Monday, June 8, 2015

The long run has ended.

We are losing the war in Iraq for the same reason we lost the war in Vietnam: we are fighting one war, while the insurgents fight another. In both campaigns, we understood neither our enemy nor our friends. In both campaigns, American lives and treasure were thrown into a fight we could not win. So, in both campaigns, we didn’t.

The actions of the Iraqi Army in Ramadi—fleeing at the first sign of trouble—are uncomfortably familiar. Again, our allies fail. Again, our allies ensure American lives in more than a decade of active war were lost in vain. Again, we leave holding a handful of ashes.

In asymmetric war, the insurgent wins by not losing, while the United States loses by not winning. The insurgent, using murder and control of the night, employs terror, persuasion, and religious zealotry as the means to a larger end: unifying his people, imposing his will, collecting tax to fund his cause. Americans make promises, inject hundreds of billions into leaky government coffers, drop bombs, sacrifice men. The Americans want to leave. The insurgent is staying until he dies or wins. This makes him unstoppable.

ISIS does not have to defeat the Iraqis. ISIS, just as al-Qaeda and the Taliban maneuvering right now on the other side of Iran, has only to wait out the Americans.  They know the airstrikes will end. They know we will not put Americans back on the ground.

We now know what happened in Iraq in the long run. It is clear to Carter, Dempsey, and every American general, and every soldier and Marine and intelligence analyst and diplomat. The bad guys are winning. We cannot know when they have won. But we will know when we have lost.

Like the Vietnamese, we abandoned to the NVA, we now abandon the Iraqi's to ISIS.

We as a country have much to be proud of. 


  1. This is just my observation of how our government works.

    1. In 2011 Joe Biden termed Iraq a major success of the Obama administration.

      What happened Joe?

    2. By the time Obama entered office the war in Iraq had already ended; the country was quiet, but in need of U.S. stewardship, in the manner of South Korea circa 1953–54. For the sake of a campaign talking point, Obama pulled out all American troops, Iraq sunk into chaos, and ISIS was birthed — an Islamic fascist movement that he deprecated as a “JV” team.

    3. Wow. I actually agree quite a bit with what you lead in with here, the parallels are quite striking actually. Your response to William here though truly troubles me. In your piece up top, which I again think is really good, you forgot to mention that public opinion had really turned agains the war. By most accounts I have read, there was a chance after the TET offensive to really make a drive, but the war was so unpopular by then, there just wasn't enough support to ramp up the military efforts even further.

      Just like in Vietnam, IMO, this country was again sold on a false premise. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, we went there with a clear agenda, met that agenda, and left. Near as I can tell, there was no Marshall plan in place for Iraq, there certainly was no desire to rebuild that country that we rebuilt other countries, and again IMO, it became brutally clear we didn't give a shit about anything but oil. None of this has anything to do with Obama.

      What bothers me greatly about your point is not so much the partisanship. You have joined the group that believes everything Obama does is a mistake. That's fair enough. To say Obama pulled the troops out though is really a lie. The date for withdrawal was set by Bush and Obama followed it. Further, if there is any lesson to be learned from Vietnam and Iraq, a chief one seems to be that you need to have objectives when you go to war. If the Iraq's don't want to fight ISIS, for whatever reason, what options do we have?

      I agree with you on a lot of things Lou, but if you believe the talking point you described, that is the heart of neo-con thinking. This goes way beyond Democrat or Republican for me. If we can't accept that Vietnam and Iraq were disasters because of hubristic thinking, it is only a matter of time before we start another 10 year war.

    4. I have a real problem with the way this country operates. We took a stable dictatorship, actually one in Egypt and Libya also and destabilized their governments. The dictatorships removed to be replaced by perhaps a worse evil. By encouraging or removing the heads of their government we then watch to see what happens and are truly surprised to see an ISIS or whatever evil develops. Like Vietnam we then abandon the citizenry to a NVA or an ISIS then wonder what happened. We then proceed to bomb everything into oblivion with little effect, Vietnam a perfect example as is our lame bombing campaign today. Our leader Obama in this case, Johnson dictates what is acceptable to blow up. Politicians cannot run a war and are clueless as proven time and time again. Truman in Korea, Johnson in Vietnam, Obama in Iraq. All similar except we left a residual force in Korea and none in Vietnam or Iraq. Will we just walk away from Afghanistan one day?

      The question remains if a stabilizing force would have been left in place would we be facing the evils of ISIS today? What would have happened if we would have walked away from Korea in 53/54? We saw what happened when we walked away from Vietnam. Would people being murdered today by ISIS be alive of we would have left 10K troops in place?

      Did the US remove troops to meet a political promise? Was Obama at fault? Yes and no, any political leader like Nixon or Obama were doing what they promised when elected. Get out. Yes, Obama followed the withdrawal date set by Bush. Where was the status of forces agreement? Was Obama responsible for negotiating the agreement? Was it convenient to just walk away and say we tried? Do we fault them or ourselves. The American people dictate the conditions, the politicians that want to win follow the lead of the voters.

      How many more times will we engage in this madness? Our people get killed. The people of the country, get killed and the innocent people left to deal with the new regime get killed. We caused it, walk away from it and say not our problem.

