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The Forum > Article Comments > How do you know if you are winning a war? > Comments

How do you know if you are winning a war? : Comments

By Keith Suter, published 15/9/2005

Keith Suter argues we never imagined the US pulling out of Vietnam so abruptly and asks if it will happen in Iraq?

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Good article. Given the nature of the war in Iraq possible measures of winning might include.

- Reduction in the number of terrorist bombs being detonated per week
- reduction in casualties from such bombs, and
- reduction in weekly casualties of the coalition forces - particularly US soldiers. This is the main measure the broader US public is likely to notice.

Any increase in the number of “terrorists” (often civilians) killed would be an indication that the US is losing the war because every time an Iraqi (or international Muslim fighter) is killed bitterness towards the US increases. Those embittered have long memories.

Whether the US is looking at such simple equations is another thing.

The US appears to be in Iraq to:
- control Iraq’s oil production and reserves (a significant proportion of the Middle East’s (world’s major producers) oil supplies)
- protect Saudi Arabia from outside threats particularly from the Shiite threat (including Iran). Bush has a long record of personal and public ties with the Saudi’s.
- act as a buffer between Israel (with a well documented record of owning weapons) and Iran and Pakistan (emerging Muslim nuclear weapon states). Its in the US’s interests to prevent a regional nuclear war in the Middle East.
- Give a large (post Cold War) US defence establishment something to do. Defence spend is traditionally good for the US economy and hence the Republican’s chance of reelection.
- Focus American public interest on “manageable” and until recently popular government activities, that is, making war on Muslims in Iraq (while providing far smaller resources for the more useful activity of fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan)

If there is sufficient US public pressure on Bush regarding US casualties then most US forces may need to withdraw to friendlier real estate (such as Kuwait) leaving a civil war in Iraq.

Whatever happens I think a large US presence in the Middle East will remain, however winning or losing the Oil War is measured.
Posted by plantagenet, Thursday, 15 September 2005 1:35:56 PM
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A moment of silence - Ortiz

A poem by Emmanuel Ortiz...

Before I start this poem,
I'd like to ask you to join me
in a moment of silence
in honour of those who died
in the World Trade Centre
and the Pentagon
last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you
a moment of silence
for all of those who have been
harassed, imprisoned, disappeared,
tortured, raped, or killed
in retaliation for those strikes,
for the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing...
A full day of silence
for the tens of thousands of Palestinians
who have died at the hands of
U.S.-backed Israeli forces
over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence
for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
mostly children, who have died of
malnourishment or starvation
as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo
against the country.

Before I begin this poem:

two months of silence
for the Blacks under Apartheid
in South Africa,
where homeland security
made them aliens
in their own country.

Nine months of silence
for the dead in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, where death rained
down and peeled back
every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin
and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence
for the millions of dead
in Vietnam-a people, not a war-
for those who know a thing or two
about the scent of burning fuel,
their relatives' bones buried in it,
their babies born of it.

A year of silence
for the dead in Cambodia and Laos,
victims of a secret war ... ssssshhhhh ..
Say nothing ... we don't want them to learn
that they are dead.

Two months of silence
for the decades of dead
in Colombia, whose names,
like the corpses they once represented,
have piled up and slipped off
our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,

An hour of silence for El Salvador.
An afternoon of silence
for Nicaragua .
Two days of silence
for the Guetmaltecos .
None of whom ever knew
a moment of peace.

Read on here
http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/silence.html
Posted by Rainier, Thursday, 15 September 2005 6:42:54 PM
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Id like to make a number of points

Firstly I fear and expect that the number of insurgents will continue to replace the ones that are killed as happened in Vietnam.

Secondly unless the US or the coalition is willing to acknowlege the death toll by being transparent with the numbers of dead' then an already resentful public will become increasingly hostile and suspicious of the administrations plans to further exicute the war.

Thirdly whilst the west is good at dropping bombs and using technology it as you state, it has so far failed to win the hearts and minds of the people. Until this happens success will be nigh impossible.

Fourthly the Vietnam war taught many of our generation that the use of military force was at best a very blunt abhorrant instrument and mostly failed to achieve anything but blood shed. As a result spending on military was wound back in all western countries in the late seventies; in favour of diplomacy. The current crop of neocons who push pens in Washington offices have conveniently forgotten this.

Fifthly the invasion of Iraq never had any real legitimacy. As such the patience of the public in continued occupation was/is bound to be much shorter.

Sixthly instead of the invasion containing terrorism as one of it goals it is becoming increasingly clear that it has had the converse effect spread the phenomenon like a virus.
Posted by aramis1, Friday, 16 September 2005 9:28:57 AM
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Rainier posts "A moment of silence - Ortiz

A poem by Emmanuel Ortiz..."

Good start. Now Ortiz should go on in silence for all the Israelis killed by bombers (they do count, right?), the Sudanese raped, killed, and tortured by the Janjaweed militias, the Muslims of Srebenica, the citizens of Hama Syria, the Saharawi under Moroccan occupation, the Algerian villagers slaughtered, the millions killed in Congo, the millions killed in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the Armenians while we're at it...

How about the hundreds just yesterday killed in Iraq by the "resistance?" What exactly were they "resisting' in killing all those fellow Iraqis? (No US military personnel were killed or wounded AFAIK).

Oh we could go on. But not all that's going or has gone wrong in the world can be blamed so easily on the US and that perennial favorite, Israel. For Ortiz' "moment of silence" to truly do justice to all the victims of mindless violence, he'd have to shut up forever.
Posted by W_Howard, Friday, 16 September 2005 9:56:48 AM
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In the article Keith says that Guerrilla warfare is a new form of warfare. But wikipedia says it is one of the oldest forms of warfare.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerilla_warfare

AN EXTRACT:-

"
The well-known first aspects of guerrilla warfare occurred in what is now Israel with the guerrilla leader Judas Maccabaeus, described in the books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha in the Bible. For years he fought off the Seleucids. In centuries of history, many guerrilla movements appeared in Europe to fight foreign occupation forces. The tactics of Roman dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus against Hannibal could be considered a predecessor of guerrilla tactics. In expanding their own Empire, the Romans encountered numerous examples of guerrilla resistance to their legions. During The Deluge in Poland guerrilla tactics were applied. In the 19th century, peoples of the Balkans used guerrilla tactics to fight the Ottoman empire. In 17th century Ireland, Irish irregulars called tories and rapparees used guerrilla warfare in the Irish Confederate Wars and the Williamite war in Ireland. In India in the 17th Century an Indian self-proclaimed leader and king "Shivaji Bhonsle" revolted against the ruling Mughal using guerrilla tactics.
"
Posted by Terje, Friday, 16 September 2005 11:55:17 PM
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From Polly Toynbee in the Guardian,

Iraq has shown that smart missiles, heavy metal and techno-tricks from the Americans are not working to plan. The lessons that the Vietcong should have taught the behemoth are being learned the hard way all over again as failure and calamity stare the White house in the face.

Divide and rule with so much success in the ME colonial past is not working so well in America's favour - like as if the US is being caught between two fires, from the Sunnis and the Shias.

What irony that Iran, the heart of America's axis of evil there, could win without hardly lifting a finger. Shock and awe is now over with the US more and more caught in the blowback.
Posted by bushbred, Saturday, 17 September 2005 5:03:49 PM
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