Saturday, July 28, 2007

Making it up as you go along

The Educated Soldier recalls the calm days after the fall of Baghdad.

The level of calm that immediately followed the downfall of the Baathist regime in Baghdad was remarkable. It now seems asinine to suggest that the following events occurred, but they did. My unit used to travel to city center Baghdad, abandon our Humvees but to a couple rotating guards, drop all of our protective gear, enter restaurants and eat full-service meals. Imagine this: I used to travel to this same area of the city and receive a haircut from an Iraqi barber who would wield a straight-edged blade without so much of a raised eyebrow from my compatriots. There was even an instance that our Humvee, by its lonesome, left the Baghdad International Airport after escorting an official and traversed the streets of Baghdad in search of pirated DVDs. Occasionally, I will tell stories of complacency, of soldiers asleep while behind the gun atop a Humvee, that occurred during this period and then wonder how I ever let one partake in such lazy and dangerous activity. And then it occurs to me that this sort of activity was a product of the environment that we then knew. ...

So this raises many questions that I have yet to hear quality answers. The answers lack, in part, because this is now a forgotten part of Iraq history. But this soldier, nonetheless, wonders, “What happened?” There was a notable period of time in Iraq between the fall of the government in Baghdad and the beginning of the greater insurgency conflict as we now understand it, which was void of violence. Why was this? Did the “bag guys” really need a month to two to regroup and retaliate? Or was it the case that, during this two month gap, combatants from outside the country were being filtered in?

I have no good answers. I hope, however, that by continuing to spread the experiences that I remember, some may come to pass. And, hopefully, these answers can go a long way in helping us understand the enemy that we currently face.

My own guess is that the subsequent violence was the result of two things. As soon as Saddam fell, forces opposed to the US began to plan and execute their riposte with remarkable speed. Ex-regime elements, Islamists etc. began to make their move. In contrast, the Coalition was unable to both take control of the post-Saddam situation and respond to enemy countermoves. There followed a period in which the Coalition was forced on the defensive all across Iraq. And that continued until the Coalition was eventually able to learn, adapt and regain some initiative.

The stories related by the Educated Soldier illustrate the lack of continuity in the script. Having defeated the Iraqi Army, the idea was that it was "over". In retrospect things had only just begun. But not only was the force mentally unprepared for what came next, it was physically and organizationally unready. There were inadequate numbers of interpreters; I suspect that intelligence networks were underdeveloped; probably most importantly, the force was unfamiliar with Iraq. When the trouble began, much of the attention focused on the "armor" gap. The striking difference between 2003 and 2007 is not the lack of steel plate on the Humvees -- something which obsessed the media for a long time -- but the difference in attitude and doctrine between that era and Gen Petraeus' force.

The fateful decision of Paul Bremer to dismantle Saddam's Army may have saved Iraq from a continuation of the fallen regime under other color; it might have avoided a Shi'ite insurgency that may have developed in response; it might had many things to commend it in the long run. But off-handedly dismantling the ancien regime without the Coalition capability to take up the slack meant that for some years it would be operating in a debatable void. It was as if the forces on the ground had to jump out of an airplane without a parachute and only a bale of silk from which they were expected to knit their own as they plummeted through the air and hopefully finish before they hit the ground. Policy makers may not have been aware they were doing it, but therein lies a tale.

Yet fundamentally, I don't know the answer to Educated Soldier's questions. And apart from the few facile speculations I've sketched out it remains a stark and valid challenge, not simply to historians, but to operators and policy makers. The parachute isn't finished yet.


Blogger NahnCee said...

How is your analogy about the lack of parachute and building one of silk in mid-air any different from what MacArthur was asked to do in Japan after WW2, or what America did with the Marshall Plan? In Japan, the Emperor was allowed to stay in place, and in Europe, Russia was running amok.

We are being told now that a majority of the terrorist "insurgents" are home-grown, but if they *are* Iraqi's wouldn't that attempt to kill an American of their very own make them the stupidest people on the face of the earth, given the experience of both Germany and Japan in defeat?

7/28/2007 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

McArthur arguably made a deal with the ancien regime and kept the Emperor in place. Japan was a nation that had been beaten, firebombed, encircled, starved and nuked. Moreover, the Japan that McArthur occupied was ethnically homogenous, disciplined, industrialized nation. Maybe the factories were ashes, but the skillset was definitely there. Then also, McArthur had the inestimable advantage of slow communications with Washington in an age when political correctness was still a distant vision. It was hard to second guess McArthur. In a land where the Emperor was a living god, McArthur was dai-ichi. Number One.

In contrast, Iraq was almost none of these things. It was sort of invaded, by the half-leave of the UN and where the encircling nations would let us in. Turkey never did. Command was divided. Officially Bremer was Iraq's McArthur. And if the comparison fits poorly it is less to do with Bremer than the situation.

