The DAILY DIGEST: INFORMATION and OPINION from ST. JOHN’S to VICTORIA.
ST.JOHN'S TELEGRAM - Party favours
CHARLOTTETOWN GUARDIAN - Atlantic premiers face a tricky task print this article
The challenge they face is bringing some of Alberta’s prosperity back to the East Coast.
HALIFAX HERALD - Presumptuous of innocence
TORONTO STAR - Nation still lacks anti-poverty plan
K-W RECORD - Watch lists or witch hunts?
War on terror is creating a new class of permanent victims, Arar's lawyer says
WINNIPEG SUN - Price paid beyond calculation
CALGARY HERALD - Arar gets justice at home
CALGARY HERALD - Stay out of church's beliefs
EDMONTON JOURNAL - Bolstering the Atlantic connection
LETHBRIDGE HERALD - Literacy effort vital to economy
VANCOUVER SUN - This conflict complaint illustrates mostly that clarification is needed
VICTORIA TIMES-COLONIST - Our indifference to homelessness
The addict and the angry property owner agree; we're failing on addiction and street problems
Feds say Six Nations land claim is invalid
Extra troops to bolster Canadians in Afghanistan
NATO sending more troops to Afghanistan: general
Judging the general: Blunt, folksy and savvy, Gen. Rick Hillier has succeeded in leading the Armed Forces back into the centre of Canadian life. But after two years in charge, has he gained ground in his mission to remake the military? http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/insight/story.html?id=33fe728f-ea3b-4078-96c6-b690265aa147
Wilkins needs reality check
Canada cheers as ban on seal skins rebuffed
HEALTH CARE RELATED
The crowd in the emergency room
Patients can wait for hours to be treated in the emergency rooms of Canada's hospitals because we spend too much on bureaucracy.
Health illiteracy poses danger to Canadians
POLITICS IN THE PROVINCES
Atlantic premiers fight workers' exodus west
Atlantic Canada quartet harmonizes for mega-jobs
Premiers entertain idea of being plugged in to Alberta's booming economy
NDP critic slams banks' jointly owned ATMs
Market forces will determine distribution of Boeing benefits: PM
Harper's C- 17 quagmire
PM appoints point man for Afghan mission
Even the doubters say Dion making the right moves
NDP blasts Clean Air roadblocks
81 on Tory, Liberal witness lists will `prolong inaction'
PM rejects legalizing prostitution
Dion backs sewage bio-gas idea
Liberal leader promises to be a 'strong partner'
Tories to unveil new ad campaign
Canada quietly working on own no-fly list
CWB Directed to Pay Salary of Interim President
Strahl orders wheat board to pay its new CEO
Fired Canadian Wheat Board exec says PM will lose votes
FARMERS OPPOSE TORIES' WHEAT BOARD POLICY AND STRONG-ARM TACTICS
Agricore, CWB spar over Canadian barley prices
Farmers back wheat board
'Income Trust Mistake' fallout keeps coming
Too much secrecy helps terrorists
CSIS: Overreacting to risk means we're 'giving in to fear'
Emission debate leaves MPs, industry fuming
Fund idea 'stupid': critic: Cap or no cap? Trade in Canada or Internationallly?
Politics first, science second
Global warming leaves MPs on the hot seat
Turbulence at air security agency
Carbon tax could finance a green revolution
Corralling emissions from a few big facilities is a lot easier than trying to round up Canada's 18.2 million cars and trucks
OPINION AND INFORMATION
U.S. security trumps freedom
Until the PM's official apology rolled out of the fax machine, Arar's legal team couldn't be sure of success in quest for justice
Lingering suspicion about Arar troubling
Much ado about ATM fees
Blind trusts about optics
Flaherty, Layton miss some real issues in their attacks on banks
Les Canadiens convaincus du rôle de l'homme
Péréquation: Harper dit qu'il respectera son engagement
La marine à sec
L'Atlantique cherche des partenaires en Alberta
"Over-reaction to terrorism, it should be remembered, is a fundamental objective of most terrorists in history.
We should not accommodate their goals in this regard."
The sentence above set my mind in motion. Ever since Aase lost a nail file to West Jet on our way back from the last PC General Meeting in 2002
I have been convinced the terrorist had achieved their "fundamental objective".
To-day years later we are still in the process. "Over-reaction to terrorism" through "Canada quietly working on own no-fly list" being the latest.
C.S.I.S. saying "it should be remembered" at this point in time reminded me of a saying it turns out was stated by my most favoured philosopher,
The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.
