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War

by Laurent GUERBY Mon May 29th, 2006 at 05:11:47 PM EST

Sometimes words...


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This is one of the very tragic effects of war...

(And good to meet you at the meetup, Laurent...great to see your post!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 04:08:52 AM EST
Thanks!

The question raised here I think is about what do we want to be taugh in 21st century military schools?

Do we still want massive "full-rage-and-blood" soldier training, or do we want more "super-police" soldier training, so they are more able to operate with civilians in sight?

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for pointing out this.
Yesterday, on my workplace, I did a mini-inquiry among co-workers.Two questions :1: How many of our Belgian soldiers are abroad and 2: in what country's?
I didn't expect much of it, but I was perplexed by the answers. (about 30 people).
Most answers were in the range of " WTF we should know about? and " No idea, but if there are it's for the good of those country's."
Some gave it a try but the best didn't even came near the  half ( numbers and country's).
My morale was sinking below shoe-level.
My initiative was triggered by a discussion in this diary .
Even this morning I read there:
....supporting the troop is just disgusting.

I wanted to learn more about the attitude of our people concerning military interventions.

For this summer I expect several casualty's in several country's; European soldiers in Asian and African country's.
In the US there is Cindy Sheehan, veterans against war,  and others.
In Europe, the discussion is yet to start, except for UK.
I'm still working on a diary about DR Congo. There are so many aspects, so much facts, endless tragedy's....  didn't know where to start.
In the light of all the above, my first writing will be about the  European military  build up in order to 'protect' elections in July.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:06:11 AM EST
In democracies military intervention is decided by elected representatives, so the responsability for the military to go somewhere rest on politicians.

Now, once intervention has been decided, military will execute the missions given by politicians.

The "supporting the troops" rethoric is mostly manipulative: of course citizens will support their troops abroad (unless one's military has a very bad image, which is not the case for most armies), but also of course citizens won't support the particular soldiers that don't respect the law, just like citizens don't support murderers (the question is not often asked...).

Politicians also have responsability on what is taught at military schools.

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 07:03:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thing is, this isn't really a war. Not like WWI or II, with two sides fighting in different and recognisable uniforms over a patch soil.

This is guerilla insurgency against the colonising army as much as anybody where it is imposssible to tell civilian from aggressor. In those circumstances being trained, as military personnel are, to eliminate all threats, this will lead to massacres.

It didn't have to turn out like this. Then they sent in pro-consul Bremmer and his neocon idiocies and within days all hope was lost.

I wouldn't wish iraq on anybody, but it will not stop till we go. But we cannot leave it to fall apart into the outright civil war that has practically started. They need an arabic peace-keeping force to go in and police the situation. In fact, anybody but the running sore of the fools who smashed the place up.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 10:54:05 AM EST
The terms "global war on terror" and "global insurgency" have both repeatedly come out of the mouth of highly places Bush administration officials. I want to say Donald Rumsfeld has talked about both, but I am not sure it's him.

So, yes, the US is by its own admission waging a global guerrilla war.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 10:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They need an arabic peace-keeping force to go in and police the situation.

Is there even a credible Arab force available? You'd need lots and lots of them and surely they'd probably end up being drawn into the civil war? Wouldn't they need hundreds of thousands of troops? They wouldn't be peace-keepers they'd be peace-enforcers.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 10:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kurds are not Arabs, and the Shia are a majority in Iraq but a minority among Muslims.

Good luck getting culturally-sensitive peacekeepers posted to Iraq that won't be inclined to get at each other's throats...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:05:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the egyptians, Pakistanis, Algerians and Moroccans have decent armies. I would have suggested the Indonesians as well, but they're sadly a little pre-occupied right now.

The two N African ones would be acceptable to the Shia or Kurds.

Or you could go even further away and ask the Vietnamese, chinese or S Americans. Really just about anybody not implicated in the "War on Terra" will do. And I think we (US/UK) should pay for it.


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:08:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
chinese
Oh boy. That'd go down well in the US.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:11:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes part of making things right involves a bit of feeling bad.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:16:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The troop numbers required for a peace-making force is still a problem.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we need a lot of troops because we're the principal target. I'm not convinced a genuinely neutral army would need any more, and possibly fewer.

However, I'm not about to make Rumsfeldian estimates of my own based on ignorant guesswork

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:18:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Numbers are another reason I don't think a humanitarian intervention (to replace the imperialist one parading as humanitarian) is a practical possibility anymore.

My Rumsfeldian estimate is at least a million troops, so that patrolling can be comprehensive. There aren't enough available troops for that, not to mention troops trained for peace-making.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:42:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two different kinds of humanitarian intervention: peacemaking and peacekeeping.

Peacekeeping requires smaller numbers of troops, but in Iraq there is no peace to keep.

Peacemaking requires going in and defeating all warring parties. This might be feasible when those are fielding armies, but in Iraq you have a guerrilla insurgency, and an irregular-militia-based civil conflict. There is no way to defeat the guerrillas/militias without unacceptable brutality.

There was a small window of opportunity for peacekeeping before the insurgency had time to organize itself. I don't think that's the situation now.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:49:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not like WWI or II, with two sides fighting in different and recognisable uniforms over a patch soil.

Well, in WWII, that was more or less true of the Western Front, but not the Eastern Front. There were large-scale guerilla insurgencies against the Nazis all around, and the Nazis and their allies also 'fought' the civilian population.

