The following is in response to an article by Al Lorentz entitled, "WHY WE CANNOT WIN." I disagree.
I would first like to congratulate Mr. Lorentz for being the first person to be officially declared an idiot by Boots in Baghdad. Mr. Lorentz, to receive your official certificate of idiocy please e-mail your mailing address to BootsInBaghdad@yahoo.com and we will get that mailed out to you as soon as possible. I kept coming across Mr. Lorentz’s essay Why We Cannot Win while browsing the internet for information on Iraq. I really didn’t want to post anything on this blog regarding his out of touch perspective of the war in Iraq. Frankly, I am pretty busy and he is not worth my time. On the other hand, I feel as though I have a responsibility to set the record straight. Please excuse my failure to stay focused on the mission I set out to accomplish with this blog and bear with me just this once.
I recommend you read Mr. Lorentz’s essay prior to reading my response. To read Mr. Lorentz’s writings go to www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/lorentz1.html
My response is below.
Like Mr. Lorentz I am a soldier deployed to Iraq. I am young, I am very politically idealistic and in many ways I am naïve. I am a SPC4 with two years in the Army under my belt. I am a soldier with a mud’s-eye view. I cross the wire daily. I am out on the streets of Iraq talking with and meeting with the people who for too long have been oppressed and denied their God given right to freedom. These people constantly thank me and my friends for allowing them the opportunity to be free. Mr. Lorentz has reached the conclusion that “Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.” I can‘t figure out on what grounds that conclusion was made. Ideology and idealism have been altering history as long as mankind has had ideas and ideals. Our country, for one, was founded by a group of astounding idealists with profound ideas. This group of idealists conquered overwhelming odds and successfully created the great nation we have the honor and good fortune of being a part of today. History is full of idealists who have contributed their ideas to change the course of history and alter the ways lives are lived.
Mr. Lorentz writes;
"When we were preparing to deploy, I told my young soldiers to beware of the "political solution." Just when you think you have the situation on the ground in hand, someone will come along with a political directive that throws you off the tracks."
Well Mr. Lorentz, certainly as a seasoned NCO with twenty years under your belt, you understand that war is simply the means of reaching a political goal. There has never been a war that wasn’t serving a political agenda. There is always a political purpose when using force to engage an enemy. You speak of the “political solution” as if it is a separate factor, its own entity entirely separate from the plethora of intricacies that make up a conflict. Allow me to refer you to, On War, by Carl Von Clausewitz;
"War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means. Consequently, the main lines of every major strategic plan are largely political in nature, and their political character increases the more the plan applies to the entire campaign and the whole state. A war plan results directly from the political conditions of the two warring states, as well as their relations to third powers. A plan of campaign results from the war plan, and frequently--- if there is one theatre of operations--- may even be identical with it. But the political element even enters the separate components of a campaign; rarely will it be without influence on such major episodes of warfare as a battle, etc. According to this point of view, there can be no question of a purely military evaluation of a great strategic issue, nor of a purely military scheme to solve it."
Now it is right about this point in Mr. Lorentz’s writing he goes from being a decent guy with a differing opinion to an idiot. He calls the invasion of Iraq and the occupation thereof un-Constitutional. How is it unconstitutional?
According to Article II Section 2 of the United States Constitution;
"the President of the United States shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States."
Article IV Section 4;
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."
The Commander in Chief of the United States Armed forces can deploy the American Armed Forces up to ninety days on his own accord. With the consent of Congress he may keep them deployed longer. Not only did the President have the consent of Congress, he had consent from the United Nations. Saddam Hussein and his regime were given the opportunity time and time again to cooperate with weapons inspections and verify the destruction of any weapons of mass destruction. Time and time again Saddam Hussein chose not to cooperate. The President of the United States and the United States Congress were fulfilling their Constitutional duty to the American people by invading Iraq. The primary responsibility of the Federal Government is to insure the safety of the American people from threats both foreign and domestic. Saddam Hussein’s failure to cooperate in conjunction with the intelligence at the time gave them no other options but to act. Perhaps if President Clinton would have done his job as President and enforced the sanctions the United Nations placed upon Saddam Hussein after Desert Storm the American People wouldn’t have been put in such a predicament. However, they were. And thank God we had a President who wouldn’t allow a near decade of Presidential negligence in regard to national security… cost any more American’s their lives.
From here Mr. Lorentz begins listing his reasons as to why we can’t win this war. He begins with the following:
"First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as 'terrorists, criminals and dead-enders.'"
