Posted by: graemebird | December 9, 2007

An Easy War To Win

Its always a great thing when Codevilla puts out a new essay. I found myself cutting and pasting from it in a post at Catallaxy. But the net result ought not be considered a substitute for Codevillas own views. Particularly since I went off on my own tangent and made no attempt to summarise what he is saying here. Its a massive essay he’s come out with, apparently ahead of a book.

Summary of just how screwed up the Iraq war is:

Most depressing is Codevillas assessment that even the “SURGE” is no good since (my wording) successful tactics won’t normally overcome idiotic strategy.
Its a long read. So I’ll pick out a few exerpts:

“The occupation was unnecessary to any rational American purpose. As President George W. Bush spoke on April 30, 2003, under the banner “Mission Accomplished,” representatives of the State and Defense Departments in Iraq were putting the finishing touches on the provisional government to which they were to devolve the country’s affairs two weeks later. There was to be no occupation. Iraqis would sort out their own bloody quarrels.”

“Media myth notwithstanding, the administration’s neoconservative component was sidelined as the occupation began. Bremer’s political advisor was the realist Robert Blackwill of the Council on Foreign Relations, and his military advisor was Walter Slocombe, a liberal internationalist from the Carter and Clinton Administrations. By 2007 the occupation’s military policy was being shaped by Stephen Biddle, another Kissingerian realist from the Council, for whom success means persuading somebody to accept America’s surrender.”

“Until Syria’s 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the U.S. government—led by the CIA—imagined that Damascus was an ally, and accepted at face value its “intelligence” about terrorism. The CIA even imagined that it had privileged relations with elements of Iraqi intelligence. But after 9/11 neither the elimination of al-Qaeda’s base in the Indian subcontinent nor the chasing of Muslim guerrillas in the world’s backwaters would keep the “war on terror” from looking phony.”

“Even before the invasion, the various Iraqi factions had been pursuing their incompatible agendas. But this cockpit of pent-up conflicts need not have concerned America had the U.S. government carried through with its announced intention to let the Iraqis rule themselves. Almost as reasonably, the U.S. could have chosen sides among Iraq’s contenders, helping some fulfill their dreams at the others’ expense—the age-old imperial recipe.”

“Ali Allawi, a former minister of defense and of the interior in post-Saddam Iraq, writes that the Americans’ pervasive searches of houses for weapons and suspects—families rousted from their intimacies, men imprisoned at the soldiers’ discretion—as well as searches at checkpoints, humiliated and made enemies of millions of Iraqis.”

“For what were our troops searching? For weapons? But lots of people had weapons. Common sense says that weapons in some hands serve our purposes, while weapons in other hands work against us. But U.S. soldiers were ordered to disarm Iraqis on all sides.”

This I must comment on. Because it shows how, by that stage, Bush had really lost the plot. For his first two years he showed very good instincts. But it seems that two or three years in Washington is enough to turn even a crack teams judgement to soft soap.

How, in a situation of danger, can you go into a mans house, where his wife and kids are, and confiscate his weapons, virtually castrating him in the face of both his family and the dangers that engulf him in a war zone?????

Such a strategy might work in a single town that you were pacifying, if you had the resources to see it through. But clearly they didn’t have the means for that and so you have to leave your average family man with his weapons and preferably holstered on him at all times.

They would have done better to knock on the door and provide the gift of kevlar.
But the problems really set in before the war even started.

Contrast how the adminitration had dispatched the Taliban from power from a standing start in no time flat. They did it BY GETTING BEHIND THOSE THAT WERE ALREADY AT WAR WITH THE TALIBAN.

The elimination of the Taliban was never going to make more than a small dent on Americas problems, since the Taliban were recipients and not financiers of international terrorism. So Afghanistan was a bit of a detour and it would have been better to take down Arafatia, Syria and Iraq as a sort of warning shot to all the others.

But given the strategic silliness of Afghanistan nonetheless THE WAY IT WAS DONE was a thing of truth and beauty. Simply change the balance of power in the country via aid to the enemy of the people you are trying to take out.

But instead in Iraq they put Americans on the front lines? Why? Rumsfeld wanted to go in with a proxy army. Had he been allowed to the Americans could have gotten the hell out of their immediately, replenished, and let the kids get ahead on their holidays.

It was the leftist CIA and State Departments that changed everything. And so from week three of the war onwards its been a bit of a disaster.

Just getting behind proxies and bombing from afar is a powerful technique. Ask Jason Soon. He’s managed to keep an argument on money going for nearly two years on that basis alone, with no real case of his own.

Australia now has soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They ought to have been out long ago or they ought to be merely assisting one faction or another and not putting themselves under frontline risk.

We are told that they are fighting the Taliban. And elsewhere we are told that people are fighting Al Quaeda. This is ridiculous. Al Quaeda and the Taliban are ex-Organisations. When people say Al Quaeda now, what they really mean is SUNNI TERRORISM. When the say “The Taliban” whether they know it or not, they are merely talking about PASHTUN GUERILLAS. Pashtun guerillas whose origins may be from either side of the Pakistani border and whose financing probably come from either Pakistan or the Saud family. So in a sense we are allowing terrorist regimes to fight proxy war against our soldiers. We ought to change this equation or beat it.

Naming current criminals after ghost parties is merely a way of endlessly placing an alibi on the regimes that we will not face up to. Regimes that with a united attitude and willpower, we could crush or throw into a fear and trembling almost immediately. But if we cannot realistically put up that United front then we ought to place at least two parties between our lads and the people they are fighting or we could get out and boost defense spending.

This was a very easy war to win.



  1. GMB:
    You are right about the occupation itself being unnecessary.

    IF the US forces had kept surrendering Baathist [there was no other sort] units intact, under their own officers but under the watchful gaze of hastily recalled to duty retired field grade officers [with Arabic-speaking American citizens from Detroit, Peoria or even Baamfaak TX as field interpreters], with all files and records sealed and guarded, with rollcall twice a day, with rationing for aforementioned Iraqi soldiers and their families, with purposeful and non-humiliating work to do, with trustworthy Iraqi NCOs allowed to retain their own weapons and five[5] rounds of ammunition [I’m fair dinkum here – it would have boosted trust and co-operation – and anyway, if a boofhead or two managed to scrape together enough ammunition to cause mischief then a well-televised single aircraft single-pass airstrike would have exterminated the problem as well as “encouraging the others”] …. there would have been no compulsion whatsoever to have an insurgency.

    IF as each US unit passed through a village, truck loads of locally-appropriate food and clean drinking water was distributed to each family as well as fifty US dollars in brand-new $1 and $5 notes distributed to the head of each household to help tide them over until the provisional government could circulate post-Saddam dinars …. there would have been no compulsion whatsoever to have an insurgency.

    Individual decent American soldiers may have, so far as they were able, behaved like liberators and friends but, in general, the US government and its military treated Iraq as a conquered nation and treated the oppressed Iraqi people as the Enemy. Nobody, regardless of their nationality, reacts well to being humiliated, degraded, impoverished and insulted. On the contrary, people do respond well to being treated with respect, even if that respect comes with strictness; they respond well to being allowed to get on with their lives and to make a little money.

    The present US government wilfully ignored all the lessons of the peaceful disbanding of the Japanese Empire and the establishment of modern Japan. They failed to heed the terrible lessons forced on the Germans after their initial brief successes in the Ukraine. They failed to learn from their own blunders in Viet-Nam and elsewhere and from British and French successes in places where turmoil seemed unavoidable . Civil Affairs is not a pretty add-on; it is an integral part of the weaponry of a victorious army. So what excuse did these nong-nongs have for ignoring their own experienced, highly-qualified Civil Affairs and Political Warfare experts?

    So now, instead of American service personnel competing to get posted to the US Military Assistance Group Baghdad so their families could buy all the goodies in the souks and department stores …. good Americans, and good Iraqis too, are getting killed or maimed for nothing in the ruined capital of a wrecked country.

    And all the while, some of the most evil men on the planet are smiling ……….

  2. It was the leftist CIA and State Departments that changed everything. And so from week three of the war onwards its been a bit of a disaster.

    I don’t think that’s right Birdy, the State Dept was cut out of the loop right from the beginning.

    Now if that imbecile Bremer had co-opted the Iraqi army instead of disbanding it, things may have been vastly different. I guess the other moron Rumsfeld was behind that fatal decision.

  3. I’m not saying you are foolish to think that Peter. You might remember that I wasn’t part of ozblogistan during that time period. This is because I was following the American scene. There was a certain logic to the neocon thinking being squeezed out once the decision was made to go to the UN. I followed these matters very closely at the time as well as retrospectively. By the opening of the invasion its now pretty clear that Bush had moved to the “workable centre” meaning the unworkable centre in wartime. While I can see why you got the impression you did I don’t think the “history books” would be backing you up. Rumsfelds biographer revealed that he had wanted to go in with a proxy army. Perle wanted to go in with a proxy army and hand government over straight away. As did much maligned Middle East Expert Laurie Mylroie. Ledeen wanted to take down Iran straight after Afghanistand and mostly via soft power and aiding opposition groups. Few of these people are flippant about putting Americans in the front lines. That was definitely a CIA, State Department influence. To be fair it may have been a misguided effort to spare the total body count. BUT ONE OUGHT TO OWE ONES ALLEGIANCE IN THESE MATTERS TO ONES OWN TROOPS.

    The reason why these people were listened to at first was because of their high brainpower and expertise. But with the exception of Codevilla they advocated policies of overeach. Not overeach in the military sense. But in the sense that while they could pistol-whip the entire Middle East they couldn’t deal with their domestic left. I would have made the exact same mistake. Only Codevilla seemed to get it right.

  4. Hey guys. The two of you are bringing a bit of class to my blog. Please hang out.

  5. GMB:
    [Ta but hanging out here over the next week or so might be awkward as other reponsibilities beckon …. that means Lavatus Prodeo and Catallaxy will get a rest from me too. 🙂 ]

    Saw the SBS show [with damned ads] about Dick Cheney tonight: it said surprisingly little about some of the points you mentioned above.

  6. GMB:
    Back again.

    What wonderful Christmas presents for Australia: Turkish airstrikes into Iraq against the PKK [I’m not saying whether justified or not] that will surely broaden the war …. and the tsunami of the SubPrime Depression hitting Australia in the last week to make sure we cannot afford to keep up the numbers of the ADF let alone keep them on operational duty overseas.

    So, an unearned win for Osama bin-Laden and his ilk just because a small bunch of greedy dimwits in the United States defy all the physical laws of the universe by lending money to people who were manifestly incapable of ever repaying it. Bloody marvellous! 😦

  7. And now, to cheer everyone up for the Festive Season, the Turkish Army has just crossed the Iraqi border ……

  8. Hey would any of you guys be intrested in joining me on entering Iraq via Turkey? Think about it! I have no doubt that with the right determined attitude a group of cluey blokes could very easily defeat & advance victoriously toward Bagdhad. Are youi with me?

  9. Turkeys chance to be a worthy ally in this regard has passed it by.

  10. Terry McCann:
    You wouldn’t be thinking of reviving the Ottoman Empire, in part, would you?

  11. Well I guess gratitude should be shown to McCann. That’s assuming he was genuinely intended to right the world. Because it’s one thing to verbalise & pontificate ceaselessly, however he was a man of action. Oh sure, his naivite was an embarrasment but his heart was in the right place. It’s one thing to put youir own spin on history & therefore be an expert. From what I can see, you’re just a bunch of opionated escapists who actually believe you can make an intelligent contribution to geopolitics.

    Actually I’m guessing that his recruited army would be less ‘Red Dawn’ & more ‘Keystone Cops’. For starters the bulk of the preventative Sleep Apnea equipment would rob storage space. Unless a bunch of inept blokes struggling around the Middle East might manage victory by the enemy spilting their sides with laughter! Maybe that was his plan.

  12. Woh Mckenna. Just because this blog doesn’t concur your perfect world, you seem to automatically adopt the abhominun approach. And unfortunately this M.O. of yours is flawed as it simply highlights your inadaquacies. Save yourself time & spare us the tantrum, because instead of venturing along cyberspace’s unfriendly streets you should stick to the gay & accomodating areas that embrace your righteous rubbish.

  13. You bumbling fool Kirkpatrick. Can’t even correctly spell my name & then you insult me further. For your information I’m not a homosexual. Not that there’s anything wrong with a huddled scrum of misinformed conservativess bantering on the net & each trying to prove the size of his wang. At least supplement your view with proper facts.

  14. [Longstanding software problem resolved so I’m back]

    Have just seen dvd/film “Jarhead”. How well does that reflect life in the US Marines today? If it does reflect it accurately then the US has defeated itself already.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: