What Iraq Taught the U.S. Military

There are legions of think tanks and armed disciplines like the Marine Corps that possess a fine grasp of the deep abiding cultural, institutional challenges The Long War asks of the American regime.  We haven’t answered THIS challenge.  If we’re going to win, the American regime and its institutions responsible for war/statecraft must address several finite, complex problems regarding defense department acquisition reform, civil-military relations, our industrial-military base line, the constitutive missions (culture) of each service, the reform of unelected, monolithic fiefdoms at State Department, foreign aid as well as how we finance those responsible for engaging this conflict.  As the GAO revealed last summer, by 2030 the entire defense department will run out of money given how health care are other benefit packages crowd out addition spending.

We’re at the end of our Keynesian rope, and new thinking about American power, especially its relation to foreign policy and the institutions responsible for its execution were badly mangled in Mesopotamia.  The branch services simply weren’t ready for The Long War.  This is a generational commitment, entire swaths of continents are engaged in this conflict and the American regime must lead.  But as Thomas E. Ricks engagingly wrote in The Generals, there is a growing chasm between the performance of our wartime leadership and accountability.  This growing chasm, if not addressed, will shake our Constitutional Republic to its core.  It happened to other empires.  It has already begun with the American services.

What did our engagement in Mesopotamia teach the American regime.

It taught that a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war.

My contention is simple, yet highly contentious.  American war time service leadership has been severely substandard for the last six decades, from Eisenhower to Petraeus.  Without the possibility of relieving generals in the field (the Marshallian approach to leadership), the possibility of a collapse of our threat deterrent remains highly probable.

Two men come to mind:  General Westmoreland and General Tommy Franks.  Other names come to mind, like Ricardo Sanchez, Douglas McArthur, Maxwell Taylor, Colin Powell, Richard Myers, George Casey and even George Patton.

What Thomas Ricks does is provide incalculable insight into why these and other generals failed as well as an examination of outstanding generalship of what was normative for decades of our Republic.

The war for the greater Middle East is on.  How should America fight it?

Given the myriad advances to our technologically advanced civil society, the archaic Carter Doctrine and its incipient belief in the militarization of the Persian Gulf isn’t necessary.  The components of effective statecraft are no longer determined by mass or armed conflict.  Even with the larger purpose of engagement limited to counter-insurgency or liberation, the arsenal at the hands statecraft has grown by magnitudes, but our teaching institutions of warcraft haven’t.

Incidentally, the problems besieging the greater Middle East are substantially greater now then they were before invasion.  Consequently, team Obama’s approach has exacerbated the social, strategic base from which American power is based; having alienated allies and openly invited rouge regimes, we are limiting our ability to shape the region.  Obama’s preference was to insulate the public from this engagement.  Even still, the prerequisites of freedom for the 21st century are dependent on rapidly changing circumstances that require a reliable hegemon. Geographically, Asia is exploding in importance, while other regions of the world like western Europe and North America are stagnating. In a word:  we’re losing.

How are we to turn this around?

We’ll need to reshape ourselves first.  We need fiscal reform, working American citizens are in need of capital/equity formation, we need to reform our monetary system to reflect the necessity of the supremacy of civil society.  Sustainable and equitable prosperity isn’t about cash transfers, deficit financing, depreciation or other financialized schemes.  We need new streams of capital.

Perpetuating the war on behalf of the Near East means having Gulf Monarchies and China begin liberalization efforts of capital accounts. That would entice regimes in New Delhi to seek comity in Kashmir.

In a word:  we need to open up closed political economies to the glory of capitalism.  But first, we need to do it at home.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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2 Responses to What Iraq Taught the U.S. Military

  1. Pingback: What Iraq Taught The U.S. Military - Affluent InvestorAffluent Investor

  2. Pingback: What Iraq Taught The U.S. Military | | Investing Matters

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