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Wednesday, January 03, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

"Grim" who writes the blog BlackFive and occasionally writes at Winds of Change takes on the no-doubt thankless job of laying out a strategy for the "Long War," the current term-of-art for an imagined clash of civilizations between us and Islamic terrorists.

Grim lays out the modest and reasonable goals of his strategy:

* Terrorist groups are smaller and less dangerous

* Rogue states have more rather than less to fear

* Genocide and ethnic cleansing are rarer

* The enforcement of human rights is more certain.
Now, I want to note that the post in question is quite long and I'm a lousy editor, so read the original, don't assume that my explanation is complete.

Grim advances six fundamental ideas

1) Information War.
Rather, what they [Al Qaeda] are doing is attempting to use "information warfare" as their chief weapon. The actions they take are not taken to achieve a goal, for example, the destruction of the World Trade Center or the killing of some civilians in Baghdad. They are taken to send a convincing message: America can be hurt, and what can be hurt can be destroyed; our enemies will be destroyed, woman and child as well as soldier and policeman.
Essentially the idea is that the bad guys (to use the technical term) want to rattle us, convince us they're winning even when they're not and thus cause us to despair, to throw up our hands and cry "enough, we're heading for the showers."

Defeating the enemy requires breaking its myths. But its myths can be made anywhere, in any village, in any house. We can break their hold on Fallujah, and when they become rooted in a place, we must break their hold on it. But is there a way to keep them from rooting in the first place?
I can answer that question. Yes, there is a way to keep the bad guys from creating myths: by winning. There is no myth out there that Japan won World War 2. You know why? Because they didn't.

The surest way to win the "information war" and forestall damaging enemy propaganda is by winning. There's a "myth" that we lost in Vietnam. Know why? Because we lost in Vietnam. There's no myth that we got our asses kicked by Mexico in 1846. Why? California, that's why.

This point about information war is predicated on the notion that somehow we aren't losing in Iraq but merely seeming to lose in Iraq. Why would a rational human being draw that odd conclusion when even Mr. Bush has admitted we're not exactly winning? Because to admit otherwise is to admit that for the last 3 plus years, while war supporters assured us everything was hunky dory in Iraq, it was actually a fucking mess.

In other words, "Information War" is predicated on Neo-con rationalization that they must have been right, and not disastrously wrong.

2) Diasaggregation.

This brings us to Disaggregation. This is not a new military concept, in spite of having a new name: we used to call it "Divide and Conquer." The main difference is that, now, we have no interest in conquest. We do, however, need to concentrate on dividing the terrorists from local insurgents.

Fine. No arguments in theory. But in the particular case of Iraq it's a bit hard to see how we could disaggregate the country any more than it is. The Anbar province Sunni tribes are very definitely not aggregated with the Mahdi Army.

Yes, we should stop pretending that every nutbag with a Koran is Al Qaeda. Of course that is precisely the opposite of what the strident fearmongers (and yes, I include our president and vice president) have been shrieking. But absolutely, to the extent we can push wedges between various sub-orders of looney-tunes, it's a good idea.

3) Consequences.

Any successful Coalition policy must couple a strategy of Disaggregation with a strategy of destroying the enemy, and especially -- because it depends upon them -- its myths. When we can, we must avoid letting them take root in a Fallujah, or uproot them by turning the population against them.

When we can't, their every stronghold must fall. While we are trying to disaggregate by focusing local attention on local concerns, we must also attack the internationalists. The terrorists and the sponsor regimes do have to be put on the defensive. Bush was entirely right about that part.
Um. Destroy the enemy? Obliterate their strongholds? If we are able to accomplish total destruction of our enemy's every stronghold wouldn't that kind of be "game over?"

Yes, killing the enemy is definitely useful. Some might say it's kind of the point of war.

I call this the "Bull in a China Shop Rule," to contrast with Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn Rule." The "Pottery Barn Rule" held that were responsible for fixing Iraq, having "broken" it. While I think that is correct morally, Iran and Syria have done quite a bit to make sure it stays broken. They are operating on the theory that they will be able to manage the chaos that results when we leave, and carve out client states for themselves where Iraq is now.

This makes them, and now us, responsible for what follows. We must make clear that they will not enjoy our departure. If we go, we will not allow them to dominate the area. Syria has fielded assassins against Lebanon; I would say their own leadership has thereby opened themselves to the same tool. Iran has deployed bombs and funded and trained opposition figures in Iraq -- we can do that also. Indeed, if we decide, we have better ways of deploying bombs than cars.
Do what we say or we'll blow up your shit. Yep. That's war, all right.

