Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The EverLasting Hurrah of the Golden Path

Jeff Huber's Revenge of the Surge:

...While visions of sugarplums danced in our heads, the Pentagon flew another escalation strategy under the radar. On the eve of Christmas Eve, Dexter Filkins of the New York Times reported "Taking a page from the successful experiment in Iraq, American commanders and Afghan leaders are preparing to arm local militias to help in the fight against a resurgent Taliban."

Merry Christmas, fellow citizens. Odds are now almost certain that your country will be in a state of war throughout your lifetimes, and possibly throughout your children's lifetimes as well...

It's hard to be surprised any more when the NYT echoes the Pentagon's G.I. jingo, but the experience of watching the newspaper of record cut and paste phrases like "a page from the successful experiment in Iraq" is aging poorly. From the outset, a key component of the surge strategy was the propaganda piece that would make it sound "successful" regardless of how it went.

As in the principles of war, "objective" is a prime tenet of information operations; but there's a difference between the way objectives work in warfare and how they're used in propaganda. In warfare—theoretically, anyway—the objective is supposed to be straightforward and tangible, and all operations and tactics should support the primary goal. In information operations, the objective, at least the stated one, is so vague and flexible that it doesn't need to have anything at all to do with the actual military operation. In fact, it's best if it doesn't; the less any statement meant for public consumption has to do with reality, the greater freedom of movement the information operator (aka "bull feather merchant" or "BFM") has.

When Bill Kristol pal Fred Kagan and the rest of the neocons at the American Enterprise Institute rammed their surge strategy past the Joint Chiefs' tonsils, the BFMs had to justify escalating the war to the public. Too many brass hats had admitted there was no military solution to the Iraq fiasco, so the "political unification" canard was adopted.

Political unification has proven to be as elusive as Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction; with the provincial elections just a stone's throw away, there's talk of a coup to oust Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki. That's been no problem for the BFMs, though; looking ahead, they nested the "security" piece of the puzzle in the original mission statement: establish security in order to allow political unity to come about. Since some measure of decreased violence has been achieved in Iraq, the BFMs can point to it as proof of the surge's success, and be reasonably confident no one will remember that improving security was the task, not the goal. They can also be fairly sure that not too many folks will ask hard questions about how that "security" was achieved.

In his three tours of duty in Iraq, David Petraeus has followed the same operational formula: he hands out a lot of weapons, bribes everybody he gave the weapons to not to use them, and transfers the heck out of Dodge before the time bombs he set blow off his successors' thumbs and noses (Hey, what's this?).

Four months after Petraeus turned over command of a "tamed" Mosul, the city's police chief defected and insurgents overran the city. When Petraeus was in charge of training Iraqi security forces, his recruits disappeared into the desert night along with about 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols. As commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq, he created "Awakening Councils," groups of former Sunni militants that Filkins says "are credited by American officials as one of the main catalysts behind the steep reduction in violence there." More that 100,000 of these former anti-U.S. guerillas have been armed to armpits and put on the dole so they won't attack Nuri al Maliki's government forces. Creating the Awakening Councils was the single dumbest thing—among a field of highly qualified contenders for the title—that we've done in Iraq, and now, it's one of the most compelling reasons for us to stay there forever: if we leave, the gravy spigot runs dry, and all our beautiful ugliness will melt out the drain pipe when the Sunni gunmen go back to their old line of business.

And thus it is that our catalyst of victory is the machinery of our failure; we've succeeded so well in Iraq that we must stay there always. Permanent occupation of Iraq was the operational and strategic objective all along, of course, even before 9/11, even before young Mr. Bush was selected to head the neoconservative ticket...

Well, of course. As it was in the beginning, is it now and ever shall be. Chaos is the plan.

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