he goes to Heaven
To St. Peter he'll tell
Another Marine reporting, Sir
I've served my time in Hell
Anonymous Marine, WWII
late Eugene Sledge concluded an article (p. 307) in The
Costs of War, edited by John Denson, with that poem from
an anonymous Marine. In his article, which was composed from
notes he used in a speech to a "Costs of War" conference
sponsored by the Ludwig von Mises Institute in May, 1994, Sledge
described vividly the horrors of World War II as faced by those
who had to fight in ground combat – those who faced death because
of decisions made by politicians.
politicians ignore experiences cited by Eugene Sledge and others,
and President George Bush is no exception. As a result, he and his
neo-con handlers may be heading towards their own – and the
U.S.'s – Waterloo in the current war on Iraq. By allowing
himself to be bamboozled by these neo-con bozos into believing that
the U.S. could defeat Iraq quite easily, Bush launched the war with
inadequate troop strength and insufficient heavy weapons, notably
tanks and other armored fighting vehicles and heavier mechanized
reports indicate that another 100,000 – 120,000 U.S. troops
will be sent to fight in Iraq (including an armored division), almost
50% more than the 275,000 American and British troops now in that
area and more than double the number of U.S. ground combat troops
– estimated at about 75,000 – now fighting in Iraq. Because
it will take a number of weeks – up to several months –
to deploy these additional forces, the war, in this active combat
phase, will drag on. And it will likely cost more than the $75 billion
Bush is seeking to fund it and the extra foreign aid to our various
"allies." If Iraqi guerrilla fighters, reportedly including
an influx of new al Qaeda recruits, get military aid from Russia,
China and other countries and start a campaign of terror against
U.S. troops, things could go downhill after any initial U.S. victory.
and Awe – A Mendacious Strategy of Selling War on the "Cheap"
neo-con campaign of "Shock and Awe" – so-called precision
bombing of key Iraqi military command and control targets coupled
with rapid troop movements designed to accept the surrender of Iraqi
troops who would be shocked and awed by our firepower display –
flopped. Iraqis have not surrendered en masse. In fact, surprise
of surprises, some Iraqis may even view their fighting as a defense
of their homeland. One wonders what kind of intelligence reports
suggested that the Iraqis would just surrender quickly, or did the
neo-cons ignore and cover up such reports in order to get us to
attack Iraq? This is certainly not a war on the cheap, as was promoted
by Bush's neo-con mafia.
reports further confirm this. With a combination of his usual trickery,
possibly terrorizing his own populace into fighting, and old-fashioned
guerrilla warfare, Saddam and his armies appear to be holding out,
sometimes giving ground grudgingly in their fight. The Iraqis have
been helped by severe sandstorms, which forced the U.S. to ground
its aircraft and helicopters. And Saddam's military appears to be
using what weapons they have – including tanks – to disrupt
U.S. supply lines and attack U.S. combat forces, which are stretched
thin. In a battle just several days ago, Iraqis reportedly knocked
out two U.S. M-1 Abrams tanks using anti-tank missiles.
of Bush's and his neo-fascist advisers' arrogance and mendacity
– wanting to get a U.S. base in Iraq to control Middle Eastern
oil and possibly to protect Israel, many U.S. and British servicemen
and women are going to get killed and wounded in this horrible and
unnecessary war and likely subsequent military occupation. Costs
of this war will likely rise well above current estimates, which
appear to be of the lowball variety. Lawrence Lindsey, a former
economic adviser to George Bush, got into hot water – before
being fired – by citing an estimate of $200 billion for the
cost of invading and occupying Iraq. Lindsey may well prove to be
correct. And the toll on Iraqi civilians – in terms of lives
lost, injuries, and collateral damage to their property, will increase
further as the fighting drags on and possibly gets more intense.
as sickening is the fact that no senior U.S. military commanders
"fell on their swords" by resigning and speaking out that
our force was inadequate prior to the U.S. attack. Even if only
one Major or Lieutenant General had done so, that might have raised
enough questions to prevent the attack from taking place. Apparently,
our senior military – even if they disagreed with Donald Rumsfeld
and the other neo-cons – believed they could eventually win
the war but with more casualties. And they probably believe that
this war will boost support for even more defense spending!
Ground Forces, Lack of Land, and Bad Weather
to the U.S. attack on Iraq, some senior military officers argued
with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other neo-cons that their
notion of a new type of warfare – a shock and awe battle, with
so-called precision bombing of targets coupled with an attack by
a small force of lightly armed but highly mobile troops – had
too much of a chance of failure. Senior military, especially Army
officers, tend to be cautious and like to have significant force
superiority before attacking. Additional forces – which would
have made the war more costly and also would have made the war more
odious to the American public, were probably dismissed as "redundant"
by the novice neo-cons. However, they are often needed as wars never
turn out as planned.
on, retired General Norman Schwarzkopf stated that a successful
war on Iraq would take a force of 500,000 – with a lot of heavy
armor, just like he used in Desert Storm, primarily because the
purpose would be a complete takeover and occupation of Iraq. And
now other retired Army officers, such as former NATO commander Gen.
Barry McCaffrey, have said that the U.S. is stuck in the battle
– it has no choice but to win the war – and therefore
it needs more troops, with at least one being an armored division,
to win decisively.
as important, the U.S. did not have adequate land space for launching
an attack with a sufficient number of troops, equipment, and supplies.
Kuwait is a small country; it did not have enough space for the
U.S. to stage a large enough force to win a war against Iraq quickly.
And the fact that this support and staging area is small makes supplying
U.S. forces that much more difficult. It also makes it easier for
Iraqi forces to attack U.S. supply lines, as they are fewer and
concentrated. That is why the U.S. was willing to pay a $30 billion
bribe to Turkey, as the military wanted an additional base for launching
a combined air and ground assault on Iraq. Without it, that made
the task much more difficult and enabled Saddam to concentrate his
ground defenses on the southern front.
the U.S. picked a bad time of the year to attack Iraq. The sandstorms
and forthcoming heat, if the war continues to drag on as expected,
will further help Saddam and his minions stretch out this war in
the hopes that the U.S. will negotiate some settlement and pull
Signs of a Neo-Con Waterloo
the U.S. is still likely to win the initial war on Iraq, it will
be more drawn out and with more casualties on both sides, than the
neo-cons stated. And even if the U.S. wins the initial war, guerrilla
activity may spring up later to threaten U.S. troops stationed there.
if things start going bad and no clear victory over Saddam is in
sight, then watch for further resignations from Bush's neo-con war
advisers. They have gotten the U.S. into this fix, but, like Richard
Perle, they will try to slither out before getting blamed for the
mess they have gotten us into. They do not want to be around to
answer for the death and destruction of property that their madness
has brought about.
this current and future horror – the deaths, injuries, destruction
and waste of resources – could have been avoided had more of
the American public availed themselves of the experience and wisdom
of the late Eugene Sledge and the others who correctly raised their
voices on the high costs of war at the conference in 1994.
can do our part, by exposing the mendacious neo-con warmongers.
Encourage your friends, colleagues, associates, and even ideological
foes to read The Costs of War. It might help keep us out
of future wars.
Grichar (aka Exx-Gman) [send
him mail], formerly an economist with the federal government,
writes to “un-spin” the federal government’s attempt to con the