Saturday, November 05, 2005

IEDs

Hey - what's happening in Iraq these days, now that the constitutional democracy seems to be taking hold (more or less)?
The Army is now searching for IEDs. Don't feel bad if you don't know what an IED is. I had to look it up. They aren't WMDs. They are "Improvised Explosive Devices." "Sometimes we have a bad day and they find us," quipped Sgt. Roland Galvan of Holcomb, Miss. It would seem that the insurgents are using remotely detonated bombs to inflict death and injury without actually having to engage their enemy in a more traditional "firefight" with small arms and lots of potential for losses on both sides.
It puts me in mind of the beginning of the film "Brazil." The Head of Information Retrieval, Mr. Helpmann, is seen on television decrying the latest wave of terrorist bombings: "Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless minority of people seem to have forgotten good old-fashioned virtues. They just can't stand seeing the other fellow win. If these people would just play the game..." The scene continues:
T.V. Interviewer: How do you account for the fact that the bombing campaign has been going on for thirteen years?
Mr. Helpmann: Beginners' luck.
Back in Iraq, the hunt for IEDs helps the military learn about what has become a relatively cheap and risk-free way to inflict casualties on a more powerful foe. Death and dismemberment for the cost-conscious insurgent on a budget.
Isn't anyone getting this? This is not news. This is what the Colonial Army did to the British two hundred thirty years ago. This is what the Boers did to the British in the late 19th century. This is what the Vietnamese have done to anybody foolish enough to try and engage them in a land war. It's guerilla warfare. Che Guevara wrote a book about it - from chapter 1:
1. Popular forces can win a war against the army.
2. It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them.
3. In underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting.
And that's the news. Now back to our scheduled program of dance music.

1 comment:

An Elder Brother said...

It is interesting what history will tell us. From a sociological point of view, the U.S. has now framed itself in a spectrum. From the colonists, who fought the guerilla war, to the "invading hoarde" that we now are, we've finally lost our identity.

Iraq is senseless, a drain on resources, and has exposed the U.S. to the most basic military blunder in history: A war with two fronts. Napoleon bought it because of that. We aren't really in Iraq for expansionist purposes. Oil's one thing, but Kuwait has more of what we use. We lucked out with Saddam. Unfortunately, we lost purpose with Afghanistan and we lost the world's support.

England, our rightful ally, learned their lesson many years ago. They have a potent military but they've also kept themselves relatively unembroiled in conflict abroad. A lesson learned from an empire that put ours to shame.

The French have possessed an anti-terrorist force that is rivaled by only the Israelis. We did help them out in WWII and should have. We had purpose, a plan, and it worked. We also lucked out on D-Day.

Back to the purely sociological. Russia has fallen and regrouped. China is figuring itself out. America? Here we are, at our reckoning point. Neither side of our great two party system has an answer, or a leader, at this point. The two generals who led us through Desert Storm are politely retired. One gave it his best shot in the current administration and we know where that went.

Nature has a funny way of restoring balance. ALL of us got exposed with the disasters this year. Browine may still be around, but look at the wild corruption exposed in "The Big Easy." Our two party, democratic system has become far too overburdened. Sadly, lost in the rhetoric of Right and Left, Religious and Non, are some basics of population control and aging. In our own weird way, we are India and Africa overloading our resources with burgeoning population growth.

One of my best friends, a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force discussed these dilemas with me recently. He has a very savvy way of describing what the purpose of the military is. Unfortunately I can't recall it right now but it links the political and military in the best light. He does not support the war in Iraq but understands the politics of how we got there. As for Afghanistan, he's saddened that the mission there was aborted to dive into Iraq.

In its simplist terms, I, as a cop, understand the dilema of what goes on in this debacle. Somebody partakes in a game of "light and run away" and detonates a black cat. They send me in to investigate, aprehend, and maybe even detain. In the larger picture, what was the damage? The law says I HAVE to act. Now, consider the soldier. No doubt, there's some bad stuff they've been sent in to investigate. Now, they aprehend (usually with a much higher mortality rate than I experience), and sometimes detain. Is either right? Underlying all of this is some "great necessity" for order. But in a world that no longer has well defined borders, immigration and naturalization that produces some of the greatest gumbo societies ever, can anyone truly define what is "right" and form a clear process of managing this diversity?

I wouldn't begin to offer a solution because I'm not that smart. But I will fall back on sociology again. History shows that those who endure times such as these can emerge stronger and wiser. It's like a wringing process with a damp towel. The towel isn't going anywhere, just the offending moisture. It will take time to wring, and excess will pass away.

We could probably take a lesson in the IED process and the "light and run away" directions. Fall back and regroup is a very useful military strategy. Unfortunately, it is a political directive that keeps our troops "advancing" and the troops must seek a "tactical resolution" to carry out that order. While unfortunately lawful, it isn't necessarily prudent or sane.

Back home, step back a bit and realize that the polls prove Mr. Bush isn't doing well. The growing body count of corruption is beginning to be dealt with and time is finally "wringing them out."

Send your auras, prayers, thoughts, or whatever you do to the troops. Economics will force us to realize what Russia found out after their foray into Afghanistan: there isn't enough money to fund a limitless army.

VOTE. It's the greatest term limiter in the free world. And always remember: "Illigitimi Non Carborundum: Don't let the bastards get you down!"