Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Art of War and Iraq -- Protracted War

As you may know, I picked up Sun-tzu's "The Art of War." I just started paging through it and found this gem on long wars (i.e., Vietnam and Iraq):

"When employing them (soldiers) in battle, a victory that is long in coming will blunt thier weapons and dampen their ardor. If you attck cities, their strength will be exhausted. If you expose the army to a prolonged campaign, the state's resources will be inadequate.
"When the weapons have grown dull and spirits depressed, when our strength has been expended and resources consumed, then the feudal lords will take advantage of our exhaustion to arise. Even though you have wise generals, they will not be able to achieve a good result.
"Thus in military campaigns I have heard of awkward speed but have never seen any skill in lengthy campaigns. No country has ever profited from protracted warfare. Those who do not thoroghghly comprehend the dangers inherent in employing the army are incapable of truly knowing the potential advantages of military actions."

Wow, sounds like he's talking directly about our war with Iraq. Troop morale is down, and it's not for lack of support from the home country's people. I don't know anybody who wishes any harm to our soldiers. Some of us simply think they're deployed in a despicable way, for a war that shouldn't have been undertaken.

Some of us believe that we should have gone after the person responsible for 9/11, bin Laden, with all of our fury. The world was on our side. We would have had many countries' support in finding, capturing, and bringing to justice the world's most hated man.

But all that goodwill was pissed away by a cowboy president who wanted to invade Iraq pretty much from day 1. Paul O'Neil, his first Secretary of the Treasury, said so in his book, "The Price of Loyalty." Almost from the get-go, Bush and team wanted to finish the job his Dad had started, but didn't finish in the last decade. This pre-conceived notion drew all their energy and allowed them, and us, to forget about why we were in a war in the first place.

Iraq and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. Oh, I believe if Saddam could have played a part, he might have. But he didn't.

Anyway, back to the points of Sun-tzu. A long war cannot be won. Troops become fatigued. "Fuedal lords" in Sun-tzu's work can be replaced by "warlord" or "terror kingpin." It's all the same. And it's happening right now in Iraq.

Next up in this series (though perhaps not my next post), talk about redeployment of troops and how doing so only undermines our efforts.