How to End the War in Iraq

Below are some excerpts from a letter posted on the web to George Bush from Joseph George Caldwell, who spent much of his career working in military systems analysis and served as director of research and development at the US Army Electronic Proving Ground’s Electromagnetic Environmental Test Facility. He has conducted much research in the area of strategic planning and analysis and maintains a popular Internet website ( on strategy, politics, and warfare.

My proposal is this: Divide (balkanize) the country into three parts – three countries: one for the Kurds (“Kurdistan”), one for the Sunnis (“Sunnistan”) and one for the Shiites / Shias (“Shiastan”). Relocate people as required to create a homogeneous population within each country (as was done, e.g., in Cyprus and in India/Pakistan several decades ago and in a number of countries in North and South America a few hundred years ago). In each country, place a powerful and respected family in charge. Each family will be responsible for running its country in an orderly fashion. Each family will be beholden to the US for its position. The requirement for continued US support will be the development of its oil resources, and trade oil with the outside world. If it does not comply with this requirement, it will be replaced.

As currently constituted, and under current circumstances, Iraq is not governable. There is not, as is so often referred to in the press, an “Iraqi people.” There are basically three Iraqi peoples – the Kurds, the Sunnis, and the Shias. My proposal recognizes this fact. A strong nation is comprised of a population that is highly homogeneous with respect to basic human attributes, such as language, religion, race, geography and culture. Profound differences in ethnicity and religion are currently tearing Iraq apart. As three separate nations, stability, order and peace will return. I know that diversity is important to you, and trying to minimize diversity by forcing a single nation instead of three diverse ones is very much counter to the goal of promoting diversity.

I know that you have expressed a desire to install democracy in Iraq. Unfortunately, Iraq is not ready for democracy. Iraq’s religion, politics, and culture are hundreds of years behind the West. Cultures cannot be changed very fast – recall the fate of Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran, who tried to “westernize” that country too fast. Democracy is not very important to current Iraqi peoples. What is very important to them at the present time is self-determination. And there are three major subpopulations, each of which wishes to be independent of the others. It took the West a thousand years to evolve its current democratic institutions from those of the Middle Ages. Expecting Iraq to move from its Middle-Age culture overnight is unrealistic.

The solution that I am proposing is not original with me. It was proposed hundreds of years ago by Machiavelli – and thousands of years ago by Sun Tzu. It is based on sound and tested principles of politics and warfare. The current approach of trying to impose an alien culture (democracy) overnight in Iraq, and govern radically different and inimical populations by means of democracy, is doomed to failure.

Link How to End the War in Iraq

How Do We Win the War on Terrorists?

If my elementary school history classes covering the American Revolutionary War were historically accurate, the Redcoats (British soldiers) marched in formation into the American battle zones and took a beating from the colonial woodsmen. The battlefield strategy that worked in Europe in the 1700’s failed in the New World. Is conventional military warfare going to win against terrorists?

“We just don’t know yet whether that’s the same as winning.” Rumsfeld’s remark encapsulates the confusion and frustration that have plagued U.S. counterinsurgency efforts around the world for more than half a century—most notably in Vietnam, El Salvador, and now Iraq. The United States is not alone, however. It is the latest victim of a problem that has long afflicted the world’s governments and militaries when they are confronted with insurgencies: namely, a striking inability to absorb and apply the lessons learned in previous counterinsurgency campaigns.

Guerrilla groups and terrorist organizations, on the other hand, learn lessons very well. They study their own mistakes and the successful operations of their enemies, and they adapt nimbly. The past year in Iraq has been a case in point: insurgents have moved from sporadic, relatively unsophisticated roadside bomb attacks to more coordinated, even synchronized attacks, with brutally successful results: growing numbers of coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians are dying; security in much of the country remains fragile or elusive; Iraqi resentment of the United States is increasing; and international political support for the American occupation, never exactly formidable to begin with, is withering. By many measures the insurgents are succeeding and we are failing.

Link The Atlantic | July/August 2004 | Plan of Attack | Hoffman

Gen. Wesley Clark on Iraq

Below are the last two paragraphs from an essay Broken Engagement by General Clark.

We need to take the American face off this effort and work indirectly. But there are some American faces that can be enormously useful. Among our greatest assets during the Cold War were immigrants and refugees from the captive nations of the Soviet Union. Tapping their patriotism toward America and love of their homelands, we tasked them with communicating on our behalf with their repressed countrymen in ways both overt and covert, nursing hopes for freedom and helping to organize resistance. America’s growing community of patriotic Muslim immigrants can play a similar role. They can help us establish broader, deeper relationships with Muslim countries through student and cultural exchange programs and organizational business development.

