George Will usually will not use a simple word when a larger one is available, but in his column today he heads directly into common sense and becomes the first (so far as I can tell) to draw a significant strategic lesson from the brilliantly-successful execution of Osama bin Laden.
George quotes a member of the Marine Corps War College as saying this:
Jim Lacey of the Marine Corps War College notes that Gen. David Petraeus has said there are perhaps about 100 al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan. “Did anyone,” Lacey asks, “do the math?” There are, he says, more than 140,000 coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, or 1,400 for every al-Qaida fighter. It costs about $1 million a year to deploy and support every soldier — or up to $140 billion, or close to $1.5 billion a year, for each al-Qaida fighter. “In what universe do we find strategists to whom this makes sense?”
Re-phrasing Lacey’s words, wouldn’t it make more sense to kill flies with a fly-swatter than a sledge hammer?
And then, George Will has this:
During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry received much derision for his belief (as expressed in a Jan. 29 debate in South Carolina) that although the war on terror will be “occasionally military,” it is “primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world.” Kerry, as paraphrased by The New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, thought “many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror.” True then; even more obviously true now.
George then proceeds to criticize Obama’s lack of a coherent strategy in the messy and uncertain Libyan Affair, with particular
attention to NATO involvement. I have expressed my own doubts about the Libyan Affair and our lack of strategy and knowledge of the Rebels (the Arab Street) in this blog. Subsequent events seem to bear out that our strategy is no strategy at all, other than to turn over control of a big chunk of our military assets to a large committee (NATO) that is floundering financially and politically.
George Will is right – NATO is a relic of the Cold War, one in which our involvement needs to be seriously debated and probably discontinued. I would go on further, but his column says it better than I could. But, please dear reader, allow me a small and rare opportunity to gloat – I so seldom get the chance. Please, in the light of recent events, visit this post of mine from last September.