Thursday, May 25, 2006


One of the most common stratagems for bringing armed groups under control, whether to end an insurgency or in the aftermath of war, is to offer them positions in the regular armed forces of the new state. When people complain that America "should not have disbanded the Iraqi Army after the fall of Saddam" that is exactly the alternative they are advocating. This eases the transition in the short run but only at the cost of kicking the can down the road, as East Timor has recently discovered. After it regained it's independence from Indonesia, East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao decided he would offer his former enemies positions in the police force.

President Xanana’s strategy of promoting national reconciliation allowed for the integration of many former Indonesian functionaries and pro-autonomy elements into the security forces, especially the police force. PNTL’S current commander Commissioner Paulo Martins was a former Colonel in the Indonesian Police.

Eastern Timorese ("easterners") and Gusmao's men were given a separate track into the Army -- Timorese Defense Forces (FDTL).

This situation has led many to accuse the FDTL of being a "Firaku" or eastern-dominated force. Soldiers originating from the western part of the island accuse eastern officers of favoritism in promotion and double standards when it comes to discipline. To complicate matters further, Timor’s National Police Force (PNTL) has a high number of western personnel particularly among its senior officers. Once again the demands of the war of national liberation created this situation. The more educated and urbanized people, suited for police work, came from the western side of the island and many served previously in the Indonesian bureaucracy, giving them the advantage of experience.

This established a Timorese Army of ex-guerillas coexisting with a police force drawn largely from the security personnel of the ancien regime. Furthermore, the police were provided with technical training and support from the United Nations.

Establishing a new police force for East Timor was one of the priorities for the United Nations before sovereignty was passed to the new state in May 2002. ... U.N. Civilian Police (CivPol) began recruitment drives for the new East Timorese police service in early 2000 and basic training commenced on March 27, 2000, under the auspices of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). The initial graduating class of the newly inaugurated Police College numbered 1,700, the first fifty of whom took up their functions as police officers on July 12, 2000. Just over a year later, on August 10, 2001, the East Timor Police Service was officially established, working alongside CivPol. It later changed its name to the Timor-Leste Police Service, before finally adopting its current title of the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL).

The result, according to ISN, were two rival yet unequal security forces. The police, staffed with men of greater experience and social standing soon began to overshadow the army of ex-guerillas.

As a result, the PNTL is a far larger and better equipped force, perceived to enjoy a higher standing within Timorese society, while the military, who claims - and rightly so - to have made the most sacrifices in the struggle for national liberation, is being marginalized. The rivalry between the military and the police is clearly demonstrated by the type of disciplinary cases reported in the FDTL. Nearly 70 per cent of the cases involved confrontations of one type or another, between police officers and military personnel and invariably, the regionalism element was always a contributing factor.

The resentments eventually broke out into the open in February, 2006. According to the Australian:

More than 400 mutinous East Timorese soldiers -- a quarter of the country's army -- will be dismissed for deserting after protesting over poor conditions and selective promotions. ... At large is a volatile, undisciplined group with military training who were previously seasoned guerilla fighters against the Indonesian occupiers. Their dismissal is also an embarrassment for Canberra because most of the rebel troops received training from the Australian Defence Force as part of the Howard Government's $26 million defence co-operation program with East Timor.

Complicating the situation was a split within a split. The FDTL or Army was itself divided between eastern and western Timor lines.

The majority are the 591 western-provinces born soldiers who left barracks in March complaining that soldiers from the east of the country have preferred for promotions over them. They call themselves the “petitioners” and say eastern-born soldiers have wrongly claimed credit for staging the 24-year insurgency against Indonesia and been rewarded with the best military jobs. The petitioning soldiers had staged a peaceful protest in which got out of control on April 28. In the days that followed, thousands of Dili residents fled to the hills – along with 80-plus western-born police who abandoned their posts.

One Australian policy wonk interviewed on the radio described the situation in this way (remember that in Australia the "Liberal" party is the conservative party):

RUSSEL TROOD: The real problem goes back to the time when the armed forces themselves where established in 1999. Originally, Foreign Minister Horta said that there probably wouldn't need to be armed forces, but they subsequently decided, late '99 that there would some armed forces created. And it was never quite clear what the role of those armed forces would be, or how they would be paid, how they would relate to the, the role of the police force in the country, things of that kind, which reflects some structural difficulties in the ways in which the armed forces contribute to law and order in the society.

