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Thread: Do we require a victory or a Triumph?

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Do we require a victory or a Triumph?

    I think we need to ask ourselves do we need a victory or a triumph in Iraq? What is the difference? A victory is short term and solves some immediate problems, but a triumph is final. I believe we are in a war of ideas. We are in fact telling all those states, all the people of those states to follow our political philosophy to some degree because ours (or something close) is the best. We are saying the ideas and philosophy of Osama and people like him are ruinous and counter-productive. A narrow, drawn out victory in Iraq does not prove that ours is better, only that we that we can hang on a little longer. Iraq is much more then just battleground against insurgents, it is the battlefield of ideas – and it is one where the whole world is watching.

    To bring forward a triumph requires scale, triumphs are not subtle, they are like a Tsunami. Nobody doubts the winner or how the winner won. There is no recount. No propaganda can lessen it. It speaks for itself.

    I do believe our military is doing all that it can. We have sent our best soldier. I think we can do no more, the military already shoulders the greater burden. I also believe the nation and the world is not doing all that it can. Maybe it can’t. Maybe it dismantled the apparatus’ required to do more during the Cold War in favor of something else. Maybe we don’t understand the stakes – we think Iraq is just an adventure. We think the Iraqis should do more. But I’d question the last. If we are the ones saying our system is better; if we are the ones who are telling the world to follow our lead; who has more to lose? Who really requires a triumph? Iraq and the United States are linked. We both require a triumph. To not Triumph in Iraq is a win for those like Osama who say tolerance, liberty, pluralism, justice and freedom are a sham. They wish to empower themselves through the subservience of the masses. They will not stop until the world stops them.

    I also find it interesting that about two years ago people asked questions like, “Where are the “Marshall Plans”? When they got no answer people started wondering, “Well, where are the Marshalls?” That generation understood sacrifice better then ours – yes our military understands sacrifice, but not our generation as a whole. That generation understood what was at stake, what hung in the balance. I’d argue ours does not. We have not done a very good job of telling them.

    Without scale there can be no triumph. Maybe all we will achieve is a narrow victory. The military can hold its head high – we have sacrificed and done all we can do. I think a victory will only lead to other contests – other Iraqs. It is inevitable in my opinion. To achieve a triumph is to declare a clear leader - It is to leave no doubt. Success on that scale influences the world – it says look what we have done, we have done the impossible.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Is a "Triumph" even possible in a small war? How does one win a war of ideas when the enemy's idea does not have a genuine physical manifestation and is not bound by a nation or a single person, a la the Soviet Union or Osama bin Laden?

    I question whether "the world" as a whole can stop the ideas of radical Islam. I would submit that this is principally an intra-Muslim struggle which is bound up in the Arab Muslim world's demographic and political struggle between the forces of reform and tradition. Solutions imposed from outside will be rejected in the long run, but ideas from the outside filtered and interpreted by Muslims themselves can be decisive.

    This process will be ongoing for decades.
    Last edited by tequila; 06-07-2007 at 12:20 PM.

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    We have not done a very good job of telling them.
    I think you hit the nail on the head here. This is a much more confusing situation than ww2. The West and the MSM seem to want to make themselves the bad people. People are confused and the governments have not done a great job explaining why we are doing what we are doing.

    To be fair whenever I have talked to a Canadian ww2 vet and asked why they fought its always been something like
    "well we got it in our heads that there was a bad guy named hitler in Europe and someone had to stop him"

    the world was a lot simpler back then

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I think we need to ask ourselves do we need a victory or a triumph in Iraq?
    Rob,
    A fundamental consideration raised by your question is what is the antecedent to the pronoun in your question. That is, to whom does the "we" that is the subject of your question apply? Is it we Americans; we, the western, "civilized" world: we, the human race on earth; we the moderate Islamic denizens of the Middle East and Southwest Asia; etc.; etc. ?

    I do not think one can answer your question until that "we" is further clarified. I would wager a great deal that the need for victory or triumph (and the criteria by which one would decide whether either had been attained) will vary quite a lot depending on who gets plugged in as the antecedent for that all important "we" in your question.

    I don't want to pose the question without also proposing an answer. As an adjunct to my earlier post on the COG thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...&postcount=22)) that we are really looking at a different customer for the business we provide in a COIN campaign, the right answer for the "we" ought to be the customer we are seeking to serve.

    It isn't about what we Americans or we the Coalition forces need--it is about what those we are serving need. The sooner we get that through our thick heads, the better.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Rob,
    A fundamental consideration raised by your question is what is the antecedent to the pronoun in your question. That is, to whom does the "we" that is the subject of your question apply? Is it we Americans; we, the western, "civilized" world: we, the human race on earth; we the moderate Islamic denizens of the Middle East and Southwest Asia; etc.; etc. ?

    I do not think one can answer your question until that "we" is further clarified. I would wager a great deal that the need for victory or triumph (and the criteria by which one would decide whether either had been attained) will vary quite a lot depending on who gets plugged in as the antecedent for that all important "we" in your question.

    I don't want to pose the question without also proposing an answer. As an adjunct to my earlier post on the COG thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...&postcount=22)) that we are really looking at a different customer for the business we provide in a COIN campaign, the right answer for the "we" ought to be the customer we are seeking to serve.

    It isn't about what we Americans or we the Coalition forces need--it is about what those we are serving need. The sooner we get that through our thick heads, the better.
    WM

    All good points and all relevant. I tried getting at this idea a couple of years ago when the SecDef was continuing to debate whether the insurgents were really insurgents according tothe DoD defintion. At the time I commented the definition had to come from the Iraqis because if they saw the insurgents as just that, then they were insurgents.

    In this case, asking, "What do you mean by we, Paleface?" is probably more important than the triumph or victory issue.

    Tom

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    WM

    All good points and all relevant. I tried getting at this idea a couple of years ago when the SecDef was continuing to debate whether the insurgents were really insurgents according tothe DoD defintion. At the time I commented the definition had to come from the Iraqis because if they saw the insurgents as just that, then they were insurgents.

    In this case, asking, "What do you mean by we, Paleface?" is probably more important than the triumph or victory issue.

    Tom
    Tom,
    Greetings from Munchkinland and thanks for the vote of confidence. Now , how do we get "the man behind the curtain" (to whom we are supposed to pay no attention) to pay attention to us?

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Tom,
    Greetings from Munchkinland and thanks for the vote of confidence. Now , how do we get "the man behind the curtain" (to whom we are supposed to pay no attention) to pay attention to us?
    Send a little dog named "Toto" to bite him on the butt? Wait for Dorothy to wake up and say, "I'm home!?!" Toss water in his face and see if he melts?

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Oui - those darn homonyms

    Hey WM, Hey Tom,
    Quote:
    It isn't about what we Americans or we the Coalition forces need--it is about what those we are serving need. The sooner we get that through our thick heads, the better.
    Quote:
    What do you mean by we, Paleface?" is probably more important than the triumph or victory issue.
    Well, I guess your both right, because if we don't decide that it is more then a war on a tactic, then we will not see it for more then that, and we will continue to misinterpret the nature of the war and try to get to an unlimited objective through limited means, and we will start hanging out with Pete and Repeat. Policy and Strategy mismatches have not historically went well.

    I just read an essay by Michael Howard called "When are Wars Decisive?" Its from 1998, but hits the mark.

    an excerpt,
    Q
    uote:
    "Few wars, in fact, are any longr decided on the battlefield (if indeed they ever were). They are decided at the peace table. Military victories do not themselves determine the outcome in wars; they only provide the political opportunities for the victors - and even those are likely to be limited by circumstances beyond their control. In his excellent study The Pursuit of Victory Professor Brian Bond reminded us that at least two other considerations have to be added to to success on the battlefield: namely, firm resalistic statecraft with specific aims, and the willingness of the vanquished to accept the verdict of the battle' (p 61). To study a war without taking into account the circumstnces in which it is fought and the peace to which it led is a kind of historical pornography; like the study of sexual intercourse in isolation from the relationship within which it takes place and the consequences that flow from it. It is certainly an inadequate approach to thinking about the war of the future
    .

