Home / Robert Farley / Capabilities

Capabilities

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Digby has a couple of good discussions of the Revolution in Military Affairs, here and here.

I wrote about this crazy stuff back in March of 2003, when it was revealed that none other than Newtie Gingrich was advising the Pentagon, and had been doing so for a long time, with some very questionable new-age theories that his soul mate Rumsfeld was more than happy to put into practice. It’s not that there aren’t some aspects of this RMA that are very useful, it’s that like everything else in this administration they let their faith and their ideology overrule reality.

The failure to get Bin Laden at Tora Bora and the failure to take control of the explosives in Iraq are part of the same delusion. This is the belief that the United States can fight modern wars with small numbers of troops using very high tech weapons and information technology. None of this is particularly newsworthy, but it’s worth thinking about why this delusion has persisted. It’s also worth noting that the Iraq War has already fundamentally failed at its intended goal.

Part of the point of invading Iraq was to terrify other states into complying with US wishes. The world had to be convinced that the United States had both capability and the will to enforce its wishes. Iraq was supposed to demonstrate both of these; we would show will by invading Iraq, and capability by doing so with a small force in a very short amount of time. In short, the force structure used to invade Iraq is not incidental to the larger plan; for the war to succeed, that force structure had to succeed. Whatever the war demonstrated about the former, we now know without a doubt that the latter is not possible. It’s not just that we’re stuck in Iraq and can’t invade anywhere else, although that is true; it’s that everyone knows just how difficult and expensive it is for the United States to invade a country, even when that country barely has a military worth mentioning.

In other words, by trying to demonstrate both capability and will, the neocons have conclusively shown that we do not have capability. Moreover, capabilities are a lot easier to demonstrate than will, and it’s not terribly likely that Iran, Syria, or North Korea have even received the message on that point that we were trying to send.

A note on Bin Laden; maybe this will swing the election, but I really don’t see it. Kerry has already given his answer to this, over and over again. I don’t think that it will change very much.

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