Monday, October 24, 2011

Strategic Stupidity and Unequal Treaties

Our man seydlitz has a post up asking questions about the U.S. geopolitical strategy in the Middle East and the impact of the continuing drone strikes on that strategy.

While an interesting question, I would opine that as a matter of strategic veterinary dentistry, it's looking at the wrong end of the horse to figure out what's the matter with the teeth.

Instead, I offer this, the supposed final note of the Looney Tune melody we've been playing on the Iraqi barrel organ:
"But what about the extensive negotiations the administration has been engaged in for months, regarding U.S. offers to leave thousands of uniformed soldiers in Iraq past the deadline? It has been well reported that those negotiations, led by U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and White House official Brett McGurk, had been stalled over the U.S. demand that the remaining troops receive immunity from Iraqi courts."
So. I'll be the first one to say - I wouldn't want to be tried in an Iraqi court. I suspect that things are a little less...predictable...shall we say? than ending up in the Multnomah County justice system.

But the bottom line for any Western power in the Third World is that you're always going to be working in the shadow of colonialism.You don't like that? Don't commit your maneuver units to fucking Third World countries.

Despite what 99.7% of the U.S. public - including its leadership, apparently - believes, most of the rest of the world remembers that for about 200 or 300 years being a white guy meant never having to say you were sorry...to a brown, black, or yellow guy. Most of the rest of the world has some ugly memories - still - of being booted around by people who were uniformed and armed like our GIs. The Iraqis were beat up pretty thoroughly in the Twenties by the Brits, who placed great faith in this sort of "unequal treaty", where you got to pimpslap the wogs...but they couldn't do the same to you.

And you don't quickly forget stuff like that.

One of the things that helped make the Bushie Mess-o-potamia such a mess was the reinvention of this sort of horseshit.

I've said for years that we would have saved hundreds of U.S.troops if the FIRST time some GI had shot an Iraqi by accident he'd have had a speedy trial and been handed ten years in the USDB. And the first time some GI shot an Iraqi for fun, or to hide a rape, or some other truly heinous thing, that he would have been handed over to whatever had replaced Saddam's secret police and hanged in Firdos Square. I don't think that would have been just or fair...but it would have been smart. Cunning. We would have gone a long way to distancing ourselves from the Bad Old Days of extraterritoriality, colonial immunity, and the sort of collective anger that a hell of a lot of the world still has for their former imperial masters.

But we didn't.

Instead we made it crystal clear that the Unequal Treaties were still in force and still unequal. Throw a grenade at a U.S. patrol? End up in Abu Ghraib. Shoot a pregnant Iraqi at a checkpoint? Get a downcheck on your "failure to follow proper checkpoint procedures" block in your NCOER.

That's strategic stupidity.

It doesn't take a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of drones, missiles, satellites, and computers.

All it takes is some high level negotiators who don't get that granting your troops "extraterritoriality" (regardless of whether you call it that, or "immunity"...) doesn't fly in the Third World and assumes that because we're just speshul snowflakes the wogs will be happy to give in on this massive collective grudge they carry about that because...well, because we WANT them to soooooo bad.

THAT
's strategic stupidity.

Sheesh.

Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game?

9 comments:

  1. Chief,
    The fact is that we won't join the World Court for the very same reasons.
    I hope i'm not ot, but i can't figure out why the WC doesn't act on the predator killings. How does this differ from Terrorism?
    Few folks understand that under the SOF Treaties with our civilized allies that they have first refusal on prosecuting felony acts. Usually they don't but they can do so. IE rapes in Okinawa or FRG.
    The wogs sure haven't been treated to fair and blind justice in our court system.
    jim

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  2. Chief,
    i gotta go back a few years.
    we had a CPT in my camp who was a sf combat sog hero. He used to call me a communist, and not jokingly, b/c i said things like-it's their country.
    his attitude sums up your observations.
    he's still a hero and i'm still a bolshie, i reckon.
    jim

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  3. Yes, it is perplexing why we fail to acknowledge their "massive collective grudge". The legacy of colonialism is a festering wound, and we're not an untainted fairy godmother in the story.

    One wonders what deep impulse drives our expectations and inevitable frustrations in these theatres. Do we derive some sort of collective atonement / expiation by donning the do-gooder cape, even in the face of rejection? As you so clearly state:

    Don't commit your maneuver units to fucking Third World countries (f*cking either in the verb or adjectival sense). Not unless your goal is to farkle about as well-outfitted bullet magnets. Simple.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 1. We are drunk with power and hubris.

    2. We are stupid and have no sense of history.

    3. Our politicians and their chattering class cronies like to divert our attention from domestic issues.

    4. The American love themselves some war just like they love the NFL, so long as they don't have to participate or sacrifice.

    5. Nobody important (see politicians and chattering class) knows any of the poor schmucks sent to "assist" foreign devils.

    6. The least we can do for the poor schmucks we put into third world shitholes is to protect them from local justice, which is usually to justice as military music is to music. Face it, 99.9% of GIs do not abuse the wogs (other than killing them "legally"); they must therefore be protected because if one of them were to be put on trial in Shithole A, B or C, Fox News would get all upset and awaken obtuse America from its slumber.

    7. If we can't get extraterritoriality, then how about just not playing? In fact, even if we can get it, how about just not playing?

    8. All Commies assemble on me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Publius,
    You failed to mention that we at the pub are ACTUALLY drunk.
    jim

    ReplyDelete
  6. Publius, where do us Trotskyites assemble?

    Or do you differentiate?

    :)

    bb

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  7. Publius: Like I said, I'd rather be tried in Multnomah County for murder than be hauled into traffic court in Ramadi - no question that "justice" in most of the Third World (and I include places like Baltimore and Detroit there, I should add...) is capricious and ugly.

    But, as you point out, if you don't like the music, don't get up to dance.

    If the alternative is to insist on "immunity" then we're not getting it. The only non-Roman way we can "pacify" the wogs is playing by the rules - their rules. If we can't because "Fox News would get all upset and awaken obtuse America from its slumber" then were fucked from the get-go. Because though it seems sensible to us it stinks like week-worn panties to them.

    ReplyDelete
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