Monday, July 24, 2006

Blogging Made Easy

Sometimes it's easier for a blogger just to hitch a ride on the well-crafted thoughts of others rather than pound out 1,500 words per post on his own. I'll take advantage of that opportunity today by tapping a few worthy sources.

First up, Swopa constructs a devastating (because of its accuracy) analogy for the situation in Iraq. To put this quote in context, Swopa is discussing the fact that US military officials in Iraq are pulling manpower from Camp Fallujah in Anbar province to move them to Baghdad in an attempt to quell the raging violence. This despite the fact that insurgent activity in an around Anbar province is as relentless as ever.

It would be too generous to classify this as a game of whack-a-mole with far too many moles and too few hammers. If you compared it to a fire engulfing a house, with an overwhelmed man racing from one end to the other wondering where to pour his lone bucket of water, you might be closer to the mark.

Next up, Chris Allbritton offers some insights on the nature of military power's impact on the target population. Though not exactly counterintuitive, these points must still be made in the current political climate where the obvious has taken on the gilded luster of wisdom because of so many fundamental errors made by people in high places.

Why, oh, why do people with access to really big bombs continue to think they can change people’s loyalties by dropping those big bombs on their homes and families?

Israel’s strategy in Lebanon is pretty clear now: Make the pain of “supporting” or “harboring” Hizbullah so great that the Lebanese will deal with the group....It’s also the hot air for the trial balloon often floated in D.C. regarding regime change in Iran: Bomb the mullahs and watch the pro-American youth embrace the Pax Americana!

Except… it almost never works. [...]

I've been in love with Lebanon since 2004 when I took a flat here and began immersing myself in the place whenever I could take a break from Iraq. In March, I settled here for the foreseeable future. I have a wide variety of friends, not just upper-crust Christians, and while I’m not a polling company, I think I have a decent grasp of the zeitgeist here.

Before this damn war, Hizbullah was losing support. It wasn't draining, but it was ebbing. The political process was stuttering along, but it was moving. Many people here hated Hizbullah… Many people also loved it. The society was split but there was a consensus the problem had to be settled judiciously and politically because no one wanted another civil war.

When the first Israeli bombs fell, some Shi'ites even blamed Hizbullah. I met a guy in the southern suburbs last Saturday, just four days after things started. He’s a Shi'ite from Nabatiyeh in the south and hated Hizbullah. He thought they’d screwed up big-time. These days, when I talk to him, he says he hopes Hizbullah rips the Israelis apart. Another friend of mine, one of those upper-crust Christians, told me last night that as much as he hates Hizbullah, he hates the Israelis even more now.

The Lebanese are closing ranks in the face of an external threat, just like people all over the world do....They’re no different from anyone else....The same pattern would play out in Iran, too, if this war gets that far east. The West has no monopoly on unity, patriotism and nationalism. [emphasis added]

Thomas Barnett provides a macro-analysis that tracks nicely with Allbritton's on-the-ground reporting. Barnett is laying out the reasons why the attempts to recast the recent turmoil in the Middle East as "World War III" are so wrong-headed. Barnett himself believes that, instead, these problems should be approached with a "Long War" strategy. We join him mid-stream (hat tip nykrindc):

Third, the road to victory in the Long War, as the new Counter-insurgency (COIN) doctrine argues, is overwhelmingly non-kinetic. A "war," however "global" in its day-to-day expression...that is both won or lost on the question of non-kinetics (the ultimate exit strategy in the Middle East is called JOBS!) ain't exactly a rerun of either of [World War I or World War II]. [...]

Fifth, this view indulges in the myth that what Israel does against 4GW opponents actually works, when it does not. Masada-on-steroids isn't the answer. We, the Core, don't have to shoot ourselves out of this situation. Time is on our side, as [are] all the major dynamics that count (energy, investments, demographics, sheer firepower, enduring ingenuity, strength of our societies, our enduring resilience--none of which favor the other side). The Brits in Northern Ireland or the U.S. cavalry in the Wild West are our models. Stick to the Long War. Don't give in to quick fixes or Armageddon-like fantasies. WWIII is just the End Timers with a patina of strategic analysis, but shit on a stick still tastes bad.

But worst of all, the WWIII talk obscures the solution set, which is not destruction but construction, not disconnectedness but connectedness, not take down nets but put them up. When you call everything a war, you come up with more "war" answers, and those inevitably involve firepower.

Firepower won't get us the win here, plain and simple. WWIII is not realism, it's romanticism. It's starry-eyed, not clear-eyed. It looks for what is easy, instead of what is right. [emphasis added]

As they say, read the rest. All rather worth your while.

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