May 03, 2004

Serialization v. Parallelization

Steven Den Beste's commenting on US strategy is reminiscent of a series of posts I've put up addressing US v. Al Queda strategies. In some ways, strategically, the US had it easier in WW II. It had two fronts, Pacific and European, and it really had only enough resources to do one thing at a time in either of those fronts. There never was any serious talk of doing N. Africa and Italy at the same time or Italy and the Balkans. The limits were known and we knew we had to choose. Any idiot who could count could see that dividing our forces would invite defeat in detail.

Today's Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) is different. Since it is asymmetric, we are almost by definition not as closely matched as we were against Nazi Germany. We can walk and chew gum at the same time and thus the temptation is to create more than one front to speed the war to its conclusion.

But the prospect of defeat in detail exists for us too and it is the heart of the enemy's strategy. This is why you will see me speaking out against those who want us to invade Syria or Iran. We simply don't have the forces, we don't have the will, and we haven't secured our gains enough to move on to another challenge. In 2005-2006 we may be able to take advantage of the new government of Iraq proving more stable and better than expected to assist in the success of some domestic uprising in favor of freedom but that's about it.

The problem is that overserialization has its own problems, timidity and lengthening the war being chief among them. Steven Den Beste fires up the warning flares with this:

It feels like the Bush Administration has decided to put the war onto the shelf until after the election. That's what it feels like. And that worries me. This war is much too important to permit such considerations to affect its prosecution.

I don't share in the fear that we're putting the war on the shelf. I'm much more afraid that the war will end with an enemy victory and that the GWB administration will be viewed as a lost opportunity, a period where the US showed some spine before it elected Kerry and resumed its cave and retreat policies on the way to Islamist victory.

We have taken an enormous bite out of our enemies hides with the taking of Iraq. The process of chewing and swallowing that bite has left us with chipmunk cheeks and an awful lot of people asking why isn't the food on the plate getting any less. We need to chew and swallow, incorporate Iraq into the Functioning Core, and then move on as our resources are freed and free Iraqis manage their own security and start to stand with us in liberating their annoying neighbors who will, no doubt, continue to war on Iraq to destroy Iraqi freedom.

The problem of Egyptian, Pakistani, and Saudi Arabian reform is vexing but I don't think we're as quiescent as SDB thinks. Given our status as formal allies with all three states, it would be very inappropriate for teams of Rangers to be wandering around and doing the work. Al Hurra by contrast, is a much more appropriate way to build up a cadre of replacements to these regimes' leadership. And that is what is important. Mubarak is essential in Egypt because there is nobody else around who is viable and who would be better. The same is true for the Royal family and for Musharref in Pakistan.

It would be appropriate to look at Newt Gingrich and his effort to cultivate and create alternative Republican leadership sufficient to take back the House of Representatives. He did it, but it took a decade. I don't think that it's reasonable to think that it will take any less time in any of these countries. If you were looking carefully, you could see the signs of something new cropping up in Republican circles a few years into the process and you can see hopeful signs in the ME as well. Saudi Arabia is starting to debate ending the practice of full veiling. Egypt is starting to give slightly on the issue of Christian persecution. Pakistan is starting to actually control its territory, a prerequisite for success against Al Queda. Potemkin offensive or not, it's more than Pakistan has done on the subject of controlling its NW Territories for a long time. Now the precedent has been set and future such offensives will be leavened with "kindhearted" offers of training so that the Pakistani military won't fail so miserably in future. The generals will be under constant professional humiliation if they don't improve their performance and the (possible) strategy of Potemkin offensives will unravel if they accept the training and follow US doctrine closely.

These are small steps in otherwise unhappy situations but the Gingrich revolution started with small steps too. It would be very educational to see what kind of schedule SDB would like to see results on. As far as I am concerned this is just part of the normal ebb and flow of any campaign.

Posted by TMLutas at May 3, 2004 10:45 AM