Not all problems have solutions

It’s bad enough when your leaders are ignoring Clausewitz. It’s worse when they’re ignoring modern military strategists who have been proven right again and again:

Will Saddam’s capture mark a turning point in the war in Iraq? Don’t count on it. Few resistance fighters have been fighting for Saddam personally. Saddam’s capture may lead to a fractioning of the Baath Party, which would move us further toward a Fourth Generation situation where no one can recreate the state. It may also tell the Shiites that they no longer need America to protect them from Saddam, giving them more options in their struggle for free elections….

The change in what our enemies fight for makes impossible the political compromises that are necessary to ending any war. We find that when it comes to making peace, we have no one to talk to and nothing to talk about. And the end of a war like that in Iraq becomes inevitable: the local state we attacked vanishes, leaving behind either a stateless region (Somalia) or a façade of a state (Afghanistan) within which more non-state elements rise and fight.

The primary reason 4GW foes are so hard to defeat is that their decentralized nature means that there’s no one leader susceptible to pressure into surrender. The main reason that Switzerland was not invaded during WWII was primarily due to the recognition that neither the president nor even the parliament had the authority to surrender the nation on behalf of the people and the various cantons; contrast with this the way that the Nazis barely had to fire a few shots before the central governments of Belgium and the Netherlands were falling all over themselves to wave the white flag.

As the Russians have learned, it’s much easier to defeat a powerful centralized nation-state of 60 million than it is to conquer a decentralized rebel populace of one million. When one recalls that the Russians are still fighting in Chechnya 13 years after their first post-Soviet era invasion and then considers that a) the population of Iraq is 27 times greater than Chechnya, and b) Chechnya is logistically easier for Russia than Iraq is for the USA, one should begin to understand that the Coalition forces have no reasonable hope of permanently imposing their will upon the various decentralized Iraqi forces against which they are fighting.