Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bush’s Grand Strategy

I have not commented on the calls for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s resignation (here is a good compendium from

Andrew Sullivan) because this is part of a much larger question; the larger geopolitical or grand strategy issues are hidden in the arguments for or against Rummy, and it is the larger issues we should concern ourselves with rather than the day-to-day partisan criticisms of what may be happening on the ground in Iraq.
I think the smaller issues--could we have gotten more armor on Humvees, does everyone have a a bullet-proof vest, etc.--are not something folks like us can reasonably comment upon, unless it is to to say (at almost every turn) that the opponents of our Iraq policy, or of the administration in general (which certainly include the MSM) should stop playing arm-chair generals.
You can follow the links on Sullivan, which include Bill Kristol’s original demand that Rumsfeld step down. I think Kristol is wrong. But he is making a point that will have to be considered: Rummy is less interested in nation-building than Kristol is, hence he thinks we can have a smaller force than Kristol wants (never mind for a moment that Kristol thinks that Bush and Rummy are at odds over this). So Kristol is using the MSM dissafection with Rummy to begin a conversation about our grand strategy. That conversation might be better addressed after reading John Lewis Gaddis’ piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled, "Grand Strategy in the Second Term." And then supplement it with
Francis Fukuyama’s "Nation Building 101," from The Atlantic Monthly, as well as his review of America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, by Timothy Garton Ash. Interestingly, Gaddis ends his essay on Bismark. What will follow shock and awe?
The U.S. shook up the status quo, and, once that happened, Gaddis writes, "the pieces would realign themselves in patterns favorable to U.S. interests."
His last three paragraphs may be worth noting:

It was free-market thinking applied to geopolitics: that just as the removal of economic constraints allows the pursuit of self-interest automatically to advance a collective interest, so the breaking up of an old international order would encourage a new one to emerge, more or less spontaneously, based on a universal desire for security, prosperity, and liberty. Shock therapy would produce a safer, saner world.

Some such therapy was probably necessary in the aftermath of September 11, but the assumption that things would fall neatly into place after the shock was administered was the single greatest misjudgment of the first Bush administration. It explains the failure to anticipate multilateral resistance to pre-emption. It accounts for the absence of planning for the occupation of Iraq. It has produced an overstretched military for which no "revolution in military affairs" can compensate. It has left official obligations dangerously unfunded. And it has allowed an inexcusable laxity about legal procedures--at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere--to squander the moral advantage the United States possessed after September 11 and should have retained.

The most skillful practitioner ever of shock and awe, Otto von Bismarck, shattered the post-1815 European settlement in order to unify Germany in 1871. Having done so, however, he did not assume that the pieces would simply fall into place as he wished them to: he made sure that they did through the careful, patient construction of a new European order that offered benefits to all who were included within it. Bismarck’s system survived for almost half a century.

Discussions - 4 Comments

"I think the smaller issues--could we have gotten more armor on Humvees, does everyone have a a bullet-proof vest, etc.--are not something folks like us can reasonably comment upon, unless it is to to say (at almost every turn) that the opponents of our Iraq policy, or of the administration in general (which certainly include the MSM) should stop playing arm-chair generals."

Oh, I gotta say, THAT’S pretty rich - accusing those who are critical of some of the planning, strategy, tactics, etc. to be ’arm-chair generals’, or that civilians can’t ’reasonably comment’ on ’smaller issues’ (!!), such as whether the troops are/should be adequately protected (Have SOME respect for the soldiers, man!! We should ALWAYS find the money to equip our troops!). Need it be pointed out that not all of those critiquing the Humvee, armor, and vest situations are necessarily opponents of the war overall, or the Bush administration? Some of them are even veterans or active-duty soldiers! It seems that the rose-colored glasses through which many here are examining the war in Iraq are also pretty effective in filtering any self-recognition of irony (or, dare I say it, hypocrisy).

It’s interesting that the post just prior to this one instructs the reader that "The Belmont Club explains that..." and then the author of the linked article proceeds to write like a DEFINITIVE armchair general, with gems like THIS:

"This suggests that the target was under observation so either the first firing team, or a second enemy mortar team tasked with a followup attack could adjust their fire until they hit the hospital. It will be interesting to see whether the enemy fire originated from a populated area, preventing counterbattery. Many American bases are routinely patrolled by RPVs that run a circuit around possible firing positions. Mortar or rocket positions in the open would be easily detected...."

I don’t really have an opinion as to whether or not its illegitimate to play "armchair general," but I couldn’t let this pass

Have SOME respect for the soldiers, man!! We should ALWAYS find the money to equip our troops!

The question is, what exactly does "equip" mean? The United States lacked the resources to "equip" all of its combat soldiers with submachine guns during World War II, so they were "equipped" with rifles. Should the Secretary of War have been fired for this? Does the duty to "equip" soldiers at the front mean that every man must be provided with the very latest in military technology?

Not sure I follow JL Gaddis as to what’s so great about Bismarck. His "new European order" contained the seeds of WWI, after all--above all, Otto von left France spoiling for revenge, but not really crushed (kind of like our predicament in the Sunni triangle after a year or so of "leave it alone and maybe the problem will subside" half-measures). Sure Wilhelm II was a dope and dropped Otto’s concern w/ maintaining good relations vis-a-vis Russia, but this just highlights how grave the French problem was all along.

A better model of strategic thinking, IMHO, is William Tecumseh Sherman. See his 1863 memo to Stanton and Lincoln on what it would take to pacify the South: http://www.geocities.com/gregu10/new_page_22.htm

I think this sums up the situation nicely, with at least as much verve as any Ramirez cartoon!

Rummy vs. The Troops

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/5622