Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Iraq: the twice-lost war

Tom Engelhardt tell the fascinating story about how the U.S. lost the war against Iraq before it even started - during the war games:
In July 2002,...at the cost of a quarter-billion dollars, the Pentagon launched the most elaborate war games in its history, immodestly entitled "Millennium Challenge 02." These involved all four services in "17 simulation locations and nine live-force training sites." Officially a war against a fictional country in the Persian Gulf region -- but obviously Iraq -- it was specifically scripted to prove the efficacy of the Rumsfeld-style invasion that the Bush administration had already decided to launch.

Lt. Gen. Van Riper commanded the "Red Team" -- the Iraqis of this simulation -– against the "Blue Team," U.S. forces; and, unfortunately for Rumsfeld, he promptly stepped out of the script. Knowing that sometimes the only effective response to high-tech warfare was the lowest tech warfare imaginable, he employed some of the very techniques the Iraqi insurgency would begin to use all-too-successfully a year or two later.

Such simple devices as, according to the Army Times, using "motorcycle messengers to transmit orders, negating Blue's high-tech eavesdropping capabilities," and "issuing attack orders via the morning call to prayer broadcast from the minarets of his country's mosques." In the process, Van Riper trumped the techies.

"At one point in the game," as Fred Kaplan of Slate wrote in March 2003, "when Blue's fleet entered the Persian Gulf, he sank some of the ships with suicide-bombers in speed boats. (At that point, the managers stopped the game, ‘refloated' the Blue fleet, and resumed play.)" After three or four days, with the Blue Team in obvious disarray, the game was halted and the rules rescripted. In a quiet protest, Van Riper stepped down as enemy commander.
A determined resistance, be it in Iraq or Lebanon or elsewhere, can always resist better-equipped invaders. Unfortunately, even that knowledge doesn't deter highly motivated imperialists.

Why stop here? There's more...

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