[Marxism] UNITE! Info #236en: W.L. on US "reality gap" on Iraq
rolf.martens at comhem.se
Thu May 12 16:43:42 MDT 2005
UNITE! Info #236en: W.L. on US "reality gap" on Iraq
The "UNITE! (etc) Info" posting series (1995-) advocates
the political line of Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong.
For all items, see www.rolf-martens.com.
Note: Here is reproduced an article which was quoted in full
earlier today to the normally Swedish-language mailing list
"mot_krig" ("against war") by Hans Olof Öberg, who provided a
brief introduction too. This I'm including in translation.
To: <mot_krig at yahoogroups.com>, <fibforum at fib.se>
From: Hans Olof Öberg <h.o.oberg at affv.nu>
Date: Thu, 12 May 2005 11:01:04 +0200
[QUOTE, in translation:]
William Lind, the US-American military theorist (not the
Swedish orchestra leader), is interesting to read, since he
analyzes concretely, historically from his libertarian stand-
point. Here below he compares the military capability of the
USA of today with that of the Spanish armadas. From
[END OF QUOTE]
T H E R E A L I T Y G A P
by William S. Lind
When people ask me what to read to find an historical parallel
with America's situation today, I usually recommend J.H. El-
liott's splendid history of Spain in the first half of the
17th century, The Count-Duke of Olivares: A Statesman in an
Age of Decline. One of the features of the Spanish court in
that period was its increasing disconnection with reality. At
one point, Spain was trying to establish a Baltic fleet while
the Dutch navy controlled the Straits of Gibraltar.
A similar reality gap leapt out at me from a story in the May
3 Washington Post, "Wars Strain U.S. Military Capability, Pen-
tagon Reports." Were that the Pentagon's message, it would be
a salutary one. But the real message was the opposite: no mat-
ter what happens, no one can defeat the American military. Ac-
cording to the Post,
"The Defense Department acknowledged yesterday that the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the U.S. military to a
point where it is at higher risk of less swiftly and easily
defeating potential foes, though officials maintained that
U.S. forces could handle any military threat that presents it-
"The officials said the United States would win any projected
conflict across the globe, but the path to victory could be
"'There is no doubt of what the outcome is going to be,' a top
defense official said. 'Risk to accomplish the task isn't even
part of the discussion.'"
It isn't, but it certainly should be. The idea that the U.S.
military cannot be defeated is disconnected from reality.
Let me put it plainly: the U.S. military can be beaten. Any
military in history could be beaten, including the Spanish ar-
my of Olivares' day, which had not lost a battle in a century
until it met the French at Rocroi. Sooner or later, we will
march to our Rocroi, and probably sooner the way things are
Why? Because war is the province of chance. You cannot predict
the outcome of a war just by counting up the stuff on either
side and seeing who has more. Such "metrics" leave out strate-
gy and stratagem, preemption and trickery, generalship and
luck. They leave out John Boyd's all-important mental and mo-
ral levels. What better example could we have than the war in
Iraq, which the Pentagon was sure was over the day we took
Baghdad? Can these people learn nothing?
The Post article suggests the reality gap is even greater than
it first appears. It quotes the Pentagon's classified annual
risk assessment as saying "that the risk is increased but is
trending lower" - as we prepare to attack Iran. It reports
that the Army obtained less than 60 percent of the recruits it
needed in April. Most strikingly, it says that so far in fis-
cal 2005, which is more than half over, the Army has trained
only 7,800 new infantrymen. Fourth Generation war and urban
warfare are above all infantry warfare. My guess is that our
opponents in Iraq alone have probably recruited 7,800 new
fighters in this fiscal year.
Why do our senior military leaders put out this "we can't be
beaten" bilge? Because they are chosen for their willingness
to tell the politicians whatever they want to hear. A larger
question is, why do the American press and public buy it? The
answer, I fear, is "American exceptionalism" - the belief that
history's laws do not apply to America. Unfortunately, Ameri-
can exceptionalism follows Spanish exceptionalism, French ex-
ceptionalism, Austrian exceptionalism, German exceptionalism,
and Soviet exceptionalism.
Reality tells us that the same rules apply to all. When a
country adopts a wildly adventurist military policy, as we
have done since the Cold War ended, it gets beaten. The U.S.
military will eventually get beaten, too. If, as seems more
and more likely, we expand the war in Iraq by attacking Iran,
our Rocroi may be found somewhere between the Euphrates and
the Tigris rivers.
[END OF QUOTE]
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