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The Rumsfeld War Doctrine Fails

Stan Goff

© Copyright 2004, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

[Racism and greed may have made the neocons bolder, freeing them from whatever ethical constraints they might have heard of in their travels. But that same rapacity and contempt for human life have also blunted their judgment. The War Department and its private contractors are making a certain class of mistakes that you only make when you know you're in the wrong, and your army knows it, and your enemy knows it. The Secretary of War has somehow convinced himself that the same bazillion dollar ultragadget that launches a missile through a doorway can also convince all those bereaved Iraqi families to roll out the red carpet. Surely there's a button for that here somewhere?

Maybe some American officer with the ear of the state will decide that it might be a good idea to pay some attention to demographics, to Islam, to history, to just who it is they're fighting and why that opponent hasn't given up. But the current US position shows a deep institutional rot that nobody on Planet Neoconservative seems to know how to remedy. A little respect for his own soldiers, a little acquaintance with the people of the region, and Mr. Rumsfeld would not be sweating quite so hard. - JAH]


MAY 20, 2004 0950 PDT (FTW) -- When I entered a twelve-step program to break off my relationship with alcohol, one of the first things I heard was, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

While I don't think this conforms to anything in the American Dictionary of Psychiatry, and is likely more truism than truth, it certainly seems to apply to the occupation of Iraq right now.

The US war on Iraq is on the cusp of disaster, and the only tricks in the US bag seem to be more of the same. Not simply the same things they've been doing in Iraq, but the same policy that landed them in this whole political swamp in the first place.

Donald Rumsfeld has pointed out more than once that while there are only 134,000 US troops in Iraq, 20,000 or so mercenaries, 11,000 British troops, and the chump-change window-dressing of the other members of the so-called coalition, there are 2.4 million Americans who are in some manner or another officially under arms. This is precisely why he has maintained his aversion to the draft. The plan is to privatize as much as possible all non-combat roles, and to push as many as possible of those in uniform into more direct combat roles. (He fails to understand that these are predominantly non-combat specialties, but that's a minor glitch. Cannon cockers are kicking doors in Iraq like grunts right now.)

Part of this personnel conservation program was the Rumsfeld sequence-theory of warfare. Pick off one major target at a time, focusing the trimmed-down force on that single point, then once a military reduction is accomplished, move along to the next one. In the grand plan, this was to be Afghanistan, Iraq, then choose your flavor of the week: Venezuela, Syria, Iran, etc. Oil matters a lot in this equation, so if you're sitting on oil, or have the misfortune of sitting between the oil and a major port, you fall into the Oh-shit! category.

Since the outcome of this theory has been so dismal for the Bush administration, they are electing to employ the exact same theory on a much smaller scale… Fallujah and Najaf. Once they've been reduced to Jenins, they can move on to bigger and better things.

The problem is - and I keep pointing this out with the absolute confidence that no one in the administration will ever pay attention or act on this dull but accurate little insight - military success is not determined through battlefield outcomes, but politically. If you don't get this, then you're always taken back to the old body-count formula.

Robert McNamara, are you in the house?

Duh, you might say. But the Bush administration is still hell-bent on substituting a military solution for a political one, in large part because there never was a political solution to begin with.

The current US defeat in Fallujah, and to some degree in Najaf as well, is not anecdotal… a defeat embedded in an amalgamation of success. It is systemic, and it was already in the cards the minute Dick Cheney, his presidential pet rock, and the military-petroleum complex began scheming about the occupation of Iraq.

Colin Powell warned them, but these folks don't listen to their house Negroes, even if the house Negroes are about three times smarter than Massah Dick. Sorry Colin, but you know it's true. Otherwise you wouldn't keep rolling over for those twits.

While the United States Armed Forces enjoy unrivaled technological war superiority, that superiority is three-dimensional in a five dimensional world. Range and lethality are the stuff of conventional military doctrine, and that doctrine is aimed at the imposition of one state's will upon another. Repeated warnings from fellow-imperialists that the invasion of Iraq might result in a stateless battlefield were ignored, and now the fourth and fifth dimensions are culture and regional politics. The Cheney-Rumsfeld clique really and honestly believed that military superiority could swallow these realities whole and digest them.

Now one of the most committed imperialists in the world, currency-predator George Soros, is spending big bucks out of his own considerable pockets to defeat Bush before the neo-cons send late imperialism into a terminal tailspin.

The revenge assault on Fallujah that took hundreds of civilian lives (every Iraqi who now dies at the hands of US troops is called an "insurgent") was met with fierce resistance that stalled the entire operation. The so-called truce was nothing more than a lull in the fighting, and if anyone cares to note the demands for resolution of the "stand-off," they include all combatants turning in their weapons and submitting themselves to a kangaroo court. This is a demand that is constructed explicitly to be rejected - in other words, no offer at all. The US is trying to figure out how to finish what they started, the "pacification" of Fallujah… and now Najaf.

While the US media obediently parrots the CENTCOM claims that firefights in and around Fallujah are Iraqi violations of the cease-fire, independent journalists are reporting that the Marines are still boring away at Fallujah, under cover of the cease-fire story, and that these appear to be unsuccessful offensive operations.

