Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Losing its wars, U.S. needs to regroup

The Providence Journal

.. we need to look again at the central military doctrines of our time: The Powell Doctrine, which shaped the first Gulf War, is in eclipse. That called for exhaustive diplomacy and then, only as a last resort, the use of overwhelming conventional force. Now we have what could be called the Rumsfeld Doctrine: an impatience with diplomacy and a readiness to deploy U.S. power solo and often, but with light, highly mobile, often unconventional forces that move in fast and then withdraw, leaving others to rebuild.

Today, we see these issues playing out in three conflicts. The United States is fighting two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a third conflict, which President Bush terms a war but is in fact an amalgam of warfare, diplomacy, intelligence, police action, and economic effort: the struggle against Muslim extremists. The United States is losing in all three cases.

At the same time, the administration has instructed the Defense Department to develop plans for air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. This report is not denied by the administration; the plans are detailed. They are not, as claimed, the usual contingency plans that end up filed in Pentagon desk drawers.

The parallels with 2002-03 and the run-up to the Iraq war are deeply disturbing. And the silence in Congress and among the political chattering classes is deafening ..

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