07 January 2007

Bush’s forlorn hope

Forlorn hope is an old military term that was originally used to describe the first wave of soldiers attacking a breach in siege defences during with the intention of either gaining a foothold or making progress easier for a second assault. If you were part of a forlorn hope the chances were that you would not survive but if you did and you were seen to have fought courageously then it would guarantee advancement.

In time the expression was used to describe any soldiers placed in an extremely dangerous position. President Bush looks set to announce shortly the deployment of a forlorn hope of up to 30,000 in Iraq as part of a crackdown against insurgents and the largely Shia death squads.

His new strategy focuses mainly on stabilising Baghdad through the deployment of five extra US brigades (increasing the US presence from 140,000 to up to 170,000) which will be made available by extending tours of duty and accelerating the rotation of fresh troops into the country. In addition, the US will provide additional resources for job a job creation programme mainly to paint schools and clean streets.

Bush's plan is a rejection of the Iraq Study Group report and looks likely to precipitate a battle between with Congress. It looks for all the world like his final drink in the Last Chance Saloon. Given that previous strategies have been a failure, increasing troop numbers for one last big push will probably achieve nothing. It is long past the time that the US government (and our government) stopped believing harder in a victory in Iraq and started working on withdrawal.


elasticwaistbandlady said...

My opinion will be wildly unpopular here and I lack the mechanical know- how to get into logistics, but I think with the advanced technology at our disposal that this is a war that could have been over with quickly using deadly weaponry precision to target insurgents/terrorists. Pussyfooting around has cost too many human lives, and sending more probably isn't the solution. I agreed with the ideas behind the war. Namely changing the face of Iraq and establishing a democracy with the hope that the seeds will extend to other Middle East nations thus neutralizing them as threats. Things rarely go according to plan on a good day and when dealing with human variables the chances of a smooth operation decreases even more.

Pete said...


Jams is right and you are not (I reckon).

Democracy needs fixing on most continents but the difference about Iraq is that it has a great deal of much needed oil and thats what attracted the US invasion.

Iraq had far fewer terrorist connections than, say, Saudi Arabia, before the invasion. The presence of Coalition troops in Iraq is the cause of terrorism and the insurgency there. This has been recognised by US and UK intelligence - including generally rightwing generals.

Killing every Muslim who fights the Coalition has never been the answer. Sending more US troops to side with the Iraqi Shiites (who dominate the police and army) to kill Iraqi Sunnis is also no answer.


Steve Bates said...

EWBL, we agree on exactly one thing: that you "lack the mechanical know-how to get into logistics..." or, frankly, based on your comment, any other aspect of this war. You've simply got it wrong. It's not a matter of your opinion being popular or not; you've confused fantasies with facts, much like someone else I could name.

I agreed with the ideas behind the war. Namely changing the face of Iraq and establishing a democracy with the hope that the seeds will extend to other Middle East nations thus neutralizing them as threats. - EWBL

That was Bush's third? fourth? rationalization for the war, starting with "they've got WMD." America would never have allowed itself to be taken to war on the basis you describe; Americans accepted the war because they believed Bush when he said Iraq had nukes.

As we now know, that was a lie. Absent Iraqi nukes, Americans would not have been, and are not, interested in nation-building. Restructuring the governments of whole regions of the Earth is most certainly not the mission of the U.S. Been there; done that; bought the T-shirt at a cost of tens of thousands of American lives in Vietnam.

Try a thought experiment: reverse the positions of the U.S. and Iraq. Imagine that Iraq is the overwhelming military power in the world (heaven forbid), that Iraq preemptively invaded the U.S., deposed its government and set up its own puppet regime. Would there be any amount of military technology in the whole world that could make the American people accept such subjugation? Right... no way in hell. Now tell me... why should Iraqis feel any differently?

A half million American troops might or might not have been enough to quiet Iraq at the time of the invasion, but the purported mission of establishing a stable, long-term democratic government in Iraq cannot be accomplished externally, by any number of troops, period. I know it's a cliche, but you can't export democracy at the point of a gun. Americans know that... just about all of us, except for Mr. Bush and his immediate cohort.

jams o donnell said...

Unfortunately high technology does not bring victory in itself or there would be no Taliban, no Al Qaida, no Bin Laden and no insurgents in Iraq. WIthout good intelligende it realy does not amtter how smart or hi-tech the equipment is.

Militarily the invasion of Iraq seemed doomed form the start. While I am delighted to see Saddam gone it would have needed a lot more troops to hold down the insurgents, And then it isn't easy. Look at the British army in Northern Ireland. Taking a more "robust" approach is counterprouctive too.. start maltreating the civiliam population and then you create more support for the insurgents (internment in Northern Ireland in the early 70s was a disaster). Any counter terrorist or counter insurgency is difficult. THe US Governemnt did not put in suficuent resources at the start to give its objectives even a prayer of working, throwing a few troops now will achieve little.

That does not even consider the premise for invasion. Saddam was a vicious bastard who was a danger to his own people (particularly the Kurds and the shias) and his neighbours (Iran and Kuwait). Iraq certainly did have wmds at one time, no doubt. It certainly did use chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds. But it was not a threat to the west. It was not involved with Al Qaida.

Just ebout everything seems to have gone wrong.