The fact is firepower is mere force. It has to be tactically focused to be effective. In a conventional war, the determination of focus is made from battlefield intelligence: size, composition, disposition, strength, and morale of enemy forces. If these variables can't be determined, it is the tactical equivalent of blindness. An immensely strong opponent that is blind can be extremely destructive and dangerous because this opponent lashes out everywhere. But this opponent can be outmaneuvered by a smaller, more agile, sighted adversary.

In Iraq, almost 80% of the population is urban and over 60% of the population is now estimated to be 20-years-old or younger. This massive expansion of urban youth created the conditions for the multi-focal urban insurgency that has now all but neutralized any US military doctrine. The State, always the principal target of conventional warfare, is dissolved now in Iraq. In the wake of the longstanding Iran-Iraq conflict, facilitated behind the scenes by Western provocateurs, weapons proliferated with the fecundity of Mesopotamian dates. Now resistance is ubiquitous, and it's bristling with those weapons.

The ham-fisted tactics that sparked the Shia rebellion, now focused in Najaf but closely watched by 60% of Iraqis, have overwhelmed the ability of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to concoct responses. The CPA understands neither Iraqi society nor the resistance. The insurgent attacks on collaborators have effectively closed the only window that US military intelligence had. The CPA is now a blind flailing giant.

On April 26th, at yet another small-mammal CENTCOM briefing, Brigadier General Mark Kimmett - who looks like a trained ferret - and Dan Senor, who had the expression of a cornered rat - were sellin' woof tickets to the Iraqi guerrillas, telling them for the tenth consecutive day, give it up right now, or tomorrow we're gonna whup you.

Kimmett actually had the gall to say that the United States Marine Corps was going to ensure that "Fallujah will be put back under Iraqi control," when the Marines are lodged like pop-up targets in the outskirts of Fallujah precisely because it is under Iraqi control.

But it's not a form of control for which any effective US military doctrine exists. It is a social and political organization first, and one that counterposes a synthesis of pre-modernity, modernity, and post-modernity against the "radical technological optimism" of Donald Rumsfeld's military.

Iraqi resistance is in the neighborhood. It is task-organized through kinship and circumstance. It is culturally organized by the folkways of the rural communities a mere one generation past.

The military structure is not the centralized, bureaucratic structure of either a modern conventional military or a modern political party. It is not hierarchically arranged like a pyramid, but coordinated like a web, and the coordination can now take place via the Fatwa, through which this growing sea of young, urban dispossessed get their basic directives: fight, hold, disappear, stand down. This provides every neighborhood the autonomy (and appropriate creativity) to exercise a tactical agility that no conventional military can match or defeat short of extermination, and which will - paradoxically - combine with higher and higher levels of political unity in response to every imperial crackdown.

As this is written, and Kimmitt has thrown down the gauntlet, Fallujah is already approaching a boil again, and Najaf is preparing for a Battle Royale. In a last ditch attempt to have their cake and eat it too, the Ba'athists were invited by the CPA back into the government - even as Unocal employee and President of Kabul, Hamid Karzai, is inviting the Taliban back into the non-existent Afghan government - and Ahmed Chalabi, Dick Cheney's Iraqi asset is being given his pink slip.

The same Dick Cheney, who is in many respects the architect of the so-called Bush Doctrine, was filing memos well before 9/11 that pointed out declining domestic oil production alongside a projected jump in American oil consumption from 19.5 million barrels a day to 25.5 mbd in less than 20 years. As Michael Klare pointed out recently in an article entitled US: Procuring the World's Oil, "this 7.5 mbd increment [is] equivalent to the total oil consumed by China and India."

Even with sanctions, the US was importing 5% of its foreign oil from Iraq in 2002, at 566,000 barrels a day. On April 25th, suicide boat bombers - a new tactic - were used to blast the Basra oil terminal in southern Iraq, causing a panic in the markets.

Around half the world's proven petroleum reserves are in this region, where the major producing states are US flunkies like the Saudi and Kuwaiti monarchs and their venal families. They are now faced with increasingly urban, increasingly young populations whose restiveness is being fed by the predations of Apartheid Israel. So the US will not only undermine their puppets in Iraq with the upcoming military operations in Najaf and Fallujah, they will endanger their own regional servant-autocrats.

At home, there may be good news for this administration on the political front. They will likely be re-elected now so they can finish driving this train over the bluff. John Kerry has transformed himself into a more hawkish than thou war-monger, calling for more troops in Iraq, even as Democrats have taken point in calling for the reinstitution of the draft. A small but significant fraction of the anti-Bush camp that might have held its nose to vote a Democrat if that Democrat would only recall the invasion will now sit this one out or vote Nader.

That's fine with me, as long as we understand that once this deed is done, once we punish the Democrats, we must learn to disobey the Republicans. We can't have our cake and eat it too, either.

Meanwhile, air attacks have already sown multiple plumes of black smoke from the neighborhoods of Fallujah. People are being chewed up by high explosive and high velocity ammunition. Broken bodies and broken minds will stream through Walter Reed. And the boxes with the flags will be coming back to Dover.

This is Rumsfeld's Folly, the crime of an administration, and the shame of us all who will not see.

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