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ICG Risk Blog - [ US beginning to mimic Israel: win every battle, lose every war ]

US beginning to mimic Israel: win every battle, lose every war


tends to focus too much attention on fighting and battles at the expense of looking at bigger picture -- the causes, consequences and political goals of conflict.

inability to understand the complexity of the forces at work [in terrorism] also points to overarching policy failures. We have been too slow to realize the broad religious, cultural, political, economic and demographic dimensions at play in the Middle East.

failed to see the need for serious stability operations and nation building; they did not see the risk of insurgency; and they assumed that we were so right that our allies and the world would soon be forced to follow our lead.

Israel or the US? The subject is the US, but I submit that it applies similarly to both states. While it has long been my habit to say that Israel wins every battle but loses every war

My current view of root cause for our not being able to win the peace has four components:

  • Lack of administration and congressional political will (but those politicians tack to the whims of we the citizens) to stick it for a sufficiently long term
  • Short-termism of American thinking, i.e., the unwillingness to endure the dull process of nation building, e.g., constructing a national polity and rebuilding infrastructure far from activities that win votes or build industry at home
  • Lack of planning and analysis to predict the manpower levels and skills needed to enforce a peace long enough to graft on political stability
  • Change in conflict style that has shifted from nation state to diffuse asymmetrical and/or terrorist entities on a far larger scale than in the past

I believe that claims of US success in nation building as evidenced in Japan and Germany had more to do with the cultures and industrial bases at hand than innate US skill. It should also be noted that we fielded WW II era manpower levels that were able to enforce the peace (which was not as simple as most assume as there were some German guerrillas). As soon as we departed from industrializing, culturally cohesive states not engaged in ethic strife or civil war, we failed, to wit, the Philippines, Angola, Lebanon, Liberia and Somalia.

For a summary of the state on the ground, I refer readers to Redirecting our intel processes in Iraq. I fear that it is less that the "enemy is becoming more sophisticated," than it is that we are less able to predict and interdict a superb asymmetrical opponent. I support the opinion of IISS that the Iraqi invasion has "enhanced jihadist recruitment and intensified al-Qaeda's motivation" while US forces offer terrorists "perhaps its most attractive 'iconic' target outside US territory."

"Al-Qaeda middlemen can still provide planning and logistical advice, materiel and financing to smaller affiliated groups. The leadership still appears able to roughly influence the wider network's strategic direction." IISS goes on to state that up to 1,000 new jihadis may have recently infiltrated Iraq -- and with some 18,000 having been trained, more could be in the offing.

I do not support the opinion of a "U.S. defense official" that the 'infiltrating insurgents and guerrilla groups' are primarily awash in Saudi money flowing through Syria. On the contrary, insurgents and jihadists receive aid from a "diffuse network of supporters, funneled through charities, tribal relations, and businesses" as well as al Qaeda accounts. I very much agree with Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counterterrorism chief, that "The overall resistance in Iraq is popular and is getting more popular in the Arab world."

I also challenge the funds needed to support hostilities as these folks are frightfully frugal while the cost of weapons and ammunition is nil as we failed to identify, sequester or destroy literally hundreds of dumps that have since been looted and their contents relocated. The vast number of jihadists (non-Iraqi) are volunteers, easy to sustain. The overhead of loader to shooter is very low and the operational cost to sustain the lot is a fraction of US forces. There are two Baathist camps that also engage in criminal activities to fund their terrorist ends.

We have created an environment in which Abu Musab Zarqawi could rise to the mythic stature of bin Laden by virtue of his ability to attack US assets, achieve victories, and then manipulate public opinion in both the West and Arab press.

Israel drove the PLO from Lebanon and was rewarded with an awakened Hamas and Hezbollah. The US has allowed "Jihad has become central in Iraq, and Zarqawi is now central to that."

Analysis: Military expert wants better U.S. policy
UPI, Oct. 22, 2004

Iraq Called 'Springboard' for Insurgency Figure
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post
October 21, 2004

Insurgents Infiltrating Iraq Have Cash
The Associated Press
October 21, 2004

Defence think-tank says Iraq is increasing global nuclear threat
Mirrored here
Financial Times
October 20, 2004

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


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