We can’t know precisely how the desire for freedom among the peoples of the Middle East will grow and evolve into movements that result in stable democratic governments. Different countries may take different paths. Progress may come from a beneficent king, from enlightened mullahs, from a secular military, from a women’s movement, from workers returning from years spent as immigrants in Western Europe, from privileged sons of oil barons raised on MTV, or from an increasingly educated urban intelligentsia, such as the nascent one in Iran. But if the events of the last year tell us anything, it is that democracy in the Middle East is unlikely to come at the point of our gun. And Ronald Reagan would have known better than to try.

Link “Broken Engagement ” by Gen. Wesley Clark

Revenge in Iraq

Dave Pollard look at the root causes of our military’s treatment of prisoners in Iraq:

Does our fierce desire for revenge — over 9/11, over the damned Iraqi insurgent ingrates who won’t accept us as liberators, over every indignity and rebuff and psychological atrocity inflicted on us personally, or on ‘our people’, however broadly or narrowly we define that term — cause us to take quiet pleasure in acts of revenge by ‘our people’ — whether they be manipulative Hollywood renditions or real life retaliations against ‘others’?

In our minds, in our search for blood vengeance, are we all too willing to substitute Saddam Hussein for Osama Bin Laden, and the nameless naked Iraqis in Abu Ghraib for the cowards who killed and publicly displayed the bodies of innocent Americans? And to substitute the latest one-dimensional evil character in the latest Hollywood film for every monster who ever caused us or those we love grief, pain, or humiliation throughout our lives?

Link How to Save the World

Why Are We Tied to the Middle East?

Thomas Friedman asks — and answers — some tough questions:

Why didn’t the administration ever use 9/11 as a spur to launch a Manhattan project for energy independence and conservation, so we could break out of our addiction to crude oil, slowly disengage from this region and speak truth to fundamentalist regimes, such as Saudi Arabia? (Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.) Because that might have required a gas tax or a confrontation with the administration’s oil moneymen.

Why did the administration always — rightly — bash Yasir Arafat, but never lift a finger or utter a word to stop Ariel Sharon’s massive building of illegal settlements in the West Bank? Because while that might have earned America credibility in the Middle East, it might have cost the Bush campaign Jewish votes in Florida.

via Posted on Categories Current Affairs, Energy, Environment, Iraq, Terrorism

A Time for Truth – by Pat Buchanan

The neoconservative hour is over. All the blather about “empire,” our “unipolar moment,” “Pax Americana” and “benevolent global hegemony” will be quietly put on a shelf and forgotten as infantile prattle.

America is not going to fight a five- or 10-year war in Iraq. Nor will we be launching any new invasions soon. The retreat of American empire, begun at Fallujah, is underway.

With a $500 billion deficit, we do not have the money for new wars. With an Army of 480,000 stretched thin, we do not have the troops. With April-May costing us a battalion of dead and wounded, we are not going to pay the price. With the squalid photos from Abu Ghraib, we no longer have the moral authority to impose our “values” on Iraq.

Bush’s “world democratic revolution” is history.

Link to article

Via Ken Novak

Should We Expect Iraq To Embrace Democracy?

From the book Orientalism by Edward Said, published in 1978.

What American leaders and their intellectual lackeys seem incapable of understanding is that history cannot be swept clean like a blackboard, so that “we” might inscribe our own future there and impose our own forms of life for these lesser people to follow. It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar. But this has often happened with the “orient”, that semi-mythical construct which since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in the late 18th century has been made and remade countless times. In the process the uncountable sediments of history, a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, are swept aside or ignored, relegated to the sandheap along with the treasures ground into meaningless fragments that were taken out of Baghdad.

Edward Said was a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University and was a well known Palestinian scholar who died in 2003.

Via Joichi Ito

National Leadership and Short-Sightedness

Two examples of leadership without vision from Jared Diamond, author of the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies.

Guns arrived in Japan around 1543 with two Portuguese adventurers who stepped ashore, pulled out a gun, and shot a duck on the wings. A Japanese nobleman happened to be there, was very impressed, bought these two guns for $10,000, and had his sword-maker imitate them. Within a decade, Japan had more guns per capita than any other country in the world, and by the year 1600 Japan had the best guns of any country in the world. And then, over the course of the next century, Japan gradually abandoned guns.

What happened was that the Samurai, the warrior class in Japan, had been used to fighting by standing up in front of their armies and making a graceful speech, the other opposing Samurai made an answering graceful speech, and then they had one-on-one combat. The Samurai discovered that the peasants with their guns would shoot the Samurai while the Samurai were making their graceful speeches. So the Samurai realized that guns were a danger because they were such an equalizer. The Samurai first restricted the licensing of gun factories to a hundred factories, and then they licensed fewer factories, and then they said that only three factories could repair guns, and then they said that those three factories could make only a hundred guns a year, then ten guns a year, then three guns a year, until by the 1840s when Commodore Perry came to Japan, Japan no longer had any guns.

