(Sean Connery and what's his name in "The Man Who Would be King.)
Marty and Chuck were up on the Hill today before the Senate "Committee On The Conduct Of The War" (oops, wrong war) to explain the modalities of the US led coalition's coming degradation and then destruction of IS at the hands of the "Coalition of the Feeble Arabs." Their pleadings matched up well with my post of a few days ago entitled "Too Many Moving Parts, Too Many."
Chuck called him Marty on TV today, so I will also. Sorry, general. I thought you were the professional head of the US armed forces but your boss thinks you are "Marty." I suppose that his squadmates always called him Chuck.
What came through strongly to me in this day's work, was the unreality of the whole thing. It was largely an expression of various planning goals and hopes assembled by people who still do not understand the peoples of the region, Islam, etc. as well as the fact that those peoples have their own agendas which usually include the desired goal of making fools out of the ifranj, the poor, trusting ifranj. Someone reminded me recently that when I first briefed at the WH during Desert Storm, one of the leading lights there said to me, "you mean there are two kinds of Islam?" We have gotten a little past that but not much.
THE PLAN hinges on the willing cooperation of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulflets, Egypt and a fleeting, ephemeral, will of the wisp group called the "Fake Syrian Army" (FSA). Oops! Make that the "Free Syrian Army."
Marty said a couple of times today that the situation in Syria is that all the Sunni Arabs are combined together against Assad's handful of Alawis and a few others.
Where did he get that idea? DIA is a competent organization and they work for him. With that notion in mind Marty expects that we will be able to recruit 5,400 previously untrained Syrians from refugee camps, send them to a year's military training in Saudi Arabia, organize them and maybe a few more contingents in later cohorts into "brigades" and then send them into Syria where they will defeat both IS and the SAG.
A major flaw in this scheme is the simple truth that many, many Sunni Arabs in Syria adhere to the Syrian government because they are in abject terror of IS, the Nusra Front and similar bands of medieval lunatics. The Syrian Army is now thought to be around 130,000 in number. 30% of that is Sunni Arabs. In addition there are 100,000 odd Shabiha pro-government militia. God knows how many IS there will be by then. Marty thinks they will have melted away, afeered of US air power.
McCain and his consort, the OLFSC, asked a few good questions today:
- Are we going to send this analog of the "Bay of Pigs Brigade" into combat against all there might be by then in Syria without benefit of air cover and CAS? The answer seemed to be yes in the expectaion that the people of Cuba, err, Syria will rise to strike down all malefactors. and thus eliminate the need to grasp uncomfortable nettles.
- What happens if the Brigadistas are defeated by the bad people? asked McCain. Ah, they won't be, seemed to be the answer from Marty.
- But what if they are, pressed the OLFSC? Numb silence at the thought ensued.
- What would you do if this PLAN failed asked McCain? Marty replied that all plans are based on assumptions (true) and that if the "Hauran of Sheep" PLAN failed, then his assumption (that it would succeed) would have been proven wrong and there would have to be ANOTHER PLAN. The atmosphere was then laden with the implication that ANOTHER PLAN would mean that the US would take over the war and fight it with its own forces.
Well, boys and girls, IMO that would mean several more years of COINista baloney in Syria AFTER we conquer the country, and then a long, long occupation by us.
I will not dwell at length on Turkey's feckless abandonment of NATO, Iraq's general fecklessness, Saudi Arabia's untrustworthiness and all the rest. Maybe we will do that some other time. pl