Both sides of the cloud over Iraq

The Belmont Club does a side by side of commentary from those who think Iraq is hopeless to those who do not. The suggestion that we are losing militarily in Iraq is just ludicrous and shows a remarkable ignorance of warfare and any understanding of the significance of various events in the country. The enemy in Iraq is actually incapable of making an militarily significant attack. That is why most of his attacks are concentrated against non combatants. Yesterday's incoherent combat between Iraqi forces and Sadr's militia are an exception that proves the rule. The attack appears to be a reaction to Iraqi forces applying the law. The "attack" shows little if any planning or coordination.

The one place where the US and its allies are not succeeding is in the media where the enemy gets them to play its tune regularly. You have to ask if the media knows it is being manipulated or just does not care.


  1. Anything that erodes the enemy's will to fight is "militarily significant." If there are bombs killing dozens of people (including the occasional US soldier) every week in Iraq for the forseeable future, eventually US voters will decide that it is not worth it, that the Bush Doctrine cannot create a violence-eschewing democracy there, and we will withdraw without victory.

  2. To be militarily significant an attack must effect the militaryies ability to operate and perform its assigned function. A test of significance would be whether it could still operate regardless of whether the event was publicized. For example if a battalion lost three quarters of its men, that would be significant, if no replacement munits were available. It would be significant regardless of any news items written about the engagement. Since the killing of non combatants does not effect the correlation of forces, it has no direct impact on our forces' ability to continue to attack the enemy. It sole purpose is to generate media attention and the media becomes the accomplice of the enemy when it gives military significance to the attack rather than treat it for what it is--a war crime. If it were treated as a war crime that reflected the wickedness of the enemy it would have a different political impact than is intended by the enemy and the media.

  3. I see your point. Although the seemingly endless bombing may result in a withdrawal of our military (through erosion of political will), it is not directly militarily significant. So your usage of the term is exact, whereas I was stretching it. Okay.

    The problem with narrowing one's focus to military significance (which I grant you is totally miscommunicated by the MSM) is that the Bush Doctrine actually has a different standard for success in this war: victory is defined as the establishment, by others (!), of a peaceful democracy. Since every bomb is antithetical to peaceful democracy, each serves as testimony to how far the US is from achieving its altruistic objective. So there is a certain logic to the bombing we are seeing, and I do not think it wholly depends on media misrepresentation. Even if our media were perfectly objective, the bombs would still be bad news for Bush and his Doctrine, which the US is heavily invested in.

    If we were not running on the Bush Doctrine, which has crucial loopholes benefitting the enemy, but *from the start* on the Sherman total war doctrine (smash the enemy AND his civilian support), I wonder if the war would already be over with far fewer US casualties. The enemy has a hope in resisting the Bush Doctrine by bombing civilians endlessly (time is on his side), but what would be the point of resistance if the US was committed to victory through total war?


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