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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whoever has the most trucks wins: redefining winning in war 


Our ideas about war have mostly been patterned after WW1 and WW2, where states sent their armies to war against other states, eventually somebody won, peace agreements were signed, and the soldiers all came home and got real jobs.
That isn't the way war is anymore.
What we see now are numerous smaller wars of "insurgency", where semi-organized ideological well-armed rebel groups grab their guns and leap into their pickup trucks, traveling back and forth across their home territories, killing their enemies as they go, uprooting families, destroying people's ability to raise crops or run a business. Chechnya, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, eastern Ukraine, the Sudan. Nobody seems to win or lose wars like these, or at least not for long; there is often nobody to sign a peace treaty with and nobody would respect it if one could be negotiated. In these wars, success isn't "winning".  Success seems to be just "not losing" for just long enough to exhaust the opposition and then take back some of the territory lost in the last offensive.
Its the kind of war where apparently some additional air support can give one side a crucial edge.
This appears to be Obama's strategy for dealing with ISIS. From Juan Cole: Obama's ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense:
Obama hinted in his speech that he wants to help Baghdad and Erbil take back towns from ISIL just as Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the president of Yemen, took back Zinjibar. And just as AQAP hasn’t disappeared in Yemen, Obama expects ISIL to be around for a while. In essence, the Yemen policy has de facto yielded a sort of containment with regard to AQAP, though how successful it will be in the long run can be questioned.
What if Obama is a sharper reader of the Middle East than his critics give him credit for? He knows ISIL is likely not going away, just as, after 13 years, the Taliban have not. US military action may even prolong the lifetime of these groups (that is one argument about AQAP) even as it keeps them from taking more territory.
Don’t listen to his expansive four-stage program or his retooled, stage-managed John Wayne rhetoric. Look at his metaphors. He is telling those who have ears to hear that he is pulling a Yemen in Iraq and Syria. He knows very well what that implies. It is a sort of desultory, staccato containment from the air with a variety of grassroots and governmental forces joining in. Yemen is widely regarded as a failure, but perhaps it is only not a success. And perhaps that is all Obama can realistically hope for.
I don't know if Obama will be right or not, but certainly landing American troops likely wouldn't work any better (see: Mogadishu).
Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog writes:
Obama's job is not to try to rid the world of evil. Obama's job is to protect America and U.S. interests. With regard to ISIS, that means curtailing the group's ability to be a threat to our country and our interests. If Cole is right, and if something like this gets Obama's actual job done, I'd prefer that to a bloodlust-satisfying full-on quagmire of a war that inflames our enemies and inspires ISIS's current enemies in the Arab/Muslim world to rally around the group.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers | 3 comments

3 Comments:

O.K. I did laugh when I read the first few lines. Its true though, about the trucks.

My sense of things is, the people who start these types of actions/wars usually don't have much else to do. They start in impoverished areas. The real root of most of this fighting is poverty.

Containment would work, but this time, I's suggest countries in the area do their part. We have seen too many Arab countries sit around and let others do their fighting. I'd suggest they do their own.

When ISIS comes calling here, it will be soon enough to fight. We have lost enough soliders from North America and Europe to last a lifetime. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Emerites, etc. have benefited much from the wests work. Let them do some themselves. Of course the west does want the oil, so perhaps that is the trade off.

I don't worry too much about Canadians coming back from ISIS and "waring" here. Most of them won't be back. They'll be killed over there. What I worry about is the 1,200 murdered First Nations Women in this country. You see, someone murdered them. A lot of someones. Even if one person murdered 2 women, we still have 600 murderers walking the streets of this country. Harper might want to put a little more effort in finding those guys than some guy in the middle east.

By Anonymous e.a.f., at 10:33 pm  

Thanks for commenting, e.a.f., I agree with you.

By Blogger CathiefromCanada, at 10:53 am  

The true hero is usually a hero by mistake he dreams of becoming an honest coward just similar to everyone else.

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By Blogger mama lauren, at 10:27 am  

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