[Marxism] NYT edit calls for re-vamping military strategyNovember 28, 2005 in coming "regime change" wars

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Nov 29 16:45:26 MST 2005

An editorial which -- I think quite deliberately -- highlights how much
the differences in the ruling parties and circles over Iraq are
differences about execution and the continuing belief (which we should
not share) that the attempt to turn Iraq into a model subject state
failed because of tactical, not world-historic, obstacles. I note how
absoluteloy noone in the bourgeois media, and not many others in fact,
note how similar at the core the failure of "nation-building" in
Somalia, even though the US in that case pulled out at the early signs
of resistanc because the project had a low priority.  The existing
society would not accept direct US domination.  The existing class
lineups and social structures would not accept US domination -- screwed
up as they were -- and they were able to make their point in no
uncertain terms.  The  result: inability of the imperialists to impose
THEIR dream solution to the crisis, and the crisis drags on waiting for
some social-political force that can resolve it.

As in Somalia, this ambiguous outcome was a great and needed victory for
the oppressed of the world in general and the colonial revolution in

The Times prefers to believe that next time, hopefully Under New
Management, regime change will work.  The wag their editorial fingers
angrily at Bush: "There is a lot more to regime change than unleashing
the most powerful war-fighting machine in human history for a few weeks
against an overmatched third-world army.  The indispensable next step is
Fred Feldman

November 28, 2005
An Army for the Day After 
Iraq has been a sobering experience for the United States military. It
needs to be an educational one as well. Out of it must come an
understanding that there is a lot more to regime change than unleashing
the most powerful war-fighting machine in human history for a few weeks
against an overmatched third-world army. The indispensable next step is
nation-building, a long-term, large-scale project that requires willing
allies and a differently trained and configured American military force.

It is therefore encouraging to learn that Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld is now weighing proposals to prepare American forces for this
kind of role by elevating what the Pentagon calls "stability operations"
to a level comparable to traditional combat. That marks a welcome change
from a Pentagon leadership that disparaged long-term security and
reconstruction tasks as something others could do after American forces
moved on. 

America's combat-oriented military toppled Saddam Hussein with ease. But
even before the dictator's statue crashed to the ground in Baghdad, a
new and daunting set of security problems emerged - problems that
Pentagon planners had failed to adequately anticipate. With the old
regime's forces of order melted away and nothing new organized to
replace them, civil order quickly broke down. Public buildings were
pillaged, civilians kidnapped for ransom and utility lines stripped. 

After weeks of such anarchy, signs of an armed insurgency began to
emerge. Many Iraqis concluded that the American occupiers were unable to
control the country and assure the necessities of daily life. The
insurgency might have erupted anyway. But it surely would not have been
able to strike roots in such fertile ground. 

Stability operations are meant to provide the basic day-to-day security
that is absolutely essential for physical and political reconstruction
to proceed. They use people trained as engineers, civil affairs
specialists, foreign language speakers, military and police trainers,
and special operations forces to work closely with local populations and
to coordinate with foreign service officers and aid agencies. 

What remains to be seen, of course, is how far Mr. Rumsfeld is willing
to go in this direction. It is not at all clear that he will agree to
reallocate money and personnel toward foreign language specialists and
engineers. Even if he does, the Army's current recruitment troubles will
make it difficult to compete with private-sector opportunities. At best,
reorienting the military in this direction will take years. There is
also the crucially important question of whether new bureaucratic
directives from the Pentagon will percolate down to the level of actual
military operations. 

Stability operations are not a panacea. But if used wisely, they can
spell the difference between a successful completed mission and an
endless quagmire.

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