View Full Version : Caesar and Petraeus

j earl
07-01-2010, 11:31 PM
A paper I wrote for a class, seems timely now.

Throughout history, civil wars have been personal affairs that pit brother against brother and countrymen against countrymen. In some instances the struggle may seem to be religious in nature, or may form solely out of a leader’s desire for power. In two examples, the Civil War (as described by Julius Caesar) and the Sunni / Shia conflict of the Iraqis as chronicled by Linda Robinson’s book, “Tell Me How This Ends”, the path to victory is found in reconciliation. Especially in Iraq, leadership sought to smash the belligerents to the conflict with an iron fist, but the lessons learned the hard way pointed the path of victory to reconciliation.

More than two thousand years ago a brutal civil war raged between the factions of the two brightest statesmen of the time, Caesar and Pompey. As the fortunes of these two great men ebbed and flowed, so did the support from various political parties and allies. Caesar apparently recognized the need for political reconciliation as a key victory in his civil war. Caesar ' s clemency was apparent at the city of Corfinium where he besieged the pro-Pompeian Consul Domitius Ahenobarbus. Cut off, starved, dehydrated, and on the verge of defeat, the city was offered up to Caesar by the Pompeian inhabitant’s and he in turn he rewarded them by not only sparing their lives, but offered them employment under his standard. Thus Caesar increased his forces and set a precedent where future foes might be tempted to rely on his leniency and surrender; the alternative being to die in defeat. Caesar again reconciled with the Pompeian forces led by the Consul Afranius; he not only spared their lives, he also allowed the defeated soldiers the option to be discharged from service and further increased his image as he restored their personal property that was lost during the war. Caesar’s clemency ensured the pacification of the defeated foe by offering continued employment and inclusion in the rebuilding of the country. No doubt a hard line stance against the vanquished foe would have created military and logistical problems as large bands of professional soldiers would be left to seek revenge. Better to make friends where possible.

Two thousand years later, the United States created a civil war by doing the opposite. When the shock and awe campaign to liberate Iraq ended, a crucial error was made. Instead of inclusion of the defeated foe, the newly formed Coalition Provisional Authority passed Decrees 1 and 2. Decree 1 denied the top four tiers of the Baath party positions in the new government, essentially denying them the chance to earn an honorable living. The second decree disbanded the security and intelligence services, putting thousands out of work. In their zeal to overthrow the primarily Sunni Baath Party government, the Coalition Provisional Authority unwittingly planted the seed for years of civil war. Only after much blood was spilled did the US military commanders, led primarily by General David Petraeus, start to bring the Iraq War back from the brink of total failure. Petraeus, writer of the revised US Army’s Field Manual on Counterinsurgency Operations, spearheaded a change in operations. He moved to secure the population centers through increasing forces, building walls to limit movement of insurgent groups and sought to reconcile the belligerent parties. Part of the reconciliation process involved employment of Sunni Insurgent groups to protect their neighborhood from Shia death squads who sought revenge for years of repression at the hands of the Sunni Dominated Baath government. One example was the gain made by the 1-5 Cavalry in the Ameriya where Al Qaeda imbedded with Sunni Nationalist insurgents. Through the initiatives fostered by new COIN strategy, Col Kuehl of the 1-5 Cavalry cultivated relations with the neighborhood Sheikhs and Imams, that in turn led to cooperation between the Sunni’s and Americans. Al Qaeda eventually wore out their welcome and the local Sheikhs and Imams decided it was time to take back their neighborhood. In confirmation of the new relationships being formed, Sheikh Walid of the Firdas Mosque contacted Col. Kuehl and advised of Plans that angry residents of the neighborhood had to exact revenge on Al Qaeda (for kidknapping two prominent locals). The Sheikh did not ask for US help, only to advise of his plans. In the end , the US did help when Al Qaeda response became overwhelming. Thus a new era in coopertation started in Ameriya that lead to a sharp reducition in violence.

Though more than two thousand years separates these two Civil Wars, ultimate victory in a civil war has to involve reconciliation between the parties. The Roman and American military might were potent tools in achieving victory (or something other than all out defeat). Caesar’s commentaries indicate that he almost always preferred reconciliation, he realized that combat was costly and leniency was a cost effective means of increasing Roman power and prestige. General Petraeus inherited control of an area that was plunging into all out civil war; he oversaw the reversal of bad governance and instituted keys to victory that would have been recognizable to the Caesar.

07-05-2010, 08:37 AM
Thanks for sharing this. History sometimes teaches lessons for those who want to learn.

07-08-2010, 04:08 AM
The same can be said of Afghanistan with the Taliban. Instead of incorporating them into any sort of power sharing agreement, they were intentionally excluded from the Oslo (Correction, BONN, thanks to JMM) compacts, thereby setting the stage for years of civil war. Which I think we are now seeing after a short respite to rebuild and reorganize, the Taliban is renewed and refreshed ready to fight for their country back. If only we had considered that in the beginning, things might be drastically different now.

07-08-2010, 04:16 AM
What them ?

07-08-2010, 04:58 AM
Mike- Once again thanks for correcting me. What I meant was Bonn, not Oslo. Germany, Norway, same same.

07-08-2010, 01:33 PM
Oslo Accords (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_Accords) (Israel-PLO, 1993), better discussed by Wilf and Rex from two somewhat different viewpoints - not my SME.

Astan (in current political set-up) involves Bonn Agreement (2001) and the Kabul Jirgas (Shuras) following. See starting with this post, Constitutional History of Afghanistan (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=57908&postcount=17) and ending with this one, Summary and Conclusion - Questions to be Anxwered (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=58348&postcount=33).

As to which, many threads here have talked the issues to death - so far as I'm concerned.

IMO: Astan's politics have been FUBAR for slightly more than 40 years; and will remain so barring a miracle of biblical proportions. So, in the interim, our military efforts will have to (again ! - as in Korea and Vietnam) buy us a "Decent Interval" to arrange a truce of some kind or disengage completely. Of course, an Astan Awakening could occur, but I leave that topic to others.

Currently (and for a couple of months), I've been looking at the history of civil affairs, military government, martial law, provost and detention policies - and, the Laws of Land Warfare, from Gen Order 100 (1863), through the Vietnam Era. Actually that history really starts with the Mexican War and Winfield Scott (Wiki) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winfield_Scott), who was a lawyer and an infantry officer (among many things, 1840, Scott's 3 vol. "Infantry Tactics, Or, Rules for the Exercise and Maneuvre of the United States Infantry"; that one for you, Ryan). ;)

All of that is more satisfying than dwelling on Astan; as to which, my current affairs comments are not needed.

Which in a way brings us back to the Petraeus part of the heading; namely, his thesis from the 1980s dealing with high level military officer input into national security policy from Korea through Vietnam and early Reagan. A very interesting presentation that thoroughly explains the "Never Again, but" school (to which I have belonged since Korea) - search SWC and you'll find a thread with a link to the Petraeus thesis (which may or may not be still good - Google might be easier). So, while I won't put Dave Petraeus up there with Caesar (remember the imperial Caesars thought themselves gods); he is a smart guy and recognizes the limitations of the military effort.



j earl
07-09-2010, 05:26 PM
Question, it seems the Baath party was viewed with some measure of legitimacy before being ousted. Can a Taliban government be viewed with any sort of legitimacy (internal or external) due to the extreme nature of their views?

07-09-2010, 06:02 PM
Question, it seems the Baath party was viewed with some measure of legitimacy before being ousted. Can a Taliban government be viewed with any sort of legitimacy (internal or external) due to the extreme nature of their views?

Yes, but...to what end?

As highlighted in this article from the Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2010/0706/Dent-in-Afghanistan-war-strategy-Why-Kandahar-locals-turn-to-Taliban?) I apologize for not being able to link that more effectively. The locals are already using the Taliban. In many places of the country they are perceived as the only legitimate form of governance. I would also argue that if they scaled back their rhetoric a small amount, and possibly broke off a separate political party, we would gladly accept them into the government structures. This would enable us to reduce violence to an acceptable level and begin to reduce our presence there. Just my take though.

07-09-2010, 07:26 PM
along the lines of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan - Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaat-e-Islami) and Official (http://jamaat.org/).

A similar party in Astan would probably not break any hearts in the Paki-ISI (though it and JI have their occasional hissy fits). JI and its Deobandi (via Maududi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayyid_Abul_Ala_Maududi)) worldview do not endear it to Western liberal democrats (small letters for "l" and "d" and using "liberal democrats" in its very broad sense). I suspect India, Russia and China would prefer not to see a "JI-ruled" buffer state in Astan.

JI-Paki (English Index-beta (http://jamaat.org/beta/site/index)) sees no reason to cooperate with the US (http://jamaat.org/beta/site/general_detail/events/81):

LAHORE, July 8: The Jamaat e Islami chief, Syed Munawar Hasan, has said there was no justification for Islamabad’s cooperation with the US in view of Washington’s persistent allegations against the Pakistan army and its institutions. Talking to media personnel at Mansoora Thursday evening, he said the US had been defeated in Afghanistan and it should admit this bitter fact. He said in such a situation, Pakistan should withdraw its airports and logistic support, and stop information sharing with NATO forces and the country’s foreign and internal policies should be reframed keeping in view the prevailing situation. ....

and so it goes in JI-Speak.

The CSM article is a great local example of the near total failure of the Astan national government to deliver local criminal and civil justice and governance - a trumpet I've been blowing here at SWC for the last two years.