G. W. F. Hegel, 1821
Now Minerva was the Roman Goddess equivalent of Athena the Classical Greek Goddess of Wisdom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athena and
so my mind was ineluctably drawn to the article that is visited upon you below, a comparison between the far past and the present.
Analogies are never clones or doppelgängers but as one studied (I hesitate to say learned) in history they are fascinating to me.
While there is no expectation on my part you will be fascinated, I do hope you will find the comparison of interest.
«¤»¥«¤»«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»¥«¤»§«¤»Comparisons have inevitably emerged between current U.S. operations in Iraq and the Vietnam War. Yet, as Brent Ranalli explains, there are other parallels that can be drawn — even from ancient warfare. To make his point, the author draws ten major parallels between the U.S. war in Iraq and the Athenian campaign against Sicily in 415 B.C.
The Iraq War and the Sicilian Campaign
By Brent T. Ranalli | Monday, January 22, 2007
Does history repeat itself? If it does, it may be worthwhile to look back further than the Vietnam War and to compare the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq1. Motives as a parallel
with the Athenian campaign against Sicily during the Peloponnesian War in 415 B.C.
In both cases, a democratic superpower made a fateful decision during an ongoing war — against Sparta in the case of Athens, and al Qaeda in the case of the United States — to pick a second fight.
High-ranking officials of the new U.S.-supported government sponsor paramilitary organizations that are pushing the country into civil war.For the Athenians, the nominal aim of the Sicily campaign was to aid certain distant kinsmen, the Egestaeans, in a local quarrel. And for the United States, the nominal aim was to punish the Hussein regime for its supposed WMD program.
In reality, motives were much more complicated, but in both cases could be boiled down to an ill-advised bout of imperialism. Athens hoped to crush Syracuse, the largest city on the island and a potential naval rival, and to use a subdued Sicily as a base for further expansion into Italy and North Africa.
And the United States was not just searching for WMDs in Iraq. The campaign was also undertaken to replace an unfriendly despotic regime with a friendly democratic one, to project U.S. power in the region, and to gain leverage over Iraq’s oil reserves.
Of course, the campaign in Iraq was not undertaken solely by the United States. There is an allied force. Athens, too, called in allies far and near. The historian Thucydides lists them all, and notes with awe that never had so many states engaged in a single campaign. But no one doubts that the war was Athens’. Likewise, today’s campaign in Iraq cannot be seen as anything other than a U.S. project.
3. Inadequate preparation
Both campaigns were condemned by contemporaries for having been undertaken in a spirit of hubris, without adequate thought for preparation and without adequate knowledge of the distant land they were setting out to conquer.
The United States’ logistical problems are compounded by overcharging and apparent corruption on the part of some private contractors.Thucidydes reports: “The Athenians resolved to sail … to Sicily, … most of them being ignorant of its size and of the number of its inhabitants, Hellenic and barbarian, and of the fact that they were undertaking a war not much inferior to that against the [Spartans].”
The U.S. leadership notoriously thought the Iraq war would be a “cakewalk” and that U.S. armed forces would be received by the population with open arms as liberators. War planners gave inadequate thought to Iraq’s history of religious and ethnic tensions and the risk that the fractious multi-ethnic state might unravel.
4. Guerilla warfare
The first days of the Iraq invasion were indeed a cakewalk, just as the Athenian army found easy success whenever the inexperienced Syracusans dared to take the field against them. But both invaders found that winning pitched battles was not enough to win the war.
Anti-imperial forces in Iraq turned to guerilla warfare, and Syracuse settled in for a long siege, using its cavalry to harass the Athenians when they attempted to forage for food, fuel and water. Nominally the besiegers of Syracuse, the Athenians found that they themselves were effectively besieged in the “green zone” of their hastily improvised forts, lacking cavalry of their own.
5. Inability to secure borders and supply chains
The invaders faced several similar strategic problems. One was the problem of securing borders with a limited force. To isolate and properly besiege Syracuse, the Athenians would have had to encircle the city on the land side with a wall, but the longer the wall became, the harder it was to defend.
As the Athenian forces spread out thinner, the Syracusans could concentrate their whole force in a surprise attack at any point. With Iraq’s many miles of unpatrolled desert borders with neighboring Syria and Iran, the U.S. military and the new government face a situation where they too are simply unable to choke off the supply of funds, men, and equipment to the insurgency.
In addition, the vulnerability of the invader’s own supply chain was another strategic problem. The Athenian army was handicapped by its dependence on deliveries of funds, supplies and instructions from a home base that was a voyage of weeks away — an unprecedented distance for a Greek expedition.
