Leftover Turkey Day and How Do We Solve a Problem Like Syria

English: Iraq Defense Minister Abdul Qadir pre...

English: Iraq Defense Minister Abdul Qadir presents a gift to U.S. Army General David Petraeus during a farewell ceremony in Baghdad on September 15, 2008. Petraeus turned over command of Multi-National Forces – Iraq to Army General Raymond Odierno on September 16. Petraeus has served in three command positions in Iraq since 2003. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little bit of leftover business from Jess’ new post yesterday, she also had a message for us as Americans:

As some of you know, I spent a year in America when I was younger, and that intensified a love of America that came from a crush on John Wayne and a love of American films. It’s so easy, looking and admiring that great nation, to forget how precarious were its origins, and now, with so much political correctness, almost to have to apologise for them. But those brave Pilgrims might easily have suffered the fate of those Vikings who had tried to establish settlement much earlier, and in fact almost did suffer that fate. But their faith in God which led them to cross a vast ocean in vulnerable wooden ships, kept them firm and saw them through. May that be said of us all – and let us always give thanks to Him who alone is truly worthy of all thanks and praise.

I don’t think truer words were ever spoken written.


 But that isn’t to say that all of our problems are due to political correctness, although it has much to do with why we can’t seem to solve them. As Jess and I both know, in order to solve a problem first you have to define it, and then define a plan for dealing with it. And that is much of the problem with IS (which someone this week defined as Islamic Scumbags, which I like). A retired British officer wrote about this in The Spectator this week. You need to read the whole article, but I’m going to give you a few highlights.

Like most British soldiers of my generation, I fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Few would now justify the reasons for invading Iraq; most of us who fought there at first recognised the amateurish nature of the strategy and its lack of realistic political objectives. But in 2007, under General Petraeus, the coalition adopted a new strategy that was underpinned by coherent policy. This stemmed from the recognition that unless common cause was found with moderate Sunnis, a workable Iraqi polity could never be established.

The rapid improvements that flowed from this change were impressive but disgracefully shortlived. The US departure from Iraq in 2010 allowed the Shi’ite Nuri Al Maliki a free rein to threaten Sunni interests and explains the Iraqi half of today’s tragedy in the Middle East.

In the other half, the West has shown similar strategic illiteracy in Syria. Efforts to excite opposition to Assad were unsupported by even the remotest understanding of what might follow. Just as with Saddam and Gaddafi, no credible alternative to Assad waits in the wings.

Part of this stems from the crisis of confidence experienced by both the US and UK as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan. The prevailing judgment is that all interventions are ill-advised, especially those involving boots on the ground. The best the West can do is to bomb from a safe distance and make half-hearted efforts to raise local militias. Bombing and drone strikes have their place if properly targeted, but no aircraft has ever held ground. Without western forces, local militias will continue to be highly unreliable.

[…] Until there is a change of policy, Obama is unlikely to provide the lead that he should. And Cameron has shown no appetite to have the sort of relationship that Churchill had with his military chiefs, preferring instead the advice of his intelligence agencies. Agency heads can give you the intelligence, but they are unqualified to determine the solutions.

(Emphasis mine) I think that is a good nutshell description of the problems we face in the UK and US.

The House of Commons should therefore ask itself the following questions:

— What is the political objective and is it realistic?

— Can a grand coalition of the willing be created under US leadership which can coalesce around the same political objective?

— If a grand coalition cannot be created (without for instance Russia and Iran), how would this affect the strategy?

— What military resources will be needed to achieve the objective?

— If, for political reasons, the right military means are judged unacceptable (notably ground forces), then would doing nothing be better than doing something?

— After the political objective has been achieved, are we willing to show strategic patience and stay the course?

If the government can produce sensible answers to these questions, then its strategy should be supported. But if not, the House of Commons would be wise to wait.

So emphatically should Congress, because we know the executive hasn’t the knowledge or the will to, and it should resume its rightful place as one of the keys of the American system, which seems nearly as doubtful, as is anybody doing the work of defining this problem and then its solution.

As I said above, you should read the whole article. It is: How to defeat Isis, by a retired British commander.

 

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7 Responses to Leftover Turkey Day and How Do We Solve a Problem Like Syria

  1. The greatest problem in the West, i.e. both the British and the American, is the will to win and confront evil, and this simply must include understanding the local people and culture. America missed it with Iraq, by not leaving troops on the ground when they left, but the same applies with the British and Afghanistan! (Need I remind my British people that we were in Afghanistan a long time back, and it was British!) And for the Americans this goes all the way back to Vietnam, where they missed it both militarily and culturally. And btw, the Americans, with their Allies had their chance in Gulf War 1 to win and create a new Western presence, but Bush Sr., and the Brits did NOT have the guts for it! And since, it has been sadly just down hill. And now the Russians with Putin are trying to somewhat fill the vacuum in the region. But once again, the West has missed the religious and Muslim nature of the area!

    Well a few of my thoughts anyway, and I was a recon and intell officer (RMC), and older than most now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And btw, I would myself place the weight now (with the loss of Obama and the Americans) on the British and the Europeans (Germany, etc.), the French have the issue right in their face, but who is next?

      Liked by 1 person

      • But again, the question arises, are we close to some kind of World War? And I would say surely so! But first Isis MUST be defeated! But it will take guts and a long term resolve, but if we wait, will it be too late?

        Liked by 1 person

        • For those of us that have had grandfathers, father’s, uncles, etc. that fought in both World Wars, and they started in Europe, we can only see once again the somewhat repeat of history… and least we forget what happened to the Armenians in WW 1, and then the Jews and WW II! It’s time to wake-up! Indeed freedom is never free, but costly! And btw, I would again challenge my so-called Judeo-Christian friends to read Ezekiel chap’s 38 and 39, noting the northern nation, “Magog and Meshech”, surely Russia and company to my mind! Yes, we will not escape the Eschatological, it has come a knocking, and to the world! (Zech. 13: 8-9 ; chap. 14).

          Like

        • the unit says:

          Yeah Fr., I’m about out of my ‘Funny Way of Laughing.”

          🙂

          Like

        • @Unit: I actually like to laugh too, hell I’m Irish.. laughing always has its place. But, the depth of right and wrong is always or should be within us also! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • It is here I like the man Martin Luther! Now he could drink a beer and find a laugh indeed, and some of his writings on sexual issues would raise some eye-brows even today! And of course virtue is always dependent on grace, whatever we may think about “syntheresis”.

          Like

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