LOUISE YAXLEY: So an armed force was being created without its role being clear?

RUSSEL TROOD: Well, an attempt was made to define the role, but a relatively small force, it was going to be about 1,500, which was clearly not going to be large enough to defend the country form outside threat, for example. And the model was there within the context of Indonesia, where of course the armed forces played both a defence role in relation to outside threats, but also an internal security role.

Now Australia has deployed a large part of its infantry and naval strength to Timor in an effort to stop the fighting between factions in the police and the army. The New York Times reports:

Several hundred Australian commandos landed in the tiny Pacific Ocean nation of East Timor today in an initial effort to quell escalating fighting between the military and dissident armed forces. ... An additional 1,300 Australian soldiers, as well as forces from Malaysia and Portugal, the former colonial power, were expected in the next several days after East Timor's foreign minister, José Ramos-Horta, appealed for outside help to disarm "renegade troops and police rebelling against the state."

Since Australia's population is approximately 15 times smaller than that of the US this amounts to a major deployment. The Australian says there are no more shortcuts: Rebuild fledgling state or face 'war forever'

Major Alfredo Reinado, the commander of the rebel forces that generated the latest crisis, declared that only the presence of foreign troops could prevent a civil war. "There is no other way, or it will be war forever," he told the BBC. "The Government has taken too long. It is not capable of resolving this." Reinado has close links with Australia. He lived in Western Australia for nine years before returning to East Timor after the 1999 referendum. He has spent time at the Australian Defence College in Canberra and is well known to several Australian army officers. The Australians' ability to deal with Reinado could prove the key to ending the bitter conflict that now threatens Mari Alkatiri's Government.


Paul Bremer's decision to de-Baathize Iraq has been criticized as a key mistake. And it may have been. But the problem of dealing with loose groups of poorly educated men who have known nothing but the profession of arms is a chronic problem the world over. From Somalia to Palestine; from Mindanao to Timor -- integration into the police or armed forces is often offered to "fighters" as an alternative to open hostility. But it's not a perfect solution, as illustrated in Gaza:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to hold a referendum which could lead to a negotiated settlement with Israel if Fatah and Hamas cannot resolve their differences. He gave the rival factions 10 days to agree on a common platform or he would submit a proposal from jailed leaders on how to end the Palestinian crisis to a referendum.

Translation. Stop fighting or I'll make a deal with the Jews. What's Waltzing Matilda in Hebrew? It may sound familiar.


Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

as my zada used to say...

gay cacum ofen yam....

5/25/2006 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Waltzing Matilda is about never giving into the cops, a sentiment that came naturally to a country built on a prison colony and whose history includes a Rum Rebellion. Waltzing Matilda's famous line: "You'll never take me alive, said he" encapsulates an entire attitude.

Well, up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred;
Up rode the troopers -- one, two, three.
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?
You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."

Well, up jumped the swagman and jumped into the billabong;
"You'll never take me alive," said he.
His ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong,
"You'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me."

5/25/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

I guess my statement is what israel is saying to abbas...

go shit in the ocean

5/25/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard's piece properly leads off with the title "Ronin". Yet Wretchard could have explored that some more and gained greater insight on our DeBa'athifican fiasco than seeing parallels between ill-educated S Pacific tribesmen with guns and well-educated, reasonably sophisticated ex-members of the Iraqi of Iraq's administrative and power elite.

The Samurai were a well-educated class, and fairly well off. And had a code of honor and great pride. As a class, it was totally unreasonable to plan on them quietly accepting consignment to a lower class existence as peasantry or in professions Samurai found degrading. When a lord they were in retainer to was toppled, Japanese quickly learned there were 3 options:

1. Kill them all. Difficult since they would melt into the countryside.

2. Just disband them and accept they would become exceptionally well-trained brigands that lived off violence and "Ronin" became a word of opprobrium.

3. Accept them provisionally into another household with a measure on honor intact. Surround them with trusted retainers and watch them closely for years and years. Weed out the disloyal ones..

Scoville and Bremer (and by extension Feith,Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, and Bush's failure was assuming their high tech military dominance over the Iraqis translated into the submission of all the schoolteachers, officials, and Iraqi officers - who were required to be Ba'athist Party - and that they would meekly accept the dishonor and economic downfall so befitting them.

But of course, the educated elite of Iraq did not accept their downfall and dishonoring meekly. And have made the US pay a major butcher's bill in retaliation for the Complete purge Bremer did.

In other less arrogant Administrations, we have had people well-tuned to the culture run reform after a military intervention without giving the past ruling elite reason to believe they have nothing to lose by killing Americans and make them bleed treasure. America did not send a message that we are not enmass consigning you to the scrapheap, so please don't grab our ankles and put us on the scrapheap, too.

In Japan, MacArthur had Japanese officers he later hanged for war crimes busy and paid in the interim until cases were built and past actions sorted out - directing the rebuilding of roads and clearing war's rubble. In our 20 or so Latin American and Caribbean interventions, we NEVER attempted to destroy the whole Ruling Elite, their whole military leadership, and the whole infastructure of previously loyal administrative functionaries.

Bremer and his supporters didn't even think it was worthwhile mustering the military for pay under US supervision and set on rebuilding tasks or in gathering together and securing the loose, unguarded ordnance later used against us.

It was over the top neocon arrogance to try something never done before in Iraq.

5/25/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Even if Bremer were to keep the old Army, it would have been neccessary to trim the size of the army, thus, still unemployed 'losers.' Also, there would have been quantitatively too many higher ranked staff as well as too many 'tainted' officers.
Finally, and most importantly, there was the institutional memory of the old, Baathist Iraqi army. It included not only the subjecation of the Shi'ites, but also simply bad military habits, poor command principals, I'm sure corruption, poor structure ('cause Saddam didn't trust'em), etc.
It was beyond saving. Perhaps the timing of the Bremer's disbanding of the army can be argued, but the whole apple cart needed turning over.
In many ways the same can be said about Iraq and the middle east. The cure is messy and so it is avoided until an catalytic event forces someones hand. Even then, the outcome is unsure.

5/25/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

A comment and a question.

The problem of unemployed men-at-arms is indeed an ancient one. The nuanced criticism of Bremer's decision is not that he disbanded the old army per se, but (if the account in The Assassin's Gate is true) that little or no thought was given to a plan for doing so. The choice was not necessarily between maintaining the old army and disbanding it. It is easy to imagine an intermediate program. Disarm the old army (to the extent that it hadn't already dissipated), and give the soldiers and officers unarmed security jobs, such as searching people at checkpoints, filling sandbags, whatever, for a paycheck. Then vet them systematically, moving them back into the standing army in a trickle via a training regime not unlike the one actually implemented. But above all, keep paying them and taking attendance.

Of course, this criticism is easy to level in retrospect, but I think it was fairly obvious prospectively. The problem of "unemployed" knights, samurai, Maoists, or IRA is historically famous. At least as famous as the admonition about land wars in Asia.

My question: What or who is "Mathilda"? I have a faint recollection from primary school in Iowa, when I learned the song, that it is Aussie slang for a bedroll. True?

5/25/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

I wrote my post before I had read Cedarford.

The option that Cedarford outlines was indeed open to us. The French expected such an action at first. I believe that when they found out that we intended to do more then just get rid of Saddam is when they pulled out of the project and started to oppose us (remember they first showed signs of support).

I think many Sunnis at first expected this. The SF that went in before the ground troops were having feasts with Sunni sheiks and I think many in Arab world heard American talk about Democracy and change but accepted a Common Wisdom that once we got rid of of Saddam, we would essentially leave the same social/political structure in place. This would seem like a safe and stable way to get rid of Saddam.
However, the absense of Saddam would have made the Shi'ites antsy for change. If we left the Sunnis in charge and cut the shi'ites out they (with Persian backing) would not doubt had risen up. Then we would've faced a choice.

In the Caribean and Latin interventions that Cedarford refers to, our intervention and the following non-change, often leaves those who weren't among the elites disapointed and often the elites often cracked down violently to reassert their control.

If we were to leave a significant portion of the old Sunni power structure in power, we would have faced the same shi'ite uprising that we see now, Sadr, SCIRI, etc.; except we would not have any shi'ites on our side AND we would potentially find our selves on the side of the same old bad guys (Baathist Sunnis) in putting it down.

Is my scenario for sure. No, but it is plausible, and in the face of such plausabilities, I think Bremer's decision makes sense.

5/25/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Bremer's decision was one of those of supreme importance which happened without much apparent debate. And that maybe that speaks to the way the war was fought and perhaps is still being fought. If the British Empire was acquired in a fit of absent-mindedness perhaps the War on Terror is being prosecuted in a sleepwalking state. Why exactly is a good question to ask.