The United States along with members of the Coalition won the war against Saddam Hussein. Now we are fighting a war against terrorism in Iraq. Yes, they are terrorists. What else can you call Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who is Osama bin Laden’s main man in Iraq? Beheadings, car bombs, roadside bombs, executions… these are tactics used to instill terror into a populace in an effort to control their thoughts or actions. They aren’t just targeting U.S. and Coalition forces either. I have been mortared while giving coloring books to Iraqi children. Did you catch that last sentence Mr. Lorentz? If I am getting explosive projectiles launched in my direction with Iraqi children around, do you think the explosives are going to magically miss the children? These TERRORISTS are the ones with no regard for civilian lives. They behead civilians on TV. They blow up civilians who try to vote. They drag Iraqi Policemen and Iraqi National Guardsmen out of their homes and execute them in front of their families. There is no clearer examples of terrorists. And yes, they are the apotheosis of criminals and dead-enders. To suggest otherwise is asinine. These terrorists may use guerilla tactics, much like the Viet Cong used guerilla tactics in Vietnam and much like the Americans used them against the English loyalists during the American revolution. Guerilla tactics are unconventional methods of warfare. Using unconventional tactics against a larger, better trained and better equipped military is how the under dog has to fight. Call them guerrillas if that makes you feel better, that doesn’t change the fact that they are terrorists.
"The idea behind fighting a guerilla army is not to destroy its every man (an Impossibility since he hides himself by day amongst the populace). Rather the idea in guerilla warfare is to erode or destroy his base of support. So long as there is support for the guerilla, for every one you kill two more rise up to take his place. More importantly, when your tools for killing him are precision guided munitions, raids and other acts that create casualties among the innocent populace, you raise the support for the guerillas and undermine the support for yourself. (A 500-pound precision bomb has a casualty-producing radius of 400 meters minimum; do the math.)"
The base of support for the terrorist insurgency in Iraq is constantly being diminished. Some of these terrorists come from within Iraq, some have come from Afghanistan, others have come from Syria, Iran and Jordan. They represent varieties of religious extremist groups who are funded by outside sources and whose goals are to halt the spread of democracy in Iraq and cause as many problems as possible for the new Iraqi government. Their base of support is continuously slipping but crushing it will take years.
The April 2nd 2005 issue of The Economist has an article entitled “Time to Stop the Squabbling;”
"Attacks in February dropped to 40-50 a day, the lowest since the American’s first assaulted the rebel stronghold of Fallulah a year ago. While the rate has gone up a bit in the last few weeks, the rebels are no longer massing troops to overrun police stations or take over Iraqi towns wholesale. In contrast, Iraqi troops are fighting more aggressively , and the insurgents’ mystique is fading, thanks in part to popular television programs such as “Terror in the Hands of Justice,” which shows broken rebel captives confessing to everything from contract killings to homosexual orgies. Iraqi police say this has lead to a surge in the number of tips from citizens, who now take a more scornful and less fearful view of the guerrillas."
This is just one example of many ways in which that base of support for the insurgency is being slowly diminished. The Iraqi security forces are gaining more and more trust from the Iraqi people. These security forces are growing and starting to have their own successes. The IP’s and ING’s are working more and more with Coalition forces and the Iraqi people are getting more comfortable with the concept of independence.
In reference to Mr. Lorentz’s comments regarding collateral damage, unfortunately some civilian casualties are inevitable and these incidents are no doubt an enormous tragedy. Contrary to popular belief these instances are quite seldom and the majority of collateral damage has been caused by the insurgents. They would have no problem killing fifteen or twenty civilians if it meant they could kill one or two American soldiers or Iraqi security forces. Last month I was outside the wire in a patrol base that was targeted by enemy small arms fire. We DID NOT RETURN FIRE because of the slight chance a civilian could have been hit. If you scroll down and read my entry titled “Patrolling” you will see another instance where we didn’t fire warning shots at a potential insurgent because he used a car with a civilian family as a shield to escape a check point. Place the blame where it belongs Mr. Lorentz.
Mr. Lorentz continues;
"Second, our assessment of what motivates the average Iraqi was skewed, again by politically motivated "experts." We came here with some fantasy idea that the natives were all ignorant, mud-hut dwelling camel riders who would line the streets and pelt us with rose petals, lay palm fronds in the street and be eternally grateful. While at one time there may have actually been support and respect from the locals, months of occupation by our regular military forces have turned the formerly friendly into the recently hostile. Attempts to correct the thinking in this regard are in vain; it is not politically correct to point out the fact that the locals are not only disliking us more and more, they are growing increasingly upset and often overtly hostile. Instead of addressing the reasons why the locals are becoming angry and discontented, we allow politicians in Washington DC to give us pat and convenient reasons that are devoid of any semblance of reality. We are told that the locals are not upset because we have a hostile, aggressive and angry Army occupying their nation. We are told that they are not upset at the police state we have created, or at the manner of picking their representatives for them. Rather we are told, they are upset because of a handful of terrorists, criminals and dead enders in their midst have made them upset, that and of course the ever convenient straw man of 'left wing media bias.'"
