No, I'm not a ghoul. I lean more towards Tacitus' interpretation than I do of Kos' for this photo. The first thing you may notice are pillars of smoke and tongues of flame, but a careful observer will notice residential lights still on in the background, electricity still running, and building standing unscathed just meters away from the targets.
Likewise, Kos critiques the targeting of those buildings, since they are empty and abandoned and have no strategic value. But this morning on NPR, someone made a good point - this isn't Powell Doctrine anymore. The Powell Doctrine of warfare says - fight only when you need to (sounds nice) but when you do fight, use overwhelming force and win decisively (think about it). The photo above is not Powell Doctrine, violating the latter clause, not the former.
This is "effects-based" doctrine of war - which says, have clear cut end goals in mind and focus on acchieving them, not with overwhelming use of force, but creative use of force. The desired effects of this war are clear - centering on making Iraqis reject their regime, and the regime to surrender power (note that these are two separate things). The Ba'ath Party is being sent a message here - we know where your symbols are and we will erase them utterly to demonstrate our reach. The Iraqi people are being sent a message here - we will leave you in peace and we have a common enemy. The photos above are courtesy of the brilliant "embedded" journalist policy - whose images reach Iraqis and Americans alike. The world media thus becomes a psychological amplifier.
I did not and do not support this war, because I reject the rationales given by the administration (I have yet to complete my writing on this, it''s coming), and because I object to the way it was pursued. I do think that all the desired outcomes which we will see - Iraqi liberation, removal of Hussein, etc. - could have been achieved without the attempted marginalization of the UN and the suspect foreign policy fantasies of the neocons as baggage, and I do believe that the way we got here will cause problems down the line.
As Michael Tomasky writes in the American Prospect:
The day this war starts, the world enters a new era of global Darwinism in which a structure of covenants and norms�admittedly far from perfect, but at least the result of an ongoing dialogue of nations�that has developed over the last half-century will be pushed aside. It�s no contradiction at all to hope for the best for our troops but remain dead set against the rules of world order being rewritten overnight by the jungle�s biggest lion.
and as Michael Kinsley writes in Slate:
Putting all this together, Bush is asserting the right of the United States to attack any country that may be a threat to it in five years. And the right of the United States to evaluate that risk and respond in its sole discretion. And the right of the president to make that decision on behalf of the United States in his sole discretion. In short, the president can start a war against anyone at any time, and no one has the right to stop him. And presumably other nations and future presidents have that same right. All formal constraints on war-making are officially defunct.
Well, so what? Isn't this the way the world works anyway? Isn't it naive and ultimately dangerous to deny that might makes right? Actually, no. Might is important, probably most important, but there are good, practical reasons for even might and right together to defer sometimes to procedure, law, and the judgment of others. Uncertainty is one. If we knew which babies would turn out to be murderous dictators, we could smother them in their cribs. If we knew which babies would turn out to be wise and judicious leaders, we could crown them dictator. In terms of the power he now claims, without significant challenge, George W. Bush is now the closest thing in a long time to dictator of the world. He claims to see the future as clearly as the past. Let's hope he's right.
This is the essence of Bush Doctrine. Which actually is Perle-Wolfowitz Doctrine, given that it dates back to just after Gulf War I and was rejected by Bush 41, waiting for a more receptive president.
Let me be clear - the reason we are waging war is Bush Doctrine, with which I disagree completely. The method which we wage war is "effects-based", with which I think is brilliant.
But Bush does deserve recognition for the waging of the war itself. He may indeed be completely removed from all decision making, perhaps playing a game of Risk at Camp David - but he is the titular commander inc hief and therefore I assign all credit for the success of the war (or failure, which is unlikely) to him. But that will have to wait until after, because after all - we aren't seeing everything on TV yet.