According to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius:
Pentagon sources report one hopeful sign that the military is thinking creatively and unconventionally about Iraq. The Pentagonís special operations chiefs have scheduled a showing tomorrow in the Army auditorium of ďThe Battle of Algiers,Ē a classic film that examines how the French, despite overwhelming military superiority, were defeated by Algerian resistance fighters.
A Pentagon flier announcing the film puts it in eerie perspective: ďHow to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas Ö Children shoot soldiers at point blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.Ē
We may be confident that the military wonít take away from the film the most important lesson to grow out of the bloody, brutalizing French fiasco in Algeria. This lesson is that the war could not be won with more troops or fewer troops or smarter troops. True victory for France only came with no troops.
De Gaulle ended it (and nearly got himself assassinated by French fascists) by bringing his army home. For this he was globally acclaimed as a statesman. It was a lesson lost on Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, all of whom feared losing face by calling off a war that the rest of the world viewed as stupid and disastrous.
Like Bush, their puerile pride kept them from seeing this simple point: if a job isnít worth doing, it isnít worth doing well. In fact it isnít worth doing at all.