“War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory.” -Georges Clemenceau

In my last post, I said that history was actually unpredictable. Hindsight bias makes us declare we could predict what already happened. Since we are so good at predicting the past, we tend to think the future is just an extrapolation of current events. And so the future is always absurd and unpredictable.

An unfortunately timed book, Thomas Rick’s Fiasco, is a good example of this as any. David Adesnik just started reading it and reviews it at Oxblog.

David Adesnik:

One of the first things is noticed is a map that precedes the title page. The map is entitled “The Sunni ‘Triangle’: Heart of the Insurgency”. That title speaks volumes about the dramatic changes in Iraq over the past six months.

A year ago, when Fiasco was published, it seemed delusional to hope that the US and its Iraqi allies could ever take back the Sunni provinces of Western Iraq. We understood the war in Iraq as essentially a civil war between Shi’ites and Sunnis. Since we had taken the side of the Shi’ites after the fall of Saddam, it seemed perfectly logical to assume that the most heavily Sunni parts of Iraq were the natural home of the insurgency.

Gen. Petraeus has up-ended that logic and shown that we can turn many of Iraq’s Sunnis into our most effective allies — more effective than most Shi’ites.

He links to the Christian Science Monitor:

Violence has stayed down, dropping from 2,000 attacks in March to about 450 last month – as the number of Iraqi security forces has increased, from around 24,000 this spring to nearly 40,000 today.

A 75% reduction in violence. In the heart of the Sunni Triangle. Even in Ramadi, the capital of the al-Qaeda government the Islamic Emirate of Iraq.

Absurd.

Wars never go well then they are suddenly won by one side or another. There is a massive amount of uncertainty and unpredictable friction which destroy the best plans. Nay-saying is very easy under these circumstances. But everything can ‘flip’ in a day or two.

So what happens now? There are really three (or four or five) wars ongoing in Iraq. Al-Qaeda is largely defeated, and the long-term threat is Iran.

What will happen in a year? I have no idea! Isn’t this fun? It’s going to be absurd though, that’s for sure.

I am, of course, a little insane. So perhaps that’s why I joined the Army.

Advertisements