I have never been under the impression that the Iraqi people are, “all ignorant, mud-hut dwelling camel riders who would line the streets and pelt us with rose petals, lay palm fronds in the street and be eternally grateful.” And Mr. Lorentz, I can assure you that such an implication didn’t come from anywhere in your chain of command either. Maybe that is some of the “wisdom” you passed down to the poor men under your leadership. For you to say that you were told such an absurdity from an official source representing any element of the United States government is completely false. Don’t blame your ignorance on anyone other than yourself. The Iraqi people have incredible endurance and faith. They have been subjected to some of the worst abuses history has shown us. The perpetrator of these abuses is no longer in power. For decades they have been forced to live a certain lifestyle and now they are trying to acclimate to freedom. No one ever said that would be easy and would happen over night. They are upset over a handful of terrorists. If it weren’t for these terrorists progress would be moving along much faster. No doubt they get frustrated when we come into their homes. But 99% of them are welcoming and grateful that we are in the area to protect them. They offer us tea and dinner and wish us well when we leave. We didn’t create a police state. Saddam Hussein created the police state. We are helping them eliminate that police state. And picking their representatives for them? Another one of your fantasies I suppose. Were you unconscious during the elections Mr. Lorentz?
Mr. Lorentz goes on;
"Third, the guerillas are filling their losses faster than we can create them. This is almost always the case in guerilla warfare, especially when your tactics for battling the guerillas are aimed at killing guerillas instead of eroding their support. For every guerilla we kill with a "smart bomb" we kill many more innocent civilians and create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support for us. We have fallen victim to the body count mentality all over again. We have shown a willingness to inflict civilian casualties as a necessity of war without realizing that these same casualties create waves of hatred against us. These angry Iraqi citizens translate not only into more recruits for the guerilla army but also into more support of the guerilla army."
I say again, support for the insurgency is eroding daily. I don’t know what your civil affairs unit does Mr. Lorentz, but ours is constantly making progress in this regard. Make no mistake, if there is a direct threat to Iraqi civilians, Iraqi security forces or members of the Coalition then the insurgents are going to have a choice, put down their arms or get put down. I want to make something clear, and this isn’t just from my first hand experiences, but from friends I have all over the Army and in the Marines. The Department of Defense and Coalition Forces do anything and everything possible to ensure the safety of all civilians in this theater of operations. That includes Afghanistan. These civilians are the future of democracy and are held to a high esteem. We are here for them. To suggest otherwise is completely untrue.
Mr. Lorentz goes on to say that there are supply problems and that we as Americans don’t give respect to our enemies. The supply problems that exist are minor and exactly what you would expect in a combat zone. We always have plenty of what we need. That’s all that matters. As far as respecting our enemies, they are deadly to us, deadly to the people of Iraq and deadly to the future of democracy. They pose a real and credible threat and that is understood.
In closing I want to let Al Lorentz know I think he is a complete idiot. He certainly is entitled to his opinion. I don’t have a problem with differing opinions. I have a huge problem with someone who will fabricate problems that don’t exist. It is even worse when these fabrications are coming from a leader of soldiers in uniform. I respect Mr. Lorentz’s service to the United States. I will remind him however that the contract he has with the United States as an American combatant didn’t ever promise him any input as to where he would deploy and under what circumstances. I thank God that he isn’t in my chain of command. To be honest, someone with that much lack of character and lack of faith in the mission wouldn’t last long anywhere in my unit doing the work we do. Mr. Lorentz, maybe if you went outside more and looked into the eyes of the people you are so incredibly critical of you wouldn’t be so oblivious to the “reality” you keep talking about. They want democracy. They want freedom. They are grateful. They will prevail. How about you quit telling the American people the Iraqi’s don’t want democracy and go tell some of the Iraqi Police officers and Iraqi National Guardsmen they don’t want democracy. Because if they don’t then what they hell are they dying for out there? It sure as hell isn’t the money. No one expected Iraq to turn into a flourishing country over night. If they did, they are probably living in the same bubble as Boots In Baghdad’s first official idiot, Mr. Al Lorentz.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The following is in response to an article by Al Lorentz entitled, "WHY WE CANNOT WIN." I disagree.