One etymology for Matilda says:

By the way, the ‘matilda’ is the swagman’s sleeping blanket, rolled up for carrying. ‘ Waltzing matilda’ probably refers to the act of carrying it around the country. Alternatively, the swagman was dancing with his blanket!

So, the story is a universal one – a conflict between poor and rich, in which the poor man loses but defiantly keeps his pride.

5/25/2006 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Paul Bremer's decision to de-Baathize Iraq has been criticized as a key mistake."

I thought and still think that it was the only possible choice. The Iraqi army disintegrated. There was no scenario where it would have stayed intact. The conscripts wanted to go home and they did. The higher ranks, sunnis who were chosen on the basis of loyalty to Saddam, were either irreconcilable or incomptent.

We had to start fom scratch on the army, and will have to do the same for the police force.

5/25/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

I believe C4 is on the mark. Bremmer's choice would have made sense if we had 300,000 troops in Iraq. In dismissing the entire army he threw the good out with the bad and placed a needless burden on a thin force. The US had a huge technological and communications and command advantage which was squandered by putting US forces on police duty. He made them beat cops in a part of town where they did not know the beat. C-4's additional comments about needlessly creating enemies in the civil service are hard to argue against.

5/25/2006 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger RaymondW said...

Cedarford's sullivanesque 'bathouse generalship' is a joke. To make these stupid, sweeping pronouncements on a complex issue is silly. Bremer may not have made the right choice, but it was a valid choice, probably the best of a bad situation. Keeping the iraqi army intact would have created its own set of problems, quite possibly making a bad situation much worse.

Interesting comment about central and south american interventions and maintaining the status quo. Is it just me or is there a caste system in latin america? Not many short indian guys in positions of power until recently. Just curious.

5/26/2006 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

the problem was more that the iraqi baathists did not know they were crushed. they did not know this because so many of them were left alive.

5/26/2006 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Doesn't the NYT have a map?

5/26/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The experiences of Timor, as well as the experience with the Iraqi Army serve as warnings in regard the Militias of Iraq.

To attempt to peaceably disband them will lead to almost 100,000 armed men without any Command and Control. Integrating those men into either the ISF or the Federal or Local police will reinforce the contamination those Forces by the Jihadi.

That is just part of the problem of never acknowledging the scale and scope of the "real" enemy.

The SCIRI is reportedly the faction that veto'd Mr Chilabi as Interior Minister, seems they do not subscribe to "disarming" their private Army.

Between the positions of SCIRI and Mr al-Sadr stands the Iraqi Government. It's a position far from ours, as articulated by Mr Bush in his State of the Union Address, 2002.

18 months and we're out, according to Mr Maliki, that's in 2007, not 2008.
Seems in his first timeline statement, Mr Maliki accelerated the proposed US pullout.
To coincide with UN Resolutions.
The New World Order has rules, you know.

5/26/2006 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I recall reading, here, how the new Iraqi Government would be at the UN, telling Iran and Syria to stand down their interference and respect Iraqi borders.

A better bet, now, is that the Iraqis will be addressing the General Assembly, demanding that the US withdraw from their country.

5/26/2006 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/26/2006 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: de-baathification.

It was the only option unless we simply wanted to exchange one dictator for another. The baathist army leadership was 8/10ths corrupt beyond belief, and the army organization was not capable of being preserved without preserving this essential corruption - i.e. never has there been more "leadership" (generals / colonels / majors) per private, even in our recent European/NATO history of the military being little more than a jobs program w/ show bands.

For all our intelligence challenges, we had good information about their army, which was confirmed with the ground truth of their observed behavior during the war.

We did pay all those (laid-off) "soldiers" (and paid them well, relative to the rest of Iraqis). The fact that a fraction didn't stay bought says volumes about their mindset - and argues for a return to more drastic surgery in the future. i.e. don't try to save the leg, cut it off and kill it (or if it surrenders, round it up and deport it or detain it in the desert for a decade).

5/26/2006 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The issue of what to do with the old Iraqi Army shows that despite the focus by some on "mistakes" it is really about choices rather than decisions.

Keeping the old Army intact, even a little, would have been a horrible mistake. Disbanding it was another horrible mistake. A third option, locking them all up and vetting them one at a time, would have been the best answer - and would have been a political disaster for the Bush Administration - Gitmo and probably even Abu Grabe a thousand times over.

