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Powerful and insightful new articles by Macgregor

10 October 2009

Illusions of Victory – There’s No Strategy To Win in Afghanistan“, Douglas MacGregor (Colonel, US Army, retired), Defense News, 28 September 2009 — I recommend reading it in full. Excerpt:

Douglas MacArthur is regarded as a great commander because he got some very important things right, most famously the Inchon landing. He also got some things wrong, such as his push to the Yalu River.

His catchy statement, “there is no substitute for victory,” was also wrong, though not so wrong as the armchair strategists who quote it out of context. In fact, “victory” is often an illusion, a will-o’-the-wisp that can lead nations and armies deeper into the bog of history until they disappear.

Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan had the foresight to avoid the bog, to halt inconclusive military operations in Korea and Lebanon before they consumed America’s strength. Such men are rare, and even more rarely honored for their actions.

Slightly amended, however, MacArthur’s statement applies to most politicians – presidents like Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. Both were men whose fear of political defeat made retreat from unsound policy pronouncements on Vietnam impossible even when they no longer made sense. They hoped commanders in the field would compensate with combat forces to turn hope into reality. Johnson and Nixon discovered the hard way that “no defeat on my watch” is not a strategy or the basis for one.

Once again, an American president is under pressure to commit American forces to action in the hope the generals can salvage a failed effort. His military advisers are telling him this will-o’-the-wisp will lead him safely through the swamp of muddled conflict to green pastures and still water. Unfortunately, the generals are urging him to look for victory in the wrong places, forgetting that American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan serve the interests of Iran and Russia far more than they do the interests of the United States. …

About the author

Colonel Douglas A. Macgregor PhD. is a retired American senior military officer and author. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential military thinkers of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries.

Macgregor’s seminal work, Breaking the Phalanx: A New Design for Landpower in the 21st Century (Praeger, 1997) was the first book by an Active Duty military author since Brigadier General William Mitchell, U.S. Army Air Corps, to challenge the status quo and set forth detailed proposals for the radical reform and reorganization of U.S. Army ground forces. His follow-on work, Transformation under Fire: Revolutionizing How America Fights( Praeger, 2003) expands on the concepts and ideas for reform and includes a foreword by a former British four-star general, Sir Rupert Smith.

Macgregor is now the lead partner with Potomac League, LLC — an intellectual capital brokerage and consulting firm — and a fellow at the Straus Military Reform Project

Macgregor’s newest book: Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting; will be due out the Fall of 2009. In it Macgregor explains how the failure to finish the battle with the Republican Guard in 1991 led to Iraq’s second major confrontation with the United States in 2003 resulting in two hollow military “victories” and the tragic blood-letting that continues today in Iraq.

Source:  Wikipedia.

For a links to his presentations and a detailed bio see here.

Other articles by MacGregor

“Future Battle: The Merging Levels of War”, Parameters, Winter 1992-93

  1. Command and Control for Joint Strategic Action”, Joint Force Quarterly, Autumn/Winter 1998-1999
  2. Transforming Operational Architecture for the Information Age“, Martial Ecologies (for the Israeli Defense Force and the Jaffee Center, Tel Aviv University). (2000)
  3. Transformation and the Illusion of Change”, National Security Studies Quarterly, Autumn 2000
  4. “A New Joint Operational Architecture: The Key to Transformation”, Strategic Review, Fall 2000
  5. The Joint Force – A Decade, No Progress”, Joint Force Quarterly, Winter 2000-2001
  6. “The Balkan Limits to Power and Principle”,  ORBIS, Winter 2001
  7. Resurrecting Transformation for the Post-Industrial Era: A New Structure for Post-industrial Warfare”, Defense Horizons, September 2001
  8. The Failure of Military Leadership in Iraq – Fire the Generals!“, Counterpunch, 26 May 2006
  9. Outside View: Iraq realities — Part 1“, UPI, 27 June 2008
  10. Outside View: Iraq realities — Part 2“, UPI, 30 June 2008
  11. Adapting to Reality in Warfare: Changing how the Army and Marines Organize to fight in the 21st Century“, 11 November 2008

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the following:

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. Oblat permalink
    10 October 2009 7:25 pm

    McGregor dispels the myth of the reforming military man. After a quick rundown of the current situation his solution is always the same – maneuver warfare, in whatever flavor is being sold this week. He only looks like a reformer because all his peers are stuck even further back.

    So of course he doesn’t think Afghanistan is winnable. But it’s not because of some deep understanding of these insurgencies it’s because basically because he wants the military to return to the Powell doctrine of “we don’t do insurgencies” at all. Then he can get back to playing with panzers and the enemies will naturally be “forced” to play fair.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: He doesn not say any of those things in this article. Please provide a citation or two to support your theory.

  2. 10 October 2009 8:23 pm

    Excellent post. But I would be (pleasantly) surprised if President Obama thinks the same way that Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan did when it came to international conflicts and wars.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I agree. Ancient philosophers taught that “anything is possible.” If asked, however, they would have explained that “Obama emulating Eisenhower and Reagan” would be the exception to this rule.

  3. kdog permalink
    10 October 2009 8:40 pm

    Oblat, Seems you are able to slightly detail the capability gaps that exixts with US fighting insurgents in ungoverned territories..targets and intel…while with the IRISH INSURENGENCY the “black and tans” were harbingers of conflict and way aheads…the 800# guerilla[pun inteneded] is the 500 year old opiate-trade to the [original] Colonists in the ungoverned areas combined with US becoming a governing force. Our “whole’ of government could exhaust itself trying to solve all the problems we currently can articulate. What about the problems we do not anticipate setting back our most recent ante? The article seems of a less often heard realist, I am sure many sounded a similar trumpet prior and during our ‘small wars ventures’ in the former Spanish colonies of last century (specifically PI and Caribbean and Mexico territories).

  4. mclaren permalink
    10 October 2009 10:17 pm

    FM Note: I strongly recommend reading this comment.
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    MacGregor gets it right, but dances around the main issue. To wit, America failed to create a democracy in Iraq because it smashed the state and left nothing to replace it; and it has failed to create a democracy in Afghanistan because (as FM has pointed out) Afghanistan is not a nation except in name — it’s a patchwork of geographically isolated fiefdoms run by warlords. Karzai is nothing but the mayor of Kabul and his word means nothing once you get into the next valley over.

    MacGregor raises an intriguing point with his fleeting mention of the clash twixt modernity and antiquity. A first world representative democracy finds itself faced with tribal fiefdoms still locked in the 14th century, politically and socially. Yet we seem to expect to turn their populations into something like Des Moines Iowa circa 1962 by force of arms. Has the White House been watching too much Star Trek: The Next Generation?

    Both wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) were lost before they were begun because, as Van Creveld and Lind have pointed out, both wars failed every single element of the time-tested Powell Doctrine;

    [1] Neither the Iraq nor Afghanistan wars had clearly definable objectives (“winning hearts and minds” is neither clear nor coherent — what metric does a battlefield commander use to measure what’s in people’s hearts?);

    [2] Neither the Iraq nor Afghanistan wars used overwhelming force to achieve that objective;

    [3] There is no clear-cut exit strategy in either Iraq nor Afghanistan, no clearly defined failure condition under which we can declare the mission over and leave;

    [3] And in neither Iraq nor Afghanistan could be our basic objective ever be achieved even if we had defined one clearly, because of the lack of a state in which to create a democracy and the lack of any unified population whose hearts and minds we could win (what wins the hearts & minds of Sunnis generally involves slaughtering Shiites in Iraq, and vice versa; what wins the hearts & minds of the Pashtuns in Afghanistan typically gives nightmares to Karzai & company, vice versa).

    U.S. strategic thinkers (if any such exist) ought to have remembered the last lines of the 1983 movie War Games:

    The only winning move is not to play.

  5. Jonathan permalink
    11 October 2009 5:32 am

    According to MacGregor, “Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan had the foresight to avoid the bog, to halt inconclusive military operations in Korea and Lebanon before they consumed America’s strength. Such men are rare, and even more rarely honored for their actions.”

    This is true, but I think the two men’s standing had something to do with their ability to make those decisions.

    Eisenhower was a bigger than life fellow who was credited with the Allies’ victory in Europe. He had the military standing to halt Korea without being denounced by his foes as an appeaser.

    Reagan, although he did not have the military credentials of Ike, was the popular leader of the Republicans who had led them from the wilderness to the White House. Reagan could afford to halt Lebanon and not be skewered by his fellow Republicans. Democrats at that time were still strongly associated with the anti-war crowd and would not have wanted a US war in Lebanon so they did not have problems with him withdrawing.

    Obama’s problem is that he is a Democrat and the Republicans will attack him as being weak on foreign policy if he exits. His fellow Democrats realize this. They are still trying to shake their image as the party that is weak on security, hence Obama running as the pro Afghan War candidate last year. Candidate Obama in a way has boxed President Obama into the Afghan War.

    So long as we don’t have to draft people to serve, staying in Afghanistan is probably easier for Obama than leaving. Ironically a war monger, republican President McCain would have had an easier time shutting down Afghanistan, not that I would have expected him to do so.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: All good points, which are encapsulated in the Vulcan saying “Only Nixon could go to China.”

  6. Oblat permalink
    11 October 2009 6:00 am

    >He doesn not say any of those things in this article. Please provide a citation or two to support your theory.

    Indeed but he’s been around for a while now. If you read the Other articles by MacGregor and pay particular attention to the problems he outlines and the solutions he suggests you will see what I mean.

    For a start I think a smaller, more joint, flexible, more networked, force structure is all very nice but it’s not the solution to any of the big problems the US military is facing.
    McGregor is trying to drag the military into the 3rd generation at a time when reality has already moved on.

    >Both wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) were lost before they were begun because, as Van Creveld and Lind have pointed out, both wars failed every single element of the time-tested Powell Doctrine;

    I don’t agree, the problem is that the Powell doctrine only works in retrospect. At the time:
    [1] Iraq and Afghanistan wars had clearly definable objectives: destroying al Qeada and he Taliban and deposing Saddam
    [2] Both Iraq nor Afghanistan wars used overwhelming force to achieve that objective; Both invasions were done with overwhelming forces or firepower in comparison to the enemy and completed in record time
    [3] There was a clear-cut exit strategy in either Iraq nor Afghanistan: establish friendly governments supported by the majority of the people because they would be better.
    Indeed if you apply the Powell doctrine to the ‘perceived’ conditions in 1961 the Us should have entered Vietnam as well. It even fails the test that created it.

    Basically if you look at the Powell doctrine it is a recipe for avoiding insurgencies. That’s way I call it the “we don’t do insurgencies” doctrine.

    The problem is that the Us never thinks it is going to get into a insurgency it is always a surprise. That is why Us culture is so important – it is distorting Us ability to perceive the real situation to the extent that smart and competent leaders are making one strategic blunder after another.

    The real question is why the Us can never see the insurgency coming. And why outside warnings of it are dismissed.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for posting this. It is too complex to adequately discuss in comments. Here are a few brief notes.

    (1) “Iraq and Afghanistan wars had clearly definable objectives: destroying al Qeada and he Taliban and deposing Saddam”
    Destroying al Qaeda was an objective following 9/11. But why was deposing Saddam an “objective”? Stated as an objective, it not only had near-zero domestic support but was clearly in violation of the UN Charter. It was a means to objectives that were clear — but based on lies. Saddam as ally of al Qaeda and builder of WMDs. I don’t see what point you are attempting to make here.

    (2) “Both invasions were done with overwhelming forces or firepower”
    But not the occupations. The force requirements to do so were well known in advance, and disregarded. The requirements for a successful occupation of Afghanistan are still ignored.

    (3) “establish friendly governments supported by the majority of the people because they would be better.”
    You are not stating the P Doctrine accurately: “clear and attainable objective.” Ours are delusional. We are foreign infidel occupiers, seeking to establish client states. For example, our unsuccessful attempts to force Iraq’s adoption of oil law allowing foreign exploitation their primary resource, and tilting majority Shiite Iraq against its Shiite neighbor Iran. The history of the post-WWII era shows foreign colonies (ever dressed up as neocolonial) are difficult to obtain and hold.

    (4) “Powell doctrine it is a recipe for avoiding insurgencies.”
    That seems to be a good thing, since there have been almost no cases of foreigners successfully defeating insurgencies. Usually advocates ignore the vast number of failures, citing only the grey area successes. Ireland, with the UK hardly a foreign power. Malaysia, with the UK already pulling out and a strong local government in place. Keyna, an almost unarmed insurgency defeated, with the colonial power forced out afterwards).

  7. Oblat permalink
    11 October 2009 6:12 am

    >Obama’s problem is that he is a Democrat and the Republicans will attack him as being weak on foreign policy if he exits. His fellow Democrats realize this. They are still trying to shake their image as the party that is weak on security, hence Obama running as the pro Afghan War candidate last year.

    What is initially puzzling is that he is scared of puling out of a war that most Americans are sick of. So he fears a backlash even though most people want him to do it.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: As Sherlock Holmes might have said: it is illogical as you stated it. So you must have stated it incorrectly.

    (1) He fears pulling out of a war supported by the majority of our ruling elites. The public’s opinion is far less important.

