Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

War not winnable. War of ideas is.

‘War of ideas’ not winnable with war.

Clifford May’s “Clash of perceptions” (Sunday commentary 2-25-07) is correct in that the so-called ‘war’ in Iraq is really “a war of ideas”. Unfortunately, he still believes that more warriors will ‘wage a more effective war of ideas’. Not even under the new leadership of General Petraeus can ‘war’ be considered a winning idea. Petraeus may be a great general, but he is no miracle worker. Any ‘idea’ that continues to justify the killing of innocent people, which war certainly does as collateral damage, cannot ‘win’ anything in Iraq, except more converts to radical Islam.

The “Arab street” failed to “erupt over the slaughter of fellow Arabs” because the streets were occupied by US military forces with only a limited regard for Iraqi collateral damage. American forces do try to avoid the killing innocent Iraqi’s. But, US forces are responsible for at least a fourth of all innocent Iraqi casualties now somewhere between 100,000 and 600,000 souls. They and the Bush Administration are also responsible for the war itself. And all Arabs know that more ‘war’ won’t win Iraqi hearts and minds. It’s lethally unfortunate that Mr. May isn’t warm to this irrefutable idea.

The European’s lack of outrage over the “mass murder of innocents” in Iraq isn’t because they see the war as “a force of nature, like a hurricane or tornado.” They see the mass murder as a predictable outcome of any nation’s use of war, the law of force, to achieve it’s mission. Our ‘war in Iraq’ was an avoidable war. A war of our choice.

“The truthful case” is that our choosing war full well condoned the killing of innocent lives as collateral damage by the tens of thousands. That is hardly a “principled” Bush administration. We used our ‘grievances’ to justify Iraqi collateral damage. At home it’s classified as third degree murder -- like driving while drunk. Drunks may avoid killing innocent people but wars never do.

There are two barriers to ‘winning the war in Iraq. The first is that we keep calling our presence there a “war”. It is not. It is an occupation that has permitted the sparking, exacerbation, and evolution of a unique civil war. Essentially we are trying to conduct a ‘peace keeping/nation building’ operation with a military that is trained and equipped to kill and blow stuff up. We are experts at the killing part. And, Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner was correct at that point in time. With the capture of Baghdad the Iraq ‘war’ really ended. From that point on it has been a forceful occupation.

Second, most conservative and even many liberal policy makers believe we can achieve “victory” in this “war” without significant outside assistance or leadership.

By maintaining that it is a ‘war’ the Bush Administration and aligned conservatives must insist on “victory’ -- and anyone against the ‘war’ then becomes a ‘defeatist’. As a ‘war’ the only logical solution is more troops. The only problem is there is no way of achieving a military victory in Iraq – and even if there was – 20,000 troops couldn’t do it. Even some conservatives are starting to agree that Iraq requires a political solution…and that dealing with non American/Iraqi/Al Qaeda players will be essential to ending the violence.

Once we admit that an effective ‘police force’ is needed in Iraq to put the protection of Iraqi people ahead of our need for a ‘perceived’ victory, the sooner we will see a light at the end of this mass murderous tunnel. And once we admit that US military forces cannot be that ‘police force’, the sooner we, the UN or the world will be able to mobilize an army of Muslim police from inside Iraq and nations not bordering Iraq to bring real protection to the Iraqi people without regard for their religious affiliation.

Mr. May’s perception that more war will solve the problem in Iraq is wrong. The only victory in Iraq that will achieve progress in the greater ‘war’ on terrorism is the perception that we replace war, the law of force, the non-kinetic force of law. An increase in US troops ‘warring’ in Iraq only makes the real war of ideas unwinnable by us.

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