Thursday, February 23, 2006

Punitive Expeditions – Back to the future?

"After Iraq," one officer in the Pentagon told me, "we hope not to be invading a big country for a long time, so we'll be reduced to low-profile raiding, which the military has a very long and venerable tradition of, from the 19th and early 20th centuries."
From a military point of view, very doable Robert Kaplan; but will a 21st century politician let us raid a prison or military base in Yemen – kill a lot of people – break a lot of things – and then leave? Think about it.
The long war, if smartly executed, can prevent a big war.
If you are willing now and then to fight a medium war – which is what Iraq is.
Never again should we be in the situation that we were in on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where there were no intelligence assets on 9/11 because we had closed all our networks the decade before, following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
That was worldwide. Intentionally done by the Clinton Administration who refused to see the world as it is and hated anything that had to do with a real, and nasty by need, CIA.
The struggle against Al Qaeda and its offshoots will go on for many years after a troop drawdown in Iraq, and in this worldwide struggle the civilian piece associated with the State Department will be a vital, unconventional asset.
If you have the right people in Foggy Bottom - and running it.
The long war envisaged by the Quadrennial Defense Review is not a sinister vision but a reflection of reality. Even in the Pacific, where the American military must be prepared for conflicts in Korea and Taiwan, the Chinese are more likely to seek dominance through a growing web of trade and military alliances with longtime allies like Thailand and the Philippines, as well as through terrorist splinter groups in Southeast Asia and its archipelagos, stretching all the way to Oceania.

The defense review's emphasis on Special Forces is correct; so is its admission that technology is not always the answer.
One of the best statements on the subject I have read. On this earlier points though; I agree to a point. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. But you have to be serious and you are going to piss people off. I still don’t think we had a cho8ice but to take down Iraq. The real lesson of Iraq goes back to my ENS/LTJG war: if you are going to war, go to war. Finish it. Desert Storm was a balk. A dictator only thinks he has lost if he is out o power and/or dead. Sometime you can do that without an army. But we took that option away 30 years ago.

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