Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bad Chess

At Thanksgiving two years ago, I was talking to a Caltech astronomer about the war in Iraq. I said then that I thought that invading Iraq was bad chess, that Iran and North Korea were greater threats. Now that we have created a greater threat in Iraq, we are still playing bad chess.

The author of President Bush's Strategy for Victory has been identified as Peter Feaver of Duke University. His website has some interesting reading, including "I am Usama Bin Laden" by Paul Schulte of the UK's Ministry of Defence Arms Control Secretariat. Mr. Schulte was writing in July 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, and what he then thought the world would see from the US in Afghanistan has happened in Iraq instead.

I think Mr. Schulte was right on about the nature of Al Qaeda, and Mr. Feaver thinks his students should be aware of his view; but in spite of this, when Mr. Feaver is writing a National Strategy for Victory, it has all the intellectual honesty and integrity of a brochure for real estate in the Florida wetlands.

Only Mr. Bush's stubborn tenacity makes the present position tenable. The propaganda effort is inadequate, in spite of the market research behind it - the National Strategy for Victory doesn't ask for a national response: no sacrifices, no unity of purpose, no drive to attain military recruitment goals. It's just a bunch of excuses. And just when the Strategy's "tracks" towards "Victory" seem to be hitting their targets, Al Qaeda will strike "the homeland" again: and again, Americans will be shocked, unprepared, scared and angry, and I don't think the chess will improve.

I think one of the basic conditions for good chess would be a President who was a uniter, not a divider. Unfortunately, the President we have lied on this very point. The need for not only honour and integrity, but also honesty, accountability and courage - which does not mean intimidation, despite what Mr. Cheney seems to think - from the White House is paramount. If we had an administration right now which could own up to its mistakes, stop repeating them, and then tell us truthfully what the scope and the objectives were, we would have somewhere to start. But we don't.

The larger game must be to foil the goal of rebuilding the Caliphate: but we never see maps, no-one mentions the strategic value of Iraq beyond platitudes about Freedom, and no-one is willing to take the dive for war crimes to help clear the board. Cindy Sheehan's question is still pending, and that's a further sign of the Administration's bad chess.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?