Sunday, March 16, 2008

Press-powered gatecrashing; Iraq in retrospect; Big Brother watches

After the Read More! BBC announcement wrecks house. John Burns looks back on five years of the war in Iraq -- and the role reporters have played in shaping perceptions. Big Brother plans to watch the European public more closely.

Hundreds of gatecrashers converged on a house after a BBC DJ announced her daughter's house party live on the air. "Her daughter, Sarah Ruscoe, 17, had expected 300 people to attend the party on Friday night, but one guest contacted the Radio 1 DJ, Pete Tong, and asked him to do a "shout-out", encouraging many more party-goers to turn up. Pictures were ripped off walls, windows and mirrors were smashed, and chandeliers and doors were damaged."

A bricks and mortar denial of service attack.

John Burns says that among the miscalculations in Iraq were those of journalists who never really understood how deeply divided and traumatized society had become under Saddam. Papers please -- how MI5 plans to track commuter movements in Britain.

In time, those who launched the war will answer in history, as much as they will claim the credit if America ultimately finds a way home with honor, and without destroying all it went to Iraq to achieve. But reporters, too, may wish to make an accounting. If we accurately depicted the horrors of Saddam’s Iraq in the run-up to the war, with its charnel houses and mass graves, we have to acknowledge that we were less effective, then, in probing beneath the carapace of terror to uncover other facets of Iraq’s culture and history that would have a determining impact on the American project to build a Western-style democracy, or at least the basics of a civil society.

It was not easy, with a reporter’s every move scrutinized by Saddam Hussein’s lugubrious minders, to undertake that kind of in-depth reporting. But from the exhaustive reporting in the years since, Americans now know how deeply traumatized Iraqis were by the brutality of Saddam, and how deep was the poison of fear and distrust. They also know, in detail, through the protracted trials of Mr. Hussein and his senior henchmen, of the inner workings of the merciless machinery that transported victims to the torture chambers and mass graves.

This is a tremendous and often forgotten insight. The press is -- was -- the public's intelligence agency. Whenever it tells the public a war is "right" (Darfur), "necessary" (Kosovo) or "hopeless" (Iraq) it does so on the basis of its understanding of the issues. It's also important to note that press fashions change. Wars are always most popular before they are fought. The Clinton-Era "Iraq Liberation Act" is a memento of how popular regime change was before 2000. Right now there's a great deal of enthusiasm for cheering on the Tibetans who have risen in protest with China. An antiwar group in Australia, for example is fashionably supportive of Tibetan efforts to free itself. "A peace campaigner, Donna Mulhearn, who travelled to Iraq to be a human shield before the war started, said Australia needed to apologise to the Iraqi people. She also questioned whether Australian athletes should compete at the Beijing Olympics after China's crackdown in Tibet."

One example of how little "progresive" organizations are actually prepared to risk for the liberation of Tibet is illustrated by the EU's treatment of the Dalai Lama's charity, ApTibet.

Two years ago, after China and Europe became "strategic partners" under an agreement signed by Tony Blair, the EU's acting president, in December 2005, the Commission suspended ApTibet's operations because of its link to the Dalai Lama. Since then, it has done all it can to close the charity down, such as demanding repayment of €451,000 (£340,000) it had given ApTibet for a project in Chingai which it had approved, inspected and signed off as satisfactory.

The EC has become so ruthless in its desire to appease its "strategic partner" that it is now threatening to recoup a further £1.5 million from the charity it has already bankrupted, for other completed aid projects with which it had previously expressed satisfaction. It is also demanding legal costs of £75,000 for a court case brought by ApTibet's trustees in fighting for the charity's survival.

Sometimes the worst thing possible is to give the popular press is what it wants. It's almost certain that if arms drops, weapons training and diversionary attacks were proposed to beef up Tibetan resistance the first persons who would rise up in "protest" are very same people who wore "free Tibet" buttons in the first place. The problem attendant to grappling real issues in the world is that nothing comes for free.

Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown has completed a new national security strategy for Britain with a wider remit than one might imagine. Its contingency planning ranges "from future 'water wars' between countries left drought-ridden by climate change to cyber-attacks using computer hacking technology to disrupt vital elements of national infrastructure."

To help it meet these future threats, Brown is considering "unlocking" data held by public bodies, including records held by Transport for London which includes -- surprise, surprise -- a way to link up all the tickets an individual has ever purchased to track that person's movements retrospectively.

Of course it's always America's fault. "Critics, however, fear a shift towards US-style 'data mining', a controversial technique using powerful computers to sift and scan millions of pieces of data, seeking patterns of behaviour which match the known profiles of terrorist suspects. They argue that it is unfair for millions of innocent people to have their privacy invaded on the off-chance of finding a handful of bad apples."

But controls in the US are pretty spotty in places (just ask an illegal alien) and European welfare states often have vast amounts of information about individuals at their official disposal. Even organizations like the BBC are empowered to hire snops to detect whether a household is operating a PC tuner card without purchasing a license from them. If Gordon Brown really gets serious about mining data its likely to be more intrusive than anything "US-style" stuff could come up with.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.



Blogger NahnCee said...

Whenever it tells the public a war is "right" (Darfur), "necessary" (Kosovo) or "hopeless" (Iraq) it does so on the basis of its understanding of the issues.

Disagree. I think from the very get-go in Iraq, when Baghdad Bob was still announcing that the Americans would never make it as far as the Baghdad airport, the media's sole intent and goal was NOT to understand Iraqi's "issues", but to make Bush look bad.

For years, every single story posted by the NY Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post and the network newscasts has had the sole goal of making the Bush administration be the bad guys, and to make the American military look both incompetent and savage.

Historically, America has never given a damn about other cultures, but regards pretty much the whole rest of the world as failures and losers. Why on earth would either the media or the public back home begin to care about anoher failed culture in Mesopotamia or put out an iota of energy in "understanding" it? We don't *care* about their "rich legacy" -- we just want to change whatever it was into something that works now and won't be a future threat to us.

That's why nuking is such a tempting option. If they won't change on their own, we'll just erase the whole mess and start all over again with a clean (albeit radioative) slate.

3/16/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger said...

For years, every single story posted by the NY Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post and the network newscasts has had the sole goal of making the Bush administration be the bad guys, and to make the American military look both incompetent and savage.

True, but only after the administration changed. Kosovo was, and still is a "good war". The Iraq Liberation Act was passed by Bill Clinton. Right now there's a clamor to "Stop Genocide" in Darfur. The UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Congo, where 2,000 people die a day is inspiring.

The Press often misunderstands things. It is responsible for its own intelligence failures. But it's never accountable for them.

3/16/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

burns manages to articulate why it is that i have no time at all for public figures such as Obama who seek to make something of their alleged opposition to the war. before they even get a hearing (from me at least) they need to produce a documented and public analysis of their own that predates the invasion and explains their misgivings are based on worries about iraqi society's inability to sttle due to its underlying problems.
oh, and also an explanation for how else to deal with the myriad of problems that saddam posed, of course.

failing that, their opportunism is just contemptible.

3/16/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Key quote from the John Burns article linked above:

They know, too, through coverage in this newspaper and others, of the deep fissures, of ethnicity, sect and tribe, that were camouflaged by the quarter-century of Mr. Hussein’s totalitarian rule. As much as America’s policy failures, it has been these factors that have contributed to the Iraqi quagmire. Properly weighed, in time, they might have given cause for second thoughts about the wisdom of the invasion. What seems certain is that those entrusted with the task of fulfilling the American mission were confronted, from the beginning, by an odds-against calculus. Iraq, in 2003, could scarcely have been less prepared than it was to embrace democracy, dependent as that is, everywhere, on a minimum of popular consent and trust.

The harsh reality is that many Iraqis, at least by the time of the two elections held in 2005, had little zest for democracy, at least as Westerners understand it. This, too, was not fully understood at the time. To walk Baghdad’s streets on the voting days, especially during the December election that produced the Shiite-led government now in power, was inspiriting. With 12 million people casting ballots, a turnout of about 75 per cent, it was natural enough for President Bush to say Iraqis had embraced the American vision. In truth, what the majority produced was less a vote for democracy than a vote for a once-and-for-all, permanent transfer of power, from the Sunni minority that ruled in Iraq for centuries, to an impatient, and deeply wounded, if not outright vengeful, Shiite majority.

What has followed has been predictable. For close to two years, the Shiite religious parties that won the December 2005 election have clung tenaciously to their new-found power, and the Sunni parties, mostly unreconciled to an Iraq ruled by Shiites, have maneuvered in ways intended to keep open the possibility, ultimately, of a Sunni restoration. Nothing, in short, has been settled. Americans officials bridle at the failure to tackle decisively any of the issues they identified as crucial to “reconciliation,” including the critical issue of the future share of oil revenues. Meanwhile, the rival Iraqi blocs, taking the long view, look beyond the American occupation to a time when these central issues of power will be settled among themselves.

So then, what balance of power or political coaliton or regime are we really trying to install? Gen. Petraeus was interviewed yesterday in the Washington Post, bemoaning, once again, the lack of sufficient progress. Given the pro-Iranian, Shiite Islamist (fractured) coalition government, just what sort of progress is intended, let alone possible?

3/16/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/16/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Every survey taken in Iraq reveals two things: a deep division and an abiding desire to stay together. That's why domination, not separation, is the form that politics takes.

That's a dynamic that is not particular to Iraq. The West has sought to manage this process through "strongmen". Hussein in Iraq, Hussein in Jordan, Mubarak in Egypt, Assad in Syria.

Even the "Palestinian"/Israeli problem is the same thing: the goal isn't separation but conquest. Even before OIF the West has been dragged into intervening into this dynamic of aggression.

Back in 1973 the world trembled on the brink of a nuclear war as never before. In 1990 there was Desert Storm. And there may be a threat from Iran before the decade is up.

Given this history, one will be drawn back again and again. Some wag argued that Obama's Middle East plan consists of withdrawal in 2009 followed by intervention in 2010 with ins and outs in alternate years. My own feeling is that despite everything, some stab at democracy is worth taking. Iraq has proved itself far more reasonable than "Palestine" and no one seems to tire of that. Either democracy eventually works or the place sentences itself to death.

3/16/2008 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

My own feeling is that despite everything, some stab at democracy is worth taking. Iraq has proved itself far more reasonable than "Palestine" and no one seems to tire of that. Either democracy eventually works or the place sentences itself to death.

So then Wretchard, what has been the sentence in democratic Lebanon, or Gaza? Any comment? Democracy or death are not the only regime types in the world or throughout history and it's beyond bizarre to assert otherwise; unless you've yet to give up on Fukuyama's juvenile "End of History" phase. Even he outgrew that!

Really, such faith in the advance of Arab (or Russian) democracy, like Bush's faith in Putin or Nuri al-Maliki, is beyond naive at this point.

Here, for example, is another mea culpa from a former neocon who fell for democracy fever.

March 16, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
There’s No Freedom Gene
THE mantra of the antiwar left — “Bush lied, people died” — so dominates the debate about the run-up to the Iraq war that it has obscured real issues that deserve examination. After all, for those of us who supported the war, rebutting arguments about weapons of mass destruction has become reflexive. We point to all the United Nations Security Council resolutions, the International Atomic Energy Agency statements, the C.I.A. analyses, the Silberman-Robb report, the Senate Intelligence Committee findings — if we were wrong, we were in good and honest company.

But what about the mistaken assumptions that remain unexamined? Looking back, I felt secure in the knowledge that all who yearn for freedom, once free, would use it well. I was wrong. There is no freedom gene, no inner guide that understands the virtues of civil society, of secret ballots, of political parties. And it turns out that living under Saddam Hussein’s tyranny for decades conditioned Iraqis to accept unearned leadership, to embrace sect and tribe over ideas, and to tolerate unbridled corruption.

Some have used Iraq’s political immaturity as further proof the war was wrong, as if somehow those less politically evolved don’t merit freedoms they are ill equipped to make use of. We would be better served to understand how the free world can foster appreciation of the building blocks of civil society in order to help other victims of tyranny when it is their turn.

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

3/16/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

a "mea culpa"? I think not. Merely the open-mind of the intellectually honest, i'd say.
and by the way, gotta better plan for the WOT, coyotl? I'm all ears.

3/16/2008 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger said...

I think the Gaza experiment is a distinct failure. Interestingly enough it is the one which the "international community" will never give up on.

Lebanon, on the other hand, seems farmore promising. Even Hezbollah to some extent, plays the Democratic game.

Afghanistan (which you left out) is probably less successful than Iraq. And Pakistan (which many would argue is at the epicenter of the Jihad) somewhat more successful than one would think, given the circumstances.

As we speak the US is negotiating long-term bases in Iraq. If Iran's fears are any indicator, whatever the state of democracy turns out to be in Iraq, it will be regarded as a threat to Iran. In fact it is precisely because it seems to threaten Iran that some quarters want the US presence withdrawn, although when you think about it, the very fact that Iran thinks it a threat means it can't be that bad of an outcome after all.

3/16/2008 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger said...

But in except for Gaza, which would the West prefer? A Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and a Pakistan under a strongman? Remember that the strongman could be a hostile strongman, such as a Saddam Hussein, a Boy Assad, a Mullah Omar or a Mahmoud Achmedinajad.

3/16/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Name one good "strong man". Even Putin has reverted into murderousness.

3/16/2008 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

But in except for Gaza, which would the West prefer? A Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and a Pakistan under a strongman?

Come now, Wretchard, this is not a serious question. Who would the US prefer in Pakistan? Need you ask?

Saudi Arabia?

Or how about Iraq?

(Wooops!)If you've alternatives to any of the above, I'd love to read them.

3/16/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

5 years?

"Too soon to tell."

Another 30 years, at least.

3/16/2008 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Musharraf has lost his election in Pakistan. Now if we were truly sour on democracy, logically we ought to support a military dictatorship in Pakistan. But dollars to donuts says we won't.

3/16/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Musharraf has lost his election in Pakistan. Now if we were truly sour on democracy, logically we ought to support a military dictatorship in Pakistan. But dollars to donuts says we won't.

Ah, but the question was who we "preferred" and that decision was clear. The US is now switching policy away from Musharraf . . . slowly, slowly to the point that our past preference still irks:

Now Wretchard, who is our preference in Gaza, who was our preference in Pakistan? The democratic victor? Let us not be naive.

3/16/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

..."we just want to change whatever it was into something that works now and won't be a future threat to us.

Ugly Americanisms, don't/won't work. Fat Man is right, it is too soon to tell. For right now the Government in Iraq is something that works kinda, and is not like its neighbors, save Turkey. It must be recognized that an involved citizenship, hopefully literate but even that is not an absolute, is required to make a representative democracy work. The local efforts have yet to take hold at the federal level, and there will be much push and shove, before some accommodation is found.

While I do not agree with the Civil War scenario applied to Sunni/Shi'ah in Iraq, I do recognize the festering sores left from Saddam, and understand that cleaning the wounds is only a part of the healing. But consider the state of our nation some one hundred forty three years after President Lincoln's death, and how little we understand how to heal the wounds of our own internal strife, and perhaps we can see that the citizens of Iraq have as much to teach us as we have to share with them.

