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Think Before You Rush to War

By Eric Margolis

December 08, 2015 "Information Clearing House" -  Concentration of forces is the most basic law of military science. Victory on the battlefield is won by amassing as many troops as possible at the key point of attack, or ‘schwerpunkt,’ as it’s known in German.

Unfortunately, the amateur strategists in the White House seem to have been studying social anthropology and women’s issues instead of basic military science. What they want is, to use the term coined by Russian poet Yevtuschenko, a half war.

This week, Pentagon chief Ash Carter, announced the US would send about 200 more special forces troops to Iraq and Syrian to fight the Islamic State. After vowing not to send troops to the Mideast, President Obama has by now deployed 3,500 new US soldiers to Iraq for “training.”

The best way to lose or at least prolong a war is by committing penny packets of troops. The US did precisely this in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan – and lost all these wars. Now, we’re on to more half-measures in the Levant.

President Barack Obama’s first instincts to avoid any more wars were absolutely correct. But the course of political events and the Paris massacre have dragged him into more rather than less military misadventures in the Mideast and Afghanistan. Obama’s senior strategic advisors, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, have been steadily providing wrong-headed, even calamitous advice.

America’s mighty – perhaps almighty- military industrial complex, the Republican war party, neoconservatives and imperialists – keep impelling the US towards new wars in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria in spite of Obama’s desire to end America’s addiction to foreign conflicts. Some of these cranks want a full-blown war with nuclear-armed Russia.

Washington has been infatuated by special forces daring-do, believing commandos can win small, imperial wars without involving the nation in a larger, costly conflict. Special forces are the new golden-haired boys in Washington, filled with swagger over their lopsided victories against lightly-armed tribesmen with no air cover or artillery.

Just as the British Army was after its 1890’s Sudan campaign against Fuzzy-wuzzies armed with spears and swords – until the Brits met German regular infantry in World War I.

What too few in Washington understand is that it is the US Air Force that is decisive weapon of US world power. Infantry – and special forces – merely serve to fix enemy troops for air attack and target US air strikes.

All those buffonish Republican candidates calling for US troops to be sent to Mesopotamia should be asked: what is the military objective of a new Mideast war? Military science teaches that the object of war is not to kill the enemy, as so many Washington sofa samurais believe, but to achieve a favorable political settlement.

Does anyone in Washington ruling elite know what this would be? Given fluid warfare in the Mideast against the irregular forces of ISIS and al-Qaida, will US troops there remain on a permanent deployment hunting irregulars, rather like the 19th century Indian Wars in the American West?

Will the US re-garrison Iraq’s Sunni regions? What will happen if Iraqi Shias turn on US forces and oust America’s puppet regime in Baghdad? Is Washington ready to get sucked into Syria’s maddening religious, tribal and regional conflicts? Are Israel and the US planning to partition demolished Syria?

And of course, the 64,000 dinar question…why should American stick its head again in this Mideast hornet’s nest?
To what gain? Can America afford such expensive imperial games when it is mired in debt? Or risk clashes with nuclear-armed Russia?

The imperialist camp will cry “stability,” that old code word for the Pax Americana. The neocons will howl that murderous ISIS must be stopped, ignoring that the US ally in Egypt, “Field Marshall” al-Sisi, killed more civilians in one day than ISIS did in Paris. No one will admit that most of ISIS’s attacks are revenge for US and French bombing of their towns and villages, nor that their gruesome executions of prisoners are meant to recall Guantanamo’s prisoners.

The American plan in Iraq and Syria is merely to kill as many “bad guys” as possible. Such sterile, juvenile strategy helped lead to America’s humiliating defeats in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. One would wonder what US special forces “trainers” have to teach Iraqis, Afghans and Syrians about war?

Arrogance and ignorance led the US to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Heedless of past mistakes, Washington is again rushing in where wisemen fear to tread.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. http://ericmargolis.com

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2015

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