4) Genocide.

Say what?

America would like to say, "We would never stand by and permit a genocide against the Sunnis; we would never permit ethnic cleansing on our watch." But we all know that the truth is different. The truth is that we shall say, "We do not need to be caught between parties in a civil war," and go.

The Sunnis should be told that directly. They know the truth already, but there is great power in speaking the truth. It is time for them to choose to be our allies in all things, or to be left to their own strength. They must decide now. Saying this directly and honestly means admitting to ourselves that we are about to stand by and watch a genocide. Yet it may be the only chance to avoid that genocide.
So, let's walk this through. We go to the Sunni insurgents and say, "Look, guys, if we leave the Shiites are going to go all Dachau on your asses. So lay down your arms, kick Al Qaeda out, and make peace with the Shiite government we've installed. You know, the guys who will go all Dachau on you if we leave. Which we'll do if you make peace with the Shiites. Hmmm."

Grim's idea is that we admit that we don't really care very much if genocide occurs -- certainly not enough to do anything about it -- and this declaration will convince the Sunnis to trust us and play nice with the Shiites.


5) A Human Right.
And here we veer into weird.
We must first admit that we -- again, the West, international society -- have no intention of actually, militarily stopping genocide. Yet we disapprove of it, strongly. So, knowing we will not use the means at our hand because of a lack of our will, we give the means to stop it to those who will not lack the will -- the people who would otherwise be slaughtered.

This is a traditional part of Special Forces' work in unconventional war. You find local allies, train them, equip them. The modern terrorist -- the global insurgent -- seeks the soft areas of worldwide civilization. Therefore, we need worldwide allies. It is important that they be distributed down to the level of villages and neighborhoods, because that is the nature of the war.
Yep, that's the problem with this crazy world of ours: not enough people toting AK-47's. An automatic weapon for every untrained peasant in every naation threatened by terrorists. The whole world an armed camp! Yay! After all, this is what has kept Sweden safe.

6) Strategic Changes.
Here Grim discusses changes in the command structure about which I know diddly.

My conclusion: I've said it before, I'll say it again. War, any war, is about power. You bring more power to bear than the other guy does and you win. It's mathematical in its simplicity. Grim wants it to be about "will" and cleverness. It's not. It's a gun and a trigger and some guy's brains going airborne.

But power does come in various forms. Okay, mostly it involves blowing up someone's country and shooting all the bad guys, but there is some validity to propaganda war and the use of soft power: culture, economic productivity, etc...

We won WW2 because we brought the power. We lost Vietnam because we didn't. We won the Cold War because we brought a different sort of power: we were right about the human race and the Communists were wrong. Turns out -- as we said daily for about 40 years -- that people will work harder for a second car than they will for a daily beet ration. 40 years of setting greed and luxury against "from each according to his means. . ." and the Communists fell down in a big heap.

Sometimes we win because the other guy just falls down dead and we don't. As Grim points out, it's not like Al Qaeda has a lot to sell. Once you get past the mandatory beards, the fact that you can dress your wife in a pup tent and thus convince people she's actually hot, and the whole "get laid if you blow yourself up" things, the Islamic extremists don't exactly have a vision of paradise on earth. Call me a simplistic Western chauvinist who just doesn't get blah, blah, blah but I think in the end Hollywood and Silicon Valley beat exploding vests for Allah.

I don't think Al Qaeda is ten feet tall. They've killed 3,000 Americans in 5 years. They're evil sons of bitches but they are not the Third Reich and they are not the Soviet Union. There is no chance at all that 20 years from now the Beardmasters of Baghdad will be walking down Fifth Avenue slapping burkhas on lingerie models. Zero chance.

So here's my strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda:

1) As much as I hate the cringe response, we tighten defensive measures.
2) We intensify the war from 30,000 feet with drones and jets, attacking terrorist targets wherever they present themselves.
3) We get serious about intel. We are the single most multicultural nation on earth and the CIA doesn't have Arabic or Farsi speakers? The fuck?
4) Nations that sponsor terrorism will be destroyed. Not "liberated," but destroyed.
5) A serious effort to get off the oil teat. Without oil, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are just Fiji, Congo and Myanmar.
6) We borrow a page from the Israelis: they're all guilty. Any attack using weapons of mass destruction on an American target will be charged against every likely culprit. Was that an Iranian bomb or a Pakistani bomb? Guess what? We don't care. A nuke goes off anywhere in the US and we hit every likely culprit from Pakistan to North Korea to Iran with an overwhelming response. You want to be a crazy nation in the nuclear club? The price of admission is this: someone, anyone, uses nukes against the Americans and you all die.
7) We outlast them. Like we did the Communists. We're right, they're wrong. We're the future, they're a twitching corpse. We continue being what we've been, and they continue being what they are, and 20 years from now we'll still be the world's only superpower, and they'll be just what they are today: a few dangerous loonies.

