[Marxism] Stan Goff comments on Stratfor article

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 18 07:29:55 MDT 2004


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [A-List] Iraq: Former Spies Proffer 'New Strategies'
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 09:11:24 -0400
From: "Stan Goff" <sherrynstan at earthlink.net>
Reply-To: The A-List <a-list at lists.econ.utah.edu>
To: "'The A-List'" <a-list at lists.econ.utah.edu>

These were some comments I made o a local list with reference to the
same article.  SG

THE STRATFOR WEEKLY
17 May 2004

Iraq: New Strategies

By George Friedman

Last week, Stratfor published an analysis, "The Edge of the Razor," that
sketched out the problems facing the United States in Iraq. In an
avalanche of responses, one important theme stood
out: Readers wanted to know what we would do, if we were in a position
to do anything. Put differently, it is easy to catalogue problems, more
difficult to provide solutions.

BELABORING THE OBVIOUS - THIS IS THE WAY BUREAUCRATS AND SPOOKS CREATE
VERBIAGE TO SOUND THOUGHTFUL.

The point is not only absolutely true, but lies at the heart of
intelligence. Intelligence organizations should not give policy
suggestions. First, the craft of intelligence and state-craft are very
different things. Second, and far more important, intelligence
professionals should always resist the temptation to become policy
advocates because, being mostly human, intelligence analysts want to be
right -- and when they are advocates of a strategy, they will be tempted
to find evidence that proves that policy to be correct and ignore
evidence that might prove the policy in error. Advocating policies
impairs the critical faculties. Besides, in a world in which opinions
are commonplace, there is a rare value in withholding opinions. Finally,
intelligence, as a profession, should be neutral. Now, we are far from
personally neutral in any affecting our country, but in our professional
-- as opposed to our personal lives -- our task is look at the world
through the eyes of all of the players. Suggesting a strategy for
defeating one side makes that obviously difficult.

THIS IS, OF COURSE, AS NONSENSICAL AS JOURNALISTS CLAIMING TO BE
OBJECTIVE.  INTELLIGENCE BEGINS WITH SUPPOSITIONS OR IT DOESN'T BEGIN AT
ALL.  EVERY INTELLIGENCE GATHERING MISSION IS GUIDED BY CERTAIN
PRE-IDENTIFIED 'ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF INFORMATION' - WHICH ALREADY
ASSIGNS A HIGHER PRIORITY BASED ON SOMETHING, AND THAT SOMETHING IS
RELATED TO POLICY.

That said, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. We
normally try to figure out what is going to happen, what other people
are going to do -- whether they know it or not -- and explain the
actions of others. At times, people confuse Stratfor's analysis for our
political position. This time -- this once -- we will write for
ourselves -- or more precisely, for myself, since at Stratfor our views
on the war range even wider than those among the general public.

SURE THEY DO.

The Mission

The United States' invasion of Iraq was not a great idea. Its only
virtue was that it was the best available idea among a series of even
worse ideas.

THIS IS CLEVER.  IT IS ALSO - FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW - TRUE.  SOME
OF US HAVE SAID ALL ALONG THAT THE DEMOCRATS WOULD HAVE INVADED IRAQ,
TOO, JUST DIFFERENTLY, AND NOT IN A MAD RUSH TO EXPLOIT 9-11 TO
ACCELERATE A TIME TABLE.

In the spring of 2003, the United
States had no way to engage or defeat al Qaeda.

AND THEY STILL DON'T, BECAUSE AL QAEDA IS A MYTHICAL ENTITY.  THE
TALIBAN WAS A REAL ORGANIZATION.  AL QAEDA IS MORE LIKE AN IDEOLOGY,
WITH NO TRULY IDENTIFIABLE ORGANIZATIONAL FORM, WHICH MAKES IT A GREAT
PERENNIAL ENEMY, BECAUSE IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY.  EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS
ANYWHERE CAN NOW BE SAID TO BE 'CONNECTED' TO AL QAEDA.

The only way to
achieve that was to force Saudi Arabia -- and lesser enabling countries
such as Iran and Syria -- THERE IS NOT ONLY NO EVIDENCE TO CONNECT
EITHER IRAN OR SYRIA TO THE TALIBAN OR WAHHABISM GENERALLY, BECAUSE THIS
ISLMAIC FUNDAMENTALIST CURRENT WAS INTENSELY HOSTILE TO BOTH THOSE
COUNTRIES to change their policies on al Qaeda and crack down on its
financial and logistical systems. In order to do that, the United States
needed two things. First, it had to demonstrate its will and competence
in waging war -- something seriously doubted by many in the Islamic
world and elsewhere. Second, it had to be in a position to threaten
follow- on actions in the region. SO THE EX-SPOOKS ARE CLAIMING THAT THE
US WAR IN IRAQ IS FOR DEMONSTRATION EFFECT

There were many drawbacks to the invasion, ranging from the need to
occupy a large and complex country to the difficulty of gathering
intelligence. DUH  Unlike many, we expected extended resistance in Iraq,
READING THROUGH THEIR OLD PUBLICATIONS, THIS IS NOT SO although we did
not expect the complexity of the guerrilla war that emerged. NICE SAVE
Moreover, we understood that the invasion would generate hostility
toward the United States within the Islamic world, but we felt this
would be compensated by dramatic shifts in the behavior of governments
in the region. All of this has happened.  THIS REFERS TO LIBYA, WHICH IS
ALSO BULLSHIT, BECAUSE LIBYA WAS IN MOTION TO REGAIN ACCESS TO WORLD
MARKETS EVEN BEFORE THIS INVASION WENT PUBLIC

The essential point is that the invasion of Iraq was not and never
should have been thought of as an end in itself. Iraq's only importance
was its geographic location: It is the most strategically located
country between the Mediterranean and the Hindu Kush. The United States
needed it as a base of operations and a lever against the Saudis and
others, but it had no interest
-- or should have had no interest -- in the internal governance of Iraq.

WHAT?  NO OIL?  THIS IS DISINGENUOUS TO THE POINT OF ABSURDITY, BUT
SHOWS THE LENGTHS TO WHICH THIS ESTABLISHMENT MUST GO IN TORTURING LOGIC
TO MAINTAIN THE COVER STORY THAT THIS IS ABOUT A 'WAR ON TERRORISM' AND
NOT PETROLEUM.  THEY ARE HONEST ABOUT ONE THING.  THE INTENT IS TO
ESTABLISH BASES IN IRAQ.

This is the critical point on which the mission became complex, and the
worst conceivable thing in a military operation took
place: mission creep. NO - THE WORST CONCEIVABLE THING IN A MILITARY
OPERATION IS LOSS OF BATTELFIELD INITIATIVE Rather than focus on the
follow-on operations that had to be undertaken against al Qaeda, HERE WE
GO BACK TO THE AL QAEDA STORY the Bush administration created a new
goal: the occupation and administration of Iraq by the United States,
with most of the burden falling on the U.S. military. More important,
the United States also dismantled the Iraqi government bureaucracy and
military under the principle that de-Baathification had to be
accomplished. Over time, this evolved to a new mission: the creation of
democracy in Iraq. PRINCIPALLY BECAUSE THE OTHER STORIES FELL APART AND
NO ONE WAS AT LIBERTY TO SAY THE O-WORD.  SPECIFIC DECISIONS WERE
DIRECTED NOT BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION BUT BY AHMED CHALABI, WHO THEY
TOOK ON AS THEIR CHIEF ADVISOR FOR POST-INVASION ACTIVITIES.  CHALABI
SUGGESTED DE-BA'ATHIFICATION, BECAUSE HE WANTED TO CLEAR THE TABLE OF
HIS POTENTIAL RIVALS.

Under the best of circumstances, this was not something the United
States had the resources to achieve. Iraq is a complex and multi-layered
society with many competing interests. The idea that the United States
would be able to effectively preside over this society, shepherding it
to democracy, was difficult to conceive even in the best of
circumstances. Under the circumstances that began to emerge only days
after the fall of Baghdad, it was an unachievable goal and an impossible
mission.