But I think the biggest difference was that Japan was an ancient nation state. The Yamato people's origins are lost in prehistory. In contrast Iraq was a creation of the British colonial office in long ago 1925, cobbled together from ethnic groups who would, as we have seen, cut each other's throats at the drop of a turban. And it was on the fault line of a relgion 1,300 years old which regarded the Americans as infidels.

If America can pull Iraq off it will have been a far greater achievement, I think, than rebuilding Japan. No disrespect to McArthur meant.

7/28/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger amr said...

Germany offered some minor post war insurgency efforts and Japan offered little resistance other than the gangs. If I remember correctly, there was no official plan for Germany and in Japan we had a general who knew the culture and has his own plan. Our WWII victory and occupation experiences certainly did not prepare us for what followed in Iraq. And our experience in the Philippines was 100 years ago and we had forgotten our effort in the last years of the Vietnam War. From some of the Iraqi records it would appear that Saddam had a post war insurgency mapped out. His release of supposedly 100,000 criminals also fueled the problem and continues to do so. In Iraq we also seemed not to have a plan or knowledge of the culture and we changed from a military control occupation early on into to a civilian controlled occupation. I believe that with the civilian control the lines of communication were horrible and organizing a plan to resist the insurgency was neigh on to impossible since we had forgotten our lessons learned and the civilian leadership was queasy about upsetting the Iraqis. By the time we became proactive, the insurgency/terrorist was well established. Americans have liberated before and historically we have had strong pro-American allies on the ground to control things. This time we kept out the exiles and pushed for the in-country Iraqis to take control. They still haven’t and Michael Yon reports they are having to be taught leadership skills by the military.

7/28/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

To go along with Educated Soldier's, recollection of Baghdad after it's fall link here for Mark Steyn's account of visiting Faluja unescorted at about the same time:

7/28/2007 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - If America can pull Iraq off it will have been a far greater achievement, I think, than rebuilding Japan. No disrespect to McArthur meant.

That appears incredibly doubtful, even outside the pending defeat of the Bush backers/neocons/sharansky democratic revolutionaries - plus the radical Shiite scum now in charge.

Remember McArthur also had other countries that were being recovered after war, and the Communist threat in Japan, Korea, and various liberation post-colonialist movements to contend with. It wasn't just Japan he dealt with, with adept skill..And even in Japan he had to deal with political parties that had happily used terrorism and assassination before the militarists triumphed in the mid-20s. The Communists, Shintoists, militarists, militant agrarian party, Hokaiddo insurgents all wished to resume violent contention for Japan - that was quashed by McArthur.

What McArthur did was keep the Japanese military and police intact to provide security and ruins-clearing manpower (some Imperial Jap forces were working rubble-clearing and providing basic services until being "de-mustered" from WWII service as late as 1948.) Like with Germany, purge of the worst militarists went slowly and with security, reconstruction, and stability always the 1st priority.

And all by an elaborate plan that was started on in 1943 and involved several thousand creators and over 50,000 implimentors who had that as their main military/civilian job in Japan in 1945-47.

If America had fucked up Japan like they did with Iraq, and the Japanese were as self-destructive - the 1st 5 years of the Japan occupation would have involved Truman saying how noble they were and "all the American death and sacrifice for the democracy-hungry Japanese was worth it" - as his troops were hunted like animals, shunned by Iraqis, considered impure and foul and untouchable by Japanese civilians. With idiot Truman wanting free elections and no repercussions when his troops were slaughtered by hateful Japs that were rewarded with "catch and release". And Truman's scumbag generals and "amen! cabals" methodicically lying to Congress and the public about "considerable progress is being made every day".

No, disgracing McArthur by putting him alongside liars like Tommy Franks, Sanchez, Abaizad, and Meyers is not what historians will say. Nor Bush, his neocon cabal alongside Kenan, Russell, Stillwater, Donovan, and Truman.

If there is any analogy, even if a dubious victory happens - it is the Americans as the bumbling Soviets - out-thought and outfought by the Finns until the sheer waste of money and men Stalin remorselessly poured into what Stalin was told by his syncophant version of neocons -would be an "easy cakewalk", eventually prevailed.

A lasting disgrace on the Soviets and their dysfunction system and excretable leadership in the military and Moscow.

I have no doubt historians will say Bush II was a miserable failure as President and an incompetent leader who failed in the peaceful early months to take control as McArthur did, and reaped the whirlwind as a result.

John Kerry has his faults, but even the partisans of the nearly-destroyed Republican Party agree - no one who supported war in Iraq ever, in their worse dreams, thought the Bush Administration and military would fuck it up as bad as they did.

