A friend sent me a message that ended with:
Fighting al-Qaeda with police operations, intelligence and justice will soon be discovered a much more feasible operation than a show of military muscle.
First of all, I would classify firing a couple dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles after a dual embassy bombing (hypothetically speaking, to be sure) to be a “show of military muscle” and I agree that it wouldn’t be terribly effective. Invasion and overthrow is more than a show.
That being said…
Police operations, intelligence and justice are all part of the strategy, just as they have been in every war. The military conducts police and intelligence operations as part of its basic action plan wherever it goes. But this IS a war. Policeman-like policies are appropriate in some places, like along the US border, in London and the rest of Europe, and in places like Africa, where al Qaeda (displaced from its long-time bases by military force) might try to reestablish itself as a major player.
Police operations had 55 years to work in the ME. Less than one year after the invasion of Iraq, critics claim military operations have been proven to be a flop. Of course, they also were saying that same thing six months ago, and six months before that. They’ve been saying that for years.
Look at pre-war predictions of casualties and difficulty. Who was closer? The White House and the Pentagon, or the anti-war voices in the media? US casualties are WAY lower than anyone dared to hope. Iraqi civilian casualties are WAY lower than anti-war types predicted. Baghdad fell not with a bang but a whimper. Saddam is out of power and an interim constitution, which seems to be mostly fair, especially for a first go, is in place.
First, Iraq was going to be like the Bay of Pigs. Then Iraq was going to be like Vietnam. Then it was going to be like Somalia.
All three are reasonably good analogies.
2003-04 Iraq is like the Bay of Pigs in an alternate dimension where we actually provide the air cover, supplies, and reinforcements we said we would.
2003-04 Iraq is like Vietnam in an alternate dimension where we use the trained and prepared soldiers to fight instead of letting so many raw conscripts do it, where we take civilian populations and cultures more into consideration, and where the rules of engagement allow our soldiers to do their job effectively.
2003-04 Iraq is also like Somalia in an alternate dimension where, after a successful mission that included some media-hyped US casualties, we don’t signal our weak conviction and total lack of resolve to our enemies by cutting and running.
The situation in Iraq IS similar to Cuba, Vietnam, and Somalia. The big difference is that the nation’s leadership has decided to win in Iraq. It did not decide to win in Cuba and Vietnam, and it consciously decided to lose in Somalia. In other words, Iraq is similar to those situations, except that we do what we’re supposed to do.
How did we reach this alternate dimension where victory is considered worth achieving?
List successful military operations since World War II and then look at who was in the White House at the time. Then list unsuccessful military operations and unsuccessful police operations. Look at who was in the White House at the time. I think you will see a pattern.
Iraq can still end up like Cuba, Vietnam, and Somalia. It’s our decision.
Is this the bizarro world? The alternate dimension? Or have we maybe left it for reality?
You want a police action? John Kerry’s your man. He claims that policing against terrorists and rogue nations is what he favors. He hopes to discover that police and intelligence operations alone are more effective than the current strategy. John Kerry believes that we need to return to the policies that got us here in the first place.
If Kerry’s elected and he does what he says he’s going to do, those that prophesied Iraq would become another Vietnam may yet be proven correct.
UPDATE: Steven DenBeste writes about Spain and other nations (like Honduras) who might pull troops out of Iraq after the train bombings in Madrid.
Nations which are weak or craven increase their chances of being targeted when they appease the Islamists. The Islamists don’t seem to be seriously targeting the US any longer because they know that we’ll fight back. After 9/11 and after months of sustained operations against Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s now clear that the US won’t retreat because of such attacks. Instead, we respond violently to them, causing huge casualties to the attackers, in men lost and organizations obliterated and even nations captured.
They’d rather target nations they think will surrender and beg for mercy. It’s far more cost effective. Nations who demonstrate that they do not have the resolve to fight are more inviting targets. (And after the events of the last 30 months, the Islamists are badly in need of some victories, to maintain the flow of recruits and money.)
Actually, I think they’d rather target the United States because they know who the primary threat to their existence is. But they are, at times anyway, realists. They know that attacking the US directly at this point would probably be counter-productive.
Spain, or enough Spanish people at any rate, decided to lose, much like we did in Somalia after the battle of Mogadishu. Honduras will follow suit, and I doubt they’ll be the last to do so.
The United States, Britain, Poland, and Australia have decided, for the time being at least, to continue on the path to victory. Any or all of us, however, can be overcome by the same forces that undid the Spanish government’s commitment to its allies.
Slinking away won’t protect us. If it would, the World Trade Center, the USS Cole, the embassies in Africa, the World Trade Center (again), and the Pentagon wouldn’t have been attacked in the nineties and 2001.
The extreme fundamental Islamists who have declared war on the West and on Civilization as we know it are targeting the USA. But they have to strip away our allies if they want any chance to reach us in a permanent way. They’ve won a major victory by convincing Spain falter. DenBeste also notes
There is another consequence for those who break and run. When nations join a military alliance, and betray their allies by quitting before the operation concludes, they will never be trusted by those former allies again. Irrespective of how the Islamists may respond to this, America won’t forget.
Do you remember when France, Canada, Germany, and others were upset that we weren’t allowing them to bid on reconstruction contracts? That will be Spain at some point. Old Europe and the American Left will cry out about how unfair we are. What else is new?