FW: A Too Easy Victory - Uri Avneri

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at mindspring.com
Mon Dec 24 12:24:43 MST 2001

A Military Victory That Missed Political Objectives

On the 100th day of the War on Terrorism, the US was able to proclaim military
victory in its first phase: the War in Afghanistan.  Relying on the Powell
Doctrine of overwhelming power, coupled with a strategy of surrogate ground
forces from the Northern Alliance and other tribal groups, the US has been able
to bring about the fall of the Taleban government which earned the wrath of the
US by "harboring" OBL
and the Al Quada.   The political objectives of the Afghan theatre were to kill
or capture OBL, destroy the AQ network and to decimate the Taleban military
machine.  100 days later, despite the most intensive
and accurate bombardment in the history of warfare, a gap between the war
objectives of the US and its surrogate allies emerged for the whole world to
see.  The Northern Alliance and the Eastern Alliance and tribal war lords in the
south were not interested in pursuing US war aims; they were only interested in
gaining control of territory in anticipation of post war political bargaining.
With the exceptions of a few thousand war prisoners, the bulk of the Taleban
military was allowed to merge back into the population, in exchange to surrender
of territory without a fight. It is a replay of the Dunkirk retreat.  Just like
the British Expeditionary army which managed to retreat back to the British
Isles to fight again on D-Day, the Taleban military, including its leadership,
has, by all reports, not been eliminated by the war.  Taleban soldiers merely
transformed back into unidentifiable civilians, possibly to fight on another day
as guerrilla fighters.  OBL is still at large, and the global AQ network appears
largely untouched, albeit keeping a low
profile for the interim.  It appears that to achieve its political objective,
the US and Britian would have to send in not just Special Forces, but sizable
contingents of Marines or Army mountian divisions.
The lesson of the Soviet invasion not withstanding, the US appears poised to
send in troops to "finish" the job.  Lest the illusion of victory should
completely overcome rational thinking, a sizable US-British occupation joint
force is precisely what the Taleban would be waiting for.  All the Taleban needs
to do is to have bands of small raiders to inflict US casualties, along the line
of Somalia and Lebanon.  One or two incidents of scores of US deaths on foreign
soil will quickly dampen US domestic support for sustained occupation.

Meanwhile, US warnings on North Korea has destablilized the peninsula and set
back hopes of a peaceful reunification, making Japan nervous. War between India
and Pakistan, two nuclear weapon nations, is likely to become ignited under War
on Terrorism rules. The Mid East is further complicated. Argentina is
exploding.  Japan continues to sink economically.  Europe has turned
pessimistic.  Turkey is only steps away from Argentina's fiasco. The US economy
is leading the world into a deep depression. In fact, despite Washington's self
congratualtion, the US has lost its global leadership, stumbling blindly like a
wounded giant.

While I have a healthy respect for US power, the prospect of the US "pulling it
off" is minimal.  I would even say non-existent.  WWI destroyed monarchy and
gave birth to nationalism. WWII brought the end
of European imperialism. With all due respect, Germany was defeated mostly by
the USSR, albeit with US materiel support.  If the Eastern front had not tied
down the best German troops and commanders, D-day would not have been so easy.
In fact, Stalin was constantly pushing Roosovelt and Churchill to speed things
up and open the Western front and not let the Soviets take all the punishment.
As for Japan,
without the two bombs, weapons of mass destruction, the invasion of Japan would
not have been a picnic.

The fact is that the US can only "pull it off" if it has enough sense not to
rock the boat too much.  The US is already the sole remaining superpower.  The
only rational policy is to sustain stability.  A global
upheaval will only topple those on top.  The US, unlike the 1940s, has lost all
its manufacturing base. In a conflict with Asia, US troops may not even have
replacement boots.  Take a look at the regional conflicts
since WW11.  The US has not managed to eliminate most of its key adversaries,
except through assination.  Mao died in bed as an ally of the US against a
revisionist USSR.  Castro outlived several US presidents and most of the
Kennedys.  Saddam survived Bush politically and may again Bush Jr.  The demise
of the USSR was more due to internal errrors of ideological revisionism rather
than US Cold War policy.  In fact, the Soviet collapse surprised all US planners
who had learned to accept a permanent Cold War. Oil is important only if a
global econmy remains operative.  In geo-political fundamentals, oil is a minor
factor. It is the function of of the sole remaining superpower to deliver
security to the world.  The ability to deliver security earns the deliverer the
right of domination.  The events of 9:11 showed that the US could not guarantee
its own security, let alone security for its dominions.  The US can bomb and
destroy in revenge, but it cannot stop security threats to itself and its
system. This is because the US refuses to seek political solutions to poltical
problems and insists on military solutions.  Military solutions even in victory
only transform the political problems to new dimensions. The two World Wars did
not benefit any of the original adversaries.  It creates new world powers in the
form of the US and the USSR.  The War on Terrorism will deteriorate into a
global conflict that will not end with the current power structure intact.
The irony is that the War on Terrorism will prove that terrorism works as a
political weapon.

Henry C.K. Liu

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