Finding a government that works with ours and in Iraqi's interests long term takes a process we do not yet understand. And as it stands, in some respects, the Iraqi's may be further along in the healing process than we are.

Iran is shaky, KSA is self serving, yet both have the capacity to reform when it is in their best interest. The pressure that is Iraq, the understanding of what is at work in Lebanon, and the continued attempts at democracy that is Pakistan are more than hopeful signs, they are a part of the process.

At what price has Putin been allowed to discontinue or interrupt that process? At what point will China's effort in Dar fur be congruous with its efforts in Tibet? Too soon to tell.

We are lucky, neither Canada nor Mexico were the equivalent of an Iran or Syria on our border post 1865.

The PLO and its residual problems is a blight on all humanity, as nearly two generations of children have been taught to hate based on identity, to celebrate death and glorify suicide (another of Saddam's et. al. legacies) for which I cannot condone a final solution, yet do not envision a long term reasonable answer any time soon. IMO, It must be a regional effort, it must be internationally accepted, and it must include disarming all parties in the Palestinian controlled areas.

It will not be immediate. Who is up to that?

Yes I am an optimist.

3/16/2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Ultimately Wretchard it IS a death sentence for Muslim nations. If we are intellectually honest we will acknowledge that truth.

Muslim nations are no more capable of self-rule and anything comprising democracy than the wind. Polygamy, big-man ism, tribal chieftancy, tribalism, etc. all conspire to blow away and have blown away any attempt to create a civil society in Muslim lands. This is nothing new. It predates Napoleon (who made a big shock in Muslim lands) and has characterized Muslims since say, 1688 or so: failure.

The BEST we can do is look for a friendly strongman, and when he fails punish him and the people. Bombard the modern equivalent of Tripoli. Raise the great new Navy. Make aggression towards the United States (and allies) just too expensive.

Muslims are and always will be a tribal, fractured, deeply divided, violent, polygamous, anti-intellectual, largely ignorant and superstitious people. Most will remain functionally illiterate. Their tragedy is that the set in amber quality of their society means that conflict with the West in globalization is inevitable. We ought to win that conflict. On our own terms and not deceive ourselves that being "nice" or "humane" will do anything but drag on the killing to endless amounts of bloodshed and make things WORSE. For everyone.

Gaza is the worst case, but Lebanon is little better. Or Pakistan. Or Egypt. Or Saudi Arabia. All are cesspits of ignorance, poverty, superstition, and total failure of civil society. Outside of oil in Saudi they produce nothing. No scientific advancement. No music that sweeps the world. Not even literature that can command the attention of Westerners. Egypt in particular lives off the accomplishment of Pharoahs dead some 4400 years ago.

There is a word for that. Pathetic.

3/17/2008 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

Somebody pointed out to me a while ago that the people who put bumper stickers on their cars saying 'Free Tibet' are the exact same people who would be first to replace them with ones saying 'US Out of Tibet'.

Sometimes this transition would occur only once the President becomes a Republican.

In most cases the last time these people can be said to have actually thought about politics was either in the 1970's or, if more recently then on a college campus, through a cloud of dope and coeds. Such views are not seriously re-evaluated very often.

Someone else said twenty years ago that "Americans are ready to do anything for Central America except read about it". Sad but in many cases true.

3/17/2008 02:46:00 AM  
Blogger ADE said...

Coyotl quoted Pletka
And it turns out that living under Saddam Hussein’s tyranny for decades conditioned Iraqis to accept unearned leadership, to embrace sect and tribe over ideas, and to tolerate unbridled corruption.

No, no no, it's the other way around. Wanting unearned leadership, embracing tribe over ideas, is the apriori condition. It leads to Hussein, and before him Mohammed, and before him some jumped-up bedouin with TWO camels raping the locals. It leads to no evolution, to suicide bombers, honour killings, death, death death.

The Iraq war was the circuit breaker (I hope) to the ghastly position the Arabs find themselves in. Modernity was inevitable, all we were talking about was the timing, and it is now.

Whisky is right - it IS a death sentence; Islam is dead, Gaza is f......d, Imams will be laughing stocks like Rowan Williams (The Grand Mufti of Australia is already tagged "Thick Sheik" by the comedy programs).

The best we can offer them is managed transition, and after 100 years they will look like us.

Alternatively, there is always assisted passage for those that want it.


3/17/2008 02:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Fateful Choice on Iraq Army Bypassed Debate

The decision by L. Paul Bremer III to dissolve Iraq’s Army was a reversal from a plan the White House had approved.

The account that emerges from those interviews, and from access to previously unpublished documents, makes clear that Mr. Bremer’s decree reversed an earlier plan — one that would have relied on the Iraqi military to help secure and rebuild the country, and had been approved at a White House meeting that Mr. Bush convened just 10 weeks earlier.

The interviews show that while Mr. Bush endorsed Mr. Bremer’s plan in the May 22 meeting, the decision was made without thorough consultations within government, and without the counsel of the secretary of state or the senior American commander in Iraq, said the commander, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan. The decree by Mr. Bremer, who is known as Jerry, prompted bitter infighting within the government and the military, with recriminations continuing to this day.

Colin L. Powell, the secretary of state and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was never asked for advice, and was in Paris when the May 22 meeting was held.
Mr. Powell, who views the decree as a major blunder, later asked Condoleezza Rice, who was serving as Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, for an explanation.

“I talked to Rice and said, ‘Condi, what happened?’ ” he recalled. “And her reaction was: ‘I was surprised too, but it is a decision that has been made and the president is standing behind Jerry’s decision. Jerry is the guy on the ground.’ And there was no further debate about it.”

3/17/2008 04:41:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

In most cases the last time these people can be said to have actually thought about politics was either in the 1970's or, if more recently then on a college campus, through a cloud of dope and coeds.

Coeds never think about politics?

3/17/2008 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Now Wretchard, who is our preference in Gaza, who was our preference in Pakistan? The democratic victor? Let us not be naive."

It's difficult for me to analyze an argument (whatever its merits) decently when it's drenched in condescension.

3/17/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

But the writer is using an all-inclusive "we", just like Queen Victoria. How can that be condescending?

3/17/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

nice article, doug, thanks. hard to imagine mccain leaving that decision to the pols

3/17/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

...and ignoring DOD and State Dept, commanders in the field, giving supreme authority to Viceroy Bremmer his "man on the ground."
Really sad.
Have you seen that video reply to Bremmer from about six months ago?

It's even more devasting w/details in Iraq, this article fills in the details in DC.
If you haven't seen it, I'll fetch it for you.

3/17/2008 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Just heard McCain on Hewitt.
He's got that whole area wired, and Pakistan as well.
But, of course Barry has his close personal advisor, Rev Jeremiah, so that's a wash.

3/17/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/17/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

A rebuttal to claims made by L. Paul Bremer III that top American officials approved the decision to disband the Iraqi army.

Bremmer claimed the Army "evaporated."
Col. Hughes, tasked with tracking down the Army in Iraq:
The fact that 137 THOUSAND of the Iraqi Army
tells me they DIDN'T Disappear.

Col. Hughes was astounded when he was told of the plan, saying:
"None of us knew this was coming.
There's not a WAY, anyone can say this did not affect the insurgency

When rioting errupted, an Iraqi Officer told Col Hughes he could gaurantee a force of 10 Thousand Military Police within a week, but the Col was rendered powerless by the decision.

Rendered Half a Million military men unemployed and infuriated. (Equal to 5 MILLION Armed Soldiers put out on the street, unemployed, in the US)
...also cut off aid to military widows and orphans!

Richard Armitage says he and Powell were not made aware of the CHANGE IN PLANS, until after the fact, dittos for Gen Garner and Generals in charge of OIF.

3/17/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/19/2008 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Wadeusaf said...


In early April 2003, armed and well organized insurgent attacks had begun in Sunni areas with support of Arabs foreign to Iraq. These Included attempts to take out General Garner, Chalabi and others.

I wasn't there, and I can't say for certain but certainly there was more rational for disbanding the Army than what the reports you cite indicate. I recall the tone of the Anti Baathist order was very heavy handed and eliminated the top leadership of the military, but was worded in a way as to keep the military intact. The trouble it seems to me in looking back was in not understanding the structure of the Iraqi Army, especially the lack of Junior Officers and an NCO corp that could keep the troops in line. The structure was purposefully weakened by Saddam to reduce any chance for a Coup. When the Baath Party officers were told they could not be a part of the functioning service, the message was IMO interpreted as the whole kit and caboodle was dismissed. the document is located here...


I believe is the infamous CPA Order Number 2, which does disband the army, but states categorically that pensions and retirement compensation would be paid.

With all due respect I do not think we have the entire picture of the events. I do not know and guess it would be very difficult to gauge the reaction of the Iraqi army, and I believe that vetting and retraining soldiers to make a force functioning with standards more closely resembling our troops could take longer than it has taken to rebuild the force from scratch (twice).

I honestly do not know why the Iraqi Army dissolved, but I find repeated statements to the effect that it was somehow due to a lack of planning to be more suspect. Coordination, interpretation, and especially Communication between Garner, Bremmer and the military (DoD) seems the better culprits. I would not doubt but a certain level of sabotage to be involved among bureaucrats in both State and DoD.

I further suspect insurgent operations had been planned well prior to the invasion by at least some in the Army, Republican Guard or special forces, And supported by Senior Baath Party officials.

I have seen nothing yet to lead me to suspect otherwise. Then I wouldn't expect to be privy to any such documentation.

It is one of the infuriatingly fickle aspects of war, it never behaves the way you wish it to.

3/19/2008 01:42:00 AM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

I still don't understand why democracy in Gaza is considered a failure. Democracy is a way for people to express their will.

What the Palestinians did was express that they supported a party that would not make peace with Israel, would not accept their existence.

How is that knowledge bad? Except that it overthrows the conventional wisdom of most foreign services.


3/20/2008 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

No, Derek. You seriously do not understand.

What the issue with Palestinian democracy was/is, is that they wanted to be able to elect blood-thirsty terrorists, the better to kill more Jews with, and they also, concurrently, wanted the West to keep giving them free money, so they wouldn't have to go to work to feed themselves.

They wanted to be rewarded for voting with money, and it was a stunning shock to them that voting in a bunch of thugs was met with disapproval by the people holding the money bags.

And why shouldn't they be shocked? They've been sinking for years and years into ever-greater depravity and their money supply has never, ever, been cut off before.

We need to start thinking of Gaza and the West Bank as a zoo, because there is no other place in the world where the inhabitants are paid merely to exist and be watched. Since they've allowed themelves to become animals, it does seem appropriate.

3/20/2008 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Interviewed Tuesday for Charlie Rose's PBS show, CNN founder Ted Turner applied moral equivalence in describing Iraqi insurgents as “patriots” who simply “don't like us because we've invaded their country” and so “if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we'd be doing the same thing.”

Turner ridiculed the need for a big U.S. military, insisting “China just wants to sell us shoes. They're not building landing craft to attack the United States,” and “even with our $500 billion military budget, we can't win in Iraq. We're being beaten by insurgents who don't even have any tanks.” After Rose pointed out the Iraqi insurgents “have a lot of roadside bombs that kill a lot of Americans” and wondered “where do you think they come from?”, Turner answered: I think that they're patriots and that they don't like us because we've invaded their country and occupied it. I think if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we'd be doing the same thing: we'd be bombing them too. Nobody wants to be invaded.


4/02/2008 05:03:00 AM  

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