Sunday, May 13, 2007

The War About the War: Winning the Hearts and Minds of Americans

Even as we are seeing results in al-Anbar Province, and now Diyala, we find the war effort hamstrung by defeatist democrats and white flag Republicans back in Washington.

Insurgencies seldom win. The ingredients needed to overcome insurgencies include:
•An understanding of local society;

•Good intelligence about the enemy;

•Establishing security and a rule of law;

•Establishing a long-term commitment.
The first 3 criteria are being met; what about the last one? The new counterinsurgency manual shows that the chances of overcoming an insurgency improves after 10 years. Does America have the intestinal fortitude to win? Do enough of us understand that we have no choice but to push for nothing short of victory in Iraq? For pro-victory Americans, it's a win/lose situation. For the anti-war Americans, it's a lose-lose situation.....damned if we stay; damned if we leave.

If our pro-defeat compatriots are thinking of the solution to Iraq as being a choice between a "bad" and "worse"-case scenario....what they need to be convinced of, is that the worse option is the one that would have us leave prematurely; basically surrendering Iraq over to America's enemies. This would be an amazing accomplishment, more ignoble and embarrassing than anything the French have ever done. We have not "lost"; and Iraq is not a "quagmire", except in our own media-driven impressions and perceptions. Just take a look at this piece by Ann Scott Tyson in The Christian Science Monitor, dated November of 2003:
Just as news footage of Vietnam casualties slowly eroded public backing for that conflict, today's bold headlines on US military deaths in Iraq are revealing a ground truth that is, more swiftly, undercutting domestic support for the Iraq war.

Some polls show that most Americans no longer believe removing Saddam Hussein was worth the loss of US lives; significant majorities now consider the 400-plus US casualties in Iraq "unacceptable."

"We've reached that magic number, and now Americans are asking whether it's worth it or not," says John Zogby of Zogby International, which conducted prewar polls showing that war support would drop below 50 percent if US casualties went into the hundreds.
Within months of our victory in the toppling of Saddam's regime, Iraq was already being chicken-littled as a "quagmire" by the anti-war left and those who care more about a George Bush defeat than they do for an American victory. Every little molehill setback was magnified into a mountain of misfortune; from stolen museum artifacts to Abu Ghraib. If anyone can trace back when that word "quagmire" was first used for Iraq, please let me know.

It is astounding to me, that Americans have not learned all the right lessons from Vietnam and Somalia; that so many of my countrymen are willing to give Osama bin Laden validation in his labeling of America as a "paper tiger".

How many jihadists and insurgents have been sent to their maker? 20 times our number? 50 times? Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been on the losing side of every military engagement; and yet, half of our country (or greater), appears to be ready to "run away" from the killer rabbits who seek martyrdom by planting IEDs and by carbombing innocent civilians and fellow Muslims. They think they are winning (with occasional lapses into sanity) because aside from their religious delusions of grandeur, our very own 5th column media and leaders on The Hill tell them that they are winning; and behave like we are losing.

The surrender monkeys would have us snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And I say: "Defeat is not an option".

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Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

Sunday, May 13, 2007 8:48:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

This appears to be a cut-and-paste of what you've been writing for some time on blog comments. You see, I'm familiar with you and your blogsite. I respect your knowledge and opinion; but did you take the time to read what I wrote here? Because what you just cut-and-pasted here has to be at least over a year old.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 8:53:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Your Vanity Fair link didn't come through.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 8:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Yeah, before I read your second comment Wordsmith, I tried his link too. It's broken.

I've also had people copy and paste their entire posts on MRB. I find it extremely rude.

This is a great post, as always, and you make a lot of sense - which is exactly why it won't cut any mustard with the cut-and-run crowd.

Thanks for coming over and wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. I appreciate it. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

"If anyone can trace back when that word "quagmire" was first used for Iraq, please let me know."
Just a guess, but as early as June 2003, Col. Dan Smith here:

Sunday, May 13, 2007 2:01:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

You're welcome, gayle.

Thanks, bb-idaho. The critics might think, "See....we knew it almost right away, and have been telling you so, early on; why didn't you listen back when the death toll on American soldiers was less than 400?"

But I see it as highlighting every negative, and being a ball-and-chain every step of the way to create a self-fulfilling prophesy of disaster-building.

It has not been a 100% disaster, every step of the way. There have been successes mixed in with setbacks (with the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra, being a key major turning point and setback).

I do think the Iraqi elections were conducted too quickly, creating problems we have to reap today. But under so much political pressure and public impatience with Iraq, maybe all those purple fingers was what was needed at the time. I don't know.

But if we are going to do this, then we need to do this right! And that means screw timetables. It will take as long as it has to take to do this right, and not a day sooner. Being rushed only insures that we end up doing a half-assed job.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 3:11:00 PM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

long term commitment..I like the sound of that Word!

