Also at Kos
Lieutenant General Raymond T. Ordierno, who took over as operational commander in Iraq last month, says that even with additional American troops deployed to Iraq it may take "two or three years" for U.S. and Iraqi forces to turn the tide in that country.
John F. Burns of the New York Times reports that "In his first lengthy meeting with reporters, General Odierno, 52, struck a cautious note about American prospects, saying much will depend on whether commanders can show enough progress to stem eroding support in the United States for the war."
I’m of two minds about Odierno's comment.
On one hand, I'm encouraged to see that Odierno understands that support of the American electorate is necessary to persist in a war that seems to have little hope of achieving an end state that U.S. political leaders have consistently been unable to describe in a coherent manner. On the other hand, I'm concerned that Odierno is falling into the standard disclaimer mode of blaming lack of public support for the failures of the military and its commanders to achieve our foreign policy objectives.
Since the fall of Saigon, military pundits in and out of uniform have tried to lay blame for America's defeat in Vietnam on hippies, the "liberal" press and a limp wrested Democratically controlled Congress. The truth is that we lost Vietnam in Vietnam, thanks to bad generals and politicians who started a bad war for bad reasons and ran it badly for over a decade. Similarly, we're not presently losing our so-called "war" on terror on the home front. We're losing it in two third world sinkholes called Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wisdom of Ages
The ancient Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu said "Every battle is won before it is ever fought."
Sun Tzu also said "There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare."
And: "When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength."
And: "If the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain."
And: "Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished."
And: "In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them."
And: "It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on."
And: "In war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory."
I reckon you get the idea.
We lost this "war" before we started it. The neoconservative cabal headed by Bill Kristol that goaded us into it had no experience of war, didn't know how to conduct one, shattered and destroyed and turned loose the Iraqi Army without considering the consequences of doing so, and underestimated the cost of war. Their misadventure has dulled our weapons, and we're still pursuing an indefinable "victory" after the fact of having fought first and not achieved it.
Kristol and his neo-conspirators seduced us into a distant war that is straining the resources of the state, and yet they seem to have convinced young Mr. Bush into taking steps to prolong it even further.
Our ship of state is bow down in a sand dune. It's time for us to relieve the conning officers who continue to order "full speed ahead."
And it's way past time for us to stop letting them blame us for their failures.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.