10 June 2008
Military victories for the west will only lead to final defeat
War, goes the old adage of Carl Von Clausewitz, is the continuation of politics by other means. What he meant by that is that war is not an act of random violence, like a street fight. Rather it is about one state trying to force another to accept its will. Normally that is the job of the diplomatic service, but good old Carl reminded us that when the statesmen fail, then the soldiers will carry out the states' tasks. War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfil our will, as Clausewitz also wrote. Say what you like about him, he had a pithy way with words.
This being so, how close are the western powers to enforcing their will on Iraq and Afghanistan? The point here is that unless they can force those two countries to behave as they wish, all the western military victories in the world will not win them the wars. In that case it will be true to say that the western aggressors will victory themselves to final defeat.
In the case of Iraq, the war against that country is now basically an American adventure. Washington has set up a puppet regime, but that regime seems to have realised that the Americans need them just as much as they need the Americans. Hence the politicians in Baghdad have started refusing America's demands. The latest example came only the other day when the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that Iraq would not allow its territory to be used for an American attack on Iran.
The Iraqi government seem to have realised that the USA will support them for fear of getting someone else that is even worse in power if they fall. The result of this means that America's freedom of action is severely curtailed, and that means that they are losing the war, since war is all about enforcing one state's will over another.
Outside Baghdad's Green Zone, the Americans either have to bribe their way around the Sunni country, or batter against a Shia door that is held by militias who loath the Shia collaborationists who are the nominal government. Of course the American forces can push the door open, whereupon all the militias do is vanish back into civilian life until the American forces leave the area.
To put Iraq in a nutshell, the Americans have to move around the country with large amounts of dollars or fire-power, in defence of a government that they installed and which they cannot fully control. If this is America's idea of a victory, your friendly Exile can't wait to see what a defeat looks like.
Afghanistan is even more ludicrous in execution as here we have British politicians and military commanders telling us how swimmingly everything is going. In that benighted land the British - who are now fighting their Fourth Afghan War, are no longer engaged in small scale battles with the Afghan tribesmen. They have reverted back to what they know best and are fighting a war of ambushes and roadside bombs, all enlivened with the new threat of the suicide bomber.
Can anyone really claim with a straight face that the war in Afghanistan is being won? The Afghans could continue at this level for decades to come, and probably will unless pressure from the British people forces the government to change course.
The point here is that whatever government the British, et al, do leave behind when they eventually call it a day will probably last as long as most of the other governments that the western powers have installed by the bayonet down the years. Rather less, come to think about it, given the almost total lack of legitimacy that the regime in Kabul has beyond the city's walls.
So, enjoy your victories, you warmongers. Just remember that final defeat will follow the final victory.