The invaders faced several similar strategic problems. One was the problem of securing borders with a limited force.In a motorized and electronic age, the United States has an easier time of it, but the expense of provisioning a military force operating on a distant continent is phenomenal. And it still takes a distressingly long time for the force to adapt to changing circumstances — for example, the fleet of U.S. vehicles in Iraq is still inadequately armored against roadside bombs.
The United States’ logistical problems are compounded by overcharging and apparent corruption on the part of some private contractors, without whose services the armed forces could not operate on the ground. For food and other perishables, the Athenian army was similarly at the mercy of market towns in Sicily and in nearby Italy, which could drive a hard bargain or shut their gates entirely.
6. The hearts and minds
The goodwill of locals was not only a supply problem for the Athenians, it was a strategic problem in its own right. The Athenians could never hope to conquer the island, or to govern it afterwards, without winning over some local friends. The friends the Athenians had from the beginning turned out to be of little use.
War planners gave inadequate thought to Iraq’s history of religious and ethnic tensions and the risk that the fractious multi-ethnic state might unravel.The Egestaeans had made extravagant promises about the horses and funds it would supply to the campaign if the Athenians would only send an army, when they in fact had almost nothing to offer (much as Iraqi exiles like Chalabi apparently flattered and exaggerated in order to draw the United States into Iraq).
The Athenians did manage to cultivate some local allies, but they were never able to fully trust them all. Intelligence about Athenian military plans always seemed to make its way to Syracusan ears, and Thucydides surmises that some Syracusans who provided intelligence to the Athenians were actually double agents.
As the situation deteriorated, Athenian soldiers ended up carrying their own provisions, as local hired servants started deserting with whatever they had in their pockets.
All too depressingly, similar dynamics are playing out now in Iraq. High-ranking officials of the new U.S.-supported government sponsor paramilitary organizations that are pushing the country into civil war. Whether motivated by ideology, fear, or economic necessity, others on the government payroll appear to be helping the insurgency. When men in official police and military uniforms rob banks and kidnap civilians, it is impossible to know who to trust.
7. Taking advantage of a weak enemy
Worst of all, in both cases the imperial power’s real enemies determined to join the fray. Seeing Athens overstretched and vulnerable, Sparta sent an army and an experienced general to the island and also renewed the war on the mainland in earnest, terrorizing the Athenian suburbs.
Every borrowed billion spent in Iraq is a billion that will be unavailable to fight a future war, or indeed to meet any other crisis, domestic or foreign.Al Qaeda, too, has found Iraq fertile ground to recruit, train, and operate against U.S. forces, and al Qaeda and Taliban forces have taken advantage of the United States’ overstretched position to stage a resurgence in Afghanistan.
8. Creating foes out of friends
With all these strategic disadvantages, both invasions suffered from critical lapses in good leadership as well. U.S. leadership disbanded the Iraqi army, instantly creating a virtual army of unemployed, disgruntled mercenaries.
U.S. leadership also winked at, if it did not actively encourage, cruel and degrading treatment of civilian detainees, a policy that effectively lost the war for Iraqi “hearts and minds.”
The Athenian generals foolishly launched a poorly coordinated all-out night-time assault on terrain the Syracusans knew better, and the attackers were thoroughly routed. And, as described more fully below, the Athenian generals even more foolishly waited to withdraw from the island when they had a chance.
9. Waiting too long
Athens had at least two distinct opportunities to cut its losses and leave. First, when it became apparent that the Athenian forces would not be able to prevail against the combined Syracusan and Spartan forces, the Athenian general sent home a plea: either recall the army or send reinforcements.
Athens feared losing face. After all, how would it look if a great empire like theirs were to “cut and run”? Fearing that it would no longer inspire fear and respect in other states if it were to retreat from Sicily, Athens determined to gamble everything on a “surge” of military support, and send all the troops and ships it had available.
Every day the United States supports the war in Iraq it plummets an additional $200 million deeper into debt (not including the cost of reconstruction).Determined to attack quickly, while the new troops were still fresh and the supplies had not yet run out, the Athenian generals launched the army into the night-time debacle. Athens’ second opportunity to cut its losses was after this defeat. The invading force still had a fleet, and the Syracusans were busy burying their own dead.
But although the Athenian position was hopeless, and it was agreed that the only sensible course was to withdraw, an eclipse convinced the superstitious leadership that they should wait one more month.
One more month was enough time for the Syracusans to engage and destroy the Athenian navy, and they were then able to hound, massacre, and enslave the trapped army.
Athens was left defenseless, bankrupt and humiliated. Though Sparta was slow to consummate its victory, the debacle in Sicily clearly spelled the end of Athens as a great power.
