The rising concern in Washington, London, and other allied capitals over what is happening in Libya is reminiscent of concerns about Iraq once it became clear that the aftermath of removing Saddam would not be a cakewalk for the U.S.-led coalition. This concern is best seen in the increasing number of U.S., UK, and French officials — named and anonymous — and pro-war journalists who are talking about the possibility of encountering “unintended consequences” from the Libyan intervention.
In Iraq, as all recall, the resistance to the U.S.-led coalition was described as an “unintended consequence,” a phrase meant to suggest that what happened in Iraq was not predictable. We also have heard the same term used to the same purpose in Afghanistan. In both cases, the phrase is meant to mislead the voting public and to disguise the failure of both Western leaders and their generals to have done even a cursory review of the history of foreign interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan before they launched their own.
Since 2003, nothing that has happened in Iraq is much different than what British forces experienced there after World War I, and absolutely nothing that U.S. and NATO forces have encountered in Afghanistan is alien to the experiences of the Soviet army, the British army (twice), and the forces of Alexander the Great. In two wars that have cost the U.S. and its allies in excess of a trillion dollars, a pre-war investment of a few hundred dollars in history books and military memoirs would have precisely detailed what Western militaries would encounter in Iraq and Afghanistan. More important, the works would have recounted the strategies and actions that failed to bring foreigners victory in either place. Because civil and military leaders did not prepare in the most rudimentary historical terms before invading, both wars are being lost by Western militaries who seem to believe they are the first to walk on what is very well-worn ground.
All this is to say that when we hear the somber phrase “unintended consequences” there is no reason to believe that such consequences could not have been predicted, and at time easily predicted. ...
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Friday, April 01, 2011
Lies in the air of Libya’s spring – The return of “unintended consequences”
Lies in the air of Libya’s spring – The return of “unintended consequences;” Michael Scheuer's Non-Intervention