January 2, 2008
Don't Count Your Victories Before They're WonBy Gerd Schroeder
The war in Iraq is not over or waning. In many ways the false idea that the war is won is far more dangerous than the defeatist ideas of the last year ever were.
Many political commentators have, for the most part, definitively announced that the war in Iraq is over; that the "Surge" has defeated the Islamo-Fascists (IF) in Iraq, and that the War in Iraq will not be an issue in the 2008 elections. This now-popular idea is as short-sighted and foolish as the idea that we were beaten in Iraq was, only a few short months ago.
This reduction in violence is nothing more that a regrouping of the IF in Iraq and the surrounding countries that are actively and passively supporting the IF toward their End Goal: our defeat, humiliation, and subsequent withdrawal from Iraq and eventually the entire Middle East.
To think that an eight-month surge of activity of our forces in Iraq has destroyed the IF in Iraq is naive and quite frankly foolish; and anyone advocating this idea is the embodiment of this naiveté.
It was not so long ago (May 2003) that some of these same naive commentators were pronouncing that the war was over; but in August 2003 the insurgency in Iraq started to rear its ugly head, and grew for the next year until in May the IF in Iraq actually thought that they were strong enough to fight out in the open in Fallujah against Coalition forces.
Last year, in Afghanistan, some how the "defeated" Taliban and Al Qaeda reemerged to slap us across the face and bring us back to the realization that they have not quit, and are willing to do anything to defeat us.
In December 1943 the same type of victorious pronouncements were made by Allied proponents, that the war in Europe was all but over. Yet, some how the Germans managed attack through the Ardennes, which resulted in the largest and most prolonged battle of WWII.
Just before the Battle of Gettysburg the Confederate Army, mistakenly assumed that the Union Army was defeated and it was only a matter of time before President Lincoln sued for peace.
These are but a few examples of foolish hopes overwhelming our practical minds in matters of war.
In 2007 the IF have suffered the same overwhelming squelching that Saddam's forces suffered in 2003; but just as in the several examples above, and in the countless others, this is a mere lull, not a defeat. The IF is regrouping, and will be conducting a "surge" of their own sometime in the near future; most likely before the 2008 November Elections.
"Dolce far niente" and razzia. Raphael Patai puts forward this mix of Italian and Arabic in his classic book, The Arab Mind, to advance the idea that the Arab life is a mix of long periods of passivity or the sweet doing nothing (dolce far niente), and short bursts of vigorous, and many times violent activity (razzia).
This is based on the Bedouin Ethos, and is the pinnacle of Arab culture; and as such it knows no geographic boundary or ethnicity. It is, in short, the most pure life that an Arab (one who speaks Arabic as the mother tongue) can attain. Even as the Arab World has westernized over the last century, this Bedouin Ideal is deeply embedded from birth into the Arab and drives the mores of the Arab World.
From Bedouin culture comes the idea of passivity and activity for the IF. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that has even a rudimentary understanding of the Arab World that what we are currently experiencing in Iraq is a passive phase, one that will inevitably be followed by activity; or more appropriately, as General von Clausewitz described, an escalation (the theory that wars escalate until one side quits).
Remember when all the Democrats, almost to a man (exempting Senator Joseph Liebermann), joined by many prominent members of the GOP, declared that we had lost and in essence quit. If it were not for the steadfastness of our President, and his faith, almost alone, in our military's (American and Iraqi) ability to effectively adapt to fight as the counter-insurgent in this war, we would have lost this war in September with Senator Reid's declaration of defeat.
To be sure, the "Surge", or more correctly, the change in tactics that General Petraeus bought to Iraq this year, has worked, and handed the IF a severe blow. But the IF are only licking their wounds and planning their next decisive move.
It us up to the Coalition to keep the pressure on the IF and destroy all of their sanctuaries in Iraq. This is exactly what they are doing. It is incumbent on the American People that we don't fool ourselves, as we did in 2003, with another Mission Accomplished moment.
If we allow this attitude to prevail -- that the IF is defeated and the war is over -- then when the IF surges or counter attacks, then our enemies here at home will seize on our pronunciations of victory and beat us over the head with them just as they did in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and most of 2007.
Most realistic people on both the Coalition side and the Islamo-Fascist side understand that Iraq is the center of the War, and as such the idea that the Surge has defeated the IF is as ludicrous as the idea that 911 defeated us.
Conservative estimates put the "diehard at any cost" IF at millions of people. We have a long time to go before those millions are dead and the remaining many more million fence sitters are pacified.
We need to pull our heads our of the clouds and continue to fight at home against the old media and the left, just as the Coalition continues to fight in Iraq as hard or harder then we ever have. We must be under the realization that the IF is a determined and cunning, howbeit evil adversary, who will stop at nothing to destroy us.
This is not the time for celebration. It is the time for us to stop the Battle of the Bulge, Islamo-Fascist Style.
Gerd Schroeder is a Major in the United States Army and a contributor to American Thinker. Major Schroeder has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. His views are his own. He does not speak for the US Army or the Department of Defense.