- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 9, 2008


Austin Bay’s Commentary column (“‘Rheostat warfare,’” Commentary, Friday) began with a good historical review of how wars begin and end, starting a good analysis of the current conflict in Iraq. However, then he stated that “in every governmental endeavor, but especially in an intricate, complex war, economic and political development programs must reinforce security and intelligence operations.” This may help explain the unpopularity of this conflict at home, because his analysis is backward.

To continue the initial argument, events ending World War II did not end the underlying cause of that conflict, and thus led to conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, etc. In other words, political issues were not resolved sufficiently well as to ensure the conflict would end; war continues a political effort through violence. Politics always defines when to start a war, and when victory has been achieved (or when to stop a war). Mr. Bay’s statement should have been that security and intelligence operations must reinforce economic and political development programs, because the latter will define when the combat objectives have been met.

If he heard the original statement from Gen. David H. Petraeus, it means that our political and military leaders have their roles reversed, or (worse yet) there is no political definition of what will constitute victory in Iraq.


Falls Church

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