If the 'Long play' is the new 'game changer' in foreign and defense policy, then spin is no longer a comfortable indulgence of the politicians but a new stem cell of military weaponry, and short term loss and sacrifice is a domestic unpopular reality that the 21st century urges us not to take sides on. But how do we learn the Art of losing for decades? Ask the re-emergent leader of Russian recovery-Putin. Russia hasn't reinvented itself, it has returned under different conditions; it has evolved.
Here there seems to be several common denominaters that require preparation:
-the chaos of a break-down in the chain of command,
-implosion or explosion of civil law and order
-a worrying increase of body bags being flown home.
But 'man down' is not the whole story. Surgery can widen the arteries and restore the vitality to the brain- the same applies to re-equipping and designing scenarios that can act as a winning play. But is the 'long play' new/ yes. is it a phenomenon that deals just with collateral damage? Yes. Does the pragmatism of its course allow for cynicism and unscrupulous manipulation? No. It is unconventional and effective in war zones that can be multiple and unpredictable. It is Plan B that is swiftly joining up thinking during a battle field and after it.
To see its benefits in Iraq and Afghanistan one has to give credit for the very believable 'systemic failure' in post invasion of Iraq. Or course no one wanted to fuck-up the Middle -East on purpose, but only when the 'shock and awe' policy was so successful was the contrast with the appearance of of an absence of planning from the Allies so evident. We only need reminding of certain factors because we can then truly appreciate the success of the intelligence applied to the 'long play' that followed.
-What was to happen to post-Saddham Iraqi soldiers
-Why wasn't the allies better prepared for the breakdown of relations between the Sunni's and Shia's?
-The breakdown of law and order was not a military but civilian affair that wasn't adhered to.
- why was there no WMD?
-Why were the allies so wrong-footed when it came to finding Saddham?
-How much did the allies delay in getting oil, water and food to the civilian population?
-How much cultural ignorance did the allies show in disrupting the religious and cultural practices in Iraq?
Yet today 15 years on, the Iraq army has reformed and is winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people in its patriotic fight against IS without western involvement. It has pursued its national identity free of any dictatorship in Iran and Iraq, and its civilian population are popularly run by contextualizing their rights for a better Iraq free of western help or assistance.
Isn't this what we really went to war in the middle-east for , to restore and respect an Iraq that is sovereign but not dictatorial? Military and political objectives:The symptoms of middle-eastern war were toxic and utterly demoralizing for the allies. but now the allies have aerial supremacy and not allied boots on the infamous IED's. The 'Caliphate' fanatics are being confronted by Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian fighters,where just in case of Russian backed Assad regime fighters are exploiting this from the air, American drones patrol the regions ready to protect what has become the investment of military and political transformation by a 'proxy' that actually means implicit workable relations that are to mutual benefit. Mutual interests have been acquired by way of hard military and diplomatic negotiations that might have been hammered-out carefully because they remain sensitive- this requires a level of trust that flows both ways but a level of suspicion that also must flow both ways; Here is the long play where grievances are active a part of negotiations realized by the mutual feeling of getting the better of each other.
-the restoring of old but stabilizing stand -offs has appeared over Syria,despite the recurring nightmare of Refugees ; not much consolation but at least something.
-Israel is no longer the only victim of the middle-east, but the splits in versions of Islam has enabled some Israeli sympathy, and it now can value at least the genuine mutual fears of the Caliphate without being suspected of meddling.
Implications for Domestic interests.
-We are finally treating war heroes from Iraq and Afghan wars as both victims and champions of courage and endurance. We have a prestigious 'Invictus Games' celebrating recovery, sport and the best of British valour- quite a long distance from the political hostility to the wars in which they fought.
-PTSD has been diagnosed and recognized as a bone fide illness. We now recognize that the stress of war and the adrenalin which goes with it cannot be replicated in civvy -street-this causes distress even decades after a soldier has returned home.It proved that PTSD happens to soldiers who were too good at being soldiers and who couldn't adjust to coming home.
-Tony Blair is now the scapegoat that we all hoped he would be by his own supporters,in blaming him for starting a fight that he should have got some long term recognition for. Once the Labour smell blood they prefer to kill politically their own rather than their opponents. Every time Cameron shows his respect for Blair he knows that Labour will be stupid enough to fall for it.
-Perhaps in a British perspective, ex-colonies in the middle-east have moved on from the resentments of the British, and prefer to hate the fanatics that darken their door where stiff-upper lip doesn't even get a mention. Here silence is bliss, right?
The 'long-play has been the right message for the right military operation in the right global region at the right time.We don't have to descend into strapping a bomb-vest to fight our enemies, but we do need the know how to evolve policy to suit the conditions. The 'long-play' to my mind must remain in our thinking to prepare us for having to lose well, but to rise from the ashes of appearances and let the long-play do the talking for us.