Opposition Research

I’ve been reading Wesley Clark’s book Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat. For all of Clark’s military experience, the book show someone whose views of future combat represent a line of thought that is completely contradictory.

Clark’s primary idea about future warfare is that ground operations simply don’t work. According to Clark future wars can be solved with airpower and airpower alone. We don’t need to have boots on the ground, we just push a few buttons and launch some cruise missiles and everything will be over.

Except such a vision of war is simply unrealistic. Clark recognizes quite rightly that low-intensity conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies like Somalia and Kosovo are going to be the most prolific crises that world policymakers have to deal with.

Of course those are precisely the kinds of conflicts that have to be solved with boots on the ground. You cannot bomb someone like Mohammad Farah Aidid into submission. You can’t count on having smart weapons that can assassinate terrorist leaders.

In other words, Clark is arguing that kind of ineffective launching of a few cruise missiles at terrorists conducted during the Clinton Adminstration is the way to conduct modern warfare.

Except he ignores that such an approach simply doesn’t work. Clark believes that the American people won’t tolerate casualties – a philosophy that tries to sell the lie that wars can be conducted painlessly and surgically without the need for American soldiers to do things like actually fight on the ground. It has been made clear that air power is simply not enough to win a war – you must have troops on the ground in order to win. You can’t enact regime change or create a better security situation through air power. You can’t feed refugees through air power. You cannot count on air power to find a Saddam Hussein or an Osama bin Laden. Using air power as the primary method of military force against terrorism is like trying to use a ball-pein hammer to swat a fly. In the end, you’re going to create more damage and you’ll likely miss your intended target. The bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and the aspirin factory in the Sudan illustrate this more clearly.

Clark’s book advocates the same failed strategies that empowered groups like al-Qaeda in the 1990’s. In other words, Clark’s future conflict sounds much like the same failed conflicts of the past. The results of such a military strategy are clear: the bombing of Belgrade, the massacre and Srebrenica, the failure of the US mission in Somalia. One would think that someone who regards himself as student of history would know better.

Tomorrow: Clark’s schitzophrenic foreign policy.

3 thoughts on “Opposition Research

  1. “In other words, Clark is arguing that kind of ineffective launching of a few cruise missiles at terrorists conducted during the Clinton Adminstration is the way to conduct modern warfare.”

    “Shooting missiles into empty tents”, I believe President Bush called it. Clark’s vision on how to deal with these people is downright scary.

  2. For a guy who’s so convinced that Bush will have a landslide re-election victory, you sure are obsessively nervous about the competition, be it Dean, Kerry or Clark. Seems like a guy who has no doubt that Bush will paint the 2004 electoral map red would be ignoring the competition rather than posting three lengthy messages a day on a blog to try to tear them down.

  3. Yes, because some schlub from the Midwest is going to have any effect on the national election…

    The reason I criticize Dean, Kerry, Clark, and the others is because I cannot abide bad ideas. With that group, there’s more than enough to go around.

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