Saturday, June 23, 2007

Larry Johnson On "The Surge"

image credit: U.S. Army

The caption reads: Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division decide which route to take to reach their next objective on the streets of Baqubah, Iraq, June 19.

Our latest push into the badlands of Iraq has, according to the New York Times, not been going too well:

In an otherwise upbeat assessment, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, told reporters that leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had been alerted to the Baquba offensive by widespread public discussion of the American plan to clear the city before the attack began. He portrayed the Qaeda leaders’ escape as cowardice, saying that “when the fight comes, they leave,” abandoning “midlevel” Qaeda leaders and fighters to face the might of American troops — just, he said, as they did in Falluja.

Militants Said to Flee Before U.S. Offensive

This all sounds familiar, doesn't it? Even the general admitted it did. "Just, he said, as they did in Falluja". In other words, we've tried this before and it hasn't worked. Larry Johnson observes:

General Odierno, our number two guy in Iraq, needs a sit down with Benjamin Franklin. He has the symptoms of insanity. Franklin apparently was the first to note that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

Swamp Fox Goes to Iraq

I think maybe he needs a sit down with a military historian, too, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Johnson goes on:

Let me see if I have this straight? We go after a supposed concentration of Al Qaeda. We encircle a city filled with civilians. We blow the living shit out of the place. And guess what? The terrorists aka insurgents beat feet and melt away. The so-called cowards won't "stand and fight". Well, looks to me like those cowards are much faster learners then we are.


The current U.S. offensive will fail. We will punch ourselves out on an enemy that is smart enough to retreat in the face of overwhelming force. We will go house to house rousting able bodied men from their sleep and humiliating them in front of their wives. We will detain some of these folks but eventually let them return home. When they return home they will be fully prepared to support whatever insurgent group will help them reclaim the honor we took from them.
Swamp Fox Goes to Iraq

Once again, we are confronted with a truth that you don't have to be a military genius to understand. If a group of foreigners ransacked your home, and humiliated you or your family wouldn't you want revenge? I would, and I'm usually in the "living well" camp when it comes to revenge these days. If you can't understand this you are almost terminally dull-witted. We're making enemies over there far faster than we're killing or imprisoning them.

Johnson then evokes an unsettling historical precedent:

General Odierno ought to go back and read some good old fashioned American History. There was this guy, General Francis Marion, who got the nickname "Swamp Fox" from a fussy British Colonel (Tarleton) who complained that Marion did not fight fair[.]

Swamp Fox Goes to Iraq

This campaign didn't end well for the British. There's another general who also distinguished himself during that war by avoiding a catastrophic battle, George Washington. Washington and Marion prevailed by not being caught by more powerful forces without a way to escape. In the end, they, with the help of the French, pushed the British from American territory.

My own guess is that Gen. Odierno is trying to goad the Iraqis into just such a catastrophic battle. I'm also guessing that the Iraqis are nowhere near that foolish. Like everything else about our handling of this war, it's bound to fail for obvious reasons.

And yet we're doing it over and over.


op99 said...

It must be terribly humiliating to our generals with their fancy West Point educations when a bunch of scruffy insurgents makes them look like monkeys.

Cujo359 said...

I suspect it is. You see that sort of frustration whenever an occupying force is dealing with a determined resistance or rebellion. It was true in Vietnam, in America in the 18th Century, South Africa at the end of the 19th Century, and in Iraq today.

shoephone said...

Cujo - Did you just feel a tap on your shoulder?

'Cause you just got tagged...