Bush at War: Tactics, but No Strategy. (World Watcher)

By Howell, Llewellyn D. | USA TODAY, May 2003 | Go to article overview

Bush at War: Tactics, but No Strategy. (World Watcher)


Howell, Llewellyn D., USA TODAY


THE BATTLE FOR BAGHDAD was not a war. Wars are designed in strategic terms. Battles are tactical. To destroy a country or a regime, no matter how terrible, cannot be a strategic objective of an American government--not the America I know.

A strategic war could be about several objectives. It could be about bringing peace and justice to a now-globalized economic and social system. It could be about winning the war between civilizations--Judeo-Christianity against Islam--or to bring democracy to the Middle East. It could be a war to establish an imperial America.

A variety of intentions have been suggested for George W. Bush's battle for Baghdad. It was to remove a ruthless dictator, or to disarm Iraq, or to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. More cynical analysts have argued that the real objective was to seize Iraq's oil fields, either for the oil itself or for development of them by American corporations instead of French (who already had the contracts) or Russian (who were in line to get some) companies. Still others have noted that postwar development contracts had already been designated for Halliburton and other Republican-linked corporations. It was a battle to create money for the American military-industrial complex.

A characterization of the battle-war distinction was recently provided by Stratfor, the online analytical service: "All wars have consequences. Some are intended, some are unintended. Some wars ... give rise only to local consequences.... Other wars reshape the world so profoundly that everything that comes after is in some way a consequence of that war; World War II is an obvious example. Some wars are really only battles--part of a much broader and longer conflict--and cannot be defined in any other way.... In our view, Iraq has more in common with Korea than with other wars. It is a campaign, not a war. It will be remembered as an episode in the global war between the United States and radical Islam. That does not mean that the war cannot be consequential, but it does mean that the war is embedded in a sequence of events and cannot be understood outside of this context."

Just as wars are composed of battles and campaigns, strategies are composed of tactics. Let's examine that larger context--the bigger picture, the war and its strategy. We should assume that the war in Iraq was the most meritorious of those alternatives suggested--that is, a war to bring regional and maybe even global peace, to bring justice and democracy to Iraq and the Middle East. How would a strategic planner compose the steps necessary to execute a successful outcome?

A global peace can only be achieved when a vast majority of countries can be brought together in a politically cooperative effort. They cannot be commanded to come together. Coalitions must be constructed with great care, with give and take, with compromises at many comers of the objective of the larger strategy. What can be seen as the tactics that have composed the foreign policy strategy of the Bush Administration?

* The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was terminated immediately and unilaterally as the Administration, well before 9/11, began disassembling the treaty and agreement structure that had been put together piece by piece since 1945. …

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