Joe Lieberman's sense of history is appalling. It's fair to say that, as often as not, wars have terminated with neither side scoring a complete victory or suffering a total defeat. As 18th century philosopher David Hume pointed out, the balance of power concept in international relations goes back to ancient times. The balance of power model recognized that political entities would compete through military, economic, and other means, but that no single political entity would ever accumulate enough power of any form (military, economic, diplomatic, ideological, etc.) to eliminate another one.
The "Good" War and the Other Ones
Lieberman and others consistently make the mistake of regarding World War II as the classic model of armed conflict. World War II was, in fact, something of an aberration.
World War II is the closest thing the modern world has seen to what 19th century warfare theorist Carl von Clausewitz described as armed conflict in its "absolute form." In the "Good War," states on both sides committed--or came close to committing--the entirety of their national instruments of power to achieving "victory." Once the allies committed to a declared end state of "unconditional surrender" by the axis powers, the stakes became astronomic, and as the tide of war turned against Germany and Japan, their definition of "victory" became forcing the allies to settle for something less than unconditional surrender. Germany's Battle of the Bulge offensive and Japan's Kamikaze strategy were desperate attempts to convince the allies that attaining their political war aims would cost more than the aims were worth.
Most other modern armed conflicts pre and post-World War II involving developed nations have been what Clausewitz referred to as "limited" wars, ones in which goals were tempered by considerations of costs and risks.
(A valid argument can be made that World War I was also an "absolute" war, and I'm certain it seemed that way at the time. Nonetheless, I group it in the "limited" category for a number of reasons, most notably that it ended in an armistice with neither side scoring a decisive military victory.)
More Dubya Talk
Lieberman wasn't the only Bush echo chamberlain talking gibberish on Sunday.
Fred Kagan of the neoconservative think tanks Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) was the primary architect of the Iraq escalation strategy that Joe Lieberman so enthusiastically endorses.
Funny thing, though. Before Glittering Joe made his remarks about victory and defeat on Meet the Press, National Security Adviser Steven Hadley told Tim Russert that the escalation strategy is an "Iraqi government strategy." Fred Kagan didn't credit the Iraqis for the ideas he proposed in his "Choosing Victory" presentation, the one where he said that the proposals of the Iraq Study Group would not succeed. Does that make a Kagan a big dumb plagiarist? Or does it make Hadley a big dumb liar?
Or does it mean we're being smothered by the same pillow of bull feathers we've been breathing into for the last six years?
Last we heard, the basic scheme behind the escalation strategy is for five brigades to go to Baghdad and one to Anbar Province. When asked how this plan to secure Baghdad and Anbar is different than all the previous ones, we hear that, well, this time it's an Iraqi plan, and they'll have to agree to go along with it, and…
Oh. Wait a minute. From Monday morning's New York Times
Just days after President Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional American troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort--a major push to secure the capital--faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials.
American military officials have spent days huddled in meetings with Iraqi officers in a race to turn blueprints drawn up in Washington into a plan that will work on the ground in Baghdad.
But the signs so far have unnerved some Americans working on the plan, who have described a web of problems--ranging from a contested chain of command to how to protect American troops deployed in some of Baghdad’s most dangerous districts--that some fear could hobble the effort before it begins…
… “We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem,” said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. “We are being played like a pawn.”
We've been played like pawns in Iraq for years.
The folks pushing for the escalation strategy are blithering ideologues. Their understanding of military and foreign policy affairs would fit up their noses with plenty of room left over for a Happy Meal's worth of nickels.
The plan to send more troops to Iraq is a tank of kerosene looking for a lit match, and yet, incredibly, according to Fox News, Mr. Bush announced Monday morning that he's determined to proceed with the escalation. "I fully understand they could try to stop me," Bush said of the Democrat-run Congress. "But I've made my decision, and we're going forward."
God help America. Please. Soon.
We've had enough bang in this woebegone war. It's time to let it end in a whimper. No victory. No defeat. Just over.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.