Live from Iraq

By Stewart Nusbaumer

Surviving in Mosul Stuggling to survive after a horrific explosion.

Street Without Joy
Will Bush’s surge secure Baghdad’s bloodiest block?

Good Morning, al-Adhamiya
In one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods.

Squiring Out Of Baghdad
Is the surge ending or dispersing the insurgency?

With PTT in Heet
A Marine unit training and equipping the Iraq Police.

Embed in Trouble
What is a journalist to do with attacked by a U.S. Army biggie? Go to the bigger?

Four Days in Dulab
In a small, dangerous town in the most violent province in Iraq.


  Live on Film

Starring Stewart!


  Main Menu



There are 1 unlogged user and 0 registered users online.

You can log-in or register for a user account here.



Preferred language:


  Articles & Essays: History Lesson For Military Superpower

Opponents fight one type of war, our military fights another type of war, there is a military stalemate and eventually the U.S. returns home. Is anyone learning anything?
By Stewart Nusbaumer

Frankfurt, Germany -- There is an awful truth stalking America -- one too uncomfortable for Americans to speak, even to think, and too dangerous for the mainstream media to report.

Americans spend $450 billion annually on defense, which is nearly as much as all of the world's military budgets combined, yet our astronomically expensive military cannot catch a 6' 5" Arab in a small corner of the world? Our awesomely powerful military can blow up the world, yet it could not subdue a few dizzy fanatics setting off crude road bombs that has now spiraled into a full fledge insurgency? We have the most expensive and most the powerful military, but can it do anything?

I'm thinking this while zipping through Germany on a super smooth train -- unlike our roller coaster kidney mixers crawling at camel speed. I'm looking out at a prosperous and secure Germany. There are not gutted-out cities here, not abundantly abandoned factories, not legions of homeless and armies of criminals, not a depopulation of the impoverished heartland as in America. And there is not a public that would elect as president an ignorant nut case. Germany has moved on, but it learned from its horrible mistake. And today Germany is being rewarded for learning from its history.

Meanwhile America is moving backwards. It refuses to learn from its ugly past, so today it is in another ugly mess. The disaster in Iraq was clearly foreseeable, it would have been avoided if Americans, especially George Bush and his handlers, respected history. But George Bush doesn't like history. History is confining, history talks of limitations and says, "Don't do that!" George Bush the tough Texan doesn't like to told what not to do.

In Vietnam, where Geroge never was, our troops blew up rice patties and then the Vietnamese attacked us from the jungle. We defoliated the jungle and they attacked us from rice paddies. We blew up both the rice paddies and defoliated the jungle and they attacked us from the village. We leveled the village and they attacked us from the city. When we arrived in mass, they dispersed; when we departed, they massed again and then attacked. U.S. strategy had our highly mobile military racing all over Vietnam, often to where the enemy was not -- until we fell into their attack trap. Frustrated and tired, eventually we gave up and left Vietnam.

And did America learn? Did our military change? Take a wild guess.

What Was Not Learned

According to the mainstream media, the primary lesson of the Vietnam War is that Americans should not spit in the faces of our returning soldiers, a bogus lesson since Americans never did. On the other hand, little is said about the lesson of not getting our soldiers faces blown off in a useless war. The bogus is everywhere in America, the crucial is hardly heard. The American media doesn't like history either.

Learning genuine lessons requires studying history, which superpower America won't do. So today in Iraq a limited if not primitive military force is applying asymmetrical warfare and has stymied the world's most powerful military. The Iraqi insurgents avoid our massive firepower, the U.S. searches for them mostly unsuccessfully. The guerrillas rely on stealth mobility while the all-powerful U.S. depends upon advanced technology. When our troops attack, the Iraqis disperse; when our troops leave, the insurgents return. The Iraqi opposition is not fighting our type of war and the U.S. military refuses to fight their type of war. The result will be a military stalemate. In military stalemates, however, the visiting army almost always loses.

Unwilling to burden the continuing cost in blood and money, which are significant for our expensive military machine and our vulnerable modern soldiers, the U.S. will quit this endless stalemate. But Iraqis will remain, it is their home. It is their country, not our country. And the discredited local government installed by the departed United States will fall like a stack of cheap Vegas cards.

All this is written in history, the history that all Superpowers refuse to read. After our defeat in Vietnam, the Soviet Union rushed to defeat in Afghanistan, now we are on our way to defeat in Iraq, possibly Afghanistan. Superpower militaries don't change how they fight wars even when losing wars -- hey, they have super power!

The awful truth that Americans do not face and the media is uninterested in discussing is although we spend a fortune on defense, although our military has the most sophisticated and expensive weaponry in the world, although our troops are the best trained, our military is lousy at fighting today's wars. The big wars are over, the little wars are todays wars. And they can bleed and tear down a great superpower military.