THIS IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING.  GEORGE WILL AND OTHER CONSERVATIVE
IDEOLOGUES ARE ALREADY PREPARING THE PUBLIC IN THEIR COLUMNS.  DEMOCRACY
WON'T WORK BECAUSE THE IRAQIS AREN'T READY YET.  MEA CULPA MEA CULPA,
THE INVASION STARTED ON THE WRONG FOOT, BUT NOW THAT WE'RE THERE, WE
HAVE TO PROTECT OUR NATIONAL INTERESTS (EUPEMISM FOR OIL), AND IF THAT
MEANS WE INSTALL A DESPOTIC IRAQI REGIME, OR LET THE WHOLE PLACE GO TO
HELL, THEN THERE YOU HAVE IT... (EXCEPT THAT THIS WON'T WORK EITHER).

The creation of a viable democracy in the midst of a civil war, even if
Iraqi society were amenable to copying American institutions, was an
impossibility. The one thing that should have been learned in Vietnam
was that the evolution of political institutions in the midst of a
sustained guerrilla war is impossible.

ACTUALLY, THAT'S NOT TRUE.  THE GUERRILLAS WILL EVOLVE POLITICAL
STRUCTURES.

The administration pursued this goal for a single reason: From the
beginning, it consistently underestimated the Iraqis' capability to
resist the United States. It underestimated the tenacity, courage and
cleverness of the Sunni guerrillas. It underestimated the political
sophistication of the Shiite leadership. It underestimated the forms of
military and political resistance that would limit what the United
States could achieve. In my view, the underestimation of the enemy in
Iraq is the greatest failure of this administration, and the one for
which the media rarely hold it accountable.

SO THE VERDICT IS - INTELLIGENCE FAILURE - WHICH HAS BECOME THE NEW
CUT-AND-PASTE *OUT* FOR EVERYTHING THAT GOES WRONG FOR THE EMPIRE.

NOW THEY CAN EXPLAIN WITH A SMALL DEGREE OF HONESTY WHAT'S HAPPENED.

This miscalculation drew the U.S. Army into the two types of warfare for
which it is least suited.

First, it drew the Army into the cities, where the work of
reconstruction -- physical and political POLITICAL -- had to be carried
out. Having dismantled Iraqi military and police institutions, the Army
found itself in the role of policing the cities. AND HAVING DESTROYED A
MODERN SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE This would have been difficult enough had
there not been a guerrilla war. With a guerrilla war -- much of it
concentrated in heavily urbanized areas and the roads connecting cities
-- the Army found itself trapped in low-intensity urban warfare in which
its technical advantages dissolved and the political POLITICAL
consequences of successful counterattacks outweighed the value of
defeating the guerrillas. Destroying three blocks of Baghdad to take out
a guerrilla squad made military sense, but no political POLITICAL sense.
The Army could neither act effectively nor withdraw. BINGO

THIS IS THE LARGER PICTURE AS WELL... THE ADMINISTRATION FINDS IT
POLITICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO LEAVE AND MILITARILY IMPOSSIBLE TO WIN.

Second, the Army was lured into counterinsurgency warfare. NONSENSE -
THEY CREATE THE CONDITIONS FOR ONE BY BEING THERE No subject has been
studied more extensively by the U.S. Army, and no subject remains as
opaque. The guerrilla seeks to embed himself among the general
population. THE GUERRILLA EMERGES FROM THE POPULATION OF WHICH HE OR SHE
IS A PART Distinguishing him is virtually impossible, particularly for a
20-year-old soldier or Marine who speaks not a word of the language nor
understands the social cues that might guide him. In this circumstance,
the soldier is simply a target, a casualty waiting to happen.

THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE SITUATION FOR GI'S THERE NOW, AND THE BASIS OF
AN INEVITABLE DISINTEGRATION OF THE MORALE AND DISCIPLINE OF THE ARMY
AND MARINE CORPS - WHICH WILL SHOW UP AS SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS, AS
RACIST ATTACKS ON IRAQIS GENERALLY, AND FINALLY AS RESISTANCE AGAINST
THE INSTITUTION OF THE MILITARY ITSELF.

The usual solution is to raise an indigenous force to fight the
guerrillas. The problem is that the most eager recruits for this force
are the guerrillas themselves: They not only get great intelligence, but
weapons, ammunition and three square meals a day. Sometimes,
pre-existing militias are used, via a political arrangement. But these
militias have very different agendas than those of the occupying force,
and frequently maneuver the occupier into doing their job for them.

NOTE THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF IRAQIS NOW REJECT THE OCCUPATION, BUT
THIS IS NEVER EVEN CITED BY THESE OLD WHITE GUYS AS A FACTOR.

Strategies

The United States must begin by recognizing that it cannot possibly
pacify Iraq with the force available or, for that matter, with a larger
military force. THIS IS TRUE It can continue to patrol, it can continue
to question people, it can continue to take casualties. However, it can
never permanently defeat the guerrilla forces in the Sunni triangle
using this strategy. SUNNI TRIANGLE MY ASS - THIS IS ANOTHER MYTH  It
certainly cannot displace the power and authority of the Shiite
leadership in the south. Urban warfare and counterinsurgency in the
Iraqi environment cannot be successful.

This means the goal of reshaping Iraqi society is beyond the reach of
the United States. Iraq is what it is. The United States, having
performed the service of removing Saddam Hussein from power, cannot
reshape a society that has millennia of layers. The attempt to do so
will generate resistance -- while that resistance can be endured, it
cannot be suppressed.

HERE COMES THE HOOK, AND PROBABLY THE OUTLINES OF A 'DEMOCRAT' SOLUTION
FOR IRAQ AFTER NOVEMBER.

The United States must recall its original mission, which was to occupy
Iraq in order to prosecute the war against al Qaeda. If that mission is
remembered, and the mission creep of reshaping Iraq forgotten, some
obvious strategic solutions re-emerge. The first, and most important, is
that the United States has no national interest OPPS, THERE IT IS in the
nature of Iraqi government or society. Except for not supporting al
Qaeda, Iraq's government does not matter. Since the Iraqi Shia have an
inherent aversion to Wahabbi al Qaeda, the political path on that is
fairly clear.

The United States now cannot withdraw from Iraq. OOPS, THERE IT IS AGAIN
We can wonder about the wisdom of the invasion, but a withdrawal under
pressure would be used by al Qaeda and radical Islamists as
demonstration of their core point: that the United States is inherently
weak and, like the Soviet Union, ripe for defeat. Having gone in,
withdrawal in the near term is not an option.

BECAUSE OUR MASCULINITY WOULD BE IN QUESTION... THIS IS ACTUALLY THE
SUBTEXT OF THIS BULLSHIT!!!  'INHERENTLY WEAK'

That does not mean U.S. forces must be positioned in and near urban
areas. There is a major repositioning under way to reduce the size of
the U.S. presence in the cities, but there is, nevertheless, a more
fundamental shift to be made. The United States undertook responsibility
for security in Iraq after its invasion. It cannot carry out this
mission. Therefore, it has to abandon the mission. Some might argue this
would leave a vacuum. We would argue there already is a vacuum, filled
only with American and coalition targets. It is not a question of
creating anarchy; anarchy already exists. It is a question of whether
the United States wishes to lose soldiers in an anarchic situation.

SO FUCK THOSE WOGS, WE'LL LOOK OUT FOR THE AMERICANS

The geography of Iraq provides a solution. The bulk of Iraq's population
lives in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. To the south and west of the
Euphrates River, there is a vast and relatively uninhabited region of
Iraq -- not very hospitable, but with less shooting than on the other
side. The western half of Iraq borders Saudi Arabia and Syria, two of
the countries about which the United States harbors the most concern. A
withdrawal from the river basins would allow the United States to carry
out its primary mission -- maintaining regional pressure -- without
engaging in an impossible war. Moreover, in the Kurdish regions of the
northeast, where U.S. Special Forces have operated for a very long time,
U.S. forces could be based -- and supplied -- in order to maintain a
presence on the Iranian border.

NO MENTION HERE THAT THEY ARE DESCRIBING THE OIL FIELDS.

Iraq should then be encouraged to develop a Shiite-dominated government,
the best guarantor against al Qaeda and the greatest incentive for the
Iranians not to destabilize the situation. The fate of the Sunnis will
rest in the deal they can negotiate with the Shia and Kurds -- and, as
they say, that is their problem.

The United States could supply the forces in western and southern Iraq
from Kuwait, without the fear that convoy routes would be cut in urban
areas. In the relatively uninhabited regions, distinguishing guerrillas
from rocks would be somewhat easier than distinguishing them from
innocent bystanders. The force could, if it chose, execute a broad
crescent around Iraq, touching all the borders but not the populations.

TOUCHING ALL OIL, BUT NOT THE POPULATIONS.

The Iraqi government might demand at some point that the United States
withdraw, but they would have no way to impose their demand, as they
would if U.S. forces could continue to be picked off with improvised
explosive devices and sniper fire. SO HERE IS THE RAW TRUTH.  THE WILL
OF THE IRAQIS IS IRRELEVANT.  The geographical move would help to
insulate U.S. forces from even this demand, assuming political
arrangements could not be made. Certainly the land is inhospitable, and
serious engineering and logistical efforts would be required to
accommodate basing for large numbers of troops. However, large numbers
of troops might not be necessary -- and the engineering and logistical
problems certainly will not make headlines around the world.

Cutting Losses

Certainly, as a psychological matter, there is a retreat. The United
States would be cutting losses. But it has no choice. It will not be
able to defeat the insurgencies it faces without heavy casualties and
creating chaos in Iraqi society. Moreover, a victory in this war would
not provide the United States with anything that is in its national
interest. !!!!!!  Unless you are an ideologue -- which I am not -- who
believes bringing American- style democracy to the world is a holy
mission, it follows that the nature of the Iraqi government -- or chaos
-- does not affect me.

WOW!  WHAT AN ADMISSION OF RACISM.  BUT IT MUST BE TEMPERED AND RENDERED
DENIABLE BY... AL QAEDA.

What does affect me is al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is trying to kill me.
Countries such as Saudi Arabia permitted al Qaeda to flourish. The
presence of a couple of U.S. armored divisions along the kingdom's
northern border has been a very sobering thought. That pressure cannot
be removed. Whatever chaos there is in Saudi Arabia, that is the key to
breaking al Qaeda -- not Baghdad.

SOME OF US SAID THREE YEARS AGO THAT SAUDI ARABIA WAS A TARGET.

The key to al Qaeda is in Riyadh and in Islamabad. The invasion of Iraq
was a stepping-stone toward policy change in Riyadh, and it worked. The
pressure must be maintained and now extended to Islamabad. However, the
war was never about Baghdad, and certainly never about Al Fallujah and
An Najaf. Muqtada al-Sadr's relationship to Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani and the makeup of the elders in Al Fallujah are matters of
utter and absolute indifference to the United States. Getting drawn into
those fights is in fact the quagmire -- a word we use carefully and
deliberately.

But in the desert west and south of the Euphrates, the United States can
carry out the real mission for which it came. And if the arc of
responsibility extends along the Turkish frontier to Kurdistan, that is
a manageable mission creep. The United States should not get out of
Iraq. It must get out of Baghdad, Al Fallujah, An Najaf and the other
sinkholes into which the administration's policies have thrown U.S.
soldiers.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OIL!?

Again, this differs from our normal analysis in offering policy
prescriptions. This is, of course, a very high-level sketch of a
solution to an extraordinarily complex situation. Nevertheless,
sometimes the solution to complex situations is to simplify them.



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