How We Won the War in Iraq

I am amazed at the number of people who oppose the war in Iraq, but are pushing us to become involved in another war in Darfur. "This is different," they say, "This is genocide, and we cannot remain indifferent!" Well, perhaps not. But we will have no better chance of "winning" a war in Darfur than we have of winning in Iraq. In fact, Iraq is, militarily, a trivial problem compared to Darfur. Darfur is the size of Texas, but with little or no infrastructure and a scattered population. There are no "high-valued" targets, but mostly widely scattered villages that will be difficult, if not impossible, to defend. The most important feature of modern warfare is logistics, the supplies without which no modern army can exist. Yet, without an infrastructure of roads and other facilities, there is no way to deliver these supplies except by the most cumbersome and expensive means. The countryside is too poor to provide any support; everything--ammunition, food, gas, even water--will have to be delivered by air or cross-country convoys, which themselves will be highly vulnerable to attack. Darfur could easily swallow up 100,000 troops without them having any appreciable effect, except to become targets of opportunity. And increasing the size of the army will only increase the logistical nightmare. No foreign army, American, African, or European, can defend Darfur.

Does this mean we should just ignore the "genocide," if such there be? Not necessarily. But first, we ought to be somewhat skeptical of any claims that right exists only on one side. Without looking at this specific situation too closely, I am sure that it involves tribal feuds which may go back hundreds of years and involve issues which we may not be competent to judge. But, if we feel it is necessary to choose a side (and given the propensity to use rape, slaughter, and pillage as weapons of war, it may well be), there is a way to win it. We can win the war in Darfur in the same way we won the war in Iraq.

Now, in case some of us do not remember winning this war, let me remind you that we did win it; we won it before we invaded. We won it not throughout Iraq, but in the Kurdish Northern part of the country. We won it because the people on the ground were willing to put their lives at risk and defend their homeland. It was only necessary for the United States to change the balance of power by providing them with weapons, training, and air cover. We could have done the same thing in the Shiite south, and started to, when the elder Bush decided, quite rightly, that a Shiite Republic in the South would benefit only Iran and pose a threat to Kuwait and Arabia.

In any case, the only army capable of defending Darfur is an army of Darfurians. All they need is weapons and training, which can be accomplished by a very small military mission, and accomplished "on the cheap." Villages willing to defend themselves have a chance of success. But if they are not willing to defend themselves, then they are indefensible, and no foreign army can make up the lack. Call this the principle of subsidiarity applied to warfare.

Currently, we have bits and pieces of our army scattered throughout the world defending a "peace" which is not a peace. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kossovo, drain the strength of our army without really contributing to our security; in fact, it weakens us militarily, financially, and (most importantly) morally. We lost in Vietnam because there were an insufficient number of Vietnamese willing to defend their country, and a large number of the same willing to endure any amount of hardship, suffering, and sacrifice to see us defeated; there were suberb fighting units among the South Vietnamese army, but not enough to stave off disaster. This tragedy is repeating itself in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some want us to do it all over again in Darfur. The results will be no better there than they have been in any other place.

2 comments:

Propter Quid Sunday, June 11, 2006 at 11:24:00 PM CDT  

Indeed. Wars of agression are immoral and forbidden by just war theory. Any war not strictly of self defense is wrong and foolhardy. George Washington's final address to the nation was an appeal to avoid foreign wars. (Actually treaties because they would lead to wars.) It is possible to argue that Iraq was intended as a war of self defense but Darfur would be inexcussible.

God Bless.

xavier Sunday, June 18, 2006 at 9:56:00 AM CDT  

John:
If the west was to intervene in Dafur, I favour overthrow of the regime and occupation. Purge the islamist rot forever. When Ann Coulter made her statement several years ago that the Mideast need to be Christianized I thought that she was over the top; now I'm wondering if she wasn't prescient.

xavier

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