Retired Marine John Bernard long ago recognized that the U.S. had embarked on a disastrous war strategy against the Islamic War on the West, and when I interviewed him in 2011 he accurately assessed the results of this strategy as of then and what the results of this strategy would be in the future. Some of his predictions have now come true even as perhaps his most dire one remains to be seen.
Last week I wrote a column on how I said in 2011 that the U.S. could kill its way to victory in war. That was an unpopular view in 2011 but has gained supporters since then. Others have been quite vocal about U.S. war strategy for a long time as well. Two such people are Diana West and John Bernard, both of whom I know.
I interviewed John in 2011. My questions were okay but his answers were great. Diana West published the interview at her website and correctly noted it was “[u]nusually long and far-ranging.”
John accurately analyzed a variety of problems that had come to pass as of 2011 because of U.S. strategy. But he also accurately assessed what consequences would come from that strategy in the future, including what would happen with Afghanistan and Iraq.
Years before I interviewed him John recognized the U.S. strategy was wrong, in part because it relied so heavily on counterinsurgency. He noted to me the successes attributed to COIN in Iraq simply were not so. “The fact is Force Saturation had far more to do with bringing control to Al Anbar [Province] than did the far more restrictive elements of COIN,” he said. “The counter intelligence elements of COIN that aided the war effort there are not COIN specific but part of any good strategy. The intel gleaned from those efforts aided our Marines and Soldiers in directing more successful attacks on more specific targets there.”
“Iraq is already fracturing,” he added. “We know it. Maliki knows it. Both the US and Iraq have agreed it will be necessary to leave American forces there for an undetermined amount of time to maintain security.” Yet the U.S. did not do that, with the U.S. withdrawing its forces and declaring victory. And Iraq has now fractured just as he had said.
On top of this, even as the U.S. is indirectly working with Iran in Iraq to oppose the Islamic Caliphate, John noted that Muqtada al-Sadr returning to Iraq boded ill for the future. “If anyone thinks the future prospects for Iraq is good with an Iranian trained Shia Cleric, they simply don’t understand the players.” Indeed al-Sadr is again a prominent figure in Iraq. And indeed our leaders do not understand the players.
John spoke of Afghanistan as well and saw that COIN was failing in that nation. “I am still convinced that COIN will prove to have been an absolute disaster there,” he said. That prediction has come true, with the Taliban and al-Qaeda stronger than ever in Afghanistan and the U.S. reduced to begging the Taliban to negotiate with it.
He answered several other questions and we concluded the interview with my asking if the American people have the will to win wars any longer. “I believe there could be a series of circumstances that could turn this apathetic tide but they would have to be severe and very personal.”
John predicted in 2011 the problems the U.S. would face with Iraq and Afghanistan and those predictions have proven correct. The severe and very personal circumstances he believed necessary to awaken the American people have not yet come to pass. But as the U.S. becomes ever more immoral and thus increasingly incapable of recognizing its enemies and implementing a rational national security strategy, those circumstances increasingly seem as if they might yet occur.