Thursday, April 03, 2003

The Rogue War Piece on OnoTech -- The Queen of Battle

While this is my very first blog, I've been running a community-blog-like Yahoo Group called LibertyPolitics since Sept. 12th, 2001. I posted the piece below to that forum about 50 hours ago -- on Tuesday, April 1st. If you want to know just how fast our modern media world moves, observe that what I wrote then has gone from shocking to banal in just 50 hours. When I made similar observations to this piece on the 30th of March (100 hours ago) people looked at me like I was honestly crazy. Enjoy my now-conventional wisdom.


I've been doing my best to stay away from the reportage of the war. I can probably count on both hands the number of significant events which have occurred thus far. Despite 13 days of hysterical near-round-the-clock coverage by at least 100 global news organizations, there are simply not that many significant events to report.

The most significant event, currently extremely under-reported, is that the American and British forces are winning handily. Now, I know that the backwash of media blather is suggesting that the day after tomorrow, it will be Vietnam all over again, and the Army will be faced with a Hobson's choice of ignominious retreat or victory via many My Lai's...


I have gone on at great length in this [LibertyPolitics] forum about the "democratized power to destroy". We have seen good evidence of this in the troubles that the Fedayeen and other irregular troops have caused the American and British forces by harrying their supply lines. I continue to believe it's one of the most fundamental strategic shifts and societal problems of the coming century.

But you don't win wars with democratized destruction. In a wartime context, this sort of action can only delay losing.

Winning wars is simply concentrating force. Artillery, Napoleon's 'queen of battle.' Tactical air power, which is an incredibly powerful extension of artillery. Strategic air power. Tanks. Soldiers. Guns.

Thus far in the conflict, the Iraqis have completely failed to concentrate any force at all. At every attempt -- five tanks moving together, 20 personnel carriers, 600 Republican Guards -- they are quickly destroyed by the American and British forces. Typically in such engagements, casualities are effectively zero on the English-speaking side. Poorly publicized CIA estimates put the number of dead Iraqi soldiers (a number both sides in the war are hesitant to talk about, for contrasting PR reasons) at about 50,000, and rising. That is more than 10% of the entire Iraqi army, an increasingly disabling rate of casualties.

What is happening now is that the Iraqis are losing the war, quickly. I think that there's a good chance (50+%) the war will be over in three weeks. An even better chance it will be over in six weeks. As in, Saddam dead or captured, the Baath leadership overthrown, the Republican Guards largely destroyed or surrendered as well.

Use your metaphor of choice -- a rachet, a vise, the incoming tide. The Americans and the British are headed north, and they destroy any opposing force. They may pause, but they never go back. They may be engaged by the enemy, but they never lose. They have been somewhat stymied by the interiors of the cities along the way, but you don't hear stories about irregular Fedayeen forces interdicting supply lines from the cities any more -- that was a one-time surprise, and they're all dead now. Baghdad itself has plenty of regular and irregular forces, but they're getting hammered day in and day out by highly concentrated, deadly force.

I expect at least one significant attempt to use chemical and/or biological weapons in the next couple weeks, as the English-speaking coalition closes with Baghdad. By the standards of the war thus far, there will be plenty of casualties -- maybe a couple hundred, maybe a thousand. Donald Rumsfeld will have photogenic apoplexy. After appropriate off-camera mugging practice, George W. Bush will look stern and pronounce something along the lines of "we told you so". And then the war will go on, briefly, until it ends. By the deadly standard of our explosives and artillery and bullets, these "WMD" will turn out to be nothing more than Jim's "Weapons of Mass Annoyance".

However, It's not all good.

My continuing fear is that once the war is over, the postwar "peace" will start. And that's where we'll see the triumph of democratized destruction. Force and opinion that's not strong or widespread or positive enough to build anything will still be able to survive, and disrupt, and destroy. That's when I worry about America and Britain getting bogged down. Being hated. Being bled, slowly. Not knowing who the enemy is, what the objective is, which way to turn, much less whom to fight. The peace is the problem here, not the war. Can you say, "West Bank"? Can you say, "Northern Ireland"? How about "Aceh" or "Columbia"?

I am not thrilled that we are killing tens of thousands of Iraqis to accomplish our questionable objectives. It is less dead Iraqis than the sanctions, but it is still a lot of people killed young, in a terrible way. They won't be forgotten by their friends and relatives. I will be very happy to see the world (and Iraq) rid of Saddam Hussein. But most of all, I fear what comes next. I remain convinced this war was a very large mistake, for which the West, and America, will pay dearly for a very long time.

Fears of the future aside, make no mistake about the present. With deadly, unimaginable destructive force -- good, old-fashioned high explosives and troops in the field, killing people and blowing things up -- this war is quickly being won.

If only peace were so easy.

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