Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Army War College criticizes Bush's war strategy

The elite Army War College just issued a critical assessment of the Bush administration's military strategy in the "War on Terror":

In the three years since 9-11, the Administration has yet to arrive at a clear definition of the enemy or the aim in the War on Terrorism; to date, American policy has combined ambitious public statements with ambiguity on critical particulars. Heretofore, the costs of pursuing such ambitious but ill-defined goals have been high but tolerable. The ongoing insurgency in Iraq, however, is increasing the costs of grand strategic ambiguity to the point where fundamental choices can no longer be deferred. ...

Terrorism, after all, is a tactic, not an enemy. Taken literally, a “war on terrorism” is closer to a “war on strategic bombing” or a “war on amphibious assault” than it is to orthodox war aims or wartime grand strategies; one normally makes war on an enemy, not a method. Nor can one simply assume that anyone who uses terrorist tactics is to be the target of American war making. “Terrorism” is a diverse tactic, used by many groups in many ways to serve many different political agendas. Many of these groups and agendas pose no immediate threat to Americans. In fact, prior to 2001, it was rare for Americans to be killed by international terrorists. ...

Even in 2001, death by terrorism could be considered extremely “rare” as a source of morbidity or mortality in the population as a whole: more Americans died of peptic ulcers than were killed by terrorists in history’s worst year for terrorism against Americans. This is still too many deaths, but by how many? ...

A war that encompassed literally any group using terrorist tactics would be impossibly broad, engulfing a wide range of groups posing no meaningful threat to America. Terrorism per se thus cannot be the enemy. But it is far from clear exactly who the enemy is. The administration has made some effort to delimit the problem by adding the phrase “of global reach.” This is little help, however. In a globalized world, any terrorist with an airline ticket or an internet service provider has “global reach.” ...

An unbounded threat definition can also pose serious problems, however. Perhaps most important, it risks making unnecessary enemies, and unnecessarily expanding the hostile coalition. It does this by creating common cause among disparate terrorists and driving together groups with very different interests and agendas. ...

Among the most important responsibilities of the grand strategist is to create allies for oneself and deny them to one’s opponent. ... In a world where the interconnections among terrorist groups are ambiguous, a central aim of American strategy ought thus to be to drive wedges between these groups wherever possible to reduce, not increase, their marginal proclivity for cooperation and joint action against us. A broad but unspecific definition of the enemy that refuses to exclude any meaningful terror group could easily do just the opposite, unifying a polyglot terrorist alliance, and risking self-fulfilling prophecy by driving together groups who would otherwise have sat on the sidelines rather than making war on distant America.

2 Comments:

At 7/08/2005 07:13:00 AM, Blogger JoannF said...

It's really ironic. The Straussian Neo Cons, following the philosophy of U. of Chicago professor Leo Straus, united Americans to accept a pre-emptive war. Straus said that unity was essential for a stable society, but men will only unite when threatened by a common outside enemy, If one doesn't exist, it must be invented.

In their 2000 paper, Rebuilding America's Defenses, the PNAC whose members make up most of the Bush administration, wrote that in order to get public support for a pre-emptive war against Iraq to gain a permanent presence in the Gulf region, a Pearl Harbor event would be necessary. They used 9-11 to unite Americans against Muslims/Arabs as the common outside threat.

Ironically the Bush administration has also united the Muslim world by providing them with the US as a common outside enemy.

Do they think these universal principles don't work outside of the US? Can they be that stupid, or was that part of the plan to make sure war would be perpetual?

http://timbuk3.com/column.htm

 
At 7/10/2005 07:49:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

It's certainly debateable whether unity forged against a false foreign enemy and bound to war creates a truly "stable society."

The analogy to fascist Germany is not at all a reach. Hitler created a highly destructive war machine, but through terrorizing the German population, he created a society that was decidedly weaker politically, economically, scientifically, and culturally.

 

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