In the wake of Desert Storm, the Pentagon became convinced that that kind of warfare would soon be an anachronism: no one would be foolish enough to challenge the United States head-to-head in pure military combat. Conflict in the future would be diffuse. It would take place in cities as often as on battlefields, be fueled by ideas as much as by weapons, and engage cultures and economies as much as armies. As one JFCOM analyst puts it: “The next war is not just going to be military on military. The deciding factor is not going to be how many tanks you kill, how many ships you sing, and how many planes you shoot down. The decisive factor is how you take apart your adversary’s system. Instead of going after war-fighting capability, we have to go after war-making capability. The military is connected to the economic system, which is connected to their cultural system, to their personal relationships. We have to understand the links between all those systems.”
Van Riper didn’t believe you could lift the fog of war. His library on the second floor of his house in Virginia is lined with rows upon rows of works on complexity theory and military strategy. From his own experience in Vietnam and his reading of the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, Van Riper became convinced that war was inherently unpredictable and messy and non-linear.
– Malcom Gladwell
from his book: “Blink“, describing modern warfare and Paul Van Riper
[You cannot predict the course of a war based on economics or superior firepower. Rober McNamarra couldn't do it for President Johnson and a much lesser man (Donald Rumsfeld) couldn't do it for "W".
Ultimately, this is why America's policy pre-emptive attacks and over-throwing ("replacing") governments in most parts of the world (particularly Muslim countries) and trying to do nation-building "in our own image" will NEVER work.
When (if) you fight an enemy who is willing to fight on your terms, you may defeat them if you are a superior force. If you are not superior, it can go either way - even when you are fighting on your terms. If you are unable to fight on your terms, you must be vastly superior to ensure even modest victory.
If you ultimately are intending to form a new government, the populace must be one which historically is willing to bend to the will of their own government / "superiors" (either through cultural tradition, divine right or extreme force, Germany and Japan after WWII, for example) and not tribal and culturally / economically independent (like Iraq and Afghanistan, for example).
Saddam was in power over twenty years and slaughtered tens of thousands of his own people and still many tribes resisted his rule. Why would any but the most naïve amongst us believe ALL of his people would welcome us with flowers and kisses, instead of treat us as an invading power - which we were. The same is true with Afghanistan. They were not so much governed by the Taliban as loosely confederated under a set of religious beliefs.
Think about this: the United States is spending about $1 BILLION dollars EACH day to keep our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have over 120,000 of the best trained and equipped soldiers in the world in Afghanistan to fight what is probably an Al Qaeda force of not more than 500 in an area the size of Texas.
That we have killed Bin Laden only means he will not live to see his ultimate economic and cultural victory over us. Not a military victory, which was never possible, but a victory over us as a world economic super-power because he was able to kick our political system into hyper-militarism - individually spending more as a single country than all of the other countries in the world. This is the warning President Eisenhower gave us in his famous "military-industrial complex" speech.
To defeat western-civilization (quasi-benign capitalism) at it's core, Bin Laden only had to accelerate "corporate" capitalism. With the help of a willing Republican "neo-conservative" government in the White House, controlling both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court, who were all willing to wage a war off budget (read that as "with no public debate over the actual costs or the real lost opportunity costs") and without raising taxes to pay for the war, the Bush Administration virtually guaranteed an eventual collapse of the American economy. The miracle is that we have not already had a complete collapse. We narrowly avoided complete economic collapse in Nov '08 to Mar '09.
Bin Laden truly learned the primary lesson of Afghanistan in defeating the Russians: you need not defeat a superior force in battle; you can bleed the home country to death by fighting their force with fewer (120,000 to 500) and less expensive (does anyone believe it costs a million dollars a year to keep a single Al Qaeda foot-soldier in battle?) ground forces. (Before anyone starts thinking this was an incredibly brilliant discovery by Bin Laden, please recall this is EXACTLY the same tactic used by General George Washington against the British monarchy in the American Revolutionary War.)
Please Mr. President - Give Peace A Chance!!! Get out of these pointless, hopeless and impossible to win wars now!!! Not in 2012, 2014 or 20-whatever... NOW!!! (Yes, I know it will take six months to draw down if we begin withdrawing tomorrow... So start tomorrow!!!)
It is still NOT too late to save America and Western Civilization...
A Democrat (Still Under The Bus)