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
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
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.
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2015