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The 24-Hour Burial Cycle.

by Michael Reynolds

Guys? Could I just be dead now?

Jesus Tapdancing Christ: plant him, already.

Is it just me or have we been burying Gerald Ford for about a week now? He wasn't Pharaoh. He was the unelected President of the United States. The United States: a republic, not a goddamned monarchy. The guy's done more traveling dead than he ever did alive. Bury the man for God's sake.


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Team America, PhD.

Monday, January 01, 2007 by Michael Reynolds

America. Fuck, yeah!

Nothing on TV tonight, so I flipped around till I caught the end of the great Team America from South Park auteurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

It contains the single most cogent explanation of America's unique role in the world ever spoken by a puppet. As the clock ticks down on Kim Jong Il's master plan to detonate WMD's all over the world, Team America member Gary Johnston explains to a peace conference organized by Kim and a who's who of Hollywood lefties, that Kim must be stopped, and only Team America can do it:

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole.

Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything.

Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls.

The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from assholes.

I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!
If only the president could explain things so well.

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Name That Poll-ee.

Sunday, December 31, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

It's a quiz: guess the group being polled.

In 2004 83% of this group were optimistic about the Iraq war. Today that number is 50%.

Just 35% approve of Mr. Bush's handling of the war, while 42% disapprove. Just 41% agree that it was a good idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

63% think the generals keep the best interests of the troops at heart. 48% say the same of Mr. Bush. That same question scores 32% for Pentagon civilians, and 23% for Congress.

The president's overall approval number -- 52% -- is still higher than the general population, but down sharply from two years ago when it stood at 71%.

This group is evenly split on whether Iraq is part of a larger war on terror: 47 to 47%.

Party identification is swinging away from the GOP. In 2004 the self-identified Republicans were 60%. Now just 46%. The move has not been to the Democratic Party, but to Independent status.

What was the group being polled? The US military.

The mail survey, conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty mili tary subscribers to the Military Times newspapers. The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole; the survey’s respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.

Among the respondents, 66 per cent have deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan. In the overall active-duty force, according to the Department of Defense, that number is 72 percent.
(my bold.)

Professor David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland, was not surprised by the changing attitude within the military.

“They’re seeing more casualties and fatalities and less progress,” Segal said. He added, “Part of what we’re seeing is a recognition that the in telligence that led to the war was wrong.”
Members of the US military still know they have the support of the American people, but they're decidedly less sure about politicians, and they're doubtful of the media:
The poll asked, “How do you think each of these groups view the military?” Respondents over whelmingly said civilians have a favorable impression of the military (86 percent). They even thought politicians look favorably on the military (57 percent). But they are convinced the media hate them — only 39 percent of military respondents said they think the media have a favorable view of the troops.
The MSM-bashers will point to that last statistic and say, "See? The media have destroyed morale and that's why the military has turned negative on the mission."

But not so fast:
Whatever war plan the president comes up with later this month, it likely will have the replacement of American troops with Iraqis as its ultimate goal. The military is not optimistic that will happen soon. Only about one in five service members said that large numbers of American troops can be replaced within the next two years. More than one-third think it will take more than five years. And more than half think the U.S. will have to stay in Iraq more than five years to achieve its goals.

Almost half of those responding think we need more troops in Iraq than we have there now. A surprising 13 percent said we should have no troops there. As for Afghanistan force levels, 39 per cent think we need more troops there. But while they want more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly three-quarters of the respondents think today’s military is stretched too thin to be effective.
The military doubts our ability to stand up Iraqi forces. The military suspects we're undermanned in Iraq. The military believes they are stretched too thin.

Are those the opinions and attitudes of the war's uncritical amen corner? No. Those are the opinions held and expressed by rational critics of this war for the last three years plus.

Which of those three criticisms -- of the "stand up, stand down" strategy, of the undersized in-theater force levels, of the overall force levels -- can be laid at the feet of the media or of Democrats or of war critics? None. Which of those three criticisms are directed at the White House? Three out of three.

So, who is to blame for the US military's increasingly jaundiced view of the war they're fighting? The White House, the Pentagon, and their amen corner in the punditocracy and the blogosphere.

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