks on the right these days when it comes to that subject. Nevertheless, Iran isn't a threat to us. It isn't a threat now, and isn't likely to be in the future. We are, I think, in more wars than we can handle already. Why then do the President, through his actions, and Congress, through their inaction, seem to be hell-bent on taking us into a war with them?

Detailed war plans have been drawn up by the Pentagon, with wide-ranging target lists. There are at least two carrier battle groups in the vicinity of Iran right now. That's more air force than Iran, or most of the nations on this planet for that matter, can stand against. Aircraft carriers are costly to deploy and are an extremely valuable resource. No one sends them places without a reason. What's worse, they're vulnerable to attack from relatively low-tech weapons. To quote Seymour Hersh:
Two carrier strike groups—the Eisenhower and the Stennis—are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources. (Among other concerns, war games have shown that the carriers could be vulnerable to swarming tactics involving large numbers of small boats, a technique that the Iranians have practiced in the past; carriers have limited maneuverability in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s southern coast.)

The Redirection

Perhaps even more distressing is that this situation, in which we are arming and financing Saudi-backed extremists in a religious war against an adversary of ours, is reminiscent of the reason we're confronted with Islamic terrorism in the first place. Hersh writes:

[(senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations) Vali] Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.

The Redirection

Our army is near the breaking point. General officers have privately threatened to quit if an order is given to attack Iran, at least if that order involves the use of nuclear weapons.

Sen. James Webb introduced a resolution in the Senate this week that makes clear that Congress wants no part of war with Iran. It appears, given Majority Leader Harry Reid's priorities, that the bill will remain in committee until the cows come home. Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.) and have teamed up to support the passage of such a resolution. They've launched a new site called

I don't know how to stop this, except to ask people to write their Congressmen, their newspapers, and visit the StopIranWar site and others like it. Unless we get involved as citizens, we are going to reap a whirlwind followed by a shitrain of biblical proportions. It doesn't seem fair, when there are so many pressing issues that need to be debated and addressed, like health care, climate change, poverty, and our own security, that we must make our government aware that they shouldn't do something so criminally stupid as to get involved in an unnecessary war. Nevertheless, that's where we are today. If we allow this to happen we'll be perfectly placed in our new kingdom.

UPDATE: Speaking of idiocy, Pres. Bush seems to think that things are going swimmingly in Iraq thanks to the "surge". Juan Cole thinks otherwise:

The neo-Baathists, Iraqi nationalists and Muslim fundamentalists who make up the insurgency have responded in several ways to the U.S. decision to put extra troops into Anbar Province and Baghdad. First, they have stood their ground, refusing to cede these two pieces of territory to the Americans or the Iraqi government, and they have changed their military tactics.

The Sunni Arab fighters appear to have made a tactical decision to target U.S. helicopters, and perhaps they have recently gotten hold, in the shadowy global arms market, of more sophisticated shoulder-held missile launchers. They have shot down eight U.S. helicopters in the past two months, several of them after the new security plan began. This tactic has made it more difficult for the U.S. to give American and Iraqi troops close air support, and has forced the U.S. to deploy bombers from greater altitudes against suspected guerrilla safe houses. In turn, bombing from a distance increases the likelihood that the U.S. will make a mistake and hit a house full of civilians, providing Iraqi, Arab and European media with heartbreaking footage of children being dug out of the rubble.

Is the Bush surge already failing?

In the end, all we'll accomplish is to kill more innocents and more of our own soldiers. You don't have to be Sun Tzu to know this was bound to happen.

UPDATE (Sept. 26, 2007): In the time since this article was written, the number of carrier groups in the Persian Gulf grew to three, then declined to one, led by Enterprise. According to this article, that number will soon climb to three again.

As I predicted, Senator Webb's proposed legislation has gone nowhere. To coin a phrase,sometimes I just hate it when I'm right.



I saw this and figured it would fit in your clock collection ....

Time Table

Cujo359 said...

I like it. You could knock the legs off and use it for a wall clock. I'd be able to read that one even in the early morning.

Taylor Marsh said...

It's Pakistan, not Iran. Geez, incredible. Wait until the thaw in Afghanistan and that will make four?


One More Time Piece