Pentagon Shifts Its Strategy To Small-Scale Warfare
By August Cole and Yochi J. Dreazen
Wall Street Journal January 30, 2010 Pg. 4
The shift in strategy sets up potential conflicts with defense contractors and powerful lawmakers uneasy with the Pentagon’s growing focus on smaller-scale, guerilla warfare.
In particular, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has come to think that the Pentagon’s traditional belief that it needed to be able to fight two major wars at the same time was outdated and overly focused on conventional warfare. The new QDR moves away from that model, a mainstay of U.S. military thinking for more than two decades, in favor of an expanded focus on low-intensity conflict.
Phi Beta Iota: This is most fascinating; it is also not the last word. Here is the timeline in short and long versions. Short: 22 years from advance guard to leadership; 12 years from internal think tanks to leadership; probably further delay from leadership acceptance to bureaucratic implementation: another 20 years.
Last night President Obama crossed the Rubicon and made the Afghan War his war. Will this decision come back to haunt him? Juan Cole argues that this is likely to be the case, because Obama’s escalation decision is based on a flawed analogy.
Reasoning by analogy is powerful albeit particularly dangerous form of thinking. A valid analogy can unleash the creative mind to see new connections that were previously not seen, but a false analogy can capture the imagination and cause one to see and believe visions of things as they are not. False analogies are perhaps the most powerful mental engine for taking an otherwise rational decision maker off the cliff. Nevertheless, The courtiers in the Court of Versailles on the Potomac, addicted as they are to snappy sound bytes, love analogies, the more simple minded the snapping sound, the better.
Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan
author of widely read blog Informed Comment explains how Obama has been taken to the cleaners and induced to bet his Presidency by buying into the fatally flawed Beltway Consensus that (1) the Iraq Surge was an unambiguous success and (2) its corollary, namely the analogy to Afghanistan that posits a similar kind of surge will produce a similar “success” in Afghanistan. Cole makes his argument by using the simple technique of describing and comparing likenesses and differences, something Obama and his advisors should have done.
Phi Beta Iota: The Salon story is complemented by the below blog from the same author.
10. The biggest threat of derailment comes from an American public facing 17 percent true unemployment and a collapsing economy who are being told we need to spend an extra $30 billion to fight less than 100 al-Qaeda guys in the mountains of Afghanistan, even after the National Security Adviser admitted that they are not a security threat to the US.
The unemployment rate as I write is inching toward 10 percent nationally, and that is only counting people who were still looking for a job recently. A vast bank robbery by the corrupt on Wall Street has deprived them of the credit that made the economy go. Labor Day was passed by Congress under Grover Cleveland to celebrate not only the individual American laborer but the labor movement– yes, unions, workers’ parades, hard hats and blue jeans (before the youth movement of the 1960s appropriated them, blue jeans were working class clothing, and my working class relatives upbraided me for wearing them as an undergraduate). It is to celebrate all those icons that shills for the barracuda billionaires, such as Glenn Beck, now castigate as “fascist” and “communist.” It is to celebrate what Carl Sandberg did in his poem, “Chicago:”
Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders;
And of course, the home-makers and retail workers who move the manufactured goods and the teachers are all doing the hard foundational work as well.
Who is not working are the Wall Street thieves who have largely gone unpunished or been actively rewarded for their peculation.
Now Americans have convinced themselves that we don’t have a working class. Everybody is middle class, even those who make minimum wage in the fast food industry, or those who are kept as part-timers so that the store (I’m looking at you, Walmart) doesn’t have to enroll them in a health care program.
Despite Surge in U.S. Deployments, More Civilians Are Posted in War Zone; Reliance Echoes the Controversy in Iraq
Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2009, Pg. 6, By August Cole
Even as U.S. troops surge to new highs in Afghanistan they are outnumbered by military contractors working alongside them, according to a Defense Departm! ent census due to be distributed to Congress — illustrating how hard it is for the U.S. to wean itself from the large numbers of war-zone contractors that proved controversial in Iraq.
The number of military contractors in Afghanistan rose to almost 74,000 by June 30, far outnumbering the roughly 58,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground at that point. As the military force in Afghanistan grows further, to a planned 68,000 by the end of the year, the Defense Department expects the ranks of contractors to increase more.