Tuesday, January 09, 2007

OKDUBYA MINUS ONE: General Mud comes to the front

Today's submission in the series "OKDubya: Studies in command" continues the comparison between the paralytic military-political directives of the Bush administration in Iraq and the paralytic strategic decrees delivered through the supreme command of the Wehrmacht in World War II. OKW, the initials of the Wehrmacht's supreme command, was a rubberstamp organization, as is the American military and political leadership for the conduct of the war in Iraq. And while the comparisons to Vietnam flow thick in the mainstream newsmedia, DD believes comparisons to the losers in World War II are more jarring and in many ways just as apt.

Wehrmacht generals knew the war was lost, they just couldn't do anything about it. The war in Iraq is lost. It will be left only to historians to decide when it was lost. Perhaps the very day the Bush administration decided to wage it.

Many are now in the same position as the German generals in World War II. They know it's over but they can't and won't say so.

For one of today's historical touchstones, a citation is taken from Paul Carrell's Scorched Earth. Along with Hitler Moves East, it is lively reading on the conduct of the war against Russia. And while the German army is treated with reverence and enthusiasm, it is clear to the reader that an alternative title could have just as easily been Lost Battles.

The framing shot now is the Berghof where Erich von Manstein, one of the Fuhrer's firemen generals dispatched to retrieve the unretrievable, is about to enter into argument with Adolf Hitler. Hitler blames his general for the bad conduct of the war and will take no advice.

"Manstein turned purple," wrote Carrell.

"Icily, but with deliberate calm he said: 'You, my Fuhrer, are to be blamed for what has happened. For eight months you have been presenting our forces ... with one strategically insoluble task after another. To cope with them you have granted me neither adequate reinforcements or freedom of movement. If you had done so you would not now be lamenting the disastrous situation. Responsibility for it lies at your door entirely."

Are there currently such such discussions between the Bush administration and its generals in OKDubya? The country wonders.

At OKDubya Zulu on Wednesday, count on George W. Bush to ask for more sacrifice without once brooking the intrusion reality. Expect to hear fantastical claims and assertions, the kind which can only be made when there is no one in the room to turn purple and let out a shout.

In today's Los Angeles Times, the newspaper continued its coverage of battle in the wilds of Iraq, one with no apparent goal, one that slogs on, keeping score by determining the arms it collects in a country that is an open ammo dump.

In "Diyala offensive gets caked in mud," it is written:

"A five day offensive into the troubled rural region east of Baghdad bogged down in mud Monday after US forces bombarded a warren of tunnels and canals were Arab insurgents were believed to be holed up.

" . . . An icy downpour turned dirt roads into muck that stuck to boots and wheels like cement and stopped American armored vehicles . . . US commanders poised for what they described as a final push ... fired phosphorus shells to burn dead weeds ...

" ' Time is on our side,'" said one American commander to the Times. " ... we have just bombed the hell out of them."

Vehicles "skidded and sank" in the mud, slid off roads and down "an incline into a field."

The German army also knew General Mud.

From Hitler Moves East, on the final offensive before Moscow:

"During [the] night a snow fell. For a few hours the vast landscape was shrouded in white. In the morning it thawed again. The roads were turned into bottomless skidpans."

" . . . On they drove. Or rather they did not drive -- they struggled through the mud. Entire companies were pulling bogged down lorries out of the mud of the roads."

The answer?

Horses and light farmcarts. "The motorized convoys were stuck in the mud but the small peasant carts got through."

In another Times article, a strike at "three" al Qaeda operatives in Somalia, the names which no Americans will remember, was reported. In World War II histories, such things were called pinprick raids, things which might have been good for morale but which accomplished nothing.

The country asks OKDubya what about Osama bin Laden? Mullah Omar? That Zawahiri guy? There are no answers prior to Zulu Wednesday but Somalia is where the action is.

One imagines, deep in some command center, the following discussion.

Man #1: On getting bin Laden, can't we send someone in to clean Pakistan's clock on the northern frontier? Who's our Otto Skorzeny, you know, the guy who was the most feared commando in WW II, the guy who snatched Mussolini, commanded a panzer brigade and rolled up Horthy's kid in a rug?

Man #2: Our Skorzeny? This guy. [Taps a dossier with index finger.]

Man #1: Good Lord!

Man #2: That's one way to put it.

Man #1: I guess I should be glad it's only Somalia, right?

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