Summary: The year is only 7 weeks old and we’ve already taken several steps accelerating phase two of our mad Post-9/11 Wars. Our primary method is FAILure to Learn, repeating the tactics that didn’t work during the past 14 years. This will not end well for us. (2nd of 2 posts today}
US forces have begun fighting along side the Iraq army (Apache attack helicopters supporting the Iraq army). Special Operations forces have increased their tempo of operations in Afghanistan. We’ve dispatched a brigade of 4,000 to Iraq, with a vague explanation of its mission (more are warming up in the US to go). Obama’s submitted to Congress a vague Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (AUMF, to fight the wars already under way).
This makes no sense. We conducted our first wave of wars — Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen — in direct violation of the two lessons of post-WWII history. Both are quite obvious.
- Foreigners (especially foreign infidels) almost never defeat local insurgents. Their presence undermines the legitimacy of the host government and arouses opposition in proportional to their activity (i.e., the more we do, the more they hate us).
- Large numbers of troops are needed to have even a small chance of winning (large numbers as a ratio to the local population opposing us). Details here.
Having proven our incompetence at 4GW, now we escalate to outright madness by repeating the same failed methods but on a smaller (and hence less likely to work) scale. It’s a FAILure to learn, a weakness no amount of power can counterbalance. Not at WWI levels (doubling down with failed tactics), but still inexcusable.
“Insanity is repeating one’s actions while expecting a different result”. We could feel good about this insight if it was Einstein’s — if it took an Einstein to see our mistakes! But it’s old wisdom from Alcoholics Anonymous, people who know all about dysfunctionality. (More about this here.)
Perhaps that’s our destiny, to screw up repeatedly in foreign wars until we fritter away all that our nation’s wealth and ingenuity have given us. After we hit bottom we can enroll America in Fools Anonymous.
The key thing to know about our wars
It’s often said that our leaders — business and political — are fools. Those dumb bankers. Those dumb generals. Those dumb folks in Congress. That’s silly. All of these groups have profited enormously from what we see as mistakes (i.e., the crash, our failed wars, our rotting America). It’s the equivalent of a loser at Vegas cursing those dumb casino owners.
We, the citizens of America, are fools to allow these wars to be waged in our name, paid for by our taxes. We can stop them whenever we find the will to re-take the reins of America. The political machinery the Founders bequeathed us lies idle but potentially powerful, awaiting only our energy to empower it.
For More Information
Posts about the key insight from post-WWII history about 4GW. This would change the course of American foreign policy, if we paid attention.
- How often do insurgents win? How much time does successful COIN require?
- Max Boot: history suggests we will win in Afghanistan, with better than 50-50 odds. Here’s the real story. — Boot discusses 7 alleged victories by foreign armies fighting insurgencies.
- A major discovery! It could change the course of US geopolitical strategy, if we’d only see it — Andrew Exum points us to the doctoral dissertation of Erin Marie Simpson in Political Science from Harvard on the history counter-insurgency.
- A look at the history of victories over insurgents.
- COINistas point to Kenya as a COIN success. In fact it was an expensive bloody failure.