The enemy has not been without successes, proving tactically adaptable and ruthless. Yet at heart his strategy was static: it was to inflict a low but continuous rate of casualty on US forces and broadcast that fact to the world. The enemy center of gravity was the US electorate. They attached video and camera crews to their striking units in the same way that US forces attached supporting weapons to theirs, creating the first combined media-military arms in history. Using these new type of formations they relentlessly projected the message, 'we are in charge'. And people believed them.
Those two competing strategies met each other head-on in Iraq. The US strategy was far superior in the conventional sense. The enemy strategy was arguably the more creative and daring; with a far larger "information" dimension than the American. Each approach had its strengths and weaknesses. The American approach emphasized changing reality and letting perception follow. It played to American strengths: logistics, training, advanced weapons, tactical speed. The enemy approach was to manage perception, both among its own base and in the field of public opinion, while striving to inflict as much damage as it could on US forces. Although it was America that first used the term, it was the insurgents who truly perfected the process of "shock and awe": the mind-altering application of battlefield force. But shock and awe are evanescent while dying tended to be permanent. My own guess is that the issue is no longer in the balance. While some combination of political or military blunders could still save the insurgency the fundamentals are against them.
In retrospect, the insurgency's greatest failing was its inability to create a "national united front" against United States "occupation". To the end it remained a sectarian movement; and the narrowness of this focus was probably the price of its alliance with Syrian intelligence and Al Qaeda, whose tent was never large enough to admit the Shia or the Kurds.
This, of course, brings me back to our own MSM. Without their clueless and helpful behavior enabling the terrorist message; and the unrelenting trumpeting of that message--at the expense of both Iraqi and American lives, I might add--there is no doubt at all in my own mind that significant progress would have come much faster and at a lower casualty cost in Iraq. The terrorists are still hoping that their manipulation of a fawning U.S. and International media will give them a win in public perception, if not on the battlefield.
By choosing to control public perception, rather than reality--a strategy that worked for the communists during the Vietnam war-- we have the most damning similarity between Iraq and Vietnam. Because of public perception that was manipulated by the media and by the many apologizers for communism, the U.S. snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in that earlier conflict; and it has been argued that the Cold War continued unabated for 20+ more years than it might have, before communism finally collapsed and the Cold War was won.
With today's weapons of mass destruction in the hands of irrational death cults proclaiming a world-wide jihad, can we really afford to let ourselves be manipulated again? To give our enemies time to do serious damage to our nation? Whatever else one might say about the communists, they wanted to live in the world --they wanted to control it, yes. But staying alive was part of their strategy. That's why mutually assured destruction could work.
Mutually assured destruction is more of a goal, rather than an impediment as far as the lunatic Islamists we are fighting are concerned.
Mark Steyn also has some words to say concerning the War about the War in Iraq that complement Wretchard's analysis:
''After the tragic events of Sept. 11 . . .''
And, by the time I'd heard it half-a-dozen times, I retuned the dial and never listened to the station again.
It wasn't a "tragic event" or even one of a series of unfortunate events. It was an "attack," an "act of war." I sat at the lunch counter with a guy who'd tuned out the same station on the grounds that "I never heard my grampa talk about 'the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.' " But, consciously or otherwise, a serious effort was under way to transform the nature of the event, to soften it into a touchy-feely, huggy-weepy one-off. As I wrote last year: "The president believes there's a war on. The Dems think 9/11 is like the 1998 ice storm or a Florida hurricane -- just one of those things."
I didn't know the half of it. If an act of war is like a hurricane -- freak of nature, get over it -- it's evidently no great leap to believe that a hurricane is an act of war. Katrina was thus "allowed" to happen because Bush "hates black people." The Army Corps of Engineers was instructed to blow up New Orleans' 17th Street levee so that the flood would kill the poor people rather than destroy the valuable tourist real estate.
Whatever. As part of their ongoing post-9/11 convergence, the left now talks about Bush the way the wackier Islamists talk about Jews. I thought the Australian imam who warned Muslims the other week to lay off the bananas because the Zionists are putting poison in them was pretty loopy. But is he really any more bananas than folks who think Bush is behind the hurricane?
Here we have the media and their masters on the Left in full-blown paranoid mode. I'm not even sure they are capable anymore of understanding how destructive and irrational their behavior has become. But their descent into hysteria and delusion seems to have no bottom.
The War about the War is currently raging. The one side believes that by controlling and manipulating public perception they can defeat their sworn enemy, their nemesis; the source of all evil in the world-- the REPUBLICAN President of the United States.
The other side, perhaps foolishly, believes that truth will out. That reason will demonstrate that Iraq and Afghanistan are now on that incredible path to freedom and democracy -- a dream that was UNIMAGINABLE and UNTHINKABLE a few short years ago. That Al-Qaeda has been placed in check and has only been able to respond feebly and intermittantly since their vicious attacks on 9/11.
But now, when the Iraqi constitution is coming for a vote; and free elections in Afghanistan are soon to be held; now we must listen to the latest squawks from the lunatics who bring us the news, and all the greet seers of wisdom in Congress like Pelosi and her band of deluded democrats.
I remember one paranoid individual who was convinced that he had Hodgkins Lymphoma. Medical doctors took his concerns seriously and worked him up thoroughly; happily presenting him with all the test results and xrays that clearly demonstrated that he was actually okay and in good health.
Soon afterwards, he came in convinced he was dying of colon cancer. The doctors referrred him to psychiatry at that point.
Afghanistan is in good shape and very healthy. Iraq is in good shape and getting healthier. Our economy is doing superbly (even the price of gasoline is going down and not up). By all standards; and all tests; America is healthy and strong.
But now the purveyors of doom; the profiteers of racism; the champions of victimhood are all suffering horribly from "Bush-induced Hurricane Katrina" and we're all going to die again!
Can somebody please refer them to a good psychiatrist?
UPDATE: Here is an impressive and comprehensive post from Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom regarding the "Bush-induced Hurricane Katrina" hysteria.