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Strategy In Iraq: Stay the Course vs Partial Disruption

Global Guerrillas has a fascinating post, “PARTIAL vs. COMPLETE SYSTEM DISRUPTION.” The thesis is that Iraqi guerrillas and terrorists have the ability to complete the collapse of Iraq into anarchy, but have chosen not to, for reasons that he lays out.

As van Creveld predicted in “The Transformation of War,” we lack a good way to talk about these forces. Some of them are terrorists targeting civilians and infrastructure, others are guerrillas, attacking the military forces, and some are likely both, not being oriented to think of the world in Clausewitzian terms of state, people, and army. Worse, the public, and apparently the US Army lack good data on the size and composition of the opposition forces. I suspect that Robb’s opinions that there’s a network of groups selling each other services is roughly right.

There’s more after the break.

Either someone in the opposition is able to strategize on this level, and then distribute and evangelize their ideas, or that there’s actually a single unified opposition. I’m not sure which is worse, but I think its the ability to evangelize for their concept of war.

Meanwhile, the United States tries to build a liberal democracy. It was once understood that a new nation required “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” and a claim of moral authority. (Boyd got this with his moral level of war, as did Sun Tzu, who listed moral law as the first thing to be taken into account in a war.)

But the United States, in the eyes of the world, has lied about weapons of mass destruction, has hurtled headlong into a war without plans for the aftermath, has tortured detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Where is our decent respect to the opinions of mankind? Without it, our claims and our real achievements have no context, no frame, no orienting marks to encourage the Iraqi people to follow or cooperate.

Whatever lofty goals the US aspires to are undermined by our failures to follow the law ourselves. They are undermined by the disgusting spectacle of the Vice President lobbying for the CIA’s legal ability to torture those it has captured. There is no tactical goal worthy of the strategic sacrifice of the moral plane.

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