Saturday, November 11, 2006

Doubling Down in Iraq

An essay by William Stuntz of The Weekly Standard.

I agree with his basic premise: the way you win wars is by increasing ruthlessness, commitment, and determination, not lessening them. A foe must know not only that he is beat, but that he will never win. Only with total victory is a reform of the deformed ideology that led to war with him and his society possible. I submit WW2 Germany and Japan as textbook examples of this, though anyone with a basic understanding of human nature, and how men think, will agree. Anyone who is familiar with the childhood playground phenomenon called, "Say uncle," will understand. Those who think such barbarity is exactly the sort of behavior we should evolve out of...and by doing so, set the example for other societies to evolve out of themselves... and would be aghast at me using terms like "men" and "he" ... well, their party is now in control of the Pentagon's checkbook.

For why I think their entire worldview is foolish in the extreme, read, "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature," by neuroscientist Steven Pinker.

Unfortunately, I think Stuntz is living in a fantasy land where such a doubling-down could conceivably happen. Did he not happen to notice the boxes stacked in Rumsfeld's office?

Here's an excerpt fron the essay. Would that it were possible.... The tragic part is that the men and women fighting over there know it's probably too late now that Bush has caved and fired Rumsfeld.

Warfare is not like investment banking. At precisely the moment an economist might say to stop throwing good money after bad, a wise military strategist might say to double the bet.

Why might that be so? For one thing, willingness to raise the stakes often wins the game. Why do insurgent gangs, who have vastly smaller resources and manpower than the American soldiers they fight, continue to try to kill those soldiers? The answer is, because they believe they only have to kill a few more, and the soldiers will leave. They need not inflict a military defeat (which would be impossible, given the strength of the American military)--all they need to do is survive until American voters decide to throw in the towel, which might happen at any moment.

The proper response to that calculation is to make emphatically clear that the fight will not end until one side or the other wins, decisively. That kind of battle can only have one ending, as Abraham Lincoln understood. In a speech delivered a month after his reelection, Lincoln carefully surveyed the North's resources and manpower and concluded that the nation's wealth was "unexhausted and, as we believe, inexhaustible." Southern soldiers be gan to desert in droves. Through the long, bloody summer and fall of 1864, the South had hung on only because of the belief that the North might tire of the conflict. But Lincoln did not tire. Instead, he doubled the bet--and won the war.


Post a Comment

<< Home