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A lack of a clearly defined strategy

After carefully studying the news today, I have no choice but to reach the same conclusion as so many others: in the war in Iraq, there is a decided lack of a strategy, a plan on winning. But it's on the terrorists' side.

They are suffering from the classic problem of "when your only tool is a hammer, after a while all your problems look like nails." They have tremendous challenges before them in winning the war, and so far their sole tactic has been to kill people and blow things up. It reminds me of the classic "Far Side" cartoon, when the guy discovers how easy it is to breeze through one section of veterinary medicine: a long list of problems of horses, all with the same cure: shoot.

Their short-term goal is simple: to get the US out of Iraq, as quickly as possible, in as humiliating a fashion as they can. Towards that goal, they are throwing their entire arsenal of tricks. But, as I said before, that boils down to "kill people and blow things up."

I have very little respect for this tactic. It's a variant of fouling one's own nest, an application of the "polecat tactic:" "we can be far more trouble that we are worth."

And that's the problem: it's a tactic, not a strategy. They have these grandiose notions for how to get rid of us, but no idea what they'll do if they succeed. They might have visions of a new Afghanistan, but the Iraqi culture is vastly different than that of Afghanistan. What flew over there won't get off the ground in Iraq.

This crystallized, for me, when I heard about the reports of a thwarted rocket attack on Saddam's trial. What would they hope to achieve by killing Saddam? The main benefits would be embarassing the US and showing the nascent Iraqi government as weak.

But that isn't enough to win. It doesn't win any popular support from the people. It's like the Democrats who rejoice when they see President Bush's numbers drop. They don't see the context -- the numbers for Democrats don't go up proportionately. In fact, from what I've seen, theyve dropped too.

People want something to be FOR, not just AGAINST. That's the big problem the Democrats had in 2004, and still do to this day -- they slam Bush's ideas, but don't present credible, plausible, positive alternatives. It's what the terrorists are facing in Iraq -- they make it abundantly clear what they're against, but they can't muster something they're for that might win them popular support.

Bush's strategy -- as interpreted by people like Steven Den Beste -- seems to be working. Iraq is making more and more progress towards stability and independence and freedom, and that's driving the terrorists insane. One of hte most contagious conditions in the world is freedom, and the idea of a free Muslim, Arabic state in the heart of the middle east has them terrified.

The natural tendency is for free nations to oppose terrorism, and they know it. The sole forces they have going for them are chaos and entropy, and democracy tends to crush those decisively.

They're trapped in a pit of their own devising, one they dug with their bombs and guns and knives, and everything they do just seems to bring down more dirt on their heads. They are in such trouble, I almost feel sorry for them.

Almost.


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Comments (9)

Seems to me you are falling... (Below threshold)
NtvAmrcn:

Seems to me you are falling into the trap that the liberals have fallen into. And many conservatives as well.

The simple fact is we have an enemy out there. We must defeat that enemy. Personally, I don't give a big shit how ruthless we must be to accomplish that goal. Lets get the freaken job done. Then we can focus on being the republic and democracy we are.

Jay,You hit the nail... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

Jay,
You hit the nail on the head with that blog. Pardon the pun.

Bush's strategy, Jay, as th... (Below threshold)
Styeve Crickmore:

Bush's strategy, Jay, as the critic you kindly linked to 'They don't get it' is still one , based on truisms and platitudes. The soldiers out there in Iraq need more specifics more metrics than Bush gave them..It must be very difficult laying your life down for a cause in which 'Victory' is still not defined other than as a sort of a quasi-sovereign, quasi-federalist Iraqi kind-of democracy. Politicians are loath to put a figure or number on anything for fear of being contradicted by future events, but Bush as Commander-in-Chief in front of the Naval Academy could certainly have attempted more in his Plan for Victory. This soldier is much more eloquent in this critique.

Personally, I don't give... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Personally, I don't give a big shit how ruthless we must be to accomplish that goal. Lets get the freaken job done Like this" It was the Camelot of counterterrorism," a former counterterrorism official said. "We didn't have to mess with others -- and it was fun." from wrongful imprisonment
"And then we can focus on being the republic and democracy we are" were don't you mean, NtvAmrcn?

And such was the same with ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

And such was the same with Arafat. If he would have ever realized his "dream" of a truly, honest to God, geographically real Palestinian State he would probably at that point have had no idea what to do. He knew this himself because he worked very hard against any long term reconciliation. Finally, Arafat died with a US President in office who no longer catered to his terrorism, had no intention of ever sharing a photo op with him and also took down one of his bigger Middle East benefactors.

Let's see...First they were... (Below threshold)

Let's see...First they were content to blow up American troops. That didn't get them Iraq.

Then they started blowing up Shiites trying to get jobs or go shopping. That didn't get them Iraq.

Then they started blowing up Sunnis that were helping shield them and supporting them (materially and emotionally) because they were wising up and voting and wanting to get in on the democratic government. That didn't get them Iraq.

Then they started blowing up people coming from or going to religious gatherings, which really PO'd everybody. That didn't get them Iraq.