    (2) If things go badly in Iraq and Af-Pak, these elites will use their command of the media and political leaders to propagate the “we lost these nations” lie, and destroy Obama’s political capital — and the careers of those in his Administration and allied with him.

    No, it is not puzzling. For more about this see Are we fools? Yes, if we repeat the “who lost China” madness. (8 October 2009).

  8. Pete permalink
    11 October 2009 7:17 am

    “Obama’s problem is that he is a Democrat and the Republicans will attack him as being weak on foreign policy if he exits. His fellow Democrats realize this. They are still trying to shake their image as the party that is weak on security, hence Obama running as the pro Afghan War candidate last year. Candidate Obama in a way has boxed President Obama into the Afghan War. So long as we don’t have to draft people to serve, staying in Afghanistan is probably easier for Obama than leaving. Ironically a war monger, republican President McCain would have had an easier time shutting down Afghanistan, not that I would have expected him to do so.”

    Jonathan, I agree with your statement, but this brings to the fore the main issue, that of political leaders raising partisan concerns above the national interest. Obama, like Johnson, is concerned with the loss of face that would acrue to him if he “loses” Afghanistan, and the possible loss of political power if he is perceived as weak, indecisive or ineffective in international affairs. If Obama is in fact more concerned with these things than making the hard choices necessary in the Af-Pak theater of war, then he deserves all the abuse being heaped upon him, and then some.

    Harry Truman, a man who knew something about tough, unpopular decisions, had the famous sign on his desk “The Buck Stops Here.” In symbol and in fact, the sign showed that “Give ‘Em Hell Harry” would be making the calls, and then living with the consequences – good or bad – at that time and in history. If one is unwilling to make tough decisions with incomplete information, sometimes against the advice of your top people and/or public oponion, then one ought not to seek the Presidency. Re-election will take care of itself on the basis of whether his policies succeed or fail, now is the time for leadership and not holding your finger in the wind.

    Obama is fond of quoting Lincoln, but so far seems to possess none of Lincoln’s willingness to do the necessary but unpopular thing when it is called for. The bet here is that Obama kicks the can down the road til the 2010 midterms, when he will have someone – perhaps new GOP members of Congress? – with whom to share his adventures in the Hindu Kush. Meanwhile, our troops are dying, for the want of genuine leadership and moral courage. Politics, it was once said, stopped at the water’s edge. Those days are apparently long gone. Pathetic.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I strongly agree! Nicely written.

    This was easily foreseen before the election. As described in this excerpt from “Deadly Virtue”, Lewis Lapham, from “Fortune’s Child – A portrait of America as a spendthrift heir”, originally published in September 1978 (quoted in the FM post What past President does Obama most closely resemble?):

    Mr. Carter was elected to redeem the country, not to govern it. The press, as well as a majority of the electorate, chose to believe that Mr. Carter’s spiritualization of the issues conferred the highest possible benefit upon the Republic.

  9. Mikyo permalink
    11 October 2009 3:01 pm

    “So long as we don’t have to draft people to serve, staying in Afghanistan is probably easier for Obama than leaving.”

    Yes. Instead of drafting people, we have to pay them. But we are running low on cash.

  10. anna nicholas permalink
    11 October 2009 8:24 pm

    I can see you would want thousands of brave fit young soldiers firing from the hip if you wanted to take towns A and B , then advance in a thick khaki line and take C and D , etc , seeping over the country like the tide coming in , leaving enough men anchored in the sea behind you to keep the seaweed submerged .. If this was the case in Afgh , surely we would be debating where , on the map , the Front should now be.
    But if the attack is not a conquest of the whole country , but a seeding of it , what use are thousands of eager teenagers ? Surely what you need would be a handful of wise men , learned in the culture and religion , speaking the languages , observing the taboos ,and bearing appropriate gifts .

  11. mclaren permalink
    13 October 2009 2:12 am

    The claim “Iraq and Afghanistan wars had clearly definable objectives: destroying al Qeada [sic] and the Taliban and deposing Saddam” is absurd and provably false.

    In 2002, the alleged objective of the Iraq invasion was to capture Saddam’s alleged WMDs (“…we cannot wait for the final evidence — the conclusive proof — to arrive in the form of a mushroom cloud,” 6 October, 2002.) In 2003, when WMDs proved nonexistent, the alleged objective of the Iraq invasion changed to deposing Saddam Hussein. In late 2003, when Saddam proved elusive and capable of continuing a covert resistance against the occupying U.S. forces, the alleged objective of the Iraq invasion changed yet again to capturing Saddam Hussein. After Hussein was captured and the insurgency got worse, the alleged objective of the Iraq invasion became bringing peace to Iraq. In 2006 when everybody was still killing everybody else in Iraq and sectarian violence had reached catastrophic levels, the objective of the Iraq invasion changed yet again to creating a functioning democracy in the center of the middle east (even if torn by internal strife).

