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Dialog w/Calpundit, Part 1

| 21 Comments | 4 TrackBacks
As agreed, Calpundit and I will have a back and forth on the six points I raised in my post a week or so ago, plus the thorny issue of internationalization. Buckle up...
First, we're not going anywhere in Afghanistan or Iraq until we're done. Afghanistan will not turn into Vermont any time soon, but we will make sure that the power of the warlords is checked, and that it doesn't collapse again. Iraq could be the leader of the Middle east, and we intend to help build it into that; My comments from this post.
The essence of war is a violent struggle between two hostile, independent, and irreconcilable wills, each trying to impose itself on the other. War is fundamentally an interactive social process. Clausewitz called it a Zweikampf (literally a "twostruggle") and suggested the image of a pair of wrestlers locked in a hold, each exerting force and counterforce to try to throw the other. War is thus a process of continuous mutual adaptation, of give and take, move and countermove. It is critical to keep in mind that the enemy is not an inanimate object to be acted upon but an independent and animate force with its own objectives and plans. While we try to impose our will on the enemy, he resists us and seeks to impose his own will on us. Appreciating this dynamic interplay between opposing human wills is essential to understanding the fundamental nature of war. USMC Warfighting Manual MCDP-1 (.pdf)
In any negotiation, there are two ideal positions: 1) "I don't care," in which you challenge the other side to get you to engage in a negotiation at all; and 2) "No matter what it takes," in which you make it clear that no matter what the other side does, you have the will and means to escalate further and prevail. Looking at the war with Islamism that's taking place primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's clear that option 1) isn't available to us (it really hasn't been since 9/11). Our objective needs to be to break the effective will to fight of the opposition. This isn't about the will of the hundred thousand or so fanatics who will fight the West to the death; it's about the more-rational millions who are on the verge of tipping over toward that position, and who are inclined to do so because they think they will win. We brought 9/11 on, in part, by showing irresolution in the face of earlier attacks. (We also brought it on with a hamhanded and shortsighted foreign policy as relates to the Middle East and Arab world, but that's a subject for another, longer blog post). Osama Bin Laden genuinely believed that the U.S. would withdraw - as we did from Lebanon and Somalia - if we were bloodied. Their perception is based on two simple facts; most of us don't like to kill other people, and most of us really, really don't like it when ours get killed. Our goal, I believe, is as much to correct those misapprehensions as to physically disrupt the infrastructure that supports the Islamist movement. This presents some significant dangers. As long as I've been quoting Schaar in support of my views, let me quote him challenging them (from his essay 'The American Amnesia'):
Action taken for psychological objectives (e.g. credibility) inherently contains an element of theatricality, and can easily slide into pure theater. Policymakers come to think of action - even military action - in theatrical terms and lose sight of the real costs. Policymakers' and spectators' sense of reality become attenuated. Even death becomes unreal. Image and substance become independent of each other. Public policy becomes public relations. A war fought for symbolic ends is very difficult to explain and justify to the citizenry. Officials easily employ concealment and evasion, and retreat into isolation. Government and the public get out of touch with each other. Furthermore, when the symbolic end sought is an image of national toughness or determination, then any domestic opposition or criticism threatens that image, thereby threatening - in the eyes of the government - the national defense. Under these conditions, opponents at home seem more dangerous than the enemy abroad. Feeling beleaguered on all fronts, seeing enemies everywhere, officials fear loss of authority and strive for more and more power, even at the expense of constitutional processes. The government becomes enclosed in a private reality, and wrapped in a mood of paranoia and impotence. That was exactly the mentality of the Nixon Administration. And that mentality drove it to the near destruction of the Indochinese peninsula and the American constitutional order.
Schaar sums up what it is that I fear about this war; that it will become a war of theater rather than substance, and that - because our leaders are too weak or afraid to demand our commitment in it - that we will create a 'shell' of a war, using theater and image to replace substance. He also sums up the core position of many of the opponents of the war, as well. The problem, of course, is that if you read the theorists (well summed up in the USMC manual), a substantial part of war is theater; it involves both the physical destruction of the enemy and their assets through violence, and the degradation of their ability to use them - through a number of means, including violence, misdirection, reduction in morale, etc. And I do believe there is a key difference between the war in Vietnam and this war: In Vietnam we were fighting our enemy (the Soviet/Chinese alliance) indirectly, through the Vietnamese. The war was as such purely theatrical, in that the resources at risk and expended far outweighed the possible gain (this isn't a complete explanation of my position, but it'll do as a placeholder). Suffice it to say we were fighting the shadow of our real enemy, not the enemy itself. In fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are directly confronting two of the many faces of the Islamist movement. Arab Nationalism - one of the roots of the 'Baath movement, and the reason why Iraq, Egypt, and Lybia briefly entertained the notion of uniting - was a secular attempt to restore Arab greatness and create a secular Caliphate. It is another face on the core desire that is expressed in terms of fundamentalist Islam by Qutb and Bin Laden. And, simply, I'd rather convince an enemy not to fight than actually kill them (because I do in large measure subscribe to the facts about our Western society set out above). Now in a real wrestling match, one isn't going to win - impose one's will on the opponent - simply by sitting on them. They will continue to fight, or simply wait until you get bored and get up, and then continue to fight. Particularly if you're having a loud dialog about whether it's worth it or not to fight with them in the first place; they will simply be more confident that in the face of resistance, or simple patience, you will give up and get up. Sadly, that path leads only to more fighting - because they aren't defeated, they are simply at what they perceive to be a momentary disadvantage. So you will get tired of the game, get up, and then they will attack again. You will sit on them again, and the whole process restarts. Much like our response to the escalation of Islamist rhetoric and action through the 80's and 90's. The way to win is simply to sit on them and make it clear that you will sit on them until they have really and truly given up - until their will is broken to yours. John McCain said it simply and well in his Nov. 5 speech to the CFR:
"Let there be no doubt: victory can be our only exit strategy. We are winning in Iraq - but we sow the seeds of our own failure by contemplating a premature military drawdown and tempering our ambitions to democratize Iraqi politics. Winning will take time. But as in other great strategic and moral struggles of our age, Americans have demonstrated the will to prevail when they understand what is at stake, for them and for the world." [emphasis added]
Let me repeat it: "victory can be our only exit strategy." By taking this position, by making it clear that we will stay as long at it takes, spend the treasure and blood required to break the wave of Islamist rage, in my view we will reduce the amount of actual violence we will ultimately have to impose. We have broken the bad governments of Afghanistan and Iraq. We are there, on the ground, and there we will stay until we have accomplished some basic goals. What are these goals? Here is a rough first try: First, until the overall level of violent Islamist rhetoric and action will have abated. Second, until Iraq will have attained some level of stable civil society (note that I think Bush misspoke when he set democracy as the threshold; I've discussed it before, and I believe that simply establishing civil society - the primacy of law - is the necessary precondition to democracy, and that alone will be difficult). Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, I doubt that we'll break the isolated, violent tribal culture. I do think that we can restrain it, and prevent it from being used as a base and recruiting ground for Islamists, and provide some skeletal level of civil society while reining in the tribal warlords who truly rule the country. These goals will require a certain level of commitment - of resources, cost, and most of all of lives disrupted, damaged, or lost. I will leave it to people who more than I do about the levels of forces required, but I will say that I seriously doubt that we have them today. Making sure we have those forces - through alliances or through a commitment to expand our own military - is the necessary first step down this road. When Bush does that, I'll have more confidence that he means what he says.

4 TrackBacks

Tracked: November 14, 2003 3:39 PM
Linkfest from Cold Fury
Excerpt: So much good stuff at Winds of Change this week I hardly even know where to begin linking it all....
Tracked: November 24, 2003 2:18 PM
A Day Late And A Buck Short from Matthew Yglesias
Excerpt: Kevin Drum and the mysterious Armed Liberal agree that we shouldn't leave Afghanistan or Iraq. But of course we're already gone from Afghanistan. We shouldn't have left but it seems to me that it would be very awkward politically to...
Tracked: November 24, 2003 5:39 PM
Don't Normally Do this, but... from Osama Bin Laden Is Winning
Excerpt: ... I saw this blog-debate going on and could not resist jumping in. Or piling on, I suppose it depends what you think of my post. The Armed Liberal has several intelligent remarks here. I disagree with many of them,...
Tracked: December 3, 2003 7:10 AM
A Response to Armed Liberal: Intro from Osama Bin Laden Is Winning
Excerpt: Hmmm. I'm really not sure how to format this post. Well, let me start with a brief preface that ought to help people make sense of it. A couple weeks ago, I was reading Calpundit, and bounced from him over...

21 Comments

Nice post. You've covered a lot of ground here, and left little with which to quibble.

I have a few questions, nevertheless:

Our objective needs to be to break the effective will to fight of the opposition. This isn't about the will of the hundred thousand or so fanatics who will fight the West to the death; it's about the more-rational millions who are on the verge of tipping over toward that position, and who are inclined to do so because they think they will win.

and

The way to win is simply to sit on them and make it clear that you will sit on them until they have really and truly given up - until their will is broken to yours.

Are these statments in conflict? Or do you reconcile the two by saying that the second paragraph applies only to the "more-rational millions"?

I'm much more confident about our ability to break the will of the Ba'athist than I am about our ability to break the will of Al Qaeda types.

With respect to this contest of wills idea, I think you're mischaracterizing Vietnam a bit. While I agree that both the US, the Soviets, and to a lesser extent the Chinese thought that Vietnam was just a proxy war within the framework of the Cold War, the North Vietnamese very much saw it as a nationalist struggle. Thus there was most certainly a subcontest of wills between the US and the North Vietnamese--an inherently assymetric one because they ultimately cared a hell of a lot more about their country than we ever could.

How does this apply to Al Qaeda? Hard to say, because while OBL & Co. are certainly fanatical in their willingness to die for their cause, the cause is somewhat abstract and ideologically driven. I don't know enough about pan-Arab nationalism to say how strong a motivating force it is; there seems to be a countervailing tribalism and/or sectarian factionalism that acts as a useful brake here. I'm hoping other posters can shed some light on this concept.

Then, of course, there is Islamic fundamentalism itself as a motivating and unifying factor.

It seems to me that to the extent that pan-Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism, the two prime motivating forces at play here, can be splintered, the more successful we'll have. This means we also need to strengthen Iraqi self-identification at the expense of broader pan-Arabism. Regarding Islam, we need to buttress moderates as much as we can.

-----
Finally, you do realize that your goals will take 10 years at a bare minimum, right?

I think about how long it is taking in my hometown of Pittsburgh to merge government services, encourage joint municipal planning, improve the quality of public sector leadership, etc.

Reform takes a long time.

Nice post. Nothing to add. And nice comment from praktike, too.

A.L.:
By taking this position, by making it clear that we will stay as long at it takes, spend the treasure and blood required to break the wave of Islamist rage, in my view we will reduce the amount of actual violence we will ultimately have to impose. We have broken the bad governments of Afghanistan and Iraq. We are there, on the ground, and there we will stay until we have accomplished some basic goals.

The problem here is that I already see resolve slipping, and it's only been a few months. And part of the reason for that is a domestic "small democracy" movement that, apparently, hates Bush more than they hate totalitarianism. I'm willing to stand by this President if he maintains his resolve, but frankly it's already beginning to look like his resolve is slipping. And if that's the case then I'm just not going to expend much effort attempting to keep him in office. What for? Anyway, we'll cross that bridge whenever.

What are these goals? Here is a rough first try: First, until the overall level of violent Islamist rhetoric and action will have abated.

I see it either rising to become a tidal wave, or being cancelled by a counter-wave. I honestly don't see any "linear" sort of function damping this down. We can see the beginnings of a counter-wave, in the was some minds are changing with regard to Al Qaeda and the Ba'ath, in Iraq and in Saudi Arabia, mostly due to the way the terrorists are hitting aid workers and the innocent.

Second, until Iraq will have attained some level of stable civil society (note that I think Bush misspoke when he set democracy as the threshold; I've discussed it before, and I believe that simply establishing civil society - the primacy of law - is the necessary precondition to democracy, and that alone will be difficult).

Like Pakistan? Turkey? I think you can forget Turkey, because it has largely been europeanized, and I don't see Arab countries (or Iran) following that model. What I'm afraid of is that establishing the preconditions to democracy, without establishing democracy, will be too little too late. It won't be able to cancel the mounting energy of radical Islamism, and may in fact provide soil for it to grow and mature... sort of the way the Weimar Republic gave Hitler a leg up. I guess I need to have this fleshed out, so I know what you mean by "preconditions of democracy."

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, I doubt that we'll break the isolated, violent tribal culture. I do think that we can restrain it, and prevent it from being used as a base and recruiting ground for Islamists, and provide some skeletal level of civil society while reining in the tribal warlords who truly rule the country.

I think that would be great. It doesn't play the central role in the drama that Iraq does, so Afghanistan can be "managed." The problem is the Northwest Provinces, which have become a kind of crude terrorist factory, supplying weaponry and hiding wanted terrorists. And this can, and will, seep back into Afghanistan.

These goals will require a certain level of commitment - of resources, cost, and most of all of lives disrupted, damaged, or lost. I will leave it to people who more than I do about the levels of forces required, but I will say that I seriously doubt that we have them today.

We haven't the forces, and I'm not sure we have the commitment. If not, what do we do?

Making sure we have those forces - through alliances or through a commitment to expand our own military - is the necessary first step down this road. When Bush does that, I'll have more confidence that he means what he says.

I'll be honest. I've seen absolutely no willingness to ask Americans to sacrifice so much as a drop of petrol. So, what do we do if he never "comes together?" Is it too late to change horses? Is there even a way we can threaten such a thing, if he starts to fade? As for me, if he's fading at this stage after making his "big speech" I don't want to keep him in line. I wanna dump him. I have absolutely zero interest in keeping him in office. Not even as the lesser of two evils. To my mind he's a pure liability, and I'd rather have a foil in office that we can organize against.

The key here seems to be resolve. If we have it, and if our leaders have it, we'll make everything else work. If we haven't got it nothing we do will work, and we'd better start taking lessons from the French on how to finesse.

My one big beef with General Powell was popularizing "exit strategy" in the lexicon.

There is no exit strategy, only victory or defeat.

Any loser can quit the field.

Sometimes resolve is over-rated. Ask the Confederate Army. Ask the Japanese Imperial Army.

But anyway, Bush's resolve has not been broken by some group that hates Bush more than it hates totalitarianism. Bush doesn't listen to that group (skipping as irrelevant whether that is a fair characterization). Bush's resolve has been injured by a collision with reality, which turns out not to resemble the Cheney-Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld story line [LINK] in the least. I can't imagine the look on Bush's face when Bremer made his last report. It's not surprising for persons to waver in the face of the totally unexpected.

Bush has asked the American people to make silly sacrifices, like taking off their shoes at the airport (something the security-expert Israelis have never found necessary), and terrible but underappreciated sacrifices, like accepting the Executive's authority to issue lettres-cachet (the Gitmo prisoners). But even after 9/11, he never asked for broad, deep sacrifices that the American people were willing to make, like tax increases to pay for anti-terrorism, or even a draft. Those sacrifices were anathema to his own domestic policies. Now he's stuck—his régime never admits error, even when it tries to make a U-Turn [LINK, look for "nation-building"] but not because of the protests of ANSWER.

Speaking of the Israelis, they've run a security policy based almost entirely on breaking the will of the Palestinians for several years now, and it hasn't worked very well [LINK]. One of the reasons I question whether the Iraq War was wise is that we could have created a carrot in Jordan for half the price (the king probably wouldn't even mind), but the Administration thought the Arab world needed the stick of shock and awe instead.

Andrew, I will keep this civil. You don't understand Bush. You just don't. Without trying to sound too much like Boykin, Bush thinks he is on a mission from God to rid the world of people like Bin Laden. His faith isn't goint to let up. We will see a change in strategy, that is always to be expected. No plan survives contact with the enemy. But what you see as waivering in determination is rather pensiveness, reflection on what steps need to be taken.

As for resovle in the Confederate and Japanese army, that involved the surrender of top leadership. There is no organized hierarchy for the enemy. Bin Laden led but one group, there are many others out there. There is no Lee or Emperor who can toss in the towl.

As for "sacrifices like tax increases and the draft," again you just don't get it. Tax increases would hurt the economy. Bad Idea. The draft IS NOT EFFECTIVE. That has been proven time and time again. Volunteer forces are far superior. Your own ideological beliefs are clouding your judgement there. As for his domestic policies, again, you don't understand Bush. He has changed. A lot. Dubya isn't the same person who squeaked through the electoral college. Don't make the mistake of confusing pre and post-9/11 Bush.

As for the Israelis, you do have a good point. They haven't broken the Pali backs yet. I suspect that they never will, at the present rate. But that is becuase the Palis hate the Israelis more than they fear their retibution. For all the talk about genocide and oppression, it really isn't that bad. If the Israelis started to act towards the Palis like the Palis would towards them, we might see a change. We might not. But the status quo is unacceptable.

As for Jordan, not gonna happen. Too many Palis in Jordan for there to be much success. Terror attacks and Islamist and Pan-Arabic nationalists would interfere.

Enough ranting for now.

FH- does Rove believe he's on a mission from God?

No, prakitike - but based on the evidence, one wonders at times if Terry McAuliffe is on a mission from Rove.

Andrew badly misunderstands Israeli security policy. So badly that one wonders if the misunderstanding is deliberate.

"Speaking of the Israelis, they've run a security policy based almost entirely on breaking the will of the Palestinians for several years now"

Not even close. Israel's security policy is based on containing the Palestinians, with the minimum amount of disruption to both Palestinian and Israeli society. Hence the Israeli Chief of Staff's recent public statement that he thought recent moves were too disruptive to the Palestinians. Hence the occupations of towns followed by pullouts. Hence the checkpoints and occasional border lockdowns (but they're reopened later). Hence the policy of killing terrorist leaders in decapitation strikes.

Hence the Wall, so uncontroversial in Isarael precisly because it embodies one of the few remaining areas of shared assumption between Israel's center-right and moderate left. The Wall is like a huge neon sign that shouts to anyone who looks: "containment/isolation strategy!"

I'm amazed Andrew can't see it.

Why Israel pursues this strategy is a post and a few all by itself. Part of it is an Oslo hangover, and part of it is a post-9/11 approach that seeks to keep a low profile and see if America's actions can change the strategic situation (Israel's big problem to date: its threat is strategic, but its reach has always been tactical). One can argue about the effectiveness of this strategy - from the left, and also from the right - but one cannot say with a straight face that Israel's strategy and actions are aimed at breaking Palestinian will. The actions on the ground do not fit.

Karl Rove's job as political advisor is to do everything in his power to help Bush get his program enacted and to ensure Bush's re-election.

His job is not to care about the political realignment of the Middle East.

There are a lot of forces pulling for Bush's re-election, and Rove owes it to them that he advocate the most politically advantageous policies.

If at some point the CW is that the grand transformational idea is a political liability, Bush will be holding the line against these folks as well.

As for McAwful, well, his record speaks for itself.

Joe- the wall isn't controversial...yet.

Volunteer forces are far superior.

Funny, I thought we had a WW2 draft. The Israelis have one now, always have. I'm sure volunteers are better one-by-one, but not if you don't have enough. Do you suppose the newly-pensive President is finally getting around to reading the memos from officers who worked in ex-Yugoslavia that our force was too small for nation-building?

It's too bad GWB didn't get a message from God about how to get rid of people like Bin Laden. Bush hung up his cosmic phone before the part about "Be honest with the American public.", "Don't be afraid to demand sacrifice." and "Don't bite off more than you can chew." came over the wire. And when GWB borrowed the flight suit costume and pranced (thanks for the word, Gen. Clark) on the carrier deck, God was yelling "Don't count your chickens before they hatch!" but He was drowned out by the applause track.

Darn sorry about the tag

Joe, you're wrong on Israeli security.

First, the wall as Sharon decided to build it most certainly is controversial. The original center-left and center-right proponents envisioned something near the Green Line. The Sharon version is a crazy fractal curve, dividing and completely encircling Palestinian landholdings and protecting any number of small settlements deep in the West Bank. Here is a pretty typical Israeli blogging on the subject:
It [the fence] shouldnít be build there because itís to deep inside Palestinian territory. There will be no peace with the Palestinian with Ariel inside Israel. And even if you think that there will never be peace with them because they donít want to Ė Well there is no way we can separate ourselves from them with settlements stuck deep inside their lands.

But this is small potatoes compared to your discussion of Israeli right-wing strategy in the whole. "Israel's security policy is based on containing the Palestinians, with the minimum amount of disruption to both Palestinian and Israeli society." If you include Israel's settlement-expansion policy as part of its security policy (I would call it an insecurity policy), then your description can not be correct. It has (sometimes and in some places) been true that the tactics of the occupation have been to minimize disruption, but the failure of Sharon to give even the slightest hint of what post-conflict Mandatory Palestine should look like suggests that the long-range strategy is predicated on indefinite stick and no carrot.

Four previous heads of the Shin Bet just came out against Sharon's policy. At least I think we can agree this shows his honeymoon with the Israeli public is long over.

[Rather than hijack this unrelated thread, should we wait for another one to come along?]

What Andrew said re: the wall.

Andrew, we had the draft in WW2 because we NEEDED the draft. When fighting with dozens, nay more than a hundred divisions, you need to have a draft. Not anymore. A single US infantry company now is more powerful than a battalion of WW2 era troops. Maybe even a regiment. Higher quality troops are more effective than more troops. Ask any experienced military expert. Israel has a draft because it needs it, it doesn't have the people to go volunteer. Or the luxury of maintaining a smaller peace time force.

Bin Laden is dead. Ok? You got that Andrew? The guy has been rotting away for a long time now, as the dearth of photographs or video shows. Audio messages are easily fakes, as are letters. Face it, he isn't the quiet type. If he was alive he would be proclaiming to the world just how lame, incompetent, stupid and cowardly the US is. We aren't saying he is dead because it isn't in our advantage to. Why? Well, he would be a martyr for one. Second, since Al Qaeda is kinda disorganized right now, it would make a leadership grab a problem. We don't want someone to take full control like Bin Laden did. And AQ is being quiet because some aren't sure if he is dead or alive, and because some don't want to tell the Muslim world how he died, which is most likely via a bomb. Hardly heroic, eh?

The carrier landing was foolish, I agree. But the honesty and sacrifice parts are BS. They have been addressed before. More later.

Andrew,

Your contention is that Israel's strategic policy is designed to break the will of the Palestinian Arabs. You offer the settlements as evidence - but the one does not prove the other. It's poor analysis. How is the one supposed to accomplish the other? And do the rest of Israel's actions and debates fit that pattern, or question it, or fit another template? That's what a serious analysis would look like, and you aren't offering it.

A policy of 'breaking Palestinian wills' would be something like Jordan 1970, Kuwait 1991, etc. We aren't seeing that, and in fact we're seeing many, many indications of different priorities. Note, too, the nature of the debates: where should the wall be, not the thrust of the policy. If breaking Palestinian wills was the strategy, the main debate over the wall would be that it's an admission of defeat, coupled with recommendations for massive offensive measures - but that's not the main debate, is it? Once again, your argument collides with reality and suffers from the impact.

As for the fence, it's going to be somewhat fractal. It's designed to offer protection right now, and so deals with facts on the ground rather than adjudicating them. I should point out that the vast majority of the West Bank, including some important Jewish religious sites, lies outside its boundaries (if the settlements et. al. are that strategic, one wonders why this is so).

Great link, with detailed maps.

In the here and now, fencing off and isolating some Palestinian Arab communities that are too close, and therefore form a security threat, makes sense for many reasons. But again, it's containment. A serious breaking wills strategy would just uproot these communities, and bulldoze them wholesale, and kick the residents back farther into the West Bank or Jordan... and then continue the process with another community for each homicide bombing attack. You bomb our children and old people, you lose more territory permanently. You allow your neighbours to work with Hamas and don't tell us, or put a stop to it yourselves? Kiss your village/neighbourhood/town goodbye, and enjoy the war refugee lifestyle, and no we don't intend to give that land back later in negotiations, you'll just have a smaller state. Message: you will drive yourselves off the map before you ever do it to us. So... raise, or fold?

That's an example of an strategy aimed at breaking wills. We aren't seeing anything like that.

Personally, the advent of SAMs and rockets as a terrorist tool inclines me to push the fence's security zone a bit farther forward than it is, in order to avoid having Israeli cities and airports in range. Israelis can debate all that - and will, and do - but again, note that they're quibbling over details, NOT strategy.

Truth is, most of the area incorporated within the fence is expected to be part of Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs. Israeli negotiators have always envisioned any future border to be the 1967 frontier with modifications, and again, the SAM/rocket problem intensifies that issue. The fence can simply be modified in the event that the Palestinian Arabs ever abandon their overriding priority of murdering as many Jews as possible in favour of having a state of their own, and Israel decides that giving up territory becomes an option that will improve its long term security, and a set of borders are agreed upon.

Meanwhilem the near-term priority remains: put up barriers between the Palestinian Arab communities and many Israelis, and try to replicate the Israeli success at preventing suicide bombings from genocidal Islamists in Gaza by using a similar solution.

We've each had one go round now, and one reply. Folks can read all 4, and begin to make up their own minds.