    Hey Tequilla,
    Quote:
    Is a "Triumph" even possible in a small war? How does one win a war of ideas when the enemy's idea does not have a genuine physical manifestation and is not bound by a nation or a single person, a la the Soviet Union or Osama bin Laden?
    I think this ties in with what Tom and WM were talking about. I believe Iraq is the most important front in a larger war - so although Iraq may qualify for the title "small war" - since I'd say we are tackling it with limited means (diMe), I'd also say its part of a much larger war - that has unlimited ends - we (there is that darn pro-noun again) want to end (or at least minimize) the conditions which lead to terror as a tactic, and the pursuit of instability by groups and states which (we) believe to be incompatable with the right vision of the future.

    To realize that objective, it will take more then a military victory, it will take a triumph. The military can't achieve a triumph independent of political accommodation. You can't have that until you share enough common values to want to stop killing each other. You can't do that until you have something worth losing.

    Its the means by which the Bin Ladens get their power and foot soldiers that has to change - since targeting them is so difficult. Yes they need to be brought to justice, but first they need to be neutralized. They peddle and economy of hate - because that is all they need to in order to influence people who have nothing to lose. They point to the successful states and declare them apostates and satans because they are a viable explanation to why their target audience has nothing - no dignity, respect, money, future and hope. They are using the most base expression of human nature - the sin of jealousy to inspire hatred - because it is always more convenient to blame others then look inward and find the courage to overcome what life has handed you.

    A Triumph is when we address and set the course to overcome the root causes of this hatred. When we do that it makes it harder for a Bin Laden to come to power.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 06-08-2007 at 01:45 AM.

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    Default The Fix V The Gun

    One proviso to the fact that AQ/Jihadism plays off poverty and those who have nothing is the fact that they also align themselves with elements that play off people's greed and vice, namely drugs. This silent but powerful ally of terrorism is the counterpart to insurgency, that out of desperation, poverty and political despondency, many turn to drugs rather than acts of insurgency, i.e. violence. I don't think many proactively connect the two because drugs are not the sole domain of the impoverished, the disenfranchised and politically hopeless. There is alot of cash and control associated with drugs and we sometimes in our haste to address and assess the ideology and ramifications of religious fanatacism ignore the obvious, that said fanatacism is not the sole culprit we are dealing with. I find it odd that in the absence of Public information about drugs in Iraq, the perception then exists that somehow drugs are not a relevant factor. This then would leave the purview of the drug market solely connected to the Taliban, a problem unique to the other front we are engaged in and not Iraq. I rather doubt this is the reality of the situation. Anway, that's my .02 worth on the subject.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    goesh, you said a mouthfull there. Drug dealing is as much about power and control as it is about making money.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    I find it odd that in the absence of Public information about drugs in Iraq, the perception then exists that somehow drugs are not a relevant factor.
    Goesh, ask and ye shall receive.

    Opium: Iraq's new deadly export. Patrick Cockburn, The Independent. 23 May.

    Farmers in southern Iraq have started to grow opium poppies in their fields for the first time, sparking fears that Iraq might become a serious drugs producer along the lines of Afghanistan.

    Rice farmers along the Euphrates, to the west of the city of Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, have stopped cultivating rice, for which the area is famous, and are instead planting poppies, Iraqi sources familiar with the area have told The Independent.

    The shift to opium cultivation is still in its early stages but there is little the Iraqi government can do about it because rival Shia militias and their surrogates in the security forces control Diwaniya and its neighbourhood. There have been bloody clashes between militiamen, police, Iraqi army and US forces in the city over the past two months.

    The shift to opium production is taking place in the well-irrigated land west and south of Diwaniya around the towns of Ash Shamiyah, al Ghammas and Ash Shinafiyah. The farmers are said to be having problems in growing the poppies because of the intense heat and high humidity. It is too dangerous for foreign journalists to visit Diwaniya but the start of opium poppy cultivation is attested by two students from there and a source in Basra familiar with the Iraqi drugs trade.

    Drug smugglers have for long used Iraq as a transit point for heroin, produced from opium in laboratories in Afghanistan, being sent through Iran to rich markets in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Saddam Hussein's security apparatus in Basra was reportedly heavily involved in the illicit trade. Opium poppies have hitherto not been grown in Iraq and the fact that they are being planted is a measure of the violence in southern Iraq. It is unlikely that the farmers' decision was spontaneous and the gangs financing them are said to be "well-equipped with good vehicles and weapons and are well-organised" ...
    Rob, I'm still a bit of focus with the below:

    To realize that objective, it will take more then a military victory, it will take a triumph. The military can't achieve a triumph independent of political accommodation. You can't have that until you share enough common values to want to stop killing each other. You can't do that until you have something worth losing.

