THE SURGE IS NOT ABOUT TROOPS
The troops were there to give men already in the country a chance to rest a little more often. The shift in strategy is why there's a difference. Over at Commentary, Arthur Herman outlines some history of insurgencies and how to defeat them in an article called How to Win in Iraq - and How to Lose. He first sketches the history of the French in Algeria trying vainly to defeat the guerrilla war that defied a military that had one soldier on the ground for every 23 Algerians. He points out that it is not the amount of soldiers so much as the way the soldiers are used. This has long been a point of annoyance with me, watching otherwise well-informed, capable people call for more warm bodies as if that somehow will fix everything.
The Algerian war was considered a loss in 1956 A French Lieutenant named David Galula demonstrated a better way of fighting the battles, one that ignored the lessons of open warfare in WW2 which did not apply to this effort. Galula realized that conventional war did not matter when the insurgents were willing to lose 20 men to get one soldier, counting on weariness in the military and especially in France to compel the country to finally give up and go home. This is exactly the strategy that Iraqi death squads and terrorists are trying to employ, and exactly how the Democrats in congress are responding. They are planning on handing the insurgents precisely the win they were counting on.
By 1960, the French had all but defeated the Algerian insurgents by using a change from warfare to military strength and politics. What happened?:
What then? Essentially, Galula grasped that the new form of warfare had reversed the conventional relationship in war between combatant and civilian. No longer bystanders or useful adjuncts to the war effort, as in World War II, civilians were the critical determinants of success or failure. Without the help or at least the passive acquiescence of the local population, the government would be doomed. In a crucial sense, it did not matter how many guerrillas were killed, or how many regular soldiers were on the ground; the center of gravity was the opinion of the local community.
Thus, the key to success lay in bringing to the surface the portion of the populace that hated the guerrillas, and then turning that minority into a majority by a combination of political, social, and cultural initiatives. But of course that crucial portion, Galula wrote, “will not and cannot emerge as long as the threat [of insurgent retaliation] has not been lifted.” This was where military strategy came into play. Galula’s approach boiled down to three stages, each with its own lesson for Iraq today.
The third part requires the insurgents to recognize that you will not leave, you will not quit, and they will eventually fail and lose. We had them at this point in 2003, but the presidential election was so close that it was critical to tear down the Iraqi success and hurt President Bush in order to get a Democrat victory in 2004, so the press went on the offensive. They followed the democrat strategy that Doug Thompson pointed out on the old Capital Hill Blue blog (hat tip to Sweetness & Light for the story)
Capitol Hill Blue obtained a copy of the talking points when the Democratic National Committee sent them to a news outlet recently acquired by CHB’s parent company. The talking points outline a strategy to raise public doubts of the President’s real intentions, including:
– Saying the war is about oil and will be fought to benefit oil companies that have long supported Bush and the Republican party;
– Claiming the Bush administration has “manufactured” evidence against Saddam Hussein and used that evidence to encourage Britain and other allies to join the American fight against Iraq;
– Suggesting a wartime economy is the only way the administration can revive the country’s lagging economic situation.
“It is clear that the current approval ratings of the administration are tied directly to strong American feelings toward traditional values,” the talking points say. “To counter this, doubt must be raised as to America’s true position within the world community and the true intent of the Bush administration in waging war.”
Some Democrats admit privately they are uneasy with the party strategy to undermine American values in an attempt to get Bush.
“My boss doesn’t want anything to do with it,” one senior Senate aide told Capitol Hill Blue on Monday. “You don’t undermine this country to win elections.”
Others, however, are willing to try anything to put the White House and Congress back under Democratic control.
“The real war isn’t in Iraq,” one Democratic consultant said. “It’s right here at home, at the ballot box in 2004.”
Among the other points Democrats hope to make in the coming weeks:
– Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are controlled by oil and defense industry special interest groups.
– The war on terrorism is a failure because Osama bin Laden is still at large.
– America is unprepared for another terrorist attack because of White House preoccupation with Iraq.
– War will increase the country’s economic woes.
– Bush will be forced to raise taxes to finance the war.
“It’s time to take the battle to the people and make them understand just how dangerous George W. Bush’s policies are to the future of America,” the talking points conclude.
We are at another crossroads; we're succeeding in putting the insurgency down, we've managed to make a great start. The bad guys are demoralized and running scared, trying to find a way to quit and do so without being punished. They are negotiating with the government to give up their arms and quit fighting. al`Sadr ran away to Iran and is in hiding. So the ball is in the court of the press again, what will they do?
We already know what the Democrats will do: put a provision in the military funding to cut back money for the pacification of Iraq and end the occupation at a predetermined, arbitrary deadline just before the 2008 election. To get this distasteful bill passed, the packed it with an amazing amount of federal tax dollars - your money taken by force - for individual congressmen to get them to vote for it. In the House of Representatives, it has worked, the new Democrat congressmen have proven they are less interested in principle, fiscal responsibility, constitutionality and the fight against terrorism than they are sweet, sweet pork to send back home.
The press? So far, the New York Times has reported the lower US casualties as if it is worse by pointing out that areas where there did not used to be as many now have more. The fact that overall there are fewer was merely a troublesome speedbump to get over to find the bad news, if they could spin it right. This is not a good sign. The same people who damaged our efforts before are doing it again.
Remember Algeria? By 1960, the war was all but won...
In under two years, as I have noted, the fight against the FLN insurgents in Algeria was all but won. But the war itself was lost. By late 1959, even as the army was scoring victory after victory, French President Charles de Gaulle had concluded that he had no choice but to offer Algeria “self-determination.” Within two years, the French had pulled out and the FLN’s leader, Ben Bela, was Algeria’s president.
What happened was this: while the French military had been concentrating on fighting the insurgency in the streets and mountains in Algeria, an intellectual and cultural insurgency at home, led by the French Left and the media, had been scoring its own succession of victories.
Like in the US, the battle at home was fought more than the battle in Algeria. Like in the US, the left decided that losing the war was better than winning because it meant political victory and defeat of what they hated: the military. Like in the US, the media and leftist leaders managed to persuade and fool the public into believing it was a lost cause, that it was time for the Algerians to find their own destiny.
The result? A bloodbath as the French pulled out. Soldiers were slaughtered, anyone who supported them was brutalized and murdered. Things were far worse than ever before in Algeria. But it was Algerians dying, not French, and the liberals called it a victory. Here's something to consider:
It is indeed striking that war critics like Senators Harry Reid and Joseph Biden, who in 2005 were calling on the Pentagon to mount a proper counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, and to send enough troops to make it happen, should now be seeking ways to revoke legislative authority for that very operation.For these congressmen, for much of the media, and for the left in America, this has never been about Iraq, fighting terrorists, seeking to pacify the region or build democracy. It has been about winning at home, at any cost. They have succeeded so far, largely because of the incompetence and lack of effort on the part of the Bush administration. You and I have a responsibility to not be a part of this loss, and to remember the lessons of the past.
I'm reminded of a remarkable speech by President John F Kennedy. The Cuban Missile Crisis took us closer to nuclear war than at any time previous or since, it was a catastrophe that was waiting for the wrong move. JFK had two choices: back down and let Khrushchev station missiles a few dozen miles off our coast, or stand tall and make him take them away. He chose the second option, knowing full well what that could mean. When he gave his speech to tell the American people and the world of his intent, many of the things he said are very true and compelling for our situation today. Here are some excerpts (emphases mine):
The 1930's taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. This nation is opposed to war. We are also true to our word.Something people seem to forget is that peace is not a means, it is not a tactic or a method: it is a goal. You use means and tactics and devices, methods and techniques to achieve peace, and among those has to be the use of military might when it is justly and properly called for. Whether or not you agreed with the invasion of Iraq, we are there now and we have a chance, a real shot at finally seeing peace and stability in the region. If we can succeed in pacifying Iraq and building a stable democracy there, the region will be that much more calmed and stable.
Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful nation which leads a worldwide alliance. We have been determined not to be diverted from our central concerns by mere irritants and fanatics. But now further action is required, and it is under way; and these actions may only be the beginning. We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth; but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.
My fellow citizens, let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out. No one can foresee precisely what course it will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead -- months in which both our patience and our will be tested, months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.
The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are; but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.
Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right; not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.
The failure of Syria and Iran to destabilize and defeat the attempt to bring liberty and success to Iraq will demoralize their efforts, foil their dreams, and bring defeat to their plans. This will mean one more step toward the ideal. Each Arab that looks at a successful, happy, prosperous, and free Iraq can begin to ask a question that right now is unthinkable: maybe there's another way, maybe this isn't the evil we've been told.
President Bush in a recent speech made an appeal to the Iranian people, telling them that we are not the enemies of the people of Iran, that we seek their well being, their freedom, and hope for a day when they can enjoy the liberty and success that we in the west have. He echoed President Kennedy in this speech:
Finally, I want to say a few words to the captive people of Cuba, to whom this speech is being directly carried by special radio facilities. I speak to you as a friend, as one who knows of your deep attachment to your fatherland, as one who shares your aspirations for liberty and justice for all. And I have watched and the American people have watched with deep sorrow how your nationalist revolution was betrayed -- and how your fatherland fell under foreign domination. Now your leaders are no longer Cuban leaders inspired by Cuban ideals. They are puppets and agents of an international conspiracy which has turned Cuba against your friends and neighbors in the Americas, and turned it into the first Latin American country to become a target for nuclear war -- the first Latin American country to have these weapons on its soil.President Kennedy was hailed as a visionary, and got a standing ovation. He is memorialized as a great leader, a man who loved democracy and peace. President Bush was castigated for daring to speak to the Iranians, called patronizing, and a warmonger for stirring up trouble in Iran. Just something to keep in mind when you read accounts of the President and responses to what he says. Remember that people who respond have an agenda as well, and their agenda is to defeat President Bush and stop him from enjoying any success, anywhere, ever.
These new weapons are not in your interest. They contribute nothing to your peace and well-being. They can only undermine it. But this country has no wish to cause you to suffer or to impose any system upon you. We know that your lives and land are being used as pawns by those who deny your freedom. Many times in the past, the Cuban people have risen to throw out tyrants who destroyed their liberty. And I have no doubt that most Cubans today look forward to the time when they will be truly free -- free from foreign domination, free to choose their own leaders, free to select their own system, free to own their own land, free to speak and write and worship without fear or degradation. And then shall Cuba be welcomed back to the society of free nations and to the associations of this hemisphere.
We stand together as a nation facing a unique point in history, with the stirrings of war from Iran with a recent capture of British sailors and a clear drive to make nuclear weapons. Their leaders are driven to use these weapons on tiny Israel, and have made it abundantly clear that they view nuclear weapons as a way to usher in a new, Islamic age of absolute rule over the planet. This is not the time for political infighting, struggles and backstabbing for personal gain or to get your "side" a win. We must be united and face the threats we now see, support the efforts of our fellow citizens to bring liberty and stability to the most troubled region in our world, and to win. Either you are for us, as President Bush has stated early on, or you are against us.
Which side are you on?