spenglar iraq

Spengler with an essay on Israel and Syria (and by analogy US/Iraq).

He begins:

The only practical way to defeat irregular forces embedded in a civilian population is to destroy the states that back them. That is why America overthrew Saddam Hussein, and also why Israel is considering a pre-emptive war on Syria on the model of 1967.

This echoes and supports elements of the Bush Doctrine that are just ludicrous.  Saddam Hussein supported some terrorist groups (mostly Palestinian) but not al-Qaeda (sorry Stephen Hayes).


After September 11, the United States did not know precisely what elements of which governments sponsored terrorism, although it knew that Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran hosted certain terrorist groups. It did not have the leisure (and perhaps not even the capacity) to infiltrate these groups gradually; it was simpler and more expedient to take down one of the regimes as a horrible example to the rest.

Spengler’s wanting to have it both ways here. It’s true the US could not have known all the exact configurations of connections, but it did know that al-Qaeda was against Saddam Hussein (and vice versa) and that al-Qaeda had attacked the US.

The idea that somehow the US invasion and demolition of Iraq was going to scare off other countries from other terrorist connections is beyond loopy.  Spengler states he was for the war but against occupation–but how was the US ever going to invade and demolish a police state and not be left holding the after birth?

Iow, how was this every not going to expose the weaknesses of the US military (and therefore the state) and shock and/or awe any other state into submission (ok, other than Libya I guess)?  Not to mention that by Iraq, the Afghan/Pakistan border regions were left untended and the actual al-Qaeda regrouped.

Moreover, Spengler’s understanding is far too state-based. Lots of growth is from within as well as from non-state actors across the global black weapons market. Whether friendly ideologically or otherwise.

Now the separate question of whether his analysis of Israel vis a vis Syria is another matter (though not entirely separate).  The argument assumes that states must defeat the state sponsors of terrorism.  But again there is a black market which I think in the absence of state support could pretty quickly fill in the gap (perhaps not totally but combined with DIY in Robb’s terminology maybe).

The question is while not supporting terrorism is it or should it be US policy to go after all terrorist groups that are not threats to the US or it allies–not to mention low-level threat ones that do actually threaten US or allies?   i.e.  Questions like:  which groups are the most dangerous?  What are the reasonable chances of success, what are the costs involved?

The Global Guerrilla model suggests that these non-state (irregular forces) actors want the occupation to begin and continue. i.e. How do you get rid of the state sponsor without an invasion?  With fly-over bombing?  But that has been shown to not work.  So an invasion occurs, they allow the invaders in under the guise of retreat, embed in civilian populations, and then swarm/attack and bleed the occupier particularly with the use of global communication systems.

i.e. The “state sponsor” country can itself become an irregular force, transforming itself into the very force that Spengler says will be dried up by the destruction of the state sponsor.  Which means you either have to go the Barnett route (Dept. of Reconstruction) of the Robb route.   This Spengler half in/half out seems the worst of both worlds to me.

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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