FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Now the Real War Starts

by WILLIAM S. LIND

War, by its nature, is full of surprises. Like most observers, I did not expect the Iraqis in the south to fight us, and they did. Also like most observers, I expected the Republican Guard around Baghdad to fight us, and they did not. The question of why they did not fight is an interesting one, although it will probably be years before we know the true answer. (As always, the official answer will be air power; as always, that answer will prove false). My guess, and it cannot be more than that, is that the senior Iraqi leadership fled Baghdad and the troops found out they had done so. You can’t say, “Fight fiercely, fellows,” while you bolt out the back door and expect any army to fight.

The result, thankfully, is that the Second Generation war with the state of Iraq’s armed forces is over and we won. Saddam and his government are gone, U.S. armed forces occupy Iraq and the whole thing went off with relatively few casualties, on both sides. Did we see any evidence of Third Generation maneuver warfare on the part of the Americans? I will not know until I can talk to people who were there, but at present I am skeptical. Overall, I think we have seen our better-equipped, better-trained Second Generation army beat another Second Generation army.

The problem is, now the real war starts.

There are three basic forms it may take, none of which lend themselves to a Second Generation response. The first is simple chaos. The initial chaos that followed the American victory seems to be subsiding, but that is no guarantee that there will not be new waves of chaos to come. The essential characteristic of chaos is that it is spontaneous. It is caused by large numbers of people responding to circumstances: no water or food, no jobs or money, outrage over perceived humiliations (we have chosen a woman to rule over central Iraq, including Baghdad, which is an enormous insult to Arab men), whatever draws a crowd. Chaos may be manipulated, and there will be many who benefit from it and want it to continue, but its nature is that it is “bottom up.” That makes it all the more difficult to control.

A second form the real war may take is a War of National Liberation, a guerilla war to free Iraq from foreign occupation. The essential characteristic of this kind of war is that it is for the nation. The term — Nationale Befreiungskrieg, in the original German — comes from Germany’s, especially Prussia’s, effort to free itself from Napoleon’s yoke. Here, there is likely to be some sort of underground national leadership, and the basis for the war would be Iraqi nationalism. It is possible, though not likely, that rather than fleeing, Saddam and other senior Iraqi leaders have gone underground to organize this kind of war, using the vast remaining structure of the Ba’ath party as a base and the Republican Guard troops who went home as the guerillas.

The third and, in my view, most likely form the real war may take is Fourth Generation warfare. Washington thinks it has destroyed the Iraqi regime, but it may find it has also destroyed the Iraqi state and cannot create it again. (The best chance of doing so is probably to use the remaining Ba’ath party structure, if it can be co-opted, but the Bush administration will probably reject this on grounds of “moral principle.”)

In place of the state of Iraq, we will find ourselves facing a vast array of competing loyalties, based on religion (Sunni or Shiite), ethnicity, tribe, clan, source of income or source of local security (gangs and warlords), and simple appeals to fight the Crusaders from non-state actors such as al Quaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and countless imitators. As in Afghanistan, the puppet government we establish in Baghdad will have no authority outside Baghdad, maybe not much in Baghdad, and will survive only because it is propped up by American troops. Iraq will become for us what the West Bank is for Israel, an ulcer that drains us physically, mentally and morally. Further, if an intifada against America arises in Iraq, it may well spread elsewhere in the Arab and Moslem world, aimed at any local government that supports the United States.

These alternatives are not pure; we may and probably will face a mixture of all three. This, the real war, is likely to begin slowly, allowing Washington to believe it has won, perhaps for long enough to start more wars, with Syria the probable next target. But once it does start, our Second Generation armed forces will prove to have little ability to stop it. We will find ourselves recalling the immortal words of Marshal McMahon to Napoleon III at Sedan, where the Emperor and his army were trapped by the Prussians: “Nous somme dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serrons emmerdes.”

WILLIAM S. LIND is Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation.

 

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail