Why We Cannot Win

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Before
I begin, let me state that I am a soldier currently deployed in
Iraq, I am not an armchair quarterback. Nor am I some politically
idealistic and naïve young soldier, I am an old and seasoned
Non-Commissioned Officer with nearly 20 years under my belt. Additionally,
I am not just a soldier with a muds-eye view of the war, I am in
Civil Affairs and as such, it is my job to be aware of all the events
occurring in this country and specifically in my region.

I
have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number
of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.

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.

I
believe that we could have won this un-Constitutional invasion of
Iraq and possibly pulled off the even more un-Constitutional occupation
and subjugation of this sovereign nation. It might have even been
possible to foist democracy on these people who seem to have no
desire, understanding or respect for such an institution. True the
possibility of pulling all this off was a long shot and would have
required several hundred billion dollars and even more casualties
than we've seen to date but again it would have been possible, not
realistic or necessary but possible.

Here
are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq.

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."

This
implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply
kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished,
everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few
tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective
at fighting the guerillas.

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.)

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."

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.

Fourth,
their lines of supply and communication are much shorter than ours
and much less vulnerable. We must import everything we need into
this place; this costs money and is dangerous. Whether we fly the
supplies in or bring them by truck, they are vulnerable to attack,
most especially those brought by truck. This not only increases
the likelihood of the supplies being interrupted. Every bean, every
bullet and every bandage becomes infinitely more expensive.

Conversely,
the guerillas live on top of their supplies and are showing every
indication of developing a very sophisticated network for obtaining
them. Further, they have the advantage of the close support of family
and friends and traditional religious networks.

Fifth,
we consistently underestimate the enemy and his capabilities. Many
military commanders have prepared to fight exactly the wrong war
here.

Our
tactics have not adjusted to the battlefield and we are falling
behind.

Meanwhile
the enemy updates his tactics and has shown a remarkable resiliency
and adaptability.

Because
the current administration is more concerned with its image than
it is with reality, it prefers symbolism to substance: soldiers
are dying here and being maimed and crippled for life. It is tragic,
indeed criminal that our elected public servants would so willingly
sacrifice our nation’s prestige and honor as well as the blood and
treasure to pursue an agenda that is ahistoric and un-Constitutional.

It
is all the more ironic that this un-Constitutional mission is being
performed by citizen soldiers such as myself who swore an oath to
uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the same
oath that the commander in chief himself has sworn.

September
20, 2004

Al Lorentz [send him mail]
is former state chairman of the Constitution Party of Texas and
is a reservist currently serving with the US Army in Iraq.

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