18 September 2008

Disorganization and American Failure in the War on Terror

For a seminar today, I've had to read an article that appeared in The Historical Journal in 2007, 'The Current State of Military History', by Mark Moyar of the USMC University. Mostly it is a refutation of points made by the British military historian Jeremy Black, in his book Rethinking Military History. However, there's an interesting nugget about the American problems in fighting the war in the Middle East.

Moyar mentions three books (among around a hundred in the article) that cover the Global War on Terrorism.
[Sean] Naylor shows how flawed high-level political guidance, ineffective employment of allied fighter and poor co-ordination among military organizations led to a fiasco.
[Bing] West faults senior US civilian and military leaders for disorganization and ignorance of Iraqi politics and culture.
[Steve] Coll shows...the US effort was hampered by interagency squabbling and lack of strategic direction.

These three summaries may reflect Moyar's interpretations more than the reality, but if not, that's a severe indictment of the American system of waging war in the Middle East. At the highest levels, American leaders don't know what they are doing. At intermediate levels, the managers of American security agencies cannot co-operate. At the lowest levels, the ability to co-ordinate operations with local allies seems to be flawed, although this appears to be the fault of higher-level direction.

The fact that this is not being discussed openly, as far as I can tell, during an election campaign, suggests that nothing will change in the foreseeable future. I pity the parents of America's fighting men and women.

Links to the books:
Steve Coll
Sean Naylor
Bing West

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