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August 19, 2003

New Metaphors for "Draining the Swamp."

Here's a couple that have been growing on me.

Busting Open The Dam.

Trying To Drink The Sea.

Not that I think what the U.S. is attempting to do in Iraq is impossible, as the "drinking the sea" metaphor would otherwise imply. Given enough time, straws and volunteers, the sea could be imbibed. It's a question of resources. The longer attacks continue in Iraq, the more it appears that the U.S. doesn't have enough of them.

I find I don't really care if the swamp is draining, that "progress is being made." That sounds a little too much like "we're killing Viet Cong every day." I want the swamp drained yesterday, not 6 months or a year from now. Every time a pipeline is sabotaged, every time a U.S. soldier is killed, Moan Chomsky dances a little jig, and an Al-Qaeda recruiter finds his job a little easier.

"The Americans are spread too thin," he can tell his prospects. "Look what we get away with every day. Sure, our reach has been shortened in the past couple of years, but does it really matter where you are killing Westerners as long as you are killing Westerners?

Everytime the world press trumpets news of another American setback, the swamp gets a little deeper.

It also looks like comparisons with postwar Germany aren't valid. On V-E Day, Eisenhower had 1,622,000 soldiers on the ground in Germany alone. Tommy Franks had just over 100,000 at the end of his war. The allies occupied all of Germany; we haven't even occupied all of Iraq. Never mind the rest of the Middle East.

Members of terror group Ansar al-Islam have been returning to Iraq from Iran, joining the hundreds of fighters based in the northern part of the country and near Baghdad, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. military suspects that Ansar carried out the bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad on Aug. 7. Eleven people were killed in the truck bombing.
Before the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Ansar insurgents were aided by Iran, which facilitated the flow of combatants into northern Iraq.

The United States has warned Iran several times to end its aid to Ansar and other insurgents in Iraq.

The U.S. military has observed an increase in the flow of al-Qaida-aligned insurgents into Iraq. These insurgents have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, officials said.

This is like occupying Bavaria in 1945, and leaving the rest of Germany free to go about its business.

Posted by Bigwig at August 19, 2003 03:50 PM | TrackBack
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A number of smart military thinkers - LTC Ralph Peters types, have posited that one essential element of "peacemaking" is troop to population ratio. In the Balkans, we needed a 1:7 ratio to bring things under control.

Our present ratio is 1:18. Since the Army and Marines are pretty much maxed out right now, we would need to at least triple the size of our standing Army to achieve this.

We could be in for a long ride.

BTW, I have a venting post on this topic - I don't think we're draining a swamp or drinking the ocean. The metaphor of the guy who tries to kill a bee, but kicks over a hornet's nest is a little more apt, and my basic feeling is that we'd better realize that we are surrounded by hornets pretty quick. It is possible to die from lots of little stings, you know, but a determined man can kill a lot of hornets, or even all, if he starts swinging at the outset...

Ralph Peters, by the way, is considered one of the more brilliant military thinkers of his generation in the Army. His NY Post columns on the war are usually worth checking out.

Posted by: Blackavar at August 20, 2003 02:22 PM
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