September 5, 2003
Iraq was not a war. It was a campaign within a much larger conflict between the United States and the Islamic Jihadist movement. The decision to invade Iraq was taken in the context of identifying offensive opportunities in order to prevent the war from turning into an impossible defensive war. Iraq was selected as the target because it is the single most strategic country in the Middle East. It borders on six other critical countries. The conquest of Iraq enables follow-on operations against key countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. We have seen political evolutions in each of these countries as a result of the Iraq campaign. The war was also intended to shift the psychology of the region, changing the perception of the United States in the Islamic world as being incapable of imposing a military solution. The Weapons of Mass Destruction issue was a real but subsidiary consideration, but was made central for diplomatic and political reasons. It was seen as a stronger justification than geopolitics and it was assumed that it would be self-validating. The central issue at this point is the intelligence failure concerning follow-on plans for guerrilla warfare in Iraq. That, coupled with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is reversing the hoped for gains. First, the United States' ability to use Iraq as a base of operations is limited by the requirements of fighting the guerrilla war. Second, the reemergence of Taliban coupled with the guerrilla war is undermining the psychological goals of the war. As frequently happens in American history, the first major offensive has bogged down in unanticipated issues that can be solved only by a major restructuring of U.S. operational capabilities to match them to fixed strategic goals.
Dr. George Friedman is the chairman and chief intelligence officer of Stratfor (Strategic Forecasting Inc.) a company he founded in 1996 that has pioneered the field of private intelligence. As chief intelligence officer, Dr. Friedman guides the strategic vision of the Stratfor intelligence group, helping shape long-range forecasts as well as overseeing and tasking tactical intelligence operations. His analyses have been widely circulated and are read at the highest levels of governments and military worldwide. Dr. Friedman has published numerous articles on national security, warfare, and intelligence. He also is the author of several books, including The Future of War and The Intelligence Edge. Dr. Friedman has appeared as a national security and intelligence expert on all major networks and on Lou Dobbs Moneyline and National Public Radio. He has been featured in articles including the cover of Barron’s (October 2001), Time magazine (Jan 1999), The Wall Street Journal (March 2003), The New York Times Magazine (April 2003) and many others. Dr Friedman has briefed on numerous occasions over the years in the defense and intelligence communities. Friedman graduated with a B.A. from the City College of the City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. Prior to entering the private sector, Friedman held faculty positions at Dickinson College in Carlyle, PA from 1974-92. He became professor of political science and was an early designer of computerized war games. While at Dickinson, Friedman also gave Military Strategy courses at the Army War College in Carlyle. Friedman joined the faculty of American University during 1992-94. Then in 1994 he founded and was Director of the Center for Geopolitical Studies at Louisiana State University, which engaged in integrated economic, political and military modeling and forecasting.