Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not brutal enough to win? 

Now that the U.S. has been in Iraq for 3+ years and hasn't yet managed to subjugate those pesky Iraqis the recriminations have begun. A couple of weeks ago it was the generals turn as they took turns blaming everything on Rumsfeld. Now we have Shelby Steele blames it on the U.S. supposedly being too soft (?) due to white guilt (?!?!). It might be hard to believe that someone is actually saying this but read the following exerpts from todays Wall Street Journal for yourself:

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.

For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one--including, very likely, the insurgents themselves--believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So
clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an

Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

Why this new minimalism in war?
It began, I believe, in a late-20th-century event that transformed the world more profoundly than the collapse of communism: the world-wide collapse of white supremacy as a source of moral authority, political legitimacy and even sovereignty. This idea had organized the entire world, divided up its resources, imposed the nation-state system across the globe, and delivered the majority
of the world's population into servitude and oppression. After World War II, revolutions across the globe, from India to Algeria and from Indonesia to the American civil rights revolution, defeated the authority inherent in white supremacy, if not the idea itself. And this defeat exacted a price: the West was left stigmatized by its sins. Today, the white West--like Germany after the Nazi
defeat--lives in a kind of secular penitence in which the slightest echo of past sins brings down withering condemnation. There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority.


This is a fact that must be integrated into our public life--absorbed as new history--so that America can once again feel the moral authority to seriously tackle its most profound problems. Then, if we decide to go to war, it can be with enough ferocity to win.

Those with a strong stomach can read the entire article here.

All I can say is ignorance is bliss. This man either has no clue what he is talking about or simply pretends not to know so as to be able to make his point.

He thinks the U.S. took it easy on Vietnam? I guess he isn't aware that the U.S. dropped a greater amount of bombs on Vietnam than was used by ALL combatants in WWII. Think of the Blitz, the day in day out bombings on Germany, the firebombings of Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo, and of course the atomic bombs on dropped on Japan. Yeah, I'm sure Shelby Steele himself would have held up just fine under such a miniscule effort. Lets not forget that millions of Vietnamese were put in mini concentration camps called "Strategic Hamlets". Lets not forget the tens of thousands assisinated through the CIA led "Operation Phoenix". Lets not forget defoliating a very large portion of the country, turning it moon-like, with the highly toxic Agent Orange.

So when Mr. Steele says that the U.S. hasn't used "anything approaching the full measure of our military power" one has to wonder what more he thinks they could have or should have done? Given that insurgents, as Mao famously pointed out, are like fish in a sea of civilians, maybe he thinks the U.S. should have just killed every last civilian in Vietnam.

And now to Iraq. He thinks the U.S. is holding back there? First off, he needs to tell that to Bush who swears the military has everything in Iraq it has asked for an could possibly need. And again what does he think the U.S. should do? This is a guerilla war where civilians and insurgents are mixed together. Maybe he thinks the U.S. should just declare all Sunnis the enemy and carpet bomb areas where they live. Of course, the Shiites of Baghdad who seem to like that anti-American cleric Sadr aren't too cooperative. So I guess next they would have to carpet bomb the Shiite areas of Baghdad and kill the one or two million Shiites who live there too.

Maybe Steele's problem is that he spends to much time watching TV. Given that American television shows little of what is happening in Iraq he could be forgiven for thinking the U.S. isn't lifting a finger to defeat the insurgency. I bet though the Iraqis who are targets of daily U.S. airstrikes would have a different opinion. So too would those who have their towns and cities surrounded by barbed wire (Strategic Hamlet - II). And so would the people of Falluja who got to watch their city be destroyed so it could be saved (a saying coined in the Vietnam War no less).

Anyways, if Mr. Steele thinks the problem is the war just isn't violent enough maybe he could become a reporter embedded in a regular neighborhood of Ramadi for a couple of months. It might be an eye opening experience for him.


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