Thursday, July 26, 2007

Winning There, Losing Here

The key theater in this global war is Iraq. Our troops are serving bravely in that country. They're opposing ruthless enemies, and no enemy is more ruthless in Iraq than al Qaeda. They send suicide bombers into crowded markets; they behead innocent captives and they murder American troops. They want to bring down Iraq's democracy so they can use that nation as a terrorist safe haven for attacks against our country. So our troops are standing strong with nearly 12 million Iraqis who voted for a future of peace, and they so for the security of Iraq and the safety of American citizens.

President George W. Bush, Speech, Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, South Carolina, Tuesday, 24 July 2007.

Lieut.-Col. Ralph Peters, probably my favorite mainstream media military analyst, has an excellent piece in the New York Post today which says that the war is looking up in Baghdad, but being lost in Washington:

The herd animals on Capitol Hill – from both parties – just can’t wait to go over the cliff on Iraq. And even when the media mention one or two of the successes achieved by our troops, the reports are grudging.
Quite true, but what of it ? Even assuming, as I do, that Col. Peters is correct about the situation on the ground in Iraq, the military facts are irrelevant. President Bush's excellent speech quoted above (hat tip, Belmont Club) is so right on so many things: right about the need to beat al Qaeda in Iraq, correct that victory in Iraq is central to doing that. But President Bush is, unfortunately, wrong about the key theater of this war. We are losing this war today because the Democratic Party, the media and academia here have decided that we should. Our enemies have a superior operational concept: exploitation of our media, and manipulation of politicians who think that defeating Bush and his “illegal war” serves a higher, better purpose than winning it. The center of gravity is in Washington, LA and New York, and not Baghdad or the Sunni triangle.

We will never manage to win this war or any other unless we become better at employing the media – which, in the new era of total war – is just another weapon like everyone and everything else. No future war plan will be complete without a media strategy. One of President Bush’s gravest strategic mistakes in this war (the others may be discussed another time) was to sit quietly in the White House in 2003-05 while the insurgency gathered steam, and his political enemies developed their arguments, rather than pushing Rumsfeld sooner to find a strategy and spending every day tirelessly explaining and agitating: bringing people to his side on this war.

Can the war effort (both in Iraq and in Afghanistan) be saved ? Unclear. The military is doing all it can, and more. But victory depends on political factors that the President has allowed to slip beyond his control. We are now in the position of praying for our numerous enemies to make a mistake.


cookingshatner said...

tell bush what to do about Iraq


El Jefe Maximo said...

Hey P,

Thanx for commenting. Like your screen name.

Iraq itself is in the hands of the generals and soldiers, Iraqi and American, and they are doing what they can, mostly well.

The struggle that Mr. Bush needs to make is here: spending every day out there all over the country for the rest of his term, telling people not to give up on the war.

So what are you cooking these days ?