Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

This New Kind of War

Victor Davis Hanson says that democracies, while slow to start a war, are awesome when they fight one. While this is true, it seems to me more to the point in considering the war we are still in to argue that, as Ralph Peters does (at least in part) that the war in Iraq was a brand new way of fighting a war. He stresses the "digital" nature of it (against the old "textbook"), and so on, a 21st century war. He says it was "stunning." I agree, yet it seems to me that this view is not quite comprehensive. Charles Krauthammer comes closer. This was a war of mobility, of amazing speed in which not only did we not want to hurt the civilians or the infrastructure, but really were not even very interested in killing Iraqi soldiers. We were in touch with some of them before the war started, told them to surrender or go home and we kept that effort up after the hostilities started (apparently many did, since there seems to be so few Iraqi military casualties). When President Bush repeated over and over that we are not interested in making war on the Iraqis, he meant it. We just sped past them (not quite, but you get my point) on the way to Baghdad. In fact, as a friend argued, we even tried to do this in an urban setting by taking control of palaces, and such. It seems to have worked. This was the great tactical surprise (really a strategic surprise) that everyone was talking about, but couldn’t quite figure out what it could be before the war started. While parts of other wars have been fought like this (compare Patton’s war of maneuver in WW II), no entire war has been fought this way, as far as I know. Of course, we were able to do all this in large measure because they had no communication and command structures left, we had bombed those very precisely, and also because of what the special forces did both before and during the actual war. The political object was clear, overthrow the tyrant. This explains why people were dissapointed that there wasn’t very much shock or awe! Everyone thought that that meant a lot of noise and a lot of killing, and, and somehow, as Peter Jennings said one night, there wasn’t very much of it; so where is the shock and awe? he asked. Well, it turns out that there wasn’t supposed to be a lot of noise and a lot of killing. And, in the end that’s what made it shocking and awesome. New war, this. Very impressive, very surprising. It’s good to impress and surprise your enemies, and let many Iraqis live, to become new friends. Now, that’s a regime change.

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