Then they went after one of their few remaining enablers, attacking a hotel for journalists. That didn't get them Iraq, although it doesn't seem to have cut down on the negative or increased the positive press. Maybe this was a push.

Now they're down to kidnapping the fringe 'peace activists'/anti-American/'the terrorists are misunderstood' people. I'm guessing this is hardly going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back and gets them Iraq.

Yes, people are still dying, it doesn't take many people with a lot of explosives to cause havoc. But, really, do the terorrists think they're making progress? The answer seems to be 'no'. In fact, an apparent shift of focus from Iraq back to Afghanistan by those that vote with bombs seems pretty telling. Surely there'll be some more flailing around election time, but can you really agree that they're doing anything but losing in Iraq? (don't worry lefties, I'm not implying they can't snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, don't you panic! I just don't see any evidence of any such thing happening). Outside of the mainstream press, does anyone think that there won't be another huge turnout for the upcoming elections?

"It must be very difficult ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

"It must be very difficult laying your life down for a cause in which 'Victory' is still not defined other than as a sort of a quasi-sovereign, quasi-federalist Iraqi kind-of democracy. "

It "must be"? Sounds like you're not sure, or you really have no experience in that arena.

I thought we were allowing the Iraqis to form their OWN government? Sounds like you think we should impose one on them. Ironic, since that's exactly what the anti-war folks are accusing us of doing.

Hate to disagree with No. 3... (Below threshold)

Hate to disagree with No. 3 but the American soldier more likely just wants to know that he will not be sold out by Congress as his dad was in Vietnam or the Gulf War. Be in it to win it or don't send the troops at all
And I agree with No. 1.
When will libs start decrying the beheadings, the torture, the indiscriminate blowing up of civilians on the other side? Lynndie England is in jail. Not exactly encouragement to "abuse" inmates, is it?

Jay, excellent post.<... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Jay, excellent post.

More than ever, the whole "jihad/resistance" thingy in Iraq resembles nothing more than gang violence one would expect to find in places like LA or NYC. The only difference is that the jihadis have a bit more religion to mask their hatred and greed than the gang-bangers, who are bluntly up-front regarding their greed and malice.

I know people like Crickmore (above) will likely vehemently disagree with this assessment [of the Iraq resistance]. To them, I simply ask: imagine, for a moment, Crips and Bloods (and the like) being financially sponsored by sovereign governments, instead of by drug and rap album sales. Instead of toting automatic weapons, you get RPG's and bomb belts, and a lot more cash for replacements. Add in the fundamentalist Islamic belief system of justifying horrible moral codes and poverty-stricken living situations by blowing oneself up around civilians, and you have all the ingredients to support a gang war that will never end.

Without fail, every soldier I've read online from the Sandbox tells story after story about how the Iraqi populace has benefitted from us being there. Go to http://www.newsbusters.org and find out how Time and CNN, among others, have gone to great lengths to suppress recent US poll results showing that the general public is more upbeat about success in Iraq now than ever before. And yes, the Iraq government may soon be strong enough to stand on its own and ask us to leave. If so, great. In the meantime, I wish (however naiively) that the Left would at least apply the same judgement and moral outrage to allegations of abuse and torture to both sides, not just to US soldiers.

I must remind the likes of Steve and people on his side of the discussion that the average Iraqi they portend to stand for rejoices every day to have US soldiers in their midst, compared to what they suffered in Saddam's day. These are the people who had no voice in government at all under Saddam; the ones who proudly display purple stained thumbs when they get a chance to vote. I will be the first to admit that occupation isn't perfect, nor is it a sustainable solution in the long term. However, as long as we continue rebuilding their country and encouraging the democratic process, I believe a lot of good can come of it, however flawed the process may seem at the moment. Or at least true WWIV (terrorist or Islamofascist-led nuclear war) will be delayed for yet a little while longer. In any case, Saddam certainly had no better ideas, nor did any of the 22-member Arab League. And Iran's idea of freedom is to tell Israel that it should be "wiped off the face of the earth".

Jay, you remember the quote about democracy that goes something like this: "it's a horribly flawed system, but it's the best we have until someone comes up with a better idea"?

Go to Michael Yon's blog and see one of his recent posts of photographs of a primary school that he and the Deuce-Four visited (think it was in Fallujah). The children's faces show sincere admiration for their visiting US troops - the kind of look a boy gives his father when he comes home in the middle of the day, unannounced, to play with his son for a while (and yes, I am a father).

Compare those pictures to the ones taken by Reuters last year of the Hamas-led "day camps", where kids 10 years old were being put through Intifada Basic Training, complete with PT, combat sim drills, and political indoctrination. Those kids (by comparison) looked like their very souls were burning in pure hatred.

Acting the way we have (pre-emptively) comes with its own risks and dangers, certainly. It could very easily blow up in our faces at some point. But one thing is absolutely certain in my mind: if we just stand back and let the jihadi puppet masters continue their works unabated, the only logical outcome eventually is regional nuclear war and worldwide nuclear terrorism. "Peace in our time" thinking only masks the problem for a moment. But not for long.




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