    Soon the alleged objective of the Iraq invasion will change again, and then again, and then yet again. Around and around we go, and what the real objective of the Iraq quagmire is, nobody knows. It’s delusive, hallucinatory and demented, and the result of the incoherence about what our actual objective of the Iraq invasion really is of course is a predictably incoherent and chaotic non-strategy by the U.S. military. How can you accomplish a clear and coherent military objective when you never had one?

    U.S. forces flail and thrash helplessly in Iraq because we have no idea why we’re there. To this day, no one in America, not in the White House, not in congress, not in the U.S. media, not in the armed forces, has succeeded in providing a credible rational explanation for the U.S. presence in Iraq either in 2003 or today. (we observe the same constantly mutating war aims once again in Afghanistan today, in 2009, with results which are equally easy to predict.)

    Your claim that “Both Iraq nor Afghanistan wars used overwhelming force to achieve that objective” is ridiculous and provably false. The British invaded Baghdad in 1916 with 70,000 British Imperial Army troops. At that time, Iraq had a population 2.6 million. In 2003, Iraq had a population of 24 million. The British used overwhelming force in 1916. Scaling up, we find that America would require a force of 24/2.6*(70,000) or 646,000 troops to duplicate the British effort. America used less than 1/5 that number, clearly and provably not overwhelming force. Since Donald Rumsfeld admitted this fact in 2004, it is inarguable. The population of Afghanistan is larger than that of Iraq, so logically we would require far more than 646,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan (assuming we’re stupid enough to think we can accomplish what neither Alexander the Great nor Czarist Russia nor the British Empire at its zenith could manage, namely, the conquest and pacification of Afghanistan, “the graveyard of empires” for 2000 years), whereas we currently have 1/10 that number deployed.

    The kinds of ludicrous and provably false claims posted by Oblat waste everyone’s time. Nonsensical assertions like “The problem is that the U.S. never thinks it is going to get into a insurgency it is always a surprise” fail to pass the straight-face test. Any child who studied high school history and passed with a C knows that the British ran into a quagmire when they invaded and conquered Iraq in 1916, even down to the exact same place names — the British found themselves forced to bombard and reduce to rubble Fallujah. Sound familiar? Likewise, the French disaster in Vietnam culminating in the military hecatomb at Dien Bien Phu provided ample evidence that any American involvement in Vietnam would surely lead down the same path. Unless we are expected to believe that the people running America are less competent and knowledgeable than high school children, the assertion “nobody could have known” about insurgencies in Iraq, Vietnam, etc. proves so outlandish that it seems better suited for a Monty Python skit than for a serious claim about geopolitcs.

    Oblat and anyone else who doubts the wisdom and durability of the Powell Doctrine would do well to read this article about the British army in Iraq in 1917. The world is not an impenetrable mystery and human affairs are not entirely unique never-before-seen one-of-a-kind singularities. History tends to repeat itself and anyone who can read a book recognized exactly what America was getting in for in 2003 — which, incidentally, is precisely why Bush 41 and Colin Powell refused to invade Baghdad in 1991. The problem today is not the alleged unpredictability of human affair nor the supposedly impenetrable fog of war; it’s crappy leadership in government and gross incompetence in the U.S. army. In America in 1991, we had expert political leadership (Bush 41 was actually quite a good president) and excellent military leadership. That leadership starts in recognizing what America should not do. Bush and Powell recognized that America ought not to invade Baghdad in 1991 because it would turn into a quagmire; their successors did not recognize these basic and obvious facts, with results we have witnessed over the last 6 years.

    Instead of ridiculing and arguing with the decisions of these wise leaders of the past, as Oblat and others persist in doing, we would do better to study them to see what we can learn from their successful policies.

  12. Oblat permalink
    14 October 2009 4:11 pm

    FM: Due to the complexity and subtly of this comment, I have inserted replies into it.
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    FM: “But why was deposing Saddam an “objective”? Stated as an objective, it not only had near-zero domestic support but was clearly in violation of the UN Charter. It was a means to objectives that were clear — but based on lies. Saddam as ally of al Qaeda and builder of WMDs.

