2007.04.24: April 24, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Congo Kinshasa: Foreign Policy: Brookings Institute: Washington Times: Michael O'Hanlon writes: A ruthless foe

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Congo - Kinshasa (Zaire): Special Report: National Security Expert and Congo Kinshasa RPCV Michael O'Hanlon: 2007.04.24: April 24, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Congo Kinshasa: Foreign Policy: Brookings Institute: Washington Times: Michael O'Hanlon writes: A ruthless foe

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-116-115.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.116.115) on Saturday, April 28, 2007 - 5:10 pm: Edit Post

Michael O'Hanlon writes: A ruthless foe

Michael O'Hanlon writes: A ruthless foe

But for those who would give up on this war, it is important to bear in mind what that would mean -- and who would be prevailing if we indeed conceded the fight. In this regard, I disagree with the characterization of the war reportedly offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his recent meeting with President Bush. Understandably fed up with the violence in Iraq, and understandably critical of the many mistakes made by this administration over the years in prosecuting the war, Mr. Reid nonetheless went too far. He told Mr. Bush that the president's concern over his legacy should not lead him to keep the nation engaged in a losing war. However, even if Mr. Bush began this war, America as a nation is now fighting it. And Americans, along with our allies and with the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who want a peaceful life, will be the ones to lose it to a collection of thugs and ruthless killers if we withdraw. National pride should not of course keep us in a war we have indeed lost. But we should give the surge a chance, and consider a number of "Plan Bs" if it fails, before giving up this important fight to this heinous foe in this crucial part of the world. Michael O'Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Congo Kinshasa.

Michael O'Hanlon writes: A ruthless foe

A ruthless foe

By Michael O'Hanlon

April 24, 2007

In its 230 years of independence, the United States has faced a wide range of military opponents. We started of course with the British; the North fought the slave-holding South in the Civil War; we fought native Americans as well as the Mexicans and Spanish during other parts of the 19th century; we opposed Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany in World War I and Adolf Hitler as well as the Japanese in World War II; during the Cold War we waged war against North Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese communists.

Against this historical backdrop, two facts stand out about our collection of enemies in Iraq, with a particular focus on the ex-Ba'athists and the terrorists who produced the bulk of the violence over the conflict's first three years. First, they are a small group relative to the population within which they are found. And second, even by the standards of our nation's past enemies, they are a despicable lot.

Remembering these two simple yet often overlooked facts is crucial for understanding the kind of war we fight today. Often, we fail to depict the conflict in such terms. The Bush administration conjures up the image of a strong global al Qaeda movement to motivate America's support for the war.

By contrast, many Americans who oppose our presence in Iraq focus on sectarian hatreds that have come to affect millions of Iraqis. While there is an element of truth to each of these images of our challenge in Iraq, neither is the most accurate way to understand the war.

Consider first the numbers of those fighting in Iraq. Throughout the first three years of the Iraq war, Brookings' estimates of the size of the resistance, based largely on CENTCOM data, ranged from 15,000 to 20,000 fighters. Only about 1,000 to 2,000 al Qaeda were typically in Iraq. Yet these individuals, altogether representing less than 0.1 percent of Iraq's population, have used sabotage and terror and assassination so effectively as to prevent Iraqi economic recovery, the formation of a strong government, or a sense of hopefulness among the Iraqi population.

Admittedly, guerrilla movements are often relatively small, but Iraq's insurgency has been particularly so. Its al Qaeda element, responsible for most of the suicide attacks such as those that terrorized Baghdad April 18, has been downright tiny.

As for the character of our enemies, they have been unusually ruthless and nihilistic. This is not meant as a trite, nationalistic but a comparative comment. Looking back historically, at least some of our enemies can be respected, albeit begrudgingly.

Certainly the British were not systematic human-rights abusers or mass murderers, even if they taxed without representation two centuries ago. Many of our enemies of the 19th century were groups or countries we fought to gain land and resources, not to combat a bankrupt or threatening ideology. Without wanting to push the point too far, while many of our 20th century foes were indeed horrendous, some like the Viet Cong at least claimed to offer a vision of a better society, or had legitimate anticolonial origins, or otherwise possessed at least some redeeming attributes.

Not so al Qaeda and former Ba'athist extremists in Iraq. Their only purpose in violence has been to tear down, not to build up an alternative vision they genuinely support. They are ruthless killers who often seem to kill just for the pleasure of it. To put it somewhat more precisely, ex-Saddamists want to restore a Sunni autocracy, and al Qaeda wants to return the region to the seventh century and is willing to kill anybody along the way to do so. There is no merit in either vision according to any serious cultural or moral code in the world today.

The car bombs April 18 in Baghdad prove the point about our small, terrible enemy. How many people were involved? Five to drive the cars, maybe a couple dozen in all to reconnoiter routes and prepare the vehicles. Yet this number of people gives the impression of an Iraq in chaos with sectarian war rampant.

My point is not to mimic the Bush administration or others who wish to say the surge is clearly working, save for a few bad apples. To date, I do not believe it is working. Two hundred dead is two hundred dead, and other indicators in Iraq suggest at best modest improvement in certain subcategories of violence with an overall picture that has changed very little from January. This kind of violence, if it continues, will prevent us from succeeding and force a new strategy for Iraq (such as my own preference, soft partition into three autonomous regions, including a program to help people relocate to places they will be safer).

But for those who would give up on this war, it is important to bear in mind what that would mean -- and who would be prevailing if we indeed conceded the fight. In this regard, I disagree with the characterization of the war reportedly offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his recent meeting with President Bush. Understandably fed up with the violence in Iraq, and understandably critical of the many mistakes made by this administration over the years in prosecuting the war, Mr. Reid nonetheless went too far. He told Mr. Bush that the president's concern over his legacy should not lead him to keep the nation engaged in a losing war.

Indeed, it is true that Mr. Bush's legacy will suffer enormously if we lose in Iraq, a point the president surely appreciates; my view is that this administration is already guaranteed to have at best a mediocre place in America's historical annals given its poor handling of Iraq.

However, even if Mr. Bush began this war, America as a nation is now fighting it. And Americans, along with our allies and with the overwhelming majority of Iraqis who want a peaceful life, will be the ones to lose it to a collection of thugs and ruthless killers if we withdraw. National pride should not of course keep us in a war we have indeed lost. But we should give the surge a chance, and consider a number of "Plan Bs" if it fails, before giving up this important fight to this heinous foe in this crucial part of the world.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: April, 2007; RPCV Michael O'Hanlon (Congo Kinshasa); Figures; Peace Corps Congo Kinshasa; Directory of Congo Kinshasa RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Congo Kinshasa RPCVs





When this story was posted in April 2007, this was on the front page of PCOL:


Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Subscribe to Peace Corps News Date: March 3 2007 No: 1071 Subscribe to Peace Corps News
Don't miss our new web site, Peace Corps News, for the latest news about the Returned Volunteer community and what is going on with the Peace Corps around the world. Subscribe to our news feed to get Peace Corps news delivered to your desk as it happens. Then visit the Peace Corps Library, History of the Peace Corps, the worldwide RPCV Directory or leave a message for the RPCV community on the RPCV Bulletin Board.

Peace Corps News Peace Corps Library Peace corps History RPCV Directory Sign Up

March 14, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: March 14 2007 No: 1074 March 14, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Evacuated PCVs attend Festival on the Niger in Mali 23 Feb
Tom Bissell tells the story of how Vietnam came home 13 Mar
Mike Honda cites Japan's Sex Slavery 8 Mar
Donna Shalala co-chairs presidential commission 7 Mar
Sixth Anniversary of Disappearance of PCV Walter Poirier 6 Mar
Sam Farr was de-selected during Peace Corps Training 6 Mar
Elaine Jones would be good fit for NAACP President 6 Mar
Pat Waak re-elected chairwoman of Colorado Dems 5 Mar
Astronaut Mae Jemison was PC Medical Officer 4 Mar
Guy Consolmagno blends faith and science 3 Mar
Doyle Turns Down Federal Abstinence Money 3 Mar
Owen Cylke writes: Taxi in the Rain 2 Mar
Jody Olsen receives "Founderís Day" Award 2 Mar
Chris Dodd introduces PCV Empowerment Act 1 Mar
Michael O'Hanlon writes: Iraq Deserves One More Chance 1 Mar
An Excerpt from Jan Worth's Night Blind 28 Feb
David Harde sentenced for Medical Marijuana 28 Feb
Oscar winner Helen Mirren congratulated by RPCV husband 26 Feb
RPCVs distribute mosquito nets 25 Feb
Peter McPherson new Chairman of Dow Jones 21 Feb
Arabic speakers under-utilized in Homeland Security 9 Feb
Dr. J. Michael Taylor co- founded Konbit Sante 4 Feb

February 23, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: February 24 2007 No: 1070 February 23, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
Hill announces Draft Accord in North Korea Nuclear Talks 12 Feb
Dodd builds connections in New Hampshire 19 Feb
PCVs accused of counterinsurgency activities 19 Feb
Harris Wofford declares support for Obama 18 Feb
Tschetter becomes the first Director to visit Malawi 16 Feb
New Fellows Program at Yale University 15 Feb
Sidney Slover helps start donut production in Honduras 16 Feb
Kevin O'Donnell's Daughter and Granddaughter are PCVs 14 Feb
Joe Krueger helps restore Liberia's timber industry 14 Feb
Peace Corps Hippies 13 Feb
Maryland RPCVs to screen "American Idealist" on March 3 9 Feb
Aaron Kase writes: Moon over Africa 8 Feb
Margaret Krome writes: 'Rogue nations' aren't only threat 8 Feb
Shays says he would Support McCain 8 Feb
A Mistrial for Lieut. Watada 8 Feb
Chris Matthews drops the F-bomb 8 Feb
RPCVs - Believe it or not 07 Feb
White House requests $334 Million for Peace Corps 5 Feb
Carol Bellamy writes: We need an Earth Corps 3 Feb
First Group of PCVs arrive in Cambodia 2 Feb
Mae Jemison wears red for charity 2 Feb
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts 30 Jan

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps Date: September 23 2006 No: 996 Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps
Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director Date: September 6 2006 No: 978 Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director
Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.


Read the stories and leave your comments.






Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Washington Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Congo Kinshasa; Foreign Policy; Brookings Institute

PCOL37305
37


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: