To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. - Sun Tzu

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Vietnam II: Son of Ho Chi Minh

In yesterday's episode, I explained, very quickly, the general way that we lose counter-insurgencies. Today I'll go into what we can do to get out of this mess.

First, there's the not-gonna-happen Best Case Scenario. That's where Iraq has elections in January and everyone accepts them. I think we can look at Afghanistan as an example of why that's wishful thinking. Elections have no practical meaning.
If elections somehow go perfectly (and I will guarantee that they won't), we'll still have to have a military occupation for years to keep the country stable. We're building 14 permanent bases. Think we're planning on going anywhere? Guess if we'll hear about near-constant attacks on these bases?

It's moot, though, because even if they hold elections, the populace won't accept them. So, alright, we kill the rebels until they change their ways. Whoops, that doesn't work, because we kill civilians and otherwise ruin their lives.

So, we do what the Brits did in the Boer war to win that guerilla war: Concentration camps. Read Gary Brecher's article #172 for more on how that works. In summation, it works, but it's dirty, and these days it'll make more enemies than we kill. So that's not going to work.

Okay, if things are so bad, let's just cut and run? No good. Everyone will hate us if we do that. Best-case scenario then is years of power struggle, deaths of thousands, poverty, etc.

In case you can't telll, it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place.

The only thing I see that has even the remotest chance of success is to flood the country with so many soldiers, that you can't throw a rock without hitting four of five. Most of these would, unfortunately, have to be somewhat-trained Iraqis, but we're looking for quantity, not quality. Before you call me racist; I don't have much faith in the common Iraqi recruit because their training is not remotely as good as ours. A few weeks of boot camp and then "Here's a gun and a uniform" is not how to make a good soldier.
The rest of the troops- in the realm of 600-700 thousand- would simply have to come from Germany, France, and especially Russia. No one else has enough manpower and money except China, and I doubt if even Henry Clay could have negotiated that.

Station them there for a few years, but passively- don't go looking for the enemy. Don't bomb "known terrorist safehouses". Play it cool, accept the losses. Just be police. If you see someone clearly, irrefutably breaking the law, then conduct a formal investigation, bring them to trial, allow them legal counsel, and punish them legally.
We have to win the PR campaign, and bullets don't do that. Our only alternative is the deaths of thousands.

Of course, I'm a realist. What's going to end up happening is that we'll be around for a few years, gradually pulling out, gaining more and more resentment, supporting a string of dubiously legal puppet dictators, sucking out the oil, killing innocent Iraqis, bombing the whole country until you can't tell where the sand stops and the cities start, and generally making a mess of things. Eventually, the rebels will collaborate with existing terrorist and criminal drug and weapons organizations for funding, introducing future Iraqi youth to violent gangs and crippling drug addictions, and turning the country into Los Angeles, except that everyone looks Mexican. All this happens while our leaders tell us things are getting better. Finally, the Iraqi government recognizes that it has no power and secretly negotiates with the criminals, ending the violence but keeping the extortion, drugs, and poverty. Freedom on the march.

Ah, I hear Colombia is nice this time of year...

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