2005/04/17

Further thoughts concerning war on terrorism

One Steven Bodzin goes through:

...tens of thousands of pages of strategy objectives from government agencies and think tanks filled with negative goals like "disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations," "conquer this enemy," and "defeat the forces of evil wherever they are."
But a definition of victory was nowhere to be found. (emp mine)


Bodzio locates a document that seems to provide a clear blueprint, but several phone and email queries fail to uncover just who or even what department composed the document. Finally, he asks a few pundits and gets the following response from Michael Ledeen:

Still, my question was: What would the world look like then? [That is, after victory in the war on terror]

"There won't be people blowing us up," he said. "They won't have a nation-state supporting them. That's very important."

"How will we know when we're getting close to victory?"

"We'll start seeing defectors," he replied. "It will be all the usual signs when someone's getting ready to lose a war. A drop in morale, recruiting getting more difficult. You'll see their followers throwing down their weapons, giving up."

The problem with this scenario, of course, is the same one that has made victory in Iraq so elusive. There's never been any indication that the insurgents or the resistance in Iraq has ever been organized in a top-down fashion. It's never been apparent that there has been anything like a centralized chain of command or a hierarchical structure. I've pointed out before that a Middle East think tank identified as many as 15 separate armed resistance groups as early as August 2003. Certainly, individual groups may conduct individual operations in an organized fashion, i.e., the assault on Abu Ghraib on 2 Apr 2005 most definitely shows organization, but that's a far cry from having an Iraqi "National Liberation Front". There has never been any sign of a country-wide organization coordinating resistance activities, either violent or non-violent. The idea that we'll see "defectors" and people "throwing down their weapons" is an appealing fantasy, but sounds to me like a vision far removed from reality.

The conclusion is that no one in the Bush Administration appears to have any idea how to even define what victory would look like in a war against terrorism.

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