It’s all over but the killing

Michael Yon admits that the Iraqi war is being lost:

[It’s] getting pretty kinetic here. During my first 5 days we lost 6 KIA Americans and 1 terp, so that was 7, plus quite a few others who were really messed up. Serious business, but ISF making serious progress in Mosul. This place is dicey, though. I need to downgrade my initial assessment. The ISF is much better, but this “deal is not sealed” as it were. At this point I would say we are probably actually losing the war, but I really think this can be turned around. Petraeus is just the man who can do it. He’s brilliant and is ready to slam those militias. We need to kill Sadr. We will lose a lot of people taking on the militias, but we should either take them on or pack up and go home. I vote for killing them.

I greatly admire Michael Yon as well as the soldiers on whom he is reporting. But no amount of individual heroics, no amount of brilliant tactics, can possibly compensate for a fundamental strategic blunder of astounding proportions.

The USA won the second Iraqi war when it took out Saddam Hussein and eliminated the possibility of WMDs. This was likely an illegal action under the US Constitution, but it was a popular one and speedy success will almost always be excused. Get in, get it done, and go. That should have been the strategy, but the neocons, who are largely unfamiliar with military history, were intoxicated with their initial success.

It is the third Iraqi war that has now been lost. The “battle for hearts and minds” cannot be won by a military force, nor is the ability to kill large quantities of people meaningful when dealing with deep-set philosophical differences. Russia has killed approximately half the Chechen population without establishing a lasting peace there, and even if the Iraqi factions are not as intransigent as the historically stubborn Chechens, they are more than stubborn enough to resist the amount of lethal force that the American people are willing to direct against them.

The president’s war has failed, the nation has been invaded by 10-12 million aliens and there are no shortage of problems on the horizon. It is long past time to admit failure, admit that the Middle East is not going to be forced into peaceful quasi-democracy and bring the troops home.

You cannot empty a swimming pool by repeatedly smashing a rock against the surface of the water. Increasing the size of the rock by 16 percent may convince the superficial observer you are doing something productive, but it is an irrelevant action nevertheless.