Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Iraq: Being the Target

Monday night, during a FOX News interview with Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes, right-wing pundit Dick Morris made one of the most insane pro-Iraq war statements I've heard to date (transcript courtesy of Think Progress). His statement was so chockfull o' nuts that we need to analyze it in two parts. First:
I think that withdrawal from Iraq--it obviously gives al Qaeda a huge victory. Huge victory. On the other hand, if we stay in Iraq, it gives them the opportunity to kill more Americans, which they really like.

Gee, Dick. Do you think that if their goal is to kill Americans, giving them a convenient opportunity might in fact be handing them a huge victory? And would a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq not then defeat them by depriving them from their objective?

Based on the second part of his statement, Morris apparently thinks his arguments make perfect sense.
One of the things, though, that I think the antiwar crowd has not considered is that, if we’re putting the Americans right within their arms’ reach, they don’t have to come to Wall Street to kill Americans. They don’t have to knock down the trade center. They can do it around the corner, and convenience is a big factor when you’re a terrorist.

It's good strategy to make killing Americans convenient? They won't bother to come to America to kill Americans if they can kill the ones next door?

Let's get something straight here. The "fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them over here" and "they will follow us here" mantras are a bucket of horse-processed oats. "They" can't follow us here in significant numbers. They can't hide themselves in our troops' luggage. They don't have a navy or air force that can haul them across the ocean, and it's too far for them to swim or jump. They might manage to dribble across our borders in small numbers the way the 9/11 hijackers did, but nothing we're doing in Iraq is keeping that from happening. That sort of thing is a Homeland Security problem, not a military one.

No, Mr. Morris. By staying in Iraq, we're playing into "their" game plan, and it's neoconservative echo chamberlains like you who help ensure that we continue to do so.

Ceding the Initiative

Bush supporters laud the administration's policies and strategies because they keep us on the "offensive." But they don't understand--or don't want the public to understand--that "offense" is not the prime principle of successful warfare operations. A far more vital tenet of war is "initiative." The side that maintains the initiative dictates the time, place and nature of engagement on terms favorable to itself. This is the principle that makes for all successful guerilla warfare. The weaker force only engages the stronger one under circumstances in which the weaker force can inflict damage while suffering very little.

Put another way, the stronger force is manipulated into making a target of itself. And I'm afraid that's what we're continuing to do in Iraq. From Ann Scott Tyson of the Washington Post:
Nearly three months after the U.S. military launched a new strategy to safeguard Baghdad's population by pushing American and Iraqi forces deeper into the city's neighborhoods, defending their small outposts is increasingly requiring heavy bulwarks reminiscent of the fortresslike bases that the U.S. troops left behind.

To guard against bombs, mortar fire and other threats, U.S. commanders are adding fortifications to the outposts, setting them farther back from traffic and arming them with antitank weapons capable of stopping suicide bombers driving armored vehicles. U.S. troops maintain the advantage of living in the neighborhoods they are asked to protect, but the need to safeguard themselves from attack means more walls between them and civilians.

There's the rub. If living in the neighborhoods is so dangerous as to make living behind walls within the neighborhoods necessary, are the troops actually accomplishing a mission, or they simply putting themselves in harm's way so they can protect themselves? If they're living behind walls, they're not out in the neighborhoods winning hearts and minds, and if they're living behind walls to protect themselves, they're not really protecting the neighborhoods.

If they're not winning hearts or protecting the neighborhoods, by placing themselves in the neighborhoods they are, as Dick Morris says, putting themselves within "arms reach" of the bad guys.

The Post's Tyson reports that morale among the soldiers at the outposts is mixed. Some (mostly junior officers) said they accepted the risks to live closer to the Iraqi people. Others complained of a complete lack of purpose. One senior NCO said, "What do you want us to accomplish over here? We aren't hearing any end state. We aren't hearing it from the president, from the defense secretary. We're working hard and the politicians are arguing. They don't have bullets flying over their heads. They aren't on the front lines, and their buddies aren't dying."

"It's almost like the Vietnam War," a specialist said. "We don't know where we're going. I want to be here for a reason, not just a show of force."

And if you haven't caught on to this yet, "show of force" is a military euphemism for "mill about smartly and make a target of your self."


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. EdNSted12:15 PM

    Check out this new ad featuring retired Major General John Batiste:

    General Batiste: "Protect America, Not George Bush"

    Produced by Apparently there are two more such ads coming. One from retired Major General Paul Eaton and another from General Wesley Clark.


  2. Anonymous1:23 PM

    Or in other terms, the long game wins. When you have a one day news cycle mentality it's hard to play against those who think a decade is only a little while.

    The Chinese play a similar game. We'll have wasted ~$1T in Iraq before we're done with a ground up military and economy to show for it. If PBoC looses 50% of the value of their ~$2T in reserves as the dollar devalues, they'll have bought themselves in the modern world for an equal sum. Ugh.

  3. Anonymous2:08 PM

    "...if we’re putting the Americans right within their arms’ reach, they don’t have to come to Wall Street to kill Americans..."

    Obviously, he's terrified they will come to Wall Street -- where he is.

    Give the right-wingers Prozac to quell their panic attacks -- and bring our brave young soldiers home NOW.

  4. Thanks for the comments, gang. Sorry I've been too busy to interact more lately. Keep the great discussions coming.



  5. Sky-Ho7:24 PM


    Thank you for the blog. It really helps me keep my sanity in a nation that has lost its marbles.

    It is really shameful you do not have a column or radio show.

  6. ozebloke5:52 AM

    Batiste - isn't that a French name?
    Sounds like one of them cheese eating surrender monkeys if you ask me!

    I read with amusement that Rupert Murdoch has seen the light over global warming and wants to make News Corp carbon neutral. A good first step would be to gag Hannity, O'Reilly - in fact dynamite Fox News Network and be done with it.

  7. Oze,

    Yeah. They let him in the Army and be a general anywyay. ;-)

  8. I say Murtha's redeploy to the periphery plan is being re-packaged and co-opted by the Repubs, and they'll launch this "new" product later this year, maybe after the next September benchmark everyone's talking about.

    But I don't expect large numbers of troops to come home, except to visit and possibly act as photo-op props; we're there indefinitely.

    From the AP: "A sharp increase in mortar attacks on the Green Zone — the one-time oasis of security in Iraq's turbulent capital — has prompted the U.S. Embassy to issue a strict new order telling all employees to wear flak vests and helmets while in unprotected buildings or whenever they are outside."

    WOOHOO! Surge ON!

  9. Sir, I meant to place a comment here and placed it on the above post by mistake, in any case, I have THIS story featured on my blog, and I salute you for having the stuff to stand and say it...

    Semper Fi!

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