The obvious failure of the Iraq war has now led the government and Administration to denunciation and scape-goating of legitimate critics, and an irrational call to ultimate belief in victory thru ‘will.’ Crazy stuff, that. Reliance on ‘will’ is only useful when the task is hard and the road long, not when the task is pointless and impossible. Denouncing and scape-goating is a traditional, if contemptible, way of dealing with failure by those who would eschew responsibility and accountability. But it is true nevertheless? No, it’s not, and the reason is simple, human nature and history show us that in the modern world, self aware peoples, cannot be conquered; only exterminated. Therefore any effort to conquer, garrison and administer an outcome is bound to fail no matter what. Ignoring the truth of this is to live in a fantasy world, one that is a little weird and paranoid. To be clear I am arguing against making the effort, and am not arguing for extermination.
The record is clear on this. In Algeria, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan,
Indonesia, et al. Once peoples had a global sense of the world, a nationalistic sense of themselves and advanced Western weaponry no longer seemed magical, the whole idea of Western Imperial Hegemony became outmoded. Therefore if this idea of ‘will’ has any cachet it has it only with regard to the ‘will’ of the people defending; suffering tends to harden ‘will’ as in a crucible. We also see people rally to the colors of governments/movements they otherwise would detest, to fight the foreigner, as in WW2 Yugoslavia, Vietnam and so on. We should be able to understand this, because we would defend our own country to the limit too, were the roles reversed.
We Americans need only look to our own revolution to see how the application of a military solution to a political problem fails utterly. King George III, would have had better success by eschewing force, and personally touring the coastal Colonial cities, making some benevolent gestures here, scolding malefactors there, with some positive general reforms implemented. That was an arena in which he could well have won. But like our own George 43, he was a man remarkable for his limitations. When then is military force useful? What is it good for, you ask? A well led, well trained, well sized, well equipped force, with a useful doctrine should be able to keep ones country safe from predation and allow one to topple opposing governments, break up brittle polities, and deny foreign nations achievement of their own goals, deleterious to our own. What follows will always be dicey. For example, though Saddam’s Iraq presented no threat whatsoever of a military nature, Iraq squats on a considerable quantity of oil and that has international implications. The farcical notion of Iraq possessing WMD’s in 2003, and democratization thru force notion used at various times to justify the war were propaganda for domestic consumption. We had and have the power to deny that oil to others, though not to secure it for ourselves. We could have invaded with honestly stated goals, to overthrow the Saddam regime and more clearly assert our oil interests. The way to have done that is to isolate Saddam’s regime, recognize Kurdish independence and sovereignty, invade the Iraq rump state while publicly promulgating a list of inner circle types who are to be proscribed. Then order Iraqi troops and government officials to stay at home or in barracks and that the new leadership of the country would be drawn from persons of position who comply with our directives and are not named proscribed. Then, leave. It is critical that the invader accomplish this transition and leave with alacrity (they might have even thrown flowers, as we left peaceably). The new government’s legitimacy will come in large part form getting foreign troops out. They will understand that they can just as easily be returned. Should Iraq minus Saddam and Kurdistan descend into civil war, which is beyond our ability to fight, we could merely keep third nations from invading and would have to work with the regime that emerges. However there was a chance a modified regime could have been the outcome. Democracy is only functional when organic and is not likely at this time. Civilian control of the military is a good thing. Civilian meddling and micromanagement of the military is a bad thing. A government, that is democratic, should have transparent processes and debates. Transparency is the best inhibitor of corruption and incompetence, which we have in all too great abundance. We need a new governmental structure, not just different fools at the helm.