Monday, February 20, 2012

The Three Phases of War

Andrew Bacevich doesn’t seem to buy into the “greatest military in the history of mankind” theory. In his piece at Tom Dispatch describing the WFKATGWOT (War Formerly Known As The Global War On Terror), he described the aftermath of our military’s invasion of Iraq as, “when harassed by minor insurgencies and scattered bands of jihadis, they proved surprisingly slow to figure out what hit them.”

Indeed. I recall that variously being described as “shit happens,” “a few die hard loyalists,” and as “a last gasp.” That “last gasp” lasted something like seven years. It should be noted that he reserves his contempt for our leadership, and not in any way for the fighting men and women of our armed forces, whom he holds in the highest respect. I share his position.

You should read his piece in its entirety, but the gist of it is that he breaks the WFKATGWOT into three phases.

The first phase he labels “Liberation,” and I’m pretty sure that is sarcasm. The alternate label for that is “shock and awe,” but he makes it clear that while it may have shocked a few, it didn’t awe very many, as they waited for the dust to settle and then kicked the shit out of us. I think the Marines at Iwo Jima might have warned them that that might happen.

The second phase is “Pacification,” otherwise known as the Patreaus era, or the religion of COIN. Read the history of its application both in Iraq and Afghanistan and you might realize that the only thing that was “pacified” was the American public. By making the public able to ignore anything happening beyond our borders, we were able to move to phase three.

Phase three is “Assassination.” This is sort of the “wild west” policy of “just kill ‘em all and let God sort 'em out,” and I, personally, find it the most repugnant of the three; not only in that we are doing it, but that the public not only accepts but cheers it. We violate the sovereignty of a nation with whom we are not at war and summarily execute someone against we have established no actual proof of wrongdoing. Not only does the public accept this, but they cheer wildly and call the man who ordered it a national hero.

It would be bad enough if it were killing only that one person, but it kills bystanders in significant numbers, persons whom we do not even pretend have done anything wrong. We simply deny that they got killed at all, or we declare that they were persons who deserved to be killed without even knowing who they were.

You may be okay with all of that. I most definitely am not.

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