Leaving Iraq

Posted in delusional defence ministers, Iraq, running away, War by Deputy city editor on August 20, 2007

Retreat is the most dangerous manœuvre in warfare therefore as British forces prepare to evacuate Iraq, it is worth hoping that military planners and the new government defence team have consulted Carl von Clausewitz’s On War, Book 4, Chapter 13.

WHEN A BATTLE IS LOST, the strength of the army is broken — its moral even more than its physical strength. A second battle without the help of new and more favorable factors would mean outright defeat, perhaps even absolute destruction. That is a military axiom. It is in the nature of things that a retreat should be continued until the balance of power is reestablished.

Consult here the rest of von Clausewitz on the art of retreat.

My faith is limited in the competence of the current defence leadership to organise an effective withdrawal from Iraq. Even when Gordon Brown has apparently taken to personally micromanaging the project.

Families who have representatives in Iraq are entitled to wonder whether any of this is being thought through.

It is also impossible to know what to make of rumors that Cheney and Bush are determined to take out Iran (in a joint venture with the Israelis) before they leave, as they do not believe any incoming president will have the guts. That this would not be a manoeuvre consistent with Clausewitz is evident. The question is: how demented/psychotic/delusional is Bush? Is he going to pour oil on the flames and make a bad situation even worse? My neocon pal in America says don’t worry – the republicans in the senate won’t let him.


Helicopter on the roof of the CIA apartment building at 22 Gia Long Street, Saigon, April 29, 1975.
A shortage of helicopters in Iraq may make this type of retreat impractical.


2 Responses

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  1. Jonathan Miller said, on July 26, 2007 at 7:44 am

    Having seen the defense secretary on Channel 4 News last night, I am afraid it is evident that the study of Clausewitz appears to have played no part in his preparations for the final ignominious retreat from Iraq.

  2. […] forces were more capable, we’d be sending MORE soliders to the area to cover the retreat. I have written before of the lessons of Clausewitz and how the British government and its commanders as yet show no signs […]

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