Sunday, May 13, 2007 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

If you say it long enough maybe they will listen.

The U.S. Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments and so much beaurocracy that no president, including Bush totally understands it.

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exhorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years.

What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing and SAIC. If you would like to read how they control our government, please see:

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.

Please examine the following link to testimony given by Franklin C. Spinney before Congress in 2002. It provides very specific information from a whistle blower who is still blowing his whistle (Look him up in your browser and you get lots of feedback) Frank spent the same amount of time as I did in the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) but in government quarters. His job in government was a similar role to mine in defense companies. Frank's emphasis in this testimony is on the money the machine costs us. It is compelling and it is noteworthy that he was still a staff analyst at the Pentagon when he gave this speech. I still can't figure out how he got his superior's permission to say such blunt things. He was extremely highly respected and is now retired.

The brick wall I often refer to is the Pentagon's own arrogance. It will implode by it's own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting on this blog entitled, "Odyssey of Armaments"

On the same subject, you may also be interested in the following sites from the "Project On Government Oversight", observing it's 25th Anniversary and from "Defense In the National Interest", inspired by Franklin Spinney and contributed to by active/reserve, former, or retired military personnel.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 4:39:00 PM  
Blogger MonicaR said...

Wordsmith - I can't even count how many people I've argued with here on the block and up at the neighborhood store. They say we should leave Iraq. I tell them we need to kill terrorists which is exactly what we're doing in Iraq. It sucks, our men and women die and that doesn't feel nice, it's a crap job, but it has to be done. We cannot run away from this. It will continue to be a problem whether we run from Iraq or not. I tell them that our boys and girls are killing thousands of terrorists in Iraq. I tell them that Iraqi forces are getting better and better and more reliable. I remind them that millions of Iraqis are struggling toward freedom from this menace. I tell them that we ARE succeeding and that there is NO civil war. The foreign fighters coming in from Syria and Iran (and I believe Saudi Arabia) are trying very hard to push a civil war but we are killing them and when we capture them they sing like canaries.

I'm becoming impatient with people.

Sunday, May 13, 2007 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Rosecovered: That old "military industrial complex" crapoloa is getting a bit stale.

I'm sick of hearing about it. All it is is another attempt to obfuscate the issue and make people forget, or doubt, that we are at war with an enemy who wants to kill us.

You can shout "Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton" like a gaggle of demented parrots all day long and it won't make this country safer against the threat of Islamic fascism or anything else.

Perhaps we need to ask Old Soldier, whose war record is most impressive, to comment further.

Monday, May 14, 2007 6:42:00 AM  
Blogger BB-Idaho said...

OK, arrogant Mike: let's ask an
old soldier:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed; those who are cold and are not clothed"
-Dwight D. Eisenhower Apr 16, 1953

Monday, May 14, 2007 6:55:00 AM  
Blogger Elmo said...

"If anyone can trace back when that word "quagmire" was first used for Iraq, please let me know."

Dick Cheney April 7,1991 on ABC's This Week --

"I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire."

Oops, you should do more research before you form an opinion. The rest of Dick's comments on April 7, 1991...

"Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi’a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Ba’ath Party? Would be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all."

Monday, May 14, 2007 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Oops, you should do more research before you form an opinion.

Why? That's what I have you for, grunt.

That's an awesome find, though. Different time, different mission.

Monday, May 14, 2007 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger TrekMedic251 said...

As a "Holy Grail" fan, I was ROFLMAO at the last two!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007 5:54:00 PM  
Blogger Elmo said...

Why? That's what I have you for, grunt.

Good point.

Different time, different mission.

Same place, same consequences.

Monday, May 14, 2007 7:41:00 PM  
Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

Excellent Post Word,

I think you said it all.

Monday, May 14, 2007 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Defeat is not an option. Excellent post!!

Monday, May 14, 2007 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I'm with RCG. We'll either have to let the system tank in and of itself due to its massive ponderance, or we'll have to suffer yet another hit on our own sovereign shores -- we have no memory, and will respond primarily, any more, only when slapped or provocated in a large way.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007 9:32:00 AM  
Anonymous CJ said...

Say it isn't so: a vet who can't think for himself? What's with the cut and paste. All you have to do is a search on one of his comments and it's just not original.

I could easily call the Salvation Army the Charitable Industrial Complex, but what does that really mean. The "military industrial complex" is a fictitious title by liberals and conspiracy theorists who don't understand the true value of a strong and vital defense.

And, come on! A vietnam vet quoting VANITY FAIR?!?! Get real! I respect your service and what you say you did for this nation, but at least come across with original ideas and a solution.

For the record, I'm an active duty Army Master Sergeant.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 5:37:00 PM  

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