Tuesday :: Mar 16, 2004

Where Ya Been, Harlan?


by rayman

Throughout this week, we'll be subjected to numerous retrospectives on the one year anniversary of the Iraq war. However, rather than rehashing predictable fare like the phantom WMD, I want to remind you of a man who's been forgotten in all the post-war hoopla. That's right, I'm talking about the incomparable, indomitable, and (lately) inaudible...Harlan K. Ullman.

In 1996, Ullmann, then an analyst at the Center For Strategic and International Studies, published Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance. The premise of the book was that, rather than relying on old-fashioned gimmickry like destroying the enemy's military capability, we could instead win wars by "sufficiently intimidating and compelling factors to force or otherwise convince an adversary to accept our will." Ullman approvingly cited the nuking of Hiroshima and the Germans' blitzkreig as examples of shocking and awing civilian populations into submission. Now, fortunately, Ullman's krazy ideas didn't get very far; that is, until the Bush administration went into Iraq overdrive. The Pentagon, using Ullman's theory, announced a plan to rain 800 cruise missiles on Baghdad in the space of two days. "The sheer size of this has never been...contemplated before," one Pentagon strategist boasted to CBS News. "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad."

So how did Ullman's pet theory work out in practice? Well, not exactly as planned. The Iraqi military mounted an unexpectedly fierce resistance in the early days of the war, and we eventually had to rely on good ole' fashioned tanks 'n' artillery to "liberate" Iraq. At the time, Ullman claimed that the Pentagon's initial strategy failed because there wasn't enough shocking and awing going on.

So far, he says, the Iraq war has mostly consisted of "strategic bombing around Baghdad" supplemented by "a rapid assault from the south." A true Shock 'n' Awe strategy would have many more components. In the present war, these would include, ideally, on Day 1:

--Taking out at least half the Republican Guard;
--Taking out the Baathist Party headquarters and the Baathist Party members;
--Sending in a 5,000-man special forces unit "on steroids" to "wreak havoc";
--Taking out police forces.

Now, maybe Ullman has reassessed his pet strategy. Or maybe he's basking in the glory of The New Iraq, which he helped bring about. Whatever the case may be, ol' Harlan has been uncharacteristically quiet in the year since the war ended. A Lexis search failed to find any recent interviews with our generation's Clausewitz, which is surprising, considering that he was a constant media presence during the war. Where ya been, Harlan?

rayman :: 5:35 AM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!