Monday, December 19, 2005

A Fool's War

Martin van Creveld, the Israeli war guru who is an expert on warfare in these times we are living in and on the diminishing power of the state wrote a scating piece on Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq. Title: "Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War" The US troops have been in Iraq since 2003. Since then 2,000 soldiers have been killed and only a tine minority of Americans support the war. It is obvious that the US forces must be withdrawn. The question is when and how. Van Creveld ominiously compares the situation in Iraq to Vietnam. And Iraq will be more dear to the US then that war.

During the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam the American handed over their equipment to the South Vietnamese. This is no option now. The Iraqi Army is much weaker than even the ARVN and todays equipment is incomparable more complicated. After the victory of the Communists in 1975 the North ended up with mounains of sofisticated American weapons, which they used to devastating effect in the Vietnam Chinese war of 1979 and the ousting of the Khmer Rouge. Also Vietnam had a centralised government whereas Iraq is a jumble of competing groups.
Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal.
Van Creveld continues to state that first the US forces have to concentrate on Bagdad and then to pull back to Basra and Kuwait.
A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not.
a complete American withdrawal is not an option; the region, with its vast oil reserves, is simply too important for that.
The reasons the presence is necessary is that Iran must be deterred from filling the power vacuum. Teheran will be the greatest benefactor from Saddam being toppled. Saddam was the US ally before the first gulf war used as a counterweight to the power of Iran. Now that counterweight is gone the US will have to do the work themselves in order to protect the Gulfstates.
A continued American military presence will be needed also, because a divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name.
So the second benefactor of the Second Gulf War is Al-Queda. Great news!

However, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Israel are also likely to feel the impact. Some of these countries, Jordan in particular, are going to require American assistance. Van Creveld ends by naming the invasion the greatest mistake in 2,000 years (4 Roman legions massacred by the Germans in the Teutoburger forest). And calls for impeachment of Bush and his cronies.

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