21 November 2003

Get smart or lose the war

Meanwhile, the forces of terror are trying to destabilize those neighbors who are siding with the US. In other words, the US is on the defensive whereas the terrorists are on the offensive, both in and around Iraq. And there is no solution in sight.

Attacks on the US and its allies are growing in number and intensity, not decreasing. More anti-terror forces are being committed to combat this, but their quality is decreasing. The new US troops who are going to Baghdad are from the National Guard. They will live in their barracks, completely separated from the rest of Iraq, feeling more and more besieged, more and more in hostile territory, more and more controlled by the enemy. Besides, it is not clear whether there is an exit strategy.

How can America stabilize this Iraq? The growing number of attacks proves that the US-led forces know less and less about what is going on in Iraq, not more. Iraq, in other words, looks like a trap about which the US and its allies, their soldiers and their people know little. They don't know about the country its rules and customs, its intricacies, its snares. In short, they lack intelligence.

Al-Qaeda managed the September 11 attacks not because of its powerful military but because it beguiled US intelligence. The US failed to preempt September 11 not because of lack of guns, but because of lack of intelligence in the broad sense. In Iraq, the situation grows worse by the day for the same reason: the US certainly has enough guns, but not enough intelligence. North Atlantic Treaty Organization General Fabio Mini, in his latest book, La Guerra dopo la Guerra, stresses that the threat of global terrorism has to be met with much better information networks. John Keegan in his The First World War points out that the armies had enough shells to kill each other many times over, but lacked information on where to direct their shells.

This seems to be happening in Iraq now. Soldiers are busy defending themselves and people are coming from outside to join Saddam's supporters.

Why don't we know? How can we know? How can we use the knowledge to win over the uncertain and isolate the die-hard enemies? These questions have to be addressed very seriously as they are more important than any quarrel about the number of people in the field.

The answer is not stirring speeches in London. The answer is fact- not Feith-based intelligence.

No comments: