Civilians Setting War Strategy

There was an interesting post on LGF:

"Though the army is still composed of citizens of the land (and legal aliens who just want to become American citizens (since, you know, it's still the best country on the face of the earth)) it does not turn to its citizenry for advice about the war. They simply have not put forth the time, effort, training, blood, and sweat, to gain the experience necessary to make the right decisions, both tactically and strategically."

I disagree with this, so let me outline my reasoning.

This War on Terror is unlike previous wars. It basically requires that we talk to the protagonists and find out what the misunderstanding is that makes them think that flying planes into skyscrapers will somehow help to restore the Caliphate. (Actually, they turned out to be right about that, but that's a separate discussion). However, the protagonists were not state actors, they were individuals. We basically need to talk to citizens.

The first citizens we needed to talk to were the Afghans, to ask them if they supported the terrorists that their dictator was harbouring. Since we were only interested in having a chat, we weren't trying to force anything down their throat, it called for a whole different strategy. It was basically extended diplomacy. A traditional war was not required and so traditional war strategy was not required. The main strategy in the war was actually to ensure that we DIDN'T have a war with the Afghan people. The Taliban were trying to get the people and the Northern Alliance to unite against the invading infidel. We instead were trying to get those actors on our side. I'll write a separate post about the machinations of how Bush managed to win over these actors. But anyway, as a result of the Afghan war, we got to talk to the Afghan people, and we found that we didn't appear to have any enemies in this country. All they ever needed was help to get rid of their dictator.

Next we needed to talk to some Arabs. The Iraqis were rumoured to be the smartest and least radical of all the Arabs. There were other reasons why Iraq was a great target. So, we needed soldiers to break open a line of communication to the Iraqi people. Again, all we wanted to do was talk. To see if these people knew where we could find our enemies. They eventually did tell us, via the blogs. One of them directly told me that we'd come to the wrong country. We were after Wahabbis, who are in Saudi Arabia. I replied and told him that it was because Iraq was the WRONG country that it was the RIGHT country. There were less people required to be killed in order to set up a democracy.

So, the war in Iraq was far from a war of conquest. Once again we had no desire to ram anything down the throats of the Iraqi people. All we wanted to do was hear multiple opinions from them and have a debate and ask some questions. You could see this in the reaction of the Americans in the Iraqi blogs. All asking questions. Deciding who to kill was a different phase. First we just wanted an environment where we could freely discuss things.

The way Sadr was handled in Najaf and the terrorists in Fallujah was also something that was set by the civilians. We needed to get the Iraqis to speak out whether they wanted to be ruled by brutal thugs again, and let them decide what to do about the problem. The military was just a tool to be used to help implement whatever decision the Iraqi people came to. The people of Najaf appear to have asked Sistani to do something about Al Sadr because we got a fatwa out of him telling Iraqis to sign up to the new security forces. The residents of Fallujah similarly appealed to be liberated after experiencing first hand what life was like under terrorists. In all this, the US military successfully avoided waging war against the Iraqi people.

These wars were completely outside standard military doctrine. Standard military doctrine called for hundreds of thousands of troops to conquer both Afghanistan and Iraq, and large loss of allied life. Not only would that have been a complete waste of time, it would potentially have caused a completely unnecessary war with the people. So, we didn't need the military to set the strategy, we needed civilians engaging in clever diplomacy to set strategy. It was more diplomatic manoeuvering with force added at certain junctures than a war. In fact, so far, we've done everything possible to AVOID war. This is more of an "investigative phase". The "war to vanquish our enemies" phase hasn't even started yet. We haven't yet decided how to respond to 9/11. Which is why Bush isn't naming the enemy yet. And still kissing the Saudis as if nothing has happened.

No-one expected a religious war in the 21st century. It is not something our military trains for. The entire concept is absurd. It requires civilians to get us out of this one. There are some technical tasks for the military to carry out, and within certain constraints they can set their own strategy, but the overall strategy belongs with the civilians. Some people are complaining that a PC war is being fought. A PC war is exactly what is required! Even if the military thinks it is absurd. They won't think it is so absurd when Sistani calls a jihad! You're dealing with people for whom the entire Enlightenment thing was just something that happened to other people. It needs some time to bring them up to speed, with as little bloodshed as possible on the way. It may even involve a withdrawal from Iraq and letting the jihadis claim a victory (just like they did in Lebanon). So long as we get what we want (democracy, human rights and freedom of speech in Iraq), they can make whatever bogus claims they want.

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