Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Baghdad = Stalingrad?

The analogy may seem far-fetched, but it's significant that it was made at all in a major newspaper. W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern in a Miami Herald Christmas Eve op-ed on the proposed Iraq troop surge:
A major buildup would commit the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to decisive combat in which there would be no more strategic reserves to be sent to the front. As Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway pointed out Monday, "If you commit your reserve for something other than a decisive win, or to stave off defeat, then you have essentially shot your bolt."

It will be a matter of win or die in the attempt. In that situation, everyone in uniform on the ground will commit every ounce of their being to "victory," and few measures will be shrunk from.

Analogies come to mind: Stalingrad, the Bulge, Dien Bien Phu, the Battle of Algiers.

It will be total war with the likelihood of all the excesses and mass casualties that come with total war. To force such a strategy on our armed forces would be nothing short of immoral, in view of predictable troop losses and the huge number of Iraqis who would meet violent injury and death. If adopted, the "surge" strategy will turn out to be something we will spend a generation living down.
Iraq is the neocon wet dream turned nightmare, and it looks as if it just won't end until Cheney and Bush leave office.

It's probably this aura of blind, doomed hubris that led Lang and McGovern to compare Baghdad and Stalingrad. You do have to roam pretty far afield to find a metaphor that does justice to the neocons now planning to double down their Iraq bet with a troop surge. One thing it does bring to mind is the image of the Germans overconfidently pushing east in the face of the approaching Russian winter. And we know how that turned out.

November 2008 has never seemed farther away. It can't come soon enough. And let's not be too quick to take the "I word" off the table.

UPDATE: Check out "The Inevitable Blowback Against the Inevitable Escalation" at Booman Tribune (h/t Rants from the Rookery).

No comments: