[Marxism] Scott Ritter: The Art of War for the anti-war movement]

Jon Flanders jonathan.flanders at verizon.net
Thu Apr 6 12:25:56 MDT 2006


http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/ritter/34332/

The Art of War for the anti-war movement

Posted by Scott Ritter at 6:13 PM on March 31, 2006.

It's high time to recognize that we as a nation are engaged in a 
life-or-death struggle of competing ideologies with those who promote 
war as an American value and virtue. 	

In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq by a US-led coalition, 
and for three years since, I have spent many hours speaking to numerous 
anti-war forums across the country and around the world. I have always 
been struck by the sincerity of the vast majority of those who call 
themselves anti-war, and impressed by their willingness to give so much 
of themselves in the service of such a noble cause.

Whether participating in demonstrations, organizing a vigil, conducting 
town-hall meetings, or writing letters to their elected officials and 
the media, the participants in the anti-war movement have exhibited an 
energy and integrity that would make anyone proud. For myself, I have 
been vociferous in my defense of the actions of the majority of the 
anti-war movement, noting that the expression of their views is not 
only consistent with their rights afforded by the Constitution of the 
United States, but also that their engagement in the process of 
citizenship is a stellar example of the ideals and values set forth in 
that document, and as such representative of the highest form of 
patriotism in keeping with service to a document that begins, "We the 
People."

Lately I have noticed a growing despondency among many of those who 
call themselves the anti-war movement. With the United States now 
entering its fourth year of illegal war in and illegitimate occupation 
of Iraq, and the pro-war movement moving inexorably towards yet another 
disastrous conflict with Iran, there is an increasing awareness that 
the cause of the anti-war movement, no matter how noble and worthy, is 
in fact a losing cause as currently executed. Despite all of the 
well-meaning and patriotic work of the millions of activists and 
citizens who comprise the anti-war movement, America still remains very 
much a nation not only engaged in waging and planning wars of 
aggression, but has also become a nation which increasingly identifies 
itself through its military and the wars it fights. This is a sad 
manifestation of the fact that the American people seem to be addicted 
to war and violence, rather than the ideals of human rights, individual 
liberty, and freedom and justice for all that should define our nation.

In short, the anti-war movement has come face to face with the reality 
that in the ongoing war of ideologies that is being waged in America 
today, their cause is not just losing, but is in fact on the verge of 
complete collapse. Many in the anti-war movement would take exception 
to such a characterization of the situation, given the fact that there 
seems to be a growing change in the mood among Americans against the 
ongoing war in Iraq. But one only has to scratch at the surface of this 
public discontent to realize how shallow and superficial it is. 
Americans aren't against the war in Iraq because it is wrong; they are 
against it because we are losing.

Take the example of Congressman Jack Murtha. A vocal supporter of 
President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, last fall Mr. Murtha went 
public with his dramatic change of position, suddenly rejecting the war 
as un-winnable, and demanding the immediate withdrawal of American 
troops from Iraq. While laudable, I have serious problems with Jack 
Murtha's thought process here. At what point did the American invasion 
of Iraq become a bad war? When we suffered 2,000 dead? After two years 
of fruitless struggle? Once we spent $100 billion?

While vocalizing his current opposition against the Iraq War, 
Congressman Murtha and others who voted for the war but now question 
its merits have never retracted their original pro-war stance. Nor have 
they criticized their role in abrogating the Constitutional processes 
for bringing our country into conflict when they voted for a war before 
the President had publicly committed to going to war (we now know the 
President had committed to the invasion of Iraq by the summer of 2002, 
and that all his representations to the American people and Congress 
about 'war as a matter of last resort' and 'seeking a diplomatic 
solution' were bold face lies). The Iraq War was wrong the moment we 
started bombing Iraq. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein is no excuse, and 
does not pardon America's collective sin of brooking and tolerating an 
illegal war of aggression.

The reality is, had our military prevailed in this struggle, the 
American people for the most part would not even blink at the moral and 
legal arguments against this war. This underlying reality is reflected 
in the fact that despite our ongoing disaster in Iraq, America is 
propelled down a course of action that leads us toward conflict with 
Iran. President Bush recently re-affirmed his embrace of the principles 
of pre-emptive war when he signed off on the 2006 version of the 
National Security Strategy of the United States, which highlights Iran 
as a threat worthy of confrontation. This event has gone virtually 
unmentioned by the American mainstream media, un-remarked by a Congress 
that remains complicit in the war-mongering policies of the Bush 
administration, and un-noticed by the majority of Americans. America is 
pre-programmed for war, and unless the anti-war movement dramatically 
changes the manner in which it conducts its struggle, America will 
become a nation of war, for war, and defined by war, and as such a 
nation that will ultimately be consumed by war.

It is high time for the anti-war movement to take a collective look in 
the mirror, and be honest about what they see. A poorly organized, 
chaotic, and indeed often anarchic conglomeration of egos, pet projects 
and idealism that barely constitutes a "movement," let alone a winning 
cause. I have yet to observe an anti-war demonstration that has a focus 
on anti-war. It often seemed that every left-wing cause took advantage 
of the event to promote its own particular agenda, so that "No War in 
Iraq" shared the stage with the environment, ecology, animal rights, 
pro-choice, and numerous other causes which not only diluted the 
anti-war message which was supposed to be sent, but also guaranteed 
that the demonstration itself would be seen as something hijacked by 
the left, inclusive of only progressive ideologues, and exclusive of 
the vast majority of moderate (and even conservative) Americans who 
might have wanted to share the stage with their fellow Americans from 
the left when it comes to opposing war with Iraq (or even Iran), but do 
not want to be associated with any other theme.

