Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Less Than Adequate

I think Matt Yglesias' article in The Guardian, How To Lose Afghanistan, has it right on all levels. The fact that we are increasing the use of air power instead of relying on our troops on the ground is a sign of desperation and failure.
Bombing, even air strikes, should be weighed against the risks, the primary danger being collateral damage that turns the population against the government and provides the insurgents with a major propaganda victory. Even when justified under the law of war, bombing a target that results in civilian casualties will bring media coverage that works to the benefit of the insurgents. A standard insurgent and terrorist tactic for decades against Israel has been to fire rockets or artillery from the vicinity of a school or village in the hope that the Israelis would carry out a retaliatory air strike that kills or wounds civilians - who are then displayed to the world media as victims of aggression. Insurgents and terrorists elsewhere have shown few qualms in provoking attacks that ensure civilian casualties if such attacks fuel anti-government and anti-US propaganda. Indeed, insurgents today can be expected to use the civilian population as a cover for their activities.
Either through ineptitude or arrogance our military leaders fail to understand how to fight an asymmetrical war and to understand that they are making the problem worse.
But while military leaders clearly know this on some level - it's right there in the manual - they obviously aren't acting on their knowledge. Indeed, even in Iraq itself we're deploying more air strikes, not fewer. The first four and a half months of 2007 have already seen more air strikes than in all of 2006.
This is an obvious sign of the failure of the surge tactics but I think it just it points to a term I saw yesterday in relation to the staffing at the new embassy in Badhdad; inadequate.

Our plans to fight the insurgency in Iraq and the Taleban in Afghanistan could only be called inadequate. Our diplomatic efforts in dealing with Iraq are, at best, inadequate. Our efforts in dealing with the Palestinian perpetual crisis has been totally inadequate if not criminal.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice, the prime players in these fiascoes could only be described as inadequate.

Jim Martin

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