It didn't have to turn out like this. Then they sent in pro-consul Bremmer

Well, I didn't have much hopes for Garner doing it right, either. Though he at least attempted to organize local democracy, at the same time he also empowered the sheikhs and mullahs by treating them as local power guarants and people to turn to (in best British Imperial style), held overall power for the US, and had too small an army to hold up a guerilla movement fed by the inhuman behavior of this same army already under his watch (the Fallujah escalation began before Garner was replaced by Bremer).

But we cannot leave it to fall apart into the outright civil war that has practically started.

In what way do US & allied troops holed up in bases and funneling money to a puppet government that uses it to buy arms for its militias hold up outright civil war?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:11:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It didn't have to turn out like this. Then they sent in pro-consul Bremmer

Well, I didn't have much hopes for Garner doing it right, either

What I meant to say was that they had totally the wrong "plan". On practically every occasion they did the exact opposite of what the situation required for calm orderly progress to peace.

In what way do US & allied troops holed up in bases and funneling money to a puppet government that uses it to buy arms for its militias hold up outright civil war?

I'd agree that this is a civil war, but one that is constrained by the presence of other troops. If we just upped and left, I genuinely fear what might come after would be the most terrible unrestrained blood bath.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:14:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
constrained by the presence of other troops

I can only ask again: how are troops holed up in barracks constraining anything with their presence? The Green Zone is the only place where the situation would change, but let's recall that Sistani is not in the Green Zone and doesn't have Western protectors.

I genuinely fear what might come after would be the most terrible unrestrained blood bath.

That is possible. On the other hand, if that will come, staying will only delay, not prevent it - but at the same time make it worse. I mentioned one factor in this, the massive indirect up-arming of some factions in that future unrestrained bloodbath. There are several others. The history of bad decisions in Iraq by the occupiers is also a history of decisions fuelling internal tensions and strengthening potential warring parties, directly or indirectly.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 12:37:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Glenn Greenwald had a post a couple days ago which said it better imo.
by MarekNYC on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 11:11:07 AM EST
Thanks for the link!

But for me it's not better as the point raised are different, Glenn Greenwald is stressing the irresponsability of some politicians in the use of war, the article I linked to is more about how we train soldiers pre-war and post-war effects on soldiers.

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:50:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 Laurent,

  My comment/criticism is not of you, but of a portion of what the author of the linked editorial writes; I don't assume that the editorial necessarily represents your own thinking merely because you found it interesting enough to refer to.

I'm responding here only because I have no intention of signing up in that forum to enter this reply there. It shall prob. not be read by the author but I don't much care about that.

  Here is what I object to in the text, which I didn't read carefully in its entirety:

 


It's their tragedy and no one else's. To the Left, don't even dream of co-opting it for a cause; to the Right, don't even bother with some disgusting idiocy about how war is Hell. Especially on the Right, how the Hell would you know, anyway, considering your hero leaders are a craven pack of cowards who couldn't even cut it back when it was their turn?

  Their tragedy and no one else's?  Uh, wrong.  The tragedy is of course first and foremost "theirs"--particularly "those" who were massacred.  But it most certainly is not "no one else's" and to assert that it is demonstrates a crying failure to grasp the greater extent of this very large and continuing tragedy.

 Also, I resent this writer presuming to dictate to others in these terms,

 "To the Left, don't even dream of co-opting it for a cause; ..."

  "co-opt"?  Who the f--- does he think he's kidding?

 War crimes are not somehow "co-opted" by those who make their occurrence part of the general case against a war--and particularly when that war is so lacking in any of the generally-accepted rationales by which some people attempt to regard some wars a "just wars"--founded upon defensible moral grounds.  This war, in addition to its discrete individual war crimes acts, is itself a war crime.

  Thus, there is a "cause" against this war; the crimes committed in it are rightly a part of that cause and its bill of indictment against those who are leading and prosecuting the war.

  To presume to lecture and to dictate to "the Left" that it dare not "co-opt" this tragedy--really!  It's too much!

  By the way, if the tragedy is suitable for his editorial comment in his or her own site--and thus, useful for this author's purposes-- then perhaps he should reflect on how the term "co-opt" is to be applied beyond the facile reference to "the Left" and "the Right".

  My impulse is to tell this author, "Take a hike, Bozo!  And don't presume to tell others what and how they ought to respond to an alleged war crime that you yourself find suitable material for public commentary."

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:50:43 PM EST
Personally I "skipped" the first part of the editorial including the Left/Right stuff (my brain dismissed it as totally uninteresting, I don't even remember reading the paragraph you quoted :).

The interesting stuff (for me) starts just the paragraph after the one you quoted.

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 05:33:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that the French haven't been drawing parallels to Algeria surprises me.

Iraq is not Vietnam it is Algeria. A foreign occupying power with a stretched thin supply line and no way of telling friend from foe.

Short of wiping out the bulk of the populace (Belgian Congo) this type of conflict never succeeds for the occupiers (at least not for long).


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 06:34:56 PM EST
I think you're right. And I think American military have looked at the parallel in hopes of learning something (meaning, like, did the French have methods we could use? answer: generalised use of torture).

But the French don't draw the parallel publicly because the Algerian war is not something they like to remind themselves or anyone else about.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 31st, 2006 at 03:11:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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