Osama bin Laden and his crew run free in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Security and order was never established in Iraq, now the country is in total chaos. Forces with little money and crude weapons outsmart our military leaders, fighting wars our military cannot fight, wars our arrogant, bloated, corporate-led military leaders refuse to fight. And when defeat is confirmed, when our troops return home in defeat, our generals will again, like after Vietnam, blame those "traitorous antiwar demonstrators," our "liberal media," those "back-stabbing politicians," but never their outsmarted selves.

Of course the U.S. military has tinkered with its war strategy. For a while the buzz words have been "special operations," but for those who seek to challenge the U.S. on the battlefield, all war is special operations. The Pentagon has made changes in troop training, but nothing to alter its cherished "way of war." Yet our conventional war is successfully circumvented by our opponents -- well, Saddam Hussein didn't in the Gulf War, but the world watched that slaughter and learned the lesson not to fight that kind of war against the U.S. military. There is new equipment, but more sophisticated and expensive -- great for defense corporations' profits, but lousy for fighting the unconventional wars of today.

We have quarter-billion dollar B-1 bombers sitting in Kansas, yet our soldiers in Iraq do not have simple armor for their vehicles. The Army's 10th Mountain Division was ill prepared to fight in the mountains of Afghanistan, sluggish and disorganized. Some Marines are already on their third tour in Iraq, which will exhaust and degrade our elite corps. Soldiers speak of not understanding how to win a war where there are no boundaries and the enemy is unclear, their officers say push on. And Americans ask, why are our soldiers dying? Answers from Washington have stopped coming.

When the U.S. finally leaves Iraq -- after massacring thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis, after insuring the country degenerates into a vicious civil war, after earning the disrespect of nearly the entire world -- Americans will then evade these awful facts as it evaded the awful facts of Vietnam and the media will rush to a new disaster in the world which makes the avoidance relatively easy. And the U.S. military will return to training the best soldiers in the world and equipping them with the most expensive hardware imaginable, while the generals return to planning a new invasion of some Normandy. And in history, everyone will read about the terrible mistake Germany made, and how the Germans learned from their terrible mistake.

Perhaps all of us, elected representatives, military generals, regular citizens, need to take a trip to Germany and learn not what Germany did but what it is doing. What it is doing is not doing the awful that it once did. When will superpower Americans learn that?

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. You can email Stewart at

Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Go to home page

If you enjoyed
this article,
please read . . .

List of most recent articles posted:
· Humanitarian Guns for Burmese Guerrillas   (05/10/08)
· Four Days In Danger   (12/06/07)
· Embed Journalist in Trouble   (11/18/07)
· A Marine Police Transition Team   (11/18/07)
· Beyond Baghdad   (11/18/07)
· Appointment in al-Adhamiya   (11/18/07)
· Street Without Joy   (11/18/07)
· Band of Brothers   (11/18/07)
· Trouble in the Heartland   (11/18/07)
· Afghanistan on the Edge   (11/18/07) 

  Live from Kabul

By Stewart Nusbaumer

On the Road to Kabul
Is Afghanistan progressing and becoming more stable -- or slipping back into civil war?

The Morning the Apple Exploded
An inside view of an Afghanistan beginning to explode, one apple at a time.

The Kabul Rumble
There are many dangers in Afghanistan, but one is seldom mentioned.

"Every Missile Was a Painkiller"
Afghanistan is an enigma wrapped in pain with a future that is anyone’s guess.

Kabul Erupts in Gunfire
A spark becomes a riot and Stewart is surrounded by gunfire.

Bombed in Afghanistan
With reality confusing and fear rising, illusions are manufactured as fast as drinks can be consumed.

Unfinished Business
Defeat in Iraq would be a humiliation, defeat in Afghanistan could be a real threat.

A Diffferent Fireworks
On the 4th of July in Kabul there was a different type of fireworks.

Where Did The Dough Go?
Billions have been donated for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, so where did the money go?

On The Edge
It's simple why we're not winning the hearts and minds of Afghans and nation-building is a diaster.


  Archive Categories


Book Reviews




  Live from China

By Stewart Nusbaumer


Astounded in China
China’s development is stunning and its power is growing quickly; will America become a lapdog for the Asian dragon?

Bombed in Beijing
Yes China’s development is stunning, but not as stunning as the Goddess of Tiananmen Square.

Enigma or Bomb?
It's a weird world with weird Americans making it hard to tell what is really real.

Tongue-Tied & Stomach Pumped
While their language tells us about Chinese society, their cuisine tells us about a very dirty political secret.

Drinking & Driving
Driving in China teaches you to appreciate airplanes; drinking the booze will probably turn you into a tea drinker.

Sexpots Galore
When sex merges with politics, the Big Dog authorities never win.




 Log in Problems?
 New User? Sign Up!