      As far as Iraq, Libya far fewer people were being murdered under the evil empires than the new empires we allowed to take over by walking away.

      It's called American Imperialism. OIl? Maybe but I think it was beyond that. WMD's? The CIA thought so, instilling paranoia in our politicians. I read the CIA reports and they are ripe with paranoia. After 9/11, our politicians were susceptible to the paranoia.

      I find it interesting how Europe does nothing for Ukraine and looks to the US to do something.

      I find it interesting how the world expects the US to do something about ISIS yet stand by and do nothing. (We do hold some responsibility for ISIS)

      Now the Chinese are building islands in the China Sea and now the world says fix it.

      Why is it our responsibility to fix it?

    5. Well, I had really hoped after 9/11 we would take an honest look at how we conduct ourselves abroad. We kind of put ourselves in the spot of playing policeman. Objectively, there are benefits and risks with every decision. I think we have generally taken the approach that if we put ourselves right in the middle, than we can dictate terms. We also have decided to maintain the biggest and most expensive army in the world, but aside from Rand Paul, I see few who want to question that versus what the FFs intended. Smedly Butler nailed it pretty well in "War, what a racket" and Eisenhower further nailed it in his farewell speech. But, that is only part of it I think.

      I can't blame Obama or Nixon for getting out of badly planned wars that have no public support. I believe that the country will generally give their support when they are given solid ground to do so.I don't think the country generally wants to police the world, but neither do I think they are really willing to concede that title of "Greatest Nation" while assuming a title of "Citizen". This runs way deeper than you or I are really addressing. For as long as we want to be "Number 1", we are likely going to keep entering wars and using our military to convince ourselves we will be safe as long as we are feared.

  2. Morning all.(Concerning the main post)
    In the opinion of this outsider,Louman has written a piece worthy of consideration by all sides of politics and by many in the various branches of Federal and State goverment in your country and in mine.

    Why am I so enamored by a few paragraphs of prose on a blog site normally reserved for folks to chew out each other according to their own political beliefs, misguided or not, according to the color of your views. The answer is that an American has taken a dispassionate look at the past half century and has deduced what the rest of the world can see but what has been seen but dimly in your own country.

    Why am I so interested in the opinion of Louman? It is because in these and every war since Korea, Australian troops have been beside you. We have not initiated hostilities but because the US gets involved (when it is patently obvious they should no be) we have arraigned ourselves on the side of the angels!. Australians are like that, we accept you as a friend and then we help you kick arse in fights which are not ours. As Australians we too feel the hurt when the skirmishes, then the battles and finally the wars are lost. We do take refuge in the knowledge that we did not pick the fight, we just went to help big brother. In both cases the seriousness of the war was not realized before getting involved. In both cases the political powers arraigned against us by the bad guys was superior. They did not have better brains but they did have something stronger, they had total belief in their cause.Often I think we saw only the opportunity to test new weapons under battle conditions.

    Will America continue to try to be the policeman of the world? Why should you, you have been shat on by so many nations you have tried to help and you have made enemies of so many whom you could have ignored. Your military has been accused of so many acts of dishonorable conduct, some must stick and the smell is stronger in the memory than the good things you did. It is only the old among us who remember the fence which kept the USSR on their side of the iron curtain. Only we remember the threats posed by Korea and the Chinese and the same super power in Vietnam.

    Your kids and mine now think only of the latest craze in hair style or pop mustic and whether they can get laid this week. What good has come of all the wars and the losses and defeats? more to the point, who now gives a shit?. Well, as an amateur economist, I can tell you that the debits incurred over the past half century are going to drown your once great country sometime in the future; I fear we to may drown with you.

  3. As if on cue, Obama is sending advisors back into Iraq and it appears they plan to build a forward base. Admittedly, there are few good options here and it really doesn't matter who is POTUS. If we keep going into Iraq to kick out every baddie, the Iraqi army will never really have an incentive to do it themselves. Further, if all we ever do is go there, kick someone out and never commit a dime to rebuilding the country, I have to admit that if I was an Iraqi, I would feel that the only interest the US has in my country is oil and that my plight as a commoner caught in the middle means nothing to them. As an Iraqi soldier, I guess I'm defending my country, but ultimately, I'm defending oil for the US. I honestly can't say what I'd do in that situation.

    Interestingly, it seems that the rise of ISIS had suddenly put the US and Iran on the same page in terms of opposing ISIS. After doing them one favor by getting rid of Saddam, we are now set to do them another by going after ISIS. The undesirable decision seems to be that if we go in to stomp out ISIS, we will be there forever. If we decide to sit this one out and let the Muslim world deal with ti, that will also bring risk. But to Lou's point up top, I think we stand to gain just about nothing in terms of respect by staying there.

    1. The interesting thing is how people clamor for war, send troops when they have nothing at stake. If we had mandatory military service for everyone like Israel, do you think people would be so eager for war?

      The thought remains, ISIS does not have to defeat the Iraqis only has only to wait out the Americans. They have a cause, we do not. It's a matter of time as it was in Vietnam.