National Park Service
George Santayana famously warned, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” With that in mind, I turn to the pressing question: What countries should America invade in the future? How should we wage war and govern them after a swift victory? Let us apply the lesson we learned form the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.
What Country To Invade?1. Invade a homogeneous country. In Iraq we got caught up in the Sunni-Shea-Kurd nonsense. Who knew they couldn’t get along? In Afghanistan we discovered that the Pashtunen don’t like the Uzbeks, Hazara, Baluch, Aimaq, Kirghiz, Wakhi, Fariwan, Nuristani, Brahui, Tajik, Turkmen, Oizilbasj, and Kabuli. This is should be no surprise because in Afghanistan nobody likes anybody outside of their own extended family.
By contrast, we enjoyed great success invading homogeneous countries such as Germany, Japan, and Grenada. There are many homogeneous countries to choose from: France, Italy, and the Scandinavian nations immediately spring to mind.
2. Avoid religion. No more fanatically suicide bombers from the Taliban and Al Qaeda: Let’s stick with countries that play by the rules. Our next invasion must be a country that does not take religion seriously. By many measures, France, Scandinavia, and the Baltic Republics are the least religious countries in the world today.
3. Be sure they have WMD’s. You cannot trust the CIA when they tell you what you have instructed them to tell you. To be sure of finding WMD’s we should invade one of the known members of the nuclear club: Russia, China, Britain, France, India, or Pakistan.
4. Fight in a temperate climate. US Armed Forces have been trained to fight in temperate climates. Why make war elsewhere? Iraq experiences some of the highest temperatures in the world. Scorching heat is often augmented by an irritating dusty wind, the shamal, causing heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Afghanistan rivals Houston for the worst climate in the world. In a single day temperatures can go from freezing at dawn to the 90s at noon. Annually, The Mountains receive more than 40 inches of precipitation, mostly as snow. Frontal winds sweep in from the west bringing large sandstorms or dust storms, while the strong solar heating of the ground raises large local whirlwinds.
France, with its generally temperate climate, homogeneous population, and absence of religion, appears to be the perfect country to invade. According to the CIA, we will be greeted as liberators by the disaffected Monarchists, Vichyites, Jacobins, Girondists, Orleanists, and Bonapartists.
How to Wage War and Govern After Victory.
1. Have powerful allies. In Afghanistan and Iraq we lack powerful and committed allies. In Iraq “the coalition of the willing,” aka “coalition of the bribed,” comprised Armenia, Moldova, Iceland, and the Gambino Family. All withdrew troops by 2005 except for the Gambino Family, who began operating under the name Blackwater. In Afghanistan, NATO nations have supplied cheerleading.
Were we to invade France, we could count on support from her traditional enemies — Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Canada. The military plan is already in place. Germany could replay the 1914 Schlieffen plan while the US, Britain, and Canada land on the beaches of Normandy. Sensing opportunity, Italy could repeat its invasion of 1940. It would be a race to see who surrenders first.
2. Have a compelling doctrine. In Iraq we employed Bush doctrine — Piss me off and I’ll unilaterally kick your ass and then send in a bunch of twenty-something Bible School graduates to privatize social security, outlaw stem cell research, and preach abstinence-only sex education. This doctrine failed to resonate.
Afghanistan witnessed the evolution of the more nuanced Obama Doctrine — Send enough troops to keep it really close for 18 months until you pull them out. This has also failed to resonate.
Our war fighting doctrine should be: Win, but not too fast. Bush told Time magazine in 2004, “Had we to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success, being so successful, so fast, that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in, escaped and lived to fight another day.” To avoid winning too fast, we should invade France during the short window where the French Army is not engaged in contract negotiations, job actions, or strikes.
3. Quickly establish a competent government to win the hearts and minds of the people. In Iraq, de-Bathification ousted all competent government employees. In Afghanistan we backed a corrupt tribal faction.
Today, only French cabinet ministers change when a new government is formed. Therefore, we can rely on a competent staff of civil servant to implement our new policies. We will not need to engage in nation building. We already know how to fix most of France’s problems — economic slowdowns, banking crisis, immigration, political gridlock, and health care costs.
4. Have an idealistic and moralistic purpose that all Americans can embrace. The biggest problem with the French is that they are Un-American. The women are well dressed, svelte, and know how to tie scarves. The men prefer intellectual theorizing to NASCAR. France coddles their citizens with universal health care, long vacations, and job security. They think food is more important than Tea Parties.
Think what would happen if we installed US-style free-market capitalism there. This could be a real game changer, transforming the entire European Union. Think of France with long work weeks and short vacations, a fifth of the nation lacking health insurance, little job security, lousy food, obesity, and the top 1 percent having more income than the bottom 95 percent. France then would look a lot like the France of 1788. We could even bring back Louis XXVII.
Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!