August 23, 2004

From The Military School Of Life

The Army don't dance, they just pull up their pants, and do the auto-da-fé.

After the recent entry, one wants not to toss analogies about like confetti. So I won't note the congruencies of the current circumstance in Iraq to that of a previous dallliance in Vietnam. Such invocations are lax, and depend entirely on the long-gathering rhetorical freight in the term "Vietnam" -- you know, when we were wrong both ethically and in our strategy + tactics.

Without wandering too far into ethics, which is now the province of advice columnists and I say good riddance, it's worth noting that the current conflict is far more an overtly economic action that the avowedly ideological struggle in Vietnam. Yes, there are current claims about fighting murderous fundamentalism and evil regimes, and there has even been a concerted effort by loyal intellectuals to render this as a global struggle between two opposed ideological systems, CocaWorld Vs. McJihad, etc etc. The Republican party in particular doesn't breathe well when cut off from the oxygen of Manichaean absolutism.

Nonetheless, the distinction in economic determination becomes obvious when one turns to strategy + tactics. In this current bloody struggle, the assets are fixed: strategy demands that cities be pacified, oil fields be secured. In Vietnam, this was far from the case; as a result, the opposing forces could make far greater use of those tactical advantages that accrue to a guerrilla army: infinite mobility, freedom to decline combat when outgunned, unfettered use of terrain.

In Iraq, that is to say, because of the particular strategic goals, the Alliance of the US And Its House-pets has a considerably better tactical position than in Vietnam. Nonetheless, I have been watching a lot of video feed and I would llike to proffer the suggestion that it is very hard to beat an enemy that dances communally before, after, and even during mortal engagements, no matter the temporary results. Such activities may indeed be marginally more powerful than two girls jumping rope. The Mehdi army, and other Iraqis, treats combat the way that Americans treat only the ends of wars.

We were told the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms and dancing in the streets, which turned out to be true, excepting the word "open."

Posted by jane at August 23, 2004 09:14 AM | TrackBack

Love the kicker! BTW Naomi Klein in Harper's this month--definitive.

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