The U.S. force in Iraq, of course, is in no danger of annihilation. But the Iraq war does represent a very real threat to U.S. hegemony. Bogged down in Iraq, the United States can not credibly project power elsewhere.
The effect of the occupation on morale at home is to pinch military recruitment, making it more difficult for the nation’s all-volunteer forces to meet future military threats.
On top of that, every day the United States supports the war in Iraq it plummets an additional $200 million deeper into debt (not including the cost of reconstruction).
According to retired Army Colonel Paul Hughes, experience shows that successful peacekeeping requires deploying a force in a ratio of one soldier for every 50 citizens.
The Athenians did not have the luxury of deficit spending on this scale. The United States does. But that level of deficit spending cannot be sustained indefinitely, and every borrowed billion spent in Iraq is a billion that will be unavailable to fight a future war, or indeed to meet any other crisis, domestic or foreign.
The United States is at a crossroads in Iraq. It is clear to all now, even the cheerleader President, that “stay the course” is no longer an option. Should we cut our losses and retire from Iraq? Should we send in a “surge” of troops? The Sicilian campaign offers lessons.
“Cut and run” is an ugly phrase. No one likes to be perceived as admitting defeat. But the example of Athens suggests that it may be wiser to cut one’s losses when one has the opportunity, however undignified it may seem, than to continue to hemorrhage money and men and have to accept a worse outcome later.
Is there any sense in a military “surge”? In Sicily, Athens made a dangerous double-or-nothing gamble, and lost. Still, having committed the necessary resources wholeheartedly, Athens arguably might have won — or at least not lost so badly — if its army had been better led in the field.
What would it take to win in Iraq, to crush the insurgency and suppress civil war? According to retired Army Colonel Paul Hughes, experience shows that successful peacekeeping requires deploying a force in a ratio of one soldier for every 50 citizens.
To pacify even Baghdad alone, a force of 130,000 troops would be needed in the city —about a ten-fold increase from current levels.
A gamble that huge is apparently too large even for the White House to stomach. What the President has actually proposed, a surge of about 20,000 troops, might make sense if intended as a face-saving measure, a show of strength before withdrawal.
With every additional month that passes on the present course, the United States and allies can expect to lose dozens of additional soldiers, with hundreds more wounded, without getting any closer to victory.
If it is really intended as a gamble at victory, it is quite a long shot. The U.S. generals in Iraq might well throw up their hands in despair, as the Athenians would have if their pleas for recall or reinforcement had been answered so tepidly.
Clinging to hope against odds, President Bush has been slow to publicly recognize the grave problems in Iraq, and he was slow to craft a meaningful strategy either for victory or withdrawal.
The announcement in December 2006 that he would delay setting a new course until January 2007 drew a chorus of criticism: Why wait an extra month to begin to extricate the nation’s military from its present untenable position?
During that month, and with every additional month that passes on the present course, the United States and allies can expect to lose dozens of additional soldiers, with hundreds more wounded, without getting any closer to victory — and to drain an additional six billion dollars that will not be available to meet the next terrorist attack, hurricane, or other crisis.
One month might not make much of a difference in the long run. But then again, it might, as the Sicilian eclipse demonstrates.
10. Loss of faith
Shortly after the Sicilian disaster, the Athenians did the unthinkable. Whatever its faults, throughout the Peloponnesian War Athens had been a force for democracy. Before, the oligarchic Spartans and their allies had lived in constant fear that slaves and commoners would revolt and claim Athenian protection.
Now, exhausted and demoralized after a crushing defeat in an unnecessary war, with the Spartans camped outside their walls, the Athenians lost faith in their own democratic institutions. They threw over their constitution as an expedient and embraced a police state.
The United States is not in danger of catastrophic military defeat, or even of democratic self-liquidation. But it is nevertheless in danger of losing its soul.
The authoritarian regime was short-lived, but the moral damage was done. Athens never attained greatness again — except in philosophy and tourism. Even its eventual capitulation to Sparta, seven years after the coup, seems almost anticlimactic by comparison.
Unlike them, the United States is not in danger of catastrophic military defeat, or even of democratic self-liquidation. But it is nevertheless in danger of losing its soul.
The creeping authoritarian measures of the so-called War on Terror, the moral culpability for a “preemptive” war based on false pretenses — and the crushing costs of the war in human trauma and in debt that will be borne for generations: These could easily cause a nation to turn sour of itself and its ideals.
For the sake of the United States, and for the sake of a world that continues to look to the United States for moral leadership, let us hope history knows other endings.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Daily Digest January 27, 2007
Joe Hueglin wrote:
Posted by Seasoned Traveller at 7:56 PM