What does the Democrats’ victory mean for the war in Iraq? Regrettably, not what it should, namely an immediate American withdrawal from a hopelessly lost enterprise [emph added].
Lind goes on to ponder how an escalation in the standoff between Iran and the West could lead to the utter destruction of the American Army:
The U.S. Armed Forces are technically well-trained, lavishly resourced Second-Generation militaries. They are today being fought and beaten by Fourth-Generation opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan. They can also be defeated by Third-Generation opponents who can react faster than America’s process-ridden, PowerPoint-enslaved military headquarters. They can be defeated by superior strategy, by trick, by surprise, and by preemption. Unbeatable militaries are like unsinkable ships: they are unsinkable until something sinks them.
If the U.S. were to lose the army it has in Iraq to Iraqi militias, Iranian regular forces, or a combination of both, cutting our one line of supply and then encircling us, the world would change. It would be our Adrianople, our Rocroi, our Stalingrad. American power and prestige would never recover.
I take exception to many of Lind's points, especially his harsh judgment of Iraq being "a hopelessly lost enterprise".
The greatest danger to American military capability is not the physical destruction of its Army in the streets, alleys, and deserts of Iraq, but instead a total loss of collective national will here at home, to the point where the United States will not authorize or even consider the use of the military element of national power, even when its necessity is all but total certitude.
Remember, if you will, that even two decades after the Vietnam war, the Congressional resolution authorizing use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait was a close, along party line vote. This at a time when an important regional ally had been attacked, and major reserves of oil were at stake. The world is too dangerous to return to the times where America is unwilling to act when its interests are at stake.
While an attack from Iran is certainly a threat to be reckoned with, there is little doubt that the military and various agencies are collectively monitoring Iran at this point. There are already critical links between the Iranians and various Shiite militias running amok in Iraq. So it is unlikely that a surprise attack on par with the Egyptians crossing the Suez in 1973 would happen in Iraq. Especially the complexities involved in a combined attack of Shiite militias and Iranian general purpose forces.
While Iran is certainly capable of a conventional offensive causing hundreds of casualties, it would not be able to sustain this attack over an extended period of time before its own lines of communications were severed, it was politically isolated, and before the other regional players (Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, et al) complicated things further by intervention in one manner or another. It is doubtful that Iran could alert and mobilize its forces, sever the American lines of communication, and reach all march objectives before reaching a culminating point, and despair.
Hypothesizing on the operational destruction of our forces deployed in the Middle East is little more than an ill-conceived thought experiment; placing operational arrogance and confidence aside (and keeping any military enthusiast from smirking at the thought of the Iranians launching a major offensive and seeing their theocracy crumble in the wake of the operational destruction of THEIR military), our forces are dispersed across thousands of miles, oceans, and countries in the region; while Lind identifies this as a weakness in terms of the US Army's ability to mass, it is also an advantage. There is no single base or formation that can be targeted with a conventional attack to decisively cripple American power in the region.
Lind's assessment of the US military is ill-informed and inaccurate as well. The Army units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are the best trained, best equipped, most combat-seasoned forces this country has seen in decades. They are not "losing" on the battlefields of the two theaters; tactically, the hostile forces in both of those countries, whether insurgents, militias, terrorists, or criminals, are not a match for this military; it is rather in the realm of the political, the cultural, and in the information sphere that we are in peril of being vanquished.
And Mr. Lind is truly reaching for the low hanging fruit to characterize the military as a conservative, uber-hierarchical organization, beholden to the decisions emanating from oversized staffs serving aloof generals ( ". . . defeated by Third-Generation opponents who can react faster than America’s process-ridden, PowerPoint-enslaved military headquarters"). Lind himself paradoxically admits that the forces deployed in theater are operating in a dispersed manner, which requires exceptional leadership, initiative, and capabilities at the company, battalion, and brigade level; the officer who can throw a Powerpoint presentation together in no time is likely to be able to fire numerous weapons systems, call for close air support, treat a casualty, or shape decisions made while attending a shura, and all to good effect.
Lind's assessment of the Army's strategic vulnerability to a conventional Iranian attack is thus overly pessimistic, bordering on the sensational. Other than a Tet-like event, which would have effects in the political and informational spheres, no Middle Eastern country is capable of an attack of this magnitude, much less living to tell the tale.
Also, Lind's description of the United States' relationship with Israel (She Who Must Be Obeyed) is the contemptible tripe that one expects from a CAIR spokesperson, or from an illogical university radical perhaps, but NOT from a supposed conservative thinker. It is not worthy of further comment.
There is room for constructive, informed debate on what the next steps for the U.S. should be in the Middle East, but Mr. Lind's pessimistic diatribe provides marginal utility to those who must decide what comes next, and is a disservice to those who will be in the field, executing whatever policy is decided upon.
Post Script. I came across Lind's article from a post over at The Elephant Bar; this post actually evolved from my response to a post over there.