The same is true of every other "mistake" that Pres Bush and the SECDEF are accused of making. They were all very "bad" decisions, but the alternatives would have been far worse - in someone's opinion.

5/26/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

detain prisoners for a decade? who are you trying to kid, ari tai?

The US does not detain common folk for over 90 days of so in Iraq. Catch and Release is US policy, not detain for the duration.
Ask LtCol Kurilla or Mr Yon for verification.

Could've, should've & would've do not equate to what we done & do, which is all that matters, really.

Did you get a "good" look at the Warrior's news briefing, yesterday.
Mr Bush and Blair looked drawn and tired, just from the Iraqi experience.
Neither looked ready or willing to expand the conflict, attrition has taken it's toll. As predicted.

5/26/2006 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Probably some completely cynical and deceptive policy would have worked. Establish a multitude of small posts, essentially incarcerating the Baathis t military with pay, control the ammo for each unit, then start a selective process of extermination, all the while maintaining a non-communicative status between the posts, exterminate each small group from the top down taking out the leadership first. Likely not even the Russians would have succeeded totally with such a program, in hindsight it would probably have saved American lives. Politically impossible of course, the media would have had a field day. I think we have not yet identified our most dangerous enemies.

5/26/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

The decision to de-baath Iraq was the right one because the Baath and cronies were corrupt. The Baath police and military were beholden psychologically and economically to Saddam and the Baath party.

A man had to renounce his intellect and honor in order to advance under Saddam. Such men could not and cannot run a free nation with any sense of internal integrity nor would they be trusted by the population at large.

Furthermore, because the climate under Saddam was as much conditioned response as it was physical oppression, the popluation would still slip into their roles under such men.

The Coalition and the new Iraqi institutions have an enormous Moral advantage in not being associated with Saddam or the Baath.

The Baath are Arab Socialists. This battle for the soul of Iraq is as much against Socialism ( The Left ) as it is against Militant Islam. To have left the Baath in would have been accepting the fundamental principles of our opponents while trying to fight them. No way.

This raises a larger issue of US Foreign policy - do we support those who are Communists even if they are democratically elected?

I say no. The seizure of property and the oppression of individuals is the same regardless of its political flavor.

5/26/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Marsh J. Ray said...

And we musn't forget that one of the motivations for what was (well, some point to anyway) the start this whole conflict was some priests' desire to be rid of turbulent knights:

The Crusades [wikipedia]
The northerners would be cemented to Rome and their troublesome knights could see the only kind of action that suited them.

5/26/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Tigerhawk - Nice post. Thanks for the elaboration on the Ronin theme.

RWE - Keeping the old Army intact, even a little, would have been a horrible mistake. Disbanding it was another horrible mistake. A third option, locking them all up and vetting them one at a time, would have been the best answer - and would have been a political disaster for the Bush Administration - Gitmo and probably even Abu Grabe a thousand times over.

No, your 3rd choice is a false choice as Tigerhawk pointed out. We prepped the heck out of how we would keep millions of ex-soldiers and Party officials occupied in Italy, Germany, Japan as we both purged and reformed the respective nations. Who was still a loyal Nazi, who was a war criminal...but who in the interim was needed to do critical postwar tasks or maintain order until inquiries and actions were completed??

And the Europeans just went through an identical process to retain the "right people" who had top positions under communism, while purging those unwilling to abandon Communist principles.

We never gave Sunni Iraqis that chance - and thus drove 10s of thousands right into the arms of the Insurgency.

Wretchard is right. Among the unbelievable lapses in post-war planning, we had absolutely nothing agreed to ahead of time on how de-Ba'athification would be implimented without collapsing the security, vital infastructure ministries, schools, and police functions of the Iraqi State. We had taken no lessons in how countries like reunified Germany and Poland had recently transitioned from communist party members running the show to democratic system appointees so well and avoided chaos.

