The failure of the administration to understand the concepts of nuance, graduated response, and exit strategy continue to take their toll on our nation and its heavy-handed approach has increasingly alienated the Iraqi population. This is a war against a nimble enemy who blends into the civilian population and doesn't have many high-value industrial or communication facilities.
The US Army is very good at blowing stuff up, but they are not very good at counter-insurgency. I thought we'd all learned that lesson from Vietnam. At least those of us who read books and weren't drunk and high throughout the 1970's.
A senior British officer has criticised the US army for its conduct in Iraq, accusing it of institutional racism, moral righteousness, misplaced optimism, and of being ill-suited to engage in counter-insurgency operations.
The blistering critique, by Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who was the second most senior officer responsible for training Iraqi security forces, reflects criticism and frustration voiced by British commanders of American military tactics.
What is startling is the severity of his comments - and the decision by Military Review, a US army magazine, to publish them.
American soldiers, says Brig Aylwin-Foster, were "almost unfailingly courteous and considerate". But he says "at times their cultural insensitivity, almost certainly inadvertent, arguably amounted to institutional racism".
The US army, he says, is imbued with an unparalleled sense of patriotism, duty, passion and talent. "Yet it seemed weighed down by bureaucracy, a stiflingly hierarchical outlook, a predisposition to offensive operations and a sense that duty required all issues to be confronted head-on."
Brig Aylwin-Foster says the American army's laudable "can-do" approach paradoxically led to another trait, namely "damaging optimism". Such an ethos, he says, "is unhelpful if it discourages junior commanders from reporting unwelcome news up the chain of command".
But his central theme is that US military commanders have failed to train and educate their soldiers in the art of counter-insurgency operations and the need to cultivate the "hearts and minds" of the local population.
While US officers in Iraq criticised their allies for being too reluctant to use force, their strategy was "to kill or capture all terrorists and insurgents: they saw military destruction of the enemy as a strategic goal in its own right". In short, the brigadier says, "the US army has developed over time a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly swift and violent kind".
Such an unsophisticated approach, ingrained in American military doctrine, is counter-productive, exacerbating the task the US faced by alienating significant sections of the population, argues Brig Aylwin-Foster.|Guardian|
The Bush administration keeps saying that failure is not an option. Failure is what happens when you run out of options. Unfortunately they've never been interested in any of the options other than making the rubble bounce.