Monday, July 28, 2008

Comments on the Iraq War

I want to make a few comments about the Iraq War and the Bush policies. Too many people demonstrate an appallingly bad understanding of the history of the Iraq war and the failed policies that led up to the current debacle. Additionally, they usually have an amazingly poor grasp of the logistics and the realities of post-war occupational requirements.

One guy who takes this view on the CED Yahoo group is "Steve". He said:

> case in point, it took President Bush to send more troops to win in
> Iraq. Military leaders had deceived themselves into believing that we
> had sent plenty of troops as they did in Vietnam.

Actually, all of the professional military leaders at the time DID support a far greater number of troops than Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al wanted. In fact, GEN Colin Powell, GEN Eric Shinseki, and numerous other senior military leaders argued that the number needed was on the order of "several hundred thousand".

Guess what:

Cheney was never in the military.
Rumsfeld was never in the military.
Wolfowitz was never in the military.
Bush served as a pilot in the Air National Guard (and never
got above the rank of 1st Lieutenant)

The problem with the combat troop estimates that were actually used by the Bush administration is that the theorists who dreamed them up (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz) didn't understand military and political history.

The only reason Bush and company had to send in the additional troops ("the Surge") was because they failed entirely to understand at the beginning what it would take to not only defeat Saddam's military and depose him, but what it would take to secure a country larger than the size of California that had no government, porous borders, and a mixed ethnic makeup of three historically feuding groups.

Did we have enough troops (~100,000 combat troops) to defeat Saddam and topple his government? Yes. In fact, I would argue that we could have done it just as quickly with just as effective an outcome using only 30,000 combat troops. There isn't a military on earth than can stand toe-to-toe with the US and survive.

But the planners failed to plan for what was left AFTER the combat -- they used too-thick rose-colored glasses, and assumed we'd be hailed as "liberators" and "heros". Unfortunately, not every Iraqi felt that way, and when the provisional government (led by another non-military man -- Paul Bremer) disbanded the military and "de-Bathified" all the remaining political and social structures, they left the door open for a massive wave of fear, anarchy and chaos to set in.

In fact, IMHO, the only reason the "surge" is working with as few additional troops as we've got is because the majority of Iraqis have finally gotten tired of killing and violence, and are simply trying to find a way to survive.

If we had gone with the advice of the PROFESSIONAL MILITARY COMMANDERS and used 300,000-400,000 troops to invade, there wouldn't have been the massive insurgency, there would not have been the violence, and there would not have been need of a 5 year "war". It would have been over in two to three years, with far fewer US and Iraqi casualties, far less bitterness and hatred, and far less meddling from Iran, Turkey and Syria. In fact, it is quite possible that if we had used the appropriate number of troops, we would currently have a stable, democratic, US-friendly nation that was self-sufficient and economically profitable by now.

Instead, we've got a sloppy mess of slimy crap that Bush et al. have "gifted" to the next president. Is it getting better - yes. But far slower and with far more damage and destruction than was ever necessary.

FWIW -- I was in Baghdad only a few weeks after Baghdad fell, and I was able to walk the streets without body armor, purchase goods at local stores, talk with the people on the sidewalk, etc. It was only after the disastrous policies of Bush and Bremer (tied in with the lack of supporting troop presence) that we were forced to retreat to hardened bunkers and heavy weaponry.

"Steve" continues:

> And guess what,
> President Bush believes in Jesus Christ as Creator, Savior, and Master.

And he was also only a first lieutenant in the National Guard. So belief in a deity has more bearing on the ability to successfully lead a theater-scale warfront than actual senior-level military command leadership experience? Does "Steve" really think that -- seriously?

> You know, if more people were biblical Christians in the
> military, they would be smart enough to know how to build a strong
> army without insulting, berating and tearing down the people they may
> have to go to war with.

I have to guess, but I don't think "Steve" has ever been in the military. He's never been to boot camp, or he would know that the whole purpose of basic training is to insult, berat and tear down the people they may have to go to war with in order to "rebuild" them with the training, capabilities and experiences needed to survive it. It's harsh, violent and extremely difficult -- but so is warfare. And if you can't handle the rigors of basic training, how can you expect to function when faced with real life-and-death combat situations (like we read about every day in from Iraq)?

And trust me, there are plenty of "biblical Christians" in the military. In fact, that may be part of the problem, because they see the Middle East as the site of Armmageddon, and don't have too many problems creating chaos and dischord there to (possibly) promote World War III. It's frightening to hear some of the statements by the believers in uniform on the subject.

I was an atheist in the US Army for 15 years, and I can't tell you how many times I had to listen to officially sanctioned and mandated prayers, Christian religious services and forced theism in that time. And the worst was when I was over in Iraq and Kuwait.

> And guess what, that kind of survival fittest
> mentality has done nothing but make you and those like you look very, very bad.

I'll also bet "Steve" has never experienced war. It's too bad -- it might help him understand the basics of logistics, political reality and military necessity. As it stands, "Steve" really needs to go back and re-read history -- especially of the last 40 years in American warfare.

His claims are wrong (in some cases, so bad that they aren't even wrong).

And that sort of ignorance, ineptitude and poor historical understanding are what got us into the Iraq situation in the first place.

No comments: