War and Lessons to be Learned

From the Pritzker Military Library's Front and Center program - The War on Terror: Progress or Regression? (Video Roundtable, 31 January 2008).

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, where do America and her allies stand in the "Long War" in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world? Has "the surge" brought progress, as claimed by the military? Can the Iraqi leadership stabilize the country? How will the revised intelligence assessment affect our course with Iran and its nuclear program? Pakistan is facing a volatile domestic situation, in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and Afghanistan is coping with a resurgent Taliban. How do they play into the mix? Join John Callaway and his guests as they analyze the status of the War on Terror on "Front & Center."

Roundtable guests guests include Colonel Daniel Roper, Director of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Javed Rathore, Senior Vice President of the Pakistan Peoples Party, USA and a member of the PPP International Human Rights Committee; John Allen ("Jay") Williams, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago; and Dr. Mohamed Toor, C.E.O. of the Pakistani American Democratic American Forum.

And in the first issue of the new look Survival: Global Politics and Strategy - On War: Lessons to be Learned by Colonel H.R. McMaster.

During the decade prior to the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001, thinking about defense was driven by a fantastical theory about the character of future war rather than by clear visions of emerging threats to national security in the context of history and contemporary conflict. Proponents of what became known as military transformation argued for a 'capabilities based' method of thinking about future war. In practice, however, capabilities-based analysis focused narrowly on how the United States would like to fight and then assumed that the preference was relevant.

Self-delusion about the character of future conflict weakened US efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq as war plans and decisions based on flawed visions of war confronted reality. This self-delusion has not been limited to the United States; many of the difficulties that Israel experienced in southern Lebanon in summer 2006, for example, can be traced to conceptual flaws similar to those that corrupted US thinking about conflict. A thorough study of contemporary conflict in historical perspective is needed to correct flawed thinking about the character of conflict, help define future challenges to international security, and build relevant military and civilian governmental capabilities to meet those challenges...

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"This self-delusion has not been limited to the United States; many of the difficulties that Israel experienced in southern Lebanon in summer 2006, for example, can be traced to conceptual flaws similar to those that corrupted US thinking about conflict."--Col. McMaster

These are two different cases of "self-delusion". In the current American case in Iraq, the conceptual flaws can be considered relative to Israeli experiences during the 1st Lebanon War (ultimately, a failed war of occupation), while the Israeli flaws of the 2nd Lebanon War are far more conventional (failure of armored mobile warfare directed against a fortified defense).

McMaster nails it. Again.