    Its the means by which the Bin Ladens get their power and foot soldiers that has to change - since targeting them is so difficult. Yes they need to be brought to justice, but first they need to be neutralized. They peddle and economy of hate - because that is all they need to in order to influence people who have nothing to lose. They point to the successful states and declare them apostates and satans because they are a viable explanation to why their target audience has nothing - no dignity, respect, money, future and hope. They are using the most base expression of human nature - the sin of jealousy to inspire hatred - because it is always more convenient to blame others then look inward and find the courage to overcome what life has handed you.

    A Triumph is when we address and set the course to overcome the root causes of this hatred. When we do that it makes it harder for a Bin Laden to come to power.
    Are you saying that we need to fundamentally transform the conditions that lead to terrorism? Isn't this a tad utopian, maybe even a bit neoconnish? We're having more than enough problems just securing Baghdad.

    What is the road to this Triumph, the proper course to overcome the root causes of hatred? Democracy? Capitalism? How are we going to bring it to MENA or Central Asia?

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    -then AQ/jihadists as dealers and pushers needs to be better exploited on the propoganda, informational end of things. Didn't there used to be a war on drugs? Maybe some of the Public apathy can be prodded a bit by foisting the personna of AQ/Jihadism not only as vicious fundamentalists harming Islam and killing innocents but also as dope running thugs. If I had some graphic skills, I would make a big color poster of OBL holding that little Klashnikov he favors in one hand and a brick of opium in the other hand, the caption to read: "liberation by death". That's my artistic .02 worth for the day.

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    When I hear the word "triumph" in a military connection, I get these mental images of the Roman forum crowded with a cheering mob. The Emperor, wearing a crown of gold laurel leaves, rides up in a chariot. Behind him is a line of defeated enemy chained together as slaves, about to be fed to the lions in the Colisseum. In the background I hear a bunch of trumpets and kettle drums blaring out heroic music like the "March of the Charioteers" from the "Ben-Hur" movie soundtrack. I really would prefer to have a different image about the outcome of our efforts in Southwest Asia or any other GWOT operation.

    I do not think that triumphs tend to produce a better state of peace. And as as others have noted, that is what the real issue encompasses--getting to a better state of peace in the future. What is needed is a way to finish up so that the combantants don't have to go back and do it again all over again in another 25-30 years (or sooner). (Think about the end of WWI and its connection to the start of WWII here.)

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    Default Vini Vidi Vici

    How about Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld in chariots with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyres blaring full tilt?

    The camera pans to them thundering down a runway in golden chariots at Baghdad International and throngs of Iraqis are prostrating on the sides of the runways and maidens are throwing flowers onto the runway??

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    How about Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld in chariots with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyres blaring full tilt?

    The camera pans to them thundering down a runway in golden chariots at Baghdad International and throngs of Iraqis are prostrating on the sides of the runways and maidens are throwing flowers onto the runway??
    I think they had that bit of theater in mind...

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    How about Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld in chariots with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyres blaring full tilt?

    The camera pans to them thundering down a runway in golden chariots at Baghdad International and throngs of Iraqis are prostrating on the sides of the runways and maidens are throwing flowers onto the runway??
    I find that image compelling, but with that foursome, I think that a better scene would be something out of the War Room in "Doctor Strangelove." I'm thinking of something along the lines of the fight scene with the Russian ambassador.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I find that image compelling, but with that foursome, I think that a better scene would be something out of the War Room in "Doctor Strangelove." I'm thinking of something along the lines of the fight scene with the Russian ambassador.
    never forget Slim Pickens as Maj. T.J. "King" Kong ridin the bomb in!

    Stay on the bomb run, boys. I'm gonna get them doors open if it hare lips everybody on Bear Creek.

    Shock and Aw Circa 1964! YAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Tom, thats right and he was from Alabama!

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Tom, thats right and he was from Alabama!
    Like the new avatar, slapout!
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Like the new avatar, slapout!
    Steve, thanks...took me forever to find that one and figure which keys to push to make it work. My keyboard has all these extra keys on it does your?

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