China: China led the world in innovation and technology in the early Renaissance. Chinese inventions include canal lock gates, cast iron, compasses, deep drilling, gun powder, kites, paper, porcelain, printing, stern-post rudders, and wheelbarrows — all of those innovations are Chinese innovations. So the real question is, why did Renaissance China lose its enormous technological lead to late-starter Europe?

We can get insight by seeing why China lost its lead in ocean-going ships. As of the year 1400, China had by far the best, the biggest, and the largest number of, ocean-going ships in the world. Between 1405 and 1432 the Chinese sent 7 ocean-going fleets, the so-called treasure fleets, out from China. Those fleets comprised hundreds of ships; they had total crews of 20,000 men; each of those ships dwarfed the tiny ships of Columbus; and those gigantic fleets sailed from China to Indonesia, to India, to Arabia, to the east coast of Africa, and down the east coast of Africa. It looked as if the Chinese were on the verge of rounding the Cape of Good Hope, coming up the west side of Africa, and colonizing Europe.

Well, China’s tremendous fleets came to an end through a typical episode of isolationism, such as one finds in the histories of many countries. There was a new emperor in China in 1432. In China there had been a Navy faction and an anti-Navy faction. In 1432, with the new emperor, the anti-Navy faction gained ascendancy. The new emperor decided that spending all this money on ships is a waste of money.

In the examples above, Japan and China became weak and vulnerable to attack due short-sighted leadership. Is the United States going to be weakened by failing to develop an alternative to oil for its huge appetite for energy? If terrorists are able to significantly reduce the flow of oil from Saudi Arabia and all the unstable oil-producing countries, we are going to find out.

Democracy Works When…

In the context of the debate Can democracy work in Iraq/Arab states/Islamic countries?, Atanu Dey offers some insights from India:

It is instructive to examine explore the two ideas of democracy and markets in the Indian context.

First, markets. One of the most important lessons mankind has learnt is that markets work. There are, however, very important pre-conditions for markets to work. When those pre-conditions are not met, markets fail. That means, the workings of markets in the presense of failures leads to socially sub-optimal, and even harmful, outcomes. Indeed, if the necessary conditions required for markets to function are not met, market fundamentalism can lead to positively disastrous results.

The important point is that markets work but only if certain necessary conditions are met. Consequently, imposing markets on a system which does not meet those often stringent conditions could result in unintended consequences.

Just as the market is a great organizing principle in the economic sphere, so also democracy is a great and noble organizing principle in the political sphere. Democracy works, provided its pre-conditions are met. The necessary conditions include at a minimum: full information, accountability, economic freedom, institutional memory, and so on. Democracy cannot work when the electorate is nearly totally uninformed, where there are strong vested interests, where the notion of accountability is non-existent, where voters can be intimidated and bribed, where the culture is steeped in feudalism, and where illiteracy, superstition and corruption is the norm.

Democracy does not work in India. That is not to say that the fault lies with the idea of democracy. As a system of governance, there are few alternatives, just as markets are the best way to organize economic activities. But markets are prone to failures if its pre-conditions are not met. So also, democracy does not work in India because its necessary conditions are not met.

It is a long and hard road to the place where democracy has any meaning. The first step along that road is undoubtedly universal primary education. Universal primary education is a prerequisite for universal adult franchise. Without primary education, you cannot have a literate and informed adult. Without an informed electorate, you cannot have a meaningful democracy. Perhaps that is the reason for the neglect of universal primary education — for that would down the road mean that the feudal lords of the ruling families will no longer be able to rule based simply on loyalty and may even have to work for a living.

Thomas Jefferson emphasized the role of an educated citizenry in a democracy more than two centuries ago:

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” (as cited in Padover, 1939, p. 89)

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. (as cited in Padover, 1939, p. 87)

“. . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.” (as cited in Padover, 1939, p. 88)

Al Qaeda strategy: Create Oil Shortage

John Robb suggests that al Qaeda may be trying to disrupt the oil supply to create a massive shortage.

Saudi security building bombed. Senior security official killed. This marks a major change in strategy. Regime destabilization is underway. A potential al Qaeda strategy: continue attacks on Iraqi oil production (which have been very effective given how few attacks have been made), extend political dislocation to Saudi Arabia (this attack marks the start of that), and reduce Saudi oil production through disruptive attacks (watch for that over the next three years). The goal: keep Saudi oil production at stable or decreasing levels. Rapidly growing global demand will create a massive shortage in short order. Think systems and networks.

Park those Hummers!