Instead, we apparantly arrived at the Bremer decision in an almost cavilier fashion, in an absence of real info on who was a threat to a new Iraq and who was just a good schoolteacher, military explosives expert, oil ministry whiz, or Muquabarat agent with no inherent loyalty to the small Tikriti Clan of Saddam, and the small inner circle of utter Saddam loyalists. The pity was that since we had no plan, knew little about the players, and lacked the people resources to figure out who was who or watch over them doing important jobs - the whole transition was seen as "far too complex" to figure out and do. So in just a few days of Bushies, the "On to Syria! Then Iran! Faster. Faster Please!" Jewish Neocons, Cheney, The Viceroy (Bremer), military, State, Iraqi Exiles, and in-country Iraqis having different approaches - the solution to what Bush likely thought was all the "Fuzzy stuff too hard to figure out on the fly" was - to wipe out complexity and just get rid of all Ba'athists and plunge the country into full insurgency and lawless anarchy in Sunni areas.

It looks like the failure to plan and have resources so Rumsfeld could "transform" was a classic arrogant, penny wise, pound foolish management decision. It has taken us two years to get over the Bremer decisions effects at a cost of thousands of additional casualties and between 150-200 billion in extra costs.


Red River - A man had to renounce his intellect and honor in order to advance under Saddam. Such men could not and cannot run a free nation with any sense of internal integrity nor would they be trusted by the population at large..

Silly. And neglectful of recent history...

Honorable men of high intellect served the Nazis, Jap militarists, and Communists. Such men could and indeed have been reformed under more skillful US and European Administrations - have indeed gone on in huge masses to run a free nation. Trusted. Repected. High integrity individuals. If you are a smart ambitious man in Iraq and wish to have a great job, the price was joining the Ba'ath Party and not sticking your neck out.
Robert Schwartz - The higher ranks, sunnis who were chosen on the basis of loyalty to Saddam, were either irreconcilable or incomptent.

How do you know that? Given we failed to put the US troop numbers high enough to have people available to test them and evaluate them on issues of irreconcilability or competence? We did a poorer job in Iraq figuring this out than we did in our own badly botched Reconstruction after the Civil War.

5/26/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Cederford: I think you greatly overstate the Nazi Germany analogy.

The main opposition to Hitler, was, in fact, the professional elements of the German military. They planned a coupe before WWII began and actually tried at least one assassination attempt during the war. Saddam had a longer time to exterminate opposition and did not start with the most professioanl military force in the world in the first place.

And the 80% of the Iraqi population that is Kurdish and Sunni were essentially the equivalent of Jews, allowed to exist only because their extermination would have left the Batthists without a country.

There just wasn't that much of a Sunni anti-Batthist opposition to deal with, and it was not organized. They had to be brought around in order to be vetted, and that is what we did. Locking them up first would have made it much easier.

5/26/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

"Proof of history's rum deal By Michael Duffy January 28, 2006
The Rum Rebellion has slipped into historical oblivion because it is widely misunderstood."
"Sparrow Force to Timor
On Timor the garrison was given the code-name Sparrow Force. Sparrow Force was to defend the island and protect the airfield at Penfui. The Force was confronted by a particularly complex problem as it did not have the resources to deploy to all of the possible sites at which an invader might land. Its task was further complicated by the political division of the island. The western half of the island was part of the Netherlands East Indies, an ally of Australia, but the eastern half and an enclave at Ocussi on the north coast were territories of neutral Portugal. Portugal was opposed to the stationing of Dutch or Australian troops as it felt that this was unnecessarily provocative toward the Japanese."

5/26/2006 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Seems like less has been written about how and why General Garner was unceremoniously removed so quickly than any other aspect.
I remain ignorant, but curious.

5/27/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Jay Garner interview (real audio)

The general also said he would have shipped in huge generators to supply electricity. (I've never understood the $500 billion and they did not do much of that at all, far as I know.)

He added: "On my part I would certainly (have) done a better job on having communications with the Iraqi people."

The consequences of that is that Iraqi's now listen to Al-Jazeera, the Arab TV channel that the US accuses of colluding with insurgents to film attacks on coalition forces, he told the BBC.

General Garner was replaced as the American's senior civil administrator in Iraq by Paul Bremer after initial reconstruction efforts did not go according to plan. WHAT WAS THAT, A FRIGGING MONTH OR TWO?

The change of personnel was also the result of rivalry in Washington between the Pentagon and the state department over who should be doing what in Iraq.
Garner had a MONTH before the State Dept fixed everything.
...he was appointed only a few weeks before he was put in place.
State Dept did NOT give him the plan until too late.
Listen to the audio, particularly about Rumsfeld talking to him when orders came down for him to get rid of State Dept guy that wrote the plan, and SPENT A YEAR DOING IT!Garner had asked the guy to join him when he found that out.
Another article says Garner and Rumsfeld were old friends.

