Excellent! It looks like Bush stumbled into the right military strategy: decapitation strikes. The simple fact of the matter is that our technology — 1) very percise munitions, 2) satellite recon, and 3) electronic surveillance — can enable low cost, but highly effective, strikes against the leadership of Iraq (and any other rogue state). I had advocated this strategy back in 2001 on this weblog, but it looked like the administration had gone in the opposite direction towards a massive invasion. The delay we see in the roll-out of the war plan proves that we are shifting our strategy to decapitation. Also: Saddam may be dead.
Here is why these operations work:
[John Robb’s Radio Weblog]
- We can hit, with precision a variety of targets in real-time. Our intel is developed in real-time.
- The regimes we are targetting are extremely top heavy — they typically rely on a single “maximimum” leader. Elimination of that leader could end the war quickly.
- There is no real ability of these nations to hit back with overwhelming force (this was a blind spot in our planning process generated by our conflict with the USSR. Decapitation strikes against the USSR would have made it more likely that the USSR would launch nukes, therefore we developed an aversion to using this strategy. That persisted until today. It is now a major part of the US strategy in Iraq. In fact, it is dominant strategy.).
And the best thing about decapitation strikes is you don’t have to go to the lil ole Congress and get a declaration of war. Since the President’s policies now allow any President to kill terrorists, as defined by the Executive branch, or to preemptively act against anyone who threatens us, no matter how tangentally, I think that there are a lot of governments in the world who are very afraid. Oderint dum metuant.Let them hate as long as they fear. I hope not. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton said quite a few other things that we should remember. ‘Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.’ ‘The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.’ ‘Liberty is the prevention of control by others.’ The more complete quote about power from Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton discussing papal infallibility, is below and demonstrates that the same principles he was actually writing about still apply:
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
Let us make sure we do not substitute President for pope. The temptation is all too human.