Monday, January 22, 2007

Clausewitz and Iraq (Talkwise)

The growing opposition to President

policy and to the war in general highlights the ceaseless truth of Carl Von Clausewitz’s axiom, “War is the continuation of politics through other means.” This phrase summarizes the challenges the administration but more importantly, this American democracy faces in sustaining a dirty counter-insurgency effort. In these “Savage Wars of Peace” as Max Boot so succinctly phrased it in his New York Times best seller, the endurance of a nation’s polity and citizenry is just as important as her military’s will.
If war is a continuation of politics through other means, then this Iraq war is the continuation of politics through the application of military force. This begs the question if the current military “means” are sufficient to attain the administration’s political objectives. If the resources currently dedicated are not adequate, then three options present themselves. These are first; redraw your political objectives to match the available military means (partition of Iraq). Second, restructure or deploy your current military forces in a more efficient manner which will enable you to reach your political objective (train Iraqi military). Finally, the third option is the either increase or decrease your military commitment to enable to fulfillment of your political objective (long-term troop surge).

Throughout this four year conflict, the communicated political objectives (regime change, eradication of terror cells, and now a free and democratic Iraq) have all required different yet larger military commitments than the current force structure in Iraq. If the administration is serious about making a democratic Iraq, then the military presence in Iraq must be increased substantially. The current political will does not exist for that choice since in a democracy, a political action without the support of the electorate is fleeting in duration.

If in today’s America the public does not increase its political support for the war effort, the administration’s political objectives in Iraq will have to be reduced. This takes a painful acknowledgement on the part of the President but also an understanding that certain realist truths remain as applicable today as were in the times of .


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