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Friday, July 18, 2008

UNITED STATES AND WAR; THE SURGE IS NOT WORKING

I wrote the following Blog about 8 months ago but I never published it. I am doing so now as a preliminary to my present Blog which I am entitling: THE SURGE IN IRAQ IS NOT WORKING; THERE IS ANOTHER REASON. The update will follow this preliminary.

PART I

THE UNITED STATES CAN NEVER WIN ANOTHER WAR;

WHERE HAVE THE GOOD GENERALS GONE?

Followed by: PART II

THE SURGE IN IRAQ IS NOT WORKING; THERE IS ANOTHER REASON

INTRODUCTION

In this article I will explore how the United States won World War II (WWII), how we began to lose our ability to win wars during the so-called Korean Conflict, the added impact of the Vietnam War, and what is happening today in Irak. I will try to propose an explanation of the process by which we progressed from a nation with good weaponry and strong unifying will to a nation with the highest tech weaponry the world has ever known but the inability to use them to win wars and the lack of any semblance of a unifying will.

During WWI and WWII, there was little doubt that we developed rather quickly the armaments and especially the political skill to win large world conflicts. The American ingenuity to mobilize 20th Century industrial capacity was equaled only by Germany under Hitler who early in his regime was focused, but who later tried to “bite off more than he could chew” which contributed to his eventual downfall. Additionally, German generals had to contend with micro-management from Hitler, this being akin to the negative influence the present day politicos had upon the wars in Korea and Vietnam and now are having in Iraq – all which eventually had or will have negative results. Another thing which added to Hitler’s demise was the fact that we had superior Generals – or should I say General – who were not shackled by what I will refer to as “The Politics From Above.”

As we progressed or in reality regressed in the Korean Conflict we (when I use the “we” I am referring to the United States; when I use the “I” I will refer specifically to what I believe) began to make the same mistake that Hitler made, that is, of having politicians who know nothing about the strategy of war attempting to “tell the Generals what to do.” I will eventually attempt to explain this further. We continued this interference from above in the Vietnam War which eventually led to our disastrous loss there. Additionally, we began to experience something we had not prior to this time. We began to have incompetent generals or probably it would be more accurate to say Generals who, if they knew what they were doing, would not for fear of having done to them what happened to General MacArthur. This was probably the most single event which eventually led to what I call “the emasculation of the Generals.”

So now we come to the present conflict in Iraq – the total lack of competent generals and the total control by politicians who wish above all to be politically correct and, especially, not to have collateral damage. Could we ever tell General Patton: “Please , George, do not kill any German civilians!” This may sound facetious, but it is not. It is, however, the ludicrous reality of what is now happening in Iraq, and therein is why we will not win in Iraq.

WORLD WAR II

I am going to skip discussing WWI because I was not there to experience it first hand. But I was here, granted as a very young man during WWII, and later as a young man getting older during the subsequent conflicts which I will discuss. It is my opinion that the European phase of WWII was won because of the efforts of a single General who was General George C. Patton. His unrelenting advances through France and Germany totally destroyed the German army, and he accomplished this even with the psychological suppression of his supervisors, especially General Eisenhower.

Not to speak ill of General Eisenhower, he had a different job to accomplish. General Eisenhower had to keep together a potentially fragile coalition of the English and their totally incompetent and egotistical General Bernard Montgomery (at the time having the title of 1st Viscount) and essentially a non existent French counterparts who wanted to have their say but by that time were insignificant to the total war effort. Parenthetically, this is not to say that Patton was not in the same vein as Montgomery egotistical, the difference being that Patton was fully competent. But Eisenhower, even though he did not like Patton or better stated Patton’s style and big mouth, did recognize that Patton was the man for the job and knew that Patton was needed to win the war. And Patton did, not ever worrying about “collateral damage” or what others thought. He knew what it took to win and, most importantly, he did it.

There is little doubt that General George C. Patton was one of the great US Generals of the 20th Century. He knew about strategy, and he, especially, had the will to execute it. It was this latter quality which gave him the “blood and guts” reputation. At times, he fiercely tended to ignore orders from above, sometimes rather surreptitiously, when he felt that the orders interfered with his plan of attack.

It is very important here to note that in the scheme of things it is important that elected officials decide when to wage war. The people have elected them to make those decisions. And I do accept that “war is a political matter.” But this once said the decision is made to go to war there must be unity within the population to wage war. Unfortunately, in these times the electorate is fickle, giving permission today and taking it away tomorrow. The enemy not only senses but most importantly observes our division because it is plastered all over the media. We are a nation of instant gratification and we do not like to be perceived as a loser. Once things appear to go wrong, the electorate is easily swayed to pull out.

We create this division because the well meaning party who is not in power wishes to seize the political advantage to openly criticize the war, but, of course, under the guise of “free speech and the freedom to dissent.” The population who follow the dissenting politicians create the division which is seen by the enemy. This single most important division is one of the major factors contributing to defeat. And this is all done because the politicians who are not on the top of the hill want to be there.

As we look at division in our Country, we see a number of things. In many polls there are 30% for, 30% against, and 30% who do not have a clue! Or we have, especially at times of elections, nearly 50% voting one way and 50% voting the opposite way. We should always keep in mind that, especially during the last several elections, the party who wins does so by a meager margin of one to two percentage points. The party who wins fiercely proclaim that they have a mandate. These individuals should go to a dictionary to see what the word “mandate” really means. Surely one to two percent is no mandate. What happens is that the party now in power clearly believe that they have a mandate, and the other party who lost by only 1-2 % feel disenfranchised.

Returning to the situation during WWII, we had General Eisenhower charged with keeping a fragile coalition of other European Generals who wanted to be somebody but who were not, and we have General Patton, the general who really won the war over the Germans. To Eisenhower’s credit he was desperate and gave great power to Patton, and, most importantly, President Roosevelt did not micro-manage the war from Washington, perhaps other than telling Eisenhower to be diplomatic. This was surely different than what Roosevelt’s successor, President Truman did with MacArthur during the Korean Conflict.

We won WWII and the Europeans have been thankful ever since! ? Haven’t they? (Sic, a bit of sarcasm!)


THE AFTERMATH OF WWII

The aftermath of WWII did not bode a pretty picture. It seems to be a reality that the aftermath of many a war plants the seeds of the next conflict. If I may digress to discuss something about the aftermath of WWI, it should be remembered that Italy was our ally in WWI, but our antagonist/enemy in WWII. Italy’s Mussolini in his first autobiography stated that he was very unhappy at the settlement outcome of WWI. He felt that Italy’s Orlando was derelict at allowing Nice and Savoy not to become part of Italy. Mussolini felt these territories should have been given to Italy essentially for payment of their support of the war. In his second autobiography written just a few months before Italy’s surrender in WWII, I believe he clearly insinuated that the inequities of the aftermath of WWI was the reason why he sided with Hitler, which turned out to be his greatest mistake. The Italians and the Germans have little in common personality wise. It has been this way since Ancient Rome and the northern Germanic tribes battled.

Now we are faced with what to do after WWII. We allowed Berlin to be divided between Germany, per se, and the Soviet Union. Patton warned again this and wanted to neutralized the USSR before they developed so much power. Patton was ignored and the Berlin Wall went up along with the imaginary, but real, Iron Curtain. Subsequently, the Cold War developed and this took many years before it was settled. President Truman was way out of his league here. He was a little man from Missouri who thought he was big. Although he talked tough, he was not in the same league as the crafty Stalin who played a better game of chess every time. Truman’s background was that he was a Senator from Missouri, a rather peaceful “show me before I believe it” state. He worked hard as a Senator eventually becoming Vice President, a rather lack luster position in US politics whose only claim to fame depended upon the death of the President. And when Roosevelt died, there was Truman, Chief Executive of the Greatest Nation in the world – all a rather innocuous trip to the White House.

But where had Stalin been? Stalin on the other hand had to survive the Russian Revolution and the eventual development of the USSR, surrounded by other cut-throats who could have well did him in. Stalin grew up in the streets of chaos with intrigue and having to watch over both shoulders at all times. It is little wonder that he could and did play chess better than Truman.

In some respect, I do not believe that Roosevelt kept Truman informed in his deals with Stalin. Presidents were and are egotistical by nature and hardly kept their Vice Presidents informed of what was going on. I do not believe Truman knew the power of the force with which he was dealing – Stalin. And, as a result, the Berlin Wall and the imaginary, but real, Iron Curtain were established. It was the beginning of the Cold War which ended years later during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

But the real folly of Truman’s Presidency , especially as it concerns our ability to wage and win wars, is what was to happen in Korea.


THE KOREAN CONFLICT

I believe it is correct to refer to our problems in Korea as the “Korean Conflict,” for I do not believe that war was ever declared. It is a sad state of affairs to realize that the Korean Conflict was never truly settled and still exists today as we experience more problems with North Korea.

We now get to discuss the other great United State’s General: MacArthur. His exploits in the Pacific rousting the initially superior Japanese army and navy during WWII were legendary and his accolades rightly deserved. He also was able to execute his Pacific strategy without interference from above. He had the full support of Roosevelt and the American people. A TV documentary was once aired about General MacArthur and it was entitled “The American Caesar” – a most apt description of the man, ego and all!

Immediately after the war he was individually and uniquely involved in establishing for Japan a new constitution leading to Japan having completely reversed its imperialistic desires of war to become the second largest industrialized nation in the world. Of the problems of war aftermaths mentioned above, this effort of MacArthur was to be a great outcome. He was not only a great General, but he was also a great Statesman, only to be belittled by the diminutive Truman a few years later.

I have often thought his efforts in establishing a Democracy in Japan were definitely deserving of a Nobel Prize. But, unfortunately the Nobel Prize Committee eventually chose to give it to the likes of Yasser Arafat, albeit this occurred years later.

When MacArthur was finished he returned to his beloved Phillippines and retired.

But it was soon after that Truman needed a General to direct the Korean Conflict and he chose MacArthur. But in this war, the ground rules began to change drastically. Instead of listening to his General-in-Charge with respect to neutralizing North Korea, Truman began to micro-manage the war. Truman had no experience fighting wars. But instead he eventually fired MacArthur because of egotistical turf, and no general will ever make the same mistake. Now I have not forgotten the conflict between MacArthur and Truman was over chasing fighter planes over the Chinese border and into China.

Could one have ever imagined Patton not allowing his planes to enter forbidden territories to pursue the enemy? He would have taken it to the max and won. MacArthur was that kind of General. The problem of the aftermath of the Korean Conflict led to no resolution of the conflict leaving the solution for another day. And look at where we are today.

Truman is considered by many to have been a good President, but I hold a contrarian viewpoint. He was a President who allowed the rise of the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and the problems we have with present day North Korea. Truman tops my list of one of The Worst of the US Presidents – an opinion, I realize not shared by many.

Once his spirit was destroyed, MacArthur was soon to die. As a Medical Doctor, I have seen this occur in many patients.


THE VIETNAM WAR

Why we ever entered the Vietnam War has always been a mystery to me. The French left and we went in. We had nothing to gain except propping up a friendly inept and incompetent government. We had been doing that all over the world for many years so we were used to this kind of behavior. But President Kennedy made the decision and subsequently President Johnson carried on. The politicians including President Johnson and Secretary of Defense, McNamara, micro managed this war like no other. It appeared that with each subsequent war after WWII the politicians thought they were the New Caesars, but one difference: Caesar was on the battlefield, the civilian politicians stayed in Washington. It appeared that the new politician want the credit of winning the wars and not give any credit to the generals. But things turned out different than expected. We were beginning to lose wars and all the presidents and their cohorts won was disgrace.

This situation was compounded by the fact that there were no competent generals any more. If there were, these Generals were shackled by the rules dictated by the civilian politicians back home. A case in point is when the Generals wanted to mine the harbor to destroy the ships of so-called friendly nations supplying armaments to the North Vietnamese, our enemy, they were ordered not to. What kind of foolishness was this. And so, our friends were supplying armaments to our enemy so they could destroy us. Our Generals were not, in a way, incompetent here, but they were not able to conduct their strategy to win the war.

In this case it was the Washington politicians trying to be Generals. This was compounded by the politicians playing the game I talked about earlier of leading opposition to the war under the guise of being the (un)loyal opposition. Our enemy read this as dissension, as well they should, and hung out till we fell apart internally which we eventually did. Vietnam was eventually unified by the enemy. And, as we are now seeing a good relationship between our two nations, we are beginning to trade with a friendly Vietnam. We should have never been there in the first place. We had no business there. But, we Americans have short memories. We would never think of blaming President John F. Kennedy for getting us involved for we would never think of criticizing an assassinated president. This would be the ultimate of political incorrectness.

To sum up the Vietnam situation, we had much Washington political interference and the beginning of our experience with incompetent generals, for one reason or another. The incompetence of the Generals was to increase and the interference of the Washington politicos was to continue.


THE FIRST IRAQ WAR

This war was waged by the first Bush President, George Herbert Walker Bush. In my opinion this was a just war for we had a strategic interest, the small country of Kuwait asked us to help, and we were able to convince the majority of the world’s nations to join in the coalition.

We rousted Saddam Hussain’s army in a very short period of time both because we had superior weaponry and we had an enemy who was very weak. It appears to be a characteristic of Arab nations to talk big but are weak in execution. They are so busy fighting one another that they do not need the likes in Israel to destroy them.

But what about our generals or better put General Norman Swartzkoff, you know “Storman Norman.” He appeared effective, but then again he had superior weaponry and an extremely weak opposition. So, I believe Swartzkoff has been untested as a general. The great folly of this campaign was that Saddam was not neutralized at the time. He was to live another day to cause more trouble.

It is still confusing to me why we did not go in and put the final touches to Saddam. One story which was circulating at the time was that we were approached by some Iraqi generals who said they were in a position to neutralize Saddam without us. This same story concluded that it was Saddam himself who engineered the generals to approach the United States army with the proposition. Again we were dealing with a superior crafty individual who turned out to be smarter than us. It had not been the first time and it will not be the last, sad to say.

From what I can conclude and there are many stories going around, Swartzkoff wanted to finalize the war by entering Bagdad and taking out Saddam once and for all, but the Washington politicos overruled him. It appears that General Swartzkoff is a loyal general who has never clarified the true story.

The aftermath of the First Iraq war is what we are experiencing at the present time.


THE SECOND IRAQ WAR

The Second Iraq War under the presidency of George W. Bush, is now being waged, and what a war is it turning out to be! Seeing how this war is being waged is what prompted me to write this article. I see in this war the seeds of future things to come and to conclude that, if we are to continue to wage wars in this manner, we will never win another war. In this war we have the ultimate of political interference and the establishment of a cadre of incompetent generals.

Our main problem causing us to become almost totally ineffective in waging war is our obsession over preventing “collateral damage” and the politicos interfering with the war process insisting that this rule is enforced. A couple of examples might bring home the point.

Example #1: There was a time during the Afghanistan war when the British army had Osama Bin Laden’s convoy in their sight and grasp but they were instructed not to take them out because the American army wanted the privilege of accomplishing this. By the time the American army arrived, the convoy had disappeared. The obsession over turf and credit overshadowed the real objective.

Example #2: Again not too long in Afghanistan, there was a funeral party of about 30 plus high officials of the Taliban burying one of their own. The Pentagon ordered that they were not to be molested because it was a funeral. Are we waiting for the Taliban to return the favor? Again, interference from the Washington politicos for the sake of political correctness.

Example #3: One of the most outspoken enemies of the American army and the Iraqi people is the so-called cleric Mohamed Al Sadr. He has one of the largest, if not the largest, private armies in Baghdad. They do not call themselves an army. They use the term militia. Some time ago they were small and could have been taken out but for political expediency we did not. He is a known enemy who promotes violence against both the American army and other Iraqi people. He works out of his mosque which, in reality, a fortress loaded with weapons. Another fact is that most of the mosques are essentially forts in which the enemy hide because they know we will not attack them there. What are we: fools?

If we are to clean up Iraq, the militias MUST be completely destroyed. If we do not have the will to do this we ought to get out. This goes for the mosques too. If the mosques are indeed fortresses, they must also be destroyed. It is only then when we will be considered a forcible army to be respected as such.

In summary, the Second Iraq War is a disaster because we have incompetent generals and much too much political interference. War and Political Correctness are incompatible. If we make the decision to go to war we are derelict, if not bordering upon downright criminal, not to give our troops both the best of weaponry but also the will to win the war. We need generals like Patton and MacArthur to re-emerge again. Short of this we should not be there because under such circumstance we cannot and probably not win another war.

PART II

THE SURGE IN IRAQ IS NOT WORKING; THERE IS ANOTHER REASON

Everyone is now believing that the so-called “surge” is working in Iraq. But I believe it is not the surge which is working but an all together different event which occurred simultaneously with the surge – it was the replacement of the incompetent Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez by General David Petreas.

One only needs to consider General Sanchez’s attitude: General Sanchez said he was convinced that the American effort in Iraq was failing the day after he took command, in June 2003. Asked why he waited until nearly a year after his retirement to voice his concerns publicly, he responded that it was not the place of active-duty officers to challenge lawful orders from the civilian authorities.
Now this is the General in charge of the Iraqi War, having the attitude destined for failure. I watched when General Sanchez would come before a congressional committee testifying. He sounded more like a politician than a general. He surely did not sound like a Patton or a MacArthur. General Sanchez did everything wrong, especially not having neutralized Mohamed Al Sadr’s militia army when he was militarily superior and could have accomplished the feat. And Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld would sound more like a general than a politician. Talk about role reversal! This goes back to something I mentioned in PART I: the politicians wanting to be generals and the generals acting like politicians.
So it came to pass that individuals finally realized that more troops were necessary to turn the tide in Iraq. And we know that one now presidential candidate advocated this all along – John McCain. But there were other generals advocating the same thing from day one of the war. But stubborn Donald Rumsfeld followed the advice of Sanchez who believed more troops were not necessary. Of course, he did not think so. If there were more troops, Sanchez’s prediction of losing the war would not have come true as it almost did.
At the time we had A Secretary of Defense listening to the advice of the incompetent General Sanchez. It is rumored (from the mouth of Sanchez) that he will eventually write a book telling of the incompetent politicos with which he had to deal. But this will be another tell tale book written by someone whose opinion should be evaluated in light of his performance in the field which was not that illustrious to say the least. After all that is said and done, Rumsfeld insisted he was following the advice of the generals in the field and the general in charge was in way over his head.
So we get to the crux of my argument: most likely it was not the surge but rather the appointment of the new competent General Petreas to take charge of the war effort. It is interesting to note that Petreas’ name means rock in Latin – a true rock hard General he is turning out to be.
My background is science and I was a medical researcher for years. Philosophically and experimentally, if one was performing an experiment with more than one variable, it would be difficult to assign a cause/effect to an event to any single variable unless the proper controls were instituted. Coincident with the surge, General Petreas, a second variable, was added to the mix. It is my contention that it was General Petreas, not the surge, which resulted in the positive turn around in Iraq. This, however, is not to minimize the importance of the surge. This is difficult for the politicos to admit that Sanchez was not competent because in politics no one ever makes a mistake! When mistakes are made they are defended with the same degree of forcefulness as when one gets it correct.

When General Petreas comes before a Congressional Committee, he behaves like a General, exudes confidence, and, most importantly, unlike his predecessor believes the war can be won.


nicola michael Tauraso, MD
Panama City, Rep de Panama
An American living in Panama
www.drtauraso.com

nicola michael (c. Tauraso, M.D.)
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
Web site: www.drtauraso.com
Blog site: http://www.drtauraso.com/blog/index.htm
Email: drtauraso@drtauraso.com







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