5/27/2006 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/27/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Nutter said...

Using my marvelous gift of 20-20 hindsight it seems that Bremer might have done better to keep the Iraqi Army on payroll, but have their commanders set them on rebuilding projects. They would have had income, in many cases needed to support their families. They would not have been sitting around idle looking for trouble. Their labors would have been useful to the nation, and hopefully would have given them a sense of purpose.

Well, maybe. Better than just cutting loose tens of thousands of guys into a chaotic economy. For future reference.

5/27/2006 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

"... DILI, East Timor (AP) — East Timor's capital descended into chaos Saturday as rival gangs torched houses and attacked each other with machetes and spears, defying international peacekeepers.
The violence prompted thousands of residents to flee or hide, terrified, in their homes. The United Nations said it would relocate all U.N. families and non-essential staff to a temporary safe haven in Darwin, Australia.

The prime minister described the violence as an attempt to overthrow his government.

"What is in motion is an attempt to stage a coup d'etat," Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told a news conference as fires raged across the city.

Minutes before he spoke, Australian troops disarmed up to 40 machete-wielding gang members half a block away.

The Australian troops, who answered an emergency call from the fledgling country's government two days ago, patrolled the city in armored personnel carriers and tanks, and Black Hawk helicopters thundered overhead. ...

..."The Timorese are fighting, so we are afraid. At night they fire guns, or maybe worse, so I had to run to the United Nations," said Anim, a mother of four, as she prepared for a night in an overcrowded refugee camp at the U.N. headquarters.

"The west and the east, they want to fight. They are enemies from long ago. Now they are trying to provoke each other."

The violence was triggered by the March firing of 600 disgruntled soldiers — nearly half the 1,400-member army — and is the most serious crisis East Timor has faced since it broke from Indonesian rule in 1999.

After staging deadly riots last month, the sacked troops fled the seaside capital, setting up positions in the surrounding hills, and threatened guerrilla war if they were not reinstated.

They started ambushing soldiers in the capital Tuesday, sparking days of pitched gunbattles with the military that so far have killed 23 people and injured scores. ..."

Belmont Club, always a step ahead.

5/27/2006 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks for reminding me:
Garner said they were going to KEEP 20 of 23 bureaucracies, but when he got there, the buildings were blown up and all the employees were no-where to be found.
Said they literally had to send their guys out in the neighborhoods asking for the whereabouts of people they wanted to keep!

5/27/2006 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

CNN Australia had some pretty good video last week. Don't know if it's still available here.
Strange experience for the Aussies who escaped, being in the midst of a gunbattle of the police and etc on the downtown streets!
Not what they bargained for!

5/27/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Craigicus said...

Two key criticisms were the drop-dead de-Bathification and the low US troop number deployed.

Compelling arguments can be made on either side, so my respect is there for those who made the call.

It took longer to build up an Iraqi army, but how would it have been different if the Generals were all old-guard?

How would the U.S. political scene greeted the frustrating news that the U.S. Military was 200,000 below strength and the troops were worn down to the bone. Ooops, excuse me, there have already been many reports of U.S. troops worn down to total exhaustion.

We have to win the war. The decisions need to serve the winning. Or are the criticisms motivated by someone who doesn't care if we win or not???

5/29/2006 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger Red A said...

I always thought an oil trust issuing monthly check to all Iraqis would have been the best way to keep unemployed losers from attacking their own country...who want's to get a smaller and smaller check each month?

We could have also kept the checks from areas with the most violence, citings security concerns...

A carrot and a stick!

I guess we could have marched the entire Sunni officers and soldiers into the desert to build up berms, but would they have done that?

I'm guessing they would have rebelled.

5/30/2006 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Red A said...

Also, I wonder if we had not disbanded the army, would we have faced mutinies where whole units revolted against us along with their Sunni officers?

Wouldn't that have sucked and made us look fully out of control ala Tet?

Keep in mind there was a time in 2003 or 2004 where both the Shia militias and Sunnis were angry with us and looked like they could cooperate...

5/30/2006 02:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the integration of these opposing elements creates an issue where these untrained forces are still permitted to carry weapons and tend to inflict suffering on the civilian population. Most reasonable change will take time and might need generations to pass as old habits die hard

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1/08/2007 07:31:00 PM  

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