Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hello, Hitler? or Yet another way to lose in Iraq.

“Hello, Hitler?”
“Ja. Who is this?”
“Its FDR. I just wanted to give you a heads up about D-Day.”
“Uh . . . one more time.”
“You know, the invasion. D-Day. The Allies invading Fortress Europe. Here’s what we are going to do. We have about 3,000,000 troops, give or take. We’ll be crossing over the channel in Normandy, so don’t bother defending anywhere else. Oh, its Ike’s show but Monty’s running the ground war, so call them if you need any more particulars. Anything else I can tell you . . . Oh, can’t believe I almost forgot, June 5th unless it rains, then the 6th. Gotta go."

If you think that the above scenario is ridiculous, consider this. We do pretty much the same insane thing in modern day USA, feeding every bit of information we can to the enemy.

Everyone else is busy talking about whether it’s going to work, who is supporting the President and what the Democrats are going to propose. All I want to talk about is why we are so incredibly stupid when we are supposed to fighting a war that everyone is so sure is more important than the Cold War, by revealing what should be secret information to our enemies.

For those of you who have missed it, this President has lost all of his teeth. Earlier this week, President Bush, in a moment which must have lightened the hearts of anyone who seeks America’s downfall, humbly went on tv, taking responsibility for making mistakes in the war and almost apologetically announced his strategy for a “surge” or “augmentation” of troops in Iraq. Thus, the president advised not just Americans, his political opponents and the media, but also any insurgent or terrorist in Iraq of how many troops he was sending and where they would be sending them. If that was too vague, former generals who are paid by cable news channels for insider analysis have happily spelled out for those who kill our troops, what the likely strategy will be in great detail.

I know what you are thinking. Big deal. It’s a new world and everything leaks, anyway. Really? The why does Congress bother having closed hearings for intelligence and armed forces? Why are things marked “top secret” by our government all the time (although admittedly, even ridiculously stupid things that are public knowledge already). Why did the government prosecute Wen Ho Lee over nothing. There must be some secrets when you are fighting a war.

Don’t think telling belligerents who plant bombs for our troops to ride over, would love to know where we will be going? Don’t you think that they would love to know where to concentrate their forces, or to temporarily vacate? Our enemy needs no intelligence operatives. All they need is a feed for American cable news. Now, they can plan out booby traps and fire zones with all the time in the world.

You might also think that, well, sure, but we are so good that we don’t need surprise to win. Ok, that might be true. I sure hope so. But it hasn’t proved to be the case so far, has it?

You think maybe they won’t notice what the President said (really being sarcastic here). Already it is being reported that certain insurgents or militia are secreting away their guns and are going to lay quiet for a while until the surge is over. This is all to the same effect. We will waste more money yet if we “surge” and there is no one to fight. If I were dedicated to fighting American troops I would do what General Washington did. Melt away. Retreat. Mix in with civilians. Or better, surprise our troops someplace we don’t expect them outside of Baghdad. It is no secret how to fight us. Every combatant in the world knows this.

Look at this way – does Al Qaeda tell us where they are going to strike? No. Do the insurgents tell us where they are going to concentrate their forces? Where they are going to plant IEDs? No, No and No (the third “No” was just for emphasis).

Here is another way to look at it. Pretend that the President did not make his speech this week and that the strategy wasn’t leaked out the week before. Instead, what if it was learned that a White House aid, anyone from the VP to the pastry chef, made a telephone call to Osama bin Laden and told him how many troops we were sending over, who would be leading them, and where they would be deployed. Would not that be the clearest case of treason you have heard of in a long time. Would not the President himself have suggested that the transgressor was a great criminal who had put America’s troops at risk. Heck, he pretty much said as much if you just voted Democrat in the ’06 elections.

But there is no need for any traitor to risk his neck, because the President did it himself. On TV! And we will continue to debate tactics and strategy in front of the world because politics trumps war almost every time in this kooky world we have set up where the media dictates our every move.

Now, I am not suggesting that the President is a traitor or that he has committed treason. I am just saying that what has become commonplace in this country, as a result of our rolling, non-stop politicking, the leaking of vital information to the entire world, is absurd.

No one, not one of these politicians or pundits from President Bush to the Daily Kos has any idea what is going to happen when we send more troops, or what would happen in the long term if we take our troops out (I think we all agree it would be pretty bloody short term). But everyone should also agree that not treating this as a serious war by keeping strategies and tactics a secret is just completely idiotic. Stupid. Moronic. Cretin-like.

There is no doubt the President made this announcement in the hopes of stirring patriotic embers and fending off the critics circling around his wagon. It didn’t work. Similarly, this week the administration gave up on the secret wire tapping program. Personally, I agree that it was an unlawful program under wiretapping laws prevailing since the late 70s, at least when it involved U.S. citizens and was not done on an emergency only basis. There must be oversight by Congress and the judiciary.

But there is no reason that Congress is not jumping through hoops to give the administration the tools it needs by creating more plastic exceptions for FISA. For example, let them tap for a month before being required to get a warrant; or let them tap international calls with suspected terrorists with only congressional oversight, but let prosecution be had only for true terrorist acts (and maybe with a few exceptions for heinous crimes --- after all, lets not be crazy about this).

Its pretty clear to me that Al Qaeda and other Islamists have this country pegged right. So did President Bush after 9/11. As a people we have lost our will to win or even to fight hard. That’s why they knew they could drain us dry in Iraq and why President Bush did not ask for any real sacrifices after 9/11. It just sounds more and more like the end of the Western Roman Empire. At this juncture, we need to either throw in with the President and try to win, or, just get out. Monkeying around is doing exactly what Al Qaeda wants, wasting our resources and sapping our will without our having a real chance to win.

No, I’m not saying give up for the hell of it. I am saying regroup, get our resources together and resume a more intelligent and far less costly War on Terror. We should not occupy any Muslim territory for the purposes of nation building in which we are not wanted by a large percentage of the population unless we are dedicated to completely disarming them with force, if necessary. The War on Terror has to be fought with special forces, and only occasional use of our large scale forces at the outset or against anyone stupid enough to face us on a battlefield. Working through allies in a country is a requirement. In Iraq that would be mostly the Kurds and only some proven Shiites, Sunnis, etc.

According to Robert Kaplan, a world traveling author who follows and imbeds with our troops, in his “Imperial Grunts,” that is precisely what we did when we went to war with Afghanistan, using a handful of special force troops in combination with indigent freedom fighters. They were allowed to follow their own initiative. The Taliban fell quite quickly. After that, however, long distance control from America, always late and always indecisive, our advantage has whittled away even with the special forces that remain intact.

Government never ceases to amaze. Even after Vietnam, where we couldn’t win through loss of political will, and Mogudishu and Lebanon, where we did tuck tail and run, we still enter another war where we can’t win or maintain an advantage because of our refusal to fight hard, capitalize on our gains and allow the troops on the field to do what they seem to know better than anyone else. I do not know what level of force will always be needed, nor where it turns into genocide (which we should avoid) but it is certainly a force far above what we do now.

But, most of all, please, please, for now at least, can we stop telling everybody else what our strategy is. C’mon, people.

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .