Reader Response on Cole/Achcar
Billmon carefully considers the pros and cons and finally decides to call for US troops out now because otherwise there is a real danger of the US becoming a progressively more fascist society, and because the only way for the US to prevent an all-out Iraqi civil war is to kill on a massive scale.
Jonny Bakho writes
‘I read your column daily and I especially enjoyed your exchange with Gilbert Achcar.
Lost in the Exchange: Your position and Gilbert’s position are much closer to each other than to the policy of Mr Bush. I find it troubling that Bush policy in Iraq is undiscussed and unmentionable? by the press.
Apparently (he never discusses details), Mr Bush believes US troops will still be in Iraq 10 years from now in permanent basis we are constructing in Iraq. Mr Bush has NO intention of calling for a “withdrawal on a short timetable of almost all US and Coalition ground troops from Iraq” as you suggest. Unfortunately, most Americans do not realize that Bush has no plan to leave Iraq this because the press rarely/never mentions it.
Even IF Mr Bush were to take the extreme position of “bring them home now”, it would take a year to bring about the orderly withdrawal of US troops. In practice, your call for a “short timetable” and Gilbert’s call for “get out now” are little different from each other given logistical considerations. Each would require a change in Bush Political Policy. Each would elevate potential Political solutions to Iraq above the military solution Bush is trying to impose.
Both of you are calling for a major reversal of current Bush Iraq policy (which is not working). The failure of the Bush policy and his unwilliness to consider changes needs to be the primary focus, not minor quibbles between “out now” and “short timetable”. If you would compare your Policy Proposal to Bush Policy and the Achcar Proposal, this would be more clear to your readers, especially those who prefer to highlight the differences in those opposed to Bush policy than the similarities. Either your Proposal or Gilbert’s would require change in direction and move US policy in the same direction. The US really needs to have an open debate about Iraq policy but it is difficult because Mr Bush NEVER reveals the details of his policy. ‘
Another reader writes:
‘ Gilbert Achcar is naive as to what it takes to achieve a war of movement, as you insist. In Afghanistan the vehicle of choice of the Taliban were 4×4 pickup trucks, which could hold a few armed men or sometimes had a heavy weapon mounted. These were called “Afghan Panzers,” because they were much more useful and ubiquitous than the Soviet armored vehicles left lying around.
Another good example was the Japanese “Sitzkrieg” in Malaya in 1941-2, where they invaded on the cheap by cramming infantry into innocuous-looking cargo ships and dumping them on the beaches. They proceeded to outmaneuver the British infantry and vehicle-riding troops by purloining thousands of bicycles, which like the Afghan Panzers were all-terrain vehicles. On good roads they outran the retreating British in the jungle and were able to bypass many strongpoints instead of waiting for their few tanks to come up.
It’s foolish to measure armies of the Third World by Great Power standards. A lot of prognosticators wound up with egg on their faces when the Arab Nations were unable to defeat Israel in 1948, despite the British and French weapons that their militaries had been supplied with. As Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest said, the primary requirement for victory is to, “Get there first with the most men.” It doesn’t matter how you do it, so long as you’re able to do it. ‘