The anti-war movement, first and foremost, needs to develop a 
laser-like focus on being nothing more or less than anti-war.

The anti-war movement lacks any notion of strategic thinking, 
operational planning, or sense of sound tactics. So much energy is 
wasted because of this failure to centrally plan and organize. As a 
result, when the anti-war movement does get it right (and on occasion 
it does), the success is frittered away by a failure to have planned 
effective follow-up efforts, failure to have implemented any supporting 
operations, an inability to recognize opportunities as they emerge and 
a lack of resources to exploit such opportunities if in fact they were 
recognized to begin with. In short, the anti-war movement is little 
more than a walk-on squad of high school football players drawing plays 
in the sand, taking on the National Football League Super Bowl 
Champions.

In order to even have a chance of prevailing with the American people, 
the anti-war movement is going to need much more than just good ideals 
and values. It needs to start thinking like a warrior would, in full 
recognition that we as a nation are engaged in a life-or-death struggle 
of competing ideologies with those who promote war as an American value 
and virtue.

The anti-war movement needs to study the philosophies of those who have 
mastered the art of conflict, from Caesar to Napoleon, from Sun Tzu to 
Clausewitz. It needs to study the "enemy" learning to understand the 
pro-war movement as well as it understands itself. It needs to 
comprehend the art of campaigning, of waging battles only when 
necessary, and having the ability to wage a struggle on several fronts 
simultaneously, synchronizing each struggle so that a synergy is 
created which maximizes whatever energy is being expended. The anti-war 
movement needs to understand the pro-war movement's center of gravity, 
and design measures to defeat this. It needs to grasp the pro-war 
movement's decision-making cycle, then undertake a comprehensive course 
of action that learns to pre-empt this cycle, getting 'inside' the 
pro-war system of making decisions, and thereby forcing the pro-war 
movement to react to the anti-war agenda, instead of vice versa.

There is an old adage in the military that “intelligence drives 
operations.” The anti-war movement needs to develop a centralized 
intelligence operation, not a spy organization, but rather a think-tank 
that produces sound analysis based upon fact that can be used to 
empower those who are waging the struggle against war. Far too often 
the anti-war movement dilutes its effectiveness by either being unable 
to produce facts during a debate, or when it does, producing facts that 
are inaccurate, incomplete, or both. The mainstream media treats the 
anti-war movement as a joke because many times that is exactly what the 
anti-war movement, through its lack of preparation and grasp of the 
facts, allows itself to become.

The anti-war movement lacks organization. There is no central 
leadership, or mechanism to effectively muster and control resources. 
The anti-war movement takes pride in its “democratic” composition, but 
in fact it operates as little more than controlled chaos, creating 
ample opportunity for the pro-war movement to effectively execute a 
“divide and conquer” strategy to minimize and nullify whatever good the 
anti-war movement achieves through its efforts. The anti-war movement 
would do well to take a page from the fire service and implement a 
version of the Incident Command System (ICS) that firefighters use when 
fighting complex fires involving the integration of several 
departments, organizations and jurisdictions. The anti-war movement 
needs to develop its own “ICS for the anti-war” that is universally 
applied throughout the movement, so that an anti-war effort in Seattle, 
Washington operates the same as an anti-war effort in New York City, 
and as such can be coordinated and controlled by an overall command 
staff operating from Denver, Colorado.

Complex problems, such as faced by the anti-war movement, require 
complex solutions, which in turn dictate a flexible control mechanism 
that can coordinate and synchronize every effort to achieve the desired 
result at a time and place of the anti-war movement's choosing, and 
then be prepared to follow up on successes as they occur and sustain 
the movement over an extended period of time. It is not enough to win a 
battle against the pro-war movement; the anti-war movement needs to win 
the war of ideologies. As such it must not only prepare to win a 
particular fight, but to exploit that victory, massing its forces 
against any developed weakness, and drive the pro-movement into the 
ground and off the American political map once and for all.

I have indicated my willingness to apply my training and experience as 
a warrior in a manner which helps teach the principles of the art of 
war to those who call themselves part of the anti-war movement. There 
seems to be not only a need for this sort of training, but also a 
desire among the myriad of individuals and groups who comprise the 
anti-war movement for an overall coordinated strategic direction, 
operational planning, and tactical execution of agreed upon mission 
objectives. One can be certain that the pro-war movement is conducting 
itself in full accordance with these very same organizational 
principles and methodologies. And let there be no doubt: the pro-war 
movement in America is prevailing. In order to gain the upper hand 
politically, and actually position itself to stop not only those wars 
already being fought (Iraq), but also prevent those being planned 
(Iran), the anti-war movement will need to re-examine in totality the 
way it does business. I for one am ready to assist. However, in writing 
this essay, I am constantly reminded of the old saying, "You can lead a 
horse to water, but you can't make it drink." One can only hope that 
the anti-war movement is thirsty. 









More information about the Marxism mailing list