Big change in U.S. tactics, and wrong
The headlines the other day said the U.S. promised to inflict serious punishment for the attack in Fallujah. That area of Iraq in which Americans were killed and their charred bodies paraded through the street. There was something about that idea of inflicting punishment that struck me as wrong. It was not the promised violence. Once a nation has decided to commit war and is in the middle of it violence is a given. No, it struck me as tactically wrong, and a mistake that would only make things worse.
I disagreed with going into Iraq, but now that we're there we have to do the best we can to give the people there a chance at peace and order. We also have to try to get out well, leaving as little chaos in our wake as we can, if possible. I wish my government was not there using violent means to pursue its ends, but that's the situation. So that we are promising violence is not new or surprising. What's new is this idea of punishing an area, a whole people. It is a new, and bad, change in tactics.
It doesn't even really make sense. If it was a small group in the area that are against us and who would try to kill us, what soldiers normally do in that situation is find them and capture or kill them. In you're going to commit war you don't just punish a group of the enemy, you eliminate them.
The fact that we are considering this tactic of punishment says either that we cannot find the enemy there, or it is the whole area that is against us. If it is a small group and we can't find them, punishing the whole area will only turn the rest against us. If the whole area is against us, punishing them will do nothing but draw us into a downward spiral of a no-win situation.
Isn't that what we tried in Viet-Nam? Destroying whole villages we thought were helping the enemy? Didn't work very well did it? Isn't that what Israel and the Palestinians have gotten themselves into? Endless cycles of punishing one another?
And for all Israel's military superiority (remember they beat all the surrounding countries repeatedly, as in the 1967 war) they have not been able to finally beat the Palestinians. Even when all the Palestinians have left to fight with is rocks and hidden strap-on suicide bombs. Why? Because you cannot beat an entire population that is dead-set against you. You can either eliminate them all together, which is not what we said we went into Iraq for, or you can temporarily suppress them. Even then you can expect to suffer a steady stream of whatever harm they can inflict. Then when we leave, and by then the whole area will be against us, the area will just revert to what it was anyway.
This whole idea of punishment is either the wrong tactic, or says that it is simply time to get out. At least out of an area where we are not wanted at all. This tactic of punishment is a tar-baby, quicksand, a no-win situation. It is very disturbing, on top of everything else about this war, to see us starting down this path.
In related developments there is much in the news lately that coincides with what I've been writing all along. Just as I'm writing this there is an article on the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee stating that there never was good evidence of mobile biological labs in Iraq. Another article says both the Republican and Democratic chairmen of the 9/11 commission state we could have stopped those attacks. Of all the thoughts and feelings that could rise to the top when I read such things only one comes through -- sadness. It is just plain sad.