It's probably fair to pick this up again in a dedicated thread, rather than derail this one over an issue that's a small part of A.L.'s analysis.

It's probably fair to pick this up again in a dedicated thread, rather than derail this one over an issue that's a small part of A.L.'s analysis.
That would also be my preference, but as my final exception, here is a [LINK] to a map of the fence that (unlike yours) shows the Green Line [1967 border].

While "victory can be our only exit strategy" it seems that our planners aren't planning for it. If we or the world look at what sort of exit strategies we can force, we don't have enough resourses to achieve 'victory'.

We are talking loud and swinging a small stick. Of course our tanks, aircraft, ships, and bombs can defeat those of any other country, but we can't deliver the soldiers to sit on enough Iraqis to immobilize the hundred thousand or so fanatics.
And we're talking of trimming down our stick by drawing down troops, accelerating the Iraqification, etc...

If we look at your last paragraph:

Making sure we have those forces - through alliances or through a commitment to expand our own military - is the necessary first step down this road. When Bush does that, I'll have more confidence that he means what he says.

By fixing on the goal of democracy and freedom in Iraq, without even supplying the resources to enforce an effective martial law (a precondition to a secure society), the world can see that Bush doesn't mean what he says. We've lost the clarity. How can we recover and make it clear that we will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to achieve victory?

What we have made clear is that we have no plan. As the Sufi-like FH almost wrote above: No-plan survives contact with the enemy. Our no-plan survived, and it is clear to everybody.

"Our objective needs to be to break the effective will to fight of the opposition. This isn't about the will of the hundred thousand or so fanatics who will fight the West to the death; it's about the more-rational millions who are on the verge of tipping over toward that position, and who are inclined to do so because they think they will win."

Sir, this objective is self-defeating. How can you break the will to fight of people who aren't fighting? Don't you have to cause them to fight first to break their will to contiunue doing so?

I agree with you entirely that the play is for the middle; the objective must be to make sure the vast pool of potential sympathizers do not become combatants. You say we should do this by breaking their will. So their will is to fight, yet they do not? How does that make sense? Perhaps it is merely your choice of words I quibbble with, but why break something that's half-fixed? After all, they're not fighting you now --- therefore to some degree, there must already exist a counterforce, a reluctance, which disinclines them to do so. Perhaps this force is mere human inertia, which almost always prefers unhappy peace to uncertain war. But it's there. It ought to be reinforced.

Aside from mere rhetoric, however, I think this is poor strategy. Every example of long-term terrorist-sparked guerrilla warfare has somewhere near the beginning a harsh, hardline response by the state, which then provoked a backlash of terrorist sympathy --- the Battle of the Bogside, Sri Lanka '83, Marcos versus the New Peopleís Army and the Moro National Liberation Front, the PKK in Turkey, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador, Sendoro Luminoso in Peru, the FARC and the ELN in Columbia, and trust me, I could go on.

It is very, very easy to blow stuff up. As you say, the hard core fanatics of Al Qeada cannot be reasoned with. They must me caught, killed, or imprisoned. The question is what to do about the rest of the people. In order for terrorists to be successful in starting their guerrilla war --- which is their goal --- they must win the support and sympathy of the people. They sure as hell canít do that on their own --- theyíre a pack of thieves and murderers. No, the only way for them to win that sympathy is for their opponent to make them look good, by cracking down hard on the people whose sympathy they wish to draw. Hard line-ism doesnít work. Attempting to break the will of the people though punative tactics does not work, it only wins the terrorists more cadres.

Iím sorry. I lied, in that above sentence. It can be made to work, hard-lineism. But only if youíre willing to go all the way. Left to his own devices, Slobodan Milosovic would have competantly crushed the Kosovo Liberation Army (who caused the war) quite rapidly. Because he was willing to massacre, to torture, to expel people from their homes and to conduct mass arrest and imprisonments. Thatís the kind of thing it takes to break peopleís will to fight. We managed it in the Philippines a hundred years ago, but I donít think we could pull it off, today. Too much concern for human rights, too many cameras. I know I donít want to fight a war that we have to win like that.

So once again I say, why try to break the will of people who arenít fighting?

obliw:

Although the vast majority of Palestinians (VMOP)aren't "fighting", they certainly support thost that are actively fighting. What would happen if the VMOP withdrew support and instead "dropped a dime" on the fighters?

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