    The Powell doctrine isn’t concerned with international law and the military doesn’t think there is anything bad about propaganda to maintain public support. And in the case of Afghanistan and Vietnam very few actual known lies were needed.

    *** FM: I don’t understand the point of the first, as relates to what I said. The Vietnam and Afghanistan War was based on lies: the artificial nature of the S.V. nation and the near-zero legitimacy. The Tonkin Gulf incident. The stream of false reports by the military. were based on lies. Ditto for the Afghanistan War, starting with the role of the Afghan bases in 9-11 (minimal), and going on from there.

    Comment #6: “Both invasions were done with overwhelming forces or firepower”
    FM: “But not the occupations.

    There wasn’t going to be an occupation there were going to be Iraqis throwing flowers and a grateful afghan nation freed from Taliban slavery.

    *** FM: And your point is?

    FM: “You are not stating the P Doctrine accurately: “clear and attainable objective.” Ours are delusional.

    The Powell doctrine doesn’t say anything about making sure your objectives aren’t delusional. It doesn’t say there should be international consensus or any other mechanism to check that your perceptions are correct.

    *** FM: Delusional objectives are seldom attainable attainable

    Comment #6: 4) “Powell doctrine it is a recipe for avoiding insurgencies.”
    FM reply: “That seems to be a good thing.”

    yea except that it doesn’t work. It is impractical in several ways but given that it was tailor made to avoid another Vietnam then the most damning thing is that given what the US leadership perceived to be the situation before entering Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam it would have recommended the wars.

    *** FM: That’s an odd interpretation, as most analysts say that the Powell Doctrine was written to proscribe another Vietnam — and it ignores my reasons why Afghanistan vioates at least 5 of the PW’s 8 requirements.

    Under Bush things even went one step further – Bush basically did what the Powell doctrine demanded he handed the wars policy over to the military and gave them whatever they wanted, and it still failed.

    *** FM: The Powell Doctrine specifies the conditions under which we should initiate wars, not not methodology by which we wage them.

    The deeper significance of the Powell doctrine is that it is an excellent indicator of US military culture. A culture that is in deep denial about Vietnam and as a result is spectacularly ineffective.

  13. Oblat permalink
    14 October 2009 4:12 pm

    >In 2002, the alleged objective of the Iraq invasion was to capture Saddam’s alleged WMDs

    nonsense that was just propaganda. Wolfowitz admitted it openly.

    There isn’t anything in the Powell doctrine about not lying to the US people, in fact domestic propaganda efforts are even recommended by the military as a way to maintain the public support that the Powell doctrine says is mandatory.

    >Your claim that “Both Iraq nor Afghanistan wars used overwhelming force to achieve that objective” is ridiculous and provably false. Really the invasions were a cakewalk, but that wasn’t enough force?

    >The British invaded Baghdad in 1916 with 70,000 British Imperial Army troops.

    This is a very bizarre calculation. Since when does the US military base it’s calculations on failed British expeditions a century ago?

    >the assertion “nobody could have known” about insurgencies in Iraq, Vietnam, etc. proves so outlandish that it seems better suited for a Monty Python skit than for a serious claim about geopolitcs.

    Maybe you should go back and read what I have posted a lot more carefully. I’m saying the exact opposite of what you think I am saying.

    I myself argued that Iraq and Afghanistan would inevitably end in insurgencies, well before both wars started! :-)

  14. Mikyo permalink
    14 October 2009 5:01 pm

    If the real objective was a punitive expedition, then surely they have already done enough. Hehe.

  15. 14 October 2009 6:39 pm

    Our policy wonks, especially those who serve the war enthusiasts, rich in their diversity of wonkish military, tribal/ethnic, and historical opinion, are well prepared to parry many conventional thrusts from Obama as/if he tries to justify withdrawal. The one area of wonkish weakness I can see is Geography. Obama should announce he is pulling out of Afghanistan, for the simple reason that the “Lay of the land” is wrong for us to achieve our objectives. He should enlist the service of a few renowned Geographers to pontificate on how the Russian invasion was primarily un-done by the insanely rugged terrain. Others could point out how Kabul is not really a conventional “Capital City” in any sense that we understand the term. Our historical blind spot in understanding the importance of Geography as an input to decision making could serve Obama well as “the other side” scrambles to find even one Geography wonk to refute him. Hopefully, by the time they regroup, it will be too late, and we will be out for Geography reasons.

  16. Mikyo permalink
    14 October 2009 6:49 pm

    If terrorists attack us at home, should we not defend ourselves, AT HOME?

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