7/28/2007 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


...I think the biggest difference was that Japan was an ancient nation state. The Yamato people's origins are lost in prehistory. In contrast Iraq was a creation of the British colonial office in long ago 1925, cobbled together from ethnic groups who would, as we have seen, cut each other's throats at the drop of a turban. And it was on the fault line of a relgion 1,300 years old which regarded the Americans as infidels.

I think a good analogy for modern Iraq is Germany -- sixteenth century Germany. Imagine overthrowing the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and finding restive Bohemian nationalism and German-speaking sectarianism. Iraq can be seen as a Reformation Holy Roman Empire in miniature, with Kurdistan playing the part of Bohemia and Sunni and Shi'ite militias playing the part of the Catholic and Protestant Leagues.

Southern Iraq has some similarity to Japan in that the ayatollahs of Najaf have a god-like power over Shi'ites somewhere between the power of the Papacy and Japan's divine emperor. In contrast, Sunni clerics acted like Lutheran ministers who, accustomed to a state stipend, were suddenly on their own.

Sure, technically speaking, Iraq is an amalgam of three disparate provinces. But then, Iraq has always, for thousands of years, been part of an amalgam of provinces. Iraq has never been a nation state and it never will be. Iraq is at best a province. It could be a province of Arabia. It could be a province of the Roman Empire. It could be a province of the Ottoman Empire. It could be a province of Islam. It could be a province of Persia. It could be a province of the British Empire. It could be a province of an American Empire. It could be an independent province, but its identity will not be one of a nation. Iraq is at heart a province, a part of an imperium, an imperium strong enough to control it.

Baghdad is the old, proud seat of the Abbasid Caliphate. It is an old capital of the great Islamic imperium. Like Vienna, Warsaw, or Venice, within Baghdad's decadent provincialism beats the heart of an old empire.

The Sunni insurgency? That usually happens in Muslim lands whenever a foreign invader comes in. Ironically, al-Qaeda unwittingly did America a favor by undermining the legitimacy of the insurgency and annoying the locals. (If al-Qaeda had stayed out Iraq completely, the United States would probably have been defeated already.) The most interesting aspect of this whole war has been how the Shi'a had been relatively cooperative.

The quiet in the aftermath of the invasion? That happens a lot too. Insurgencies generally take a while to get going, and if the foreign army is out within six months there usually isn't much trouble. Imagine if France had been occupied instead of given over to Charles de Gaulle's government in exile! If France had been treated by an American occupation the way Iraq had been treated by Ambassador Bremer, I think we would have had more trouble with the French then than we have with the Iraqis now.

Iraq is at the center of old imperial Islamic dreams. Without Iraq, an Islamic state is not a true Islamic empire. Baghdad, by its very nature, will either seek to dominate the world of Islam or will become a disputed token of legitimacy for outsiders who seek power over this old capital, these tattered remains of Islam's lost glory.

It appears that the United States is abandoning the idea of a strong Iraq ready to assert itself and instead embracing the idea of Iraq as ground for battle among those who seek to control the fate of Islam. In any case, Baghdad is at heart the old heart of an empire, not the capital of a mere nation state.

7/28/2007 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Iraqi "Fixer" tells his story of the peaceful times,
...and the rest.
At War, at Home, at Risk

7/28/2007 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Oral History Interview with
Dr. Walter H. Judd

This man details how Truman gave China away to the Chicoms, and MacArther's actions up to that time that would have saved it.
...repeated ceasefires when the nationalists had the upper hand, letting Russia give them 5 years worth of supplies that the Japanese had in Manchuria, which was their fallback option, on and on.
All at the Truman Library, amazingly!

7/28/2007 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

The key factor in Iraq which is transferable to future conflicts is that it has taken a considerable amount of time for the US armed forces to identify and then acquire the intel capabilities necessary to dominate the opposition the same way that Israel dominates it in the West Bank and Gaza.

Future conflicts may reveal that a faster way to do this was available; we can't really know now. So all the Monday morning quarterbacking is just wasted breath. In fact, if we do get up to speed faster in the next conflict this may be solely because we got the schooling we needed in Iraq.

The only important thing GWB did was commit us to the fight from the outset. Any President would in the end have had to do the same thing. All the arguments since have been partisan wrangling of the sort we have endured and/or engaged in during most of our wars since the Republic was founded. All they amount to is a sort of a dull roar in the background, as the machinery of American government learns how to target and beat this type of enemy.

7/28/2007 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think the important bottom line, though, is that we *always* have to make it up as we go, after every war, every cataclysm, every act of God. What worked with the Mexicans after the Alamo will not work with Germany which will not work with Japan which will not work with the USSR.

Given that we in America and the West in general are never, ever, allowed to fight a full-bore war any more, then we always will have to rewrite the rules as we go, responding to an upright and more-or-less healthy enemy.

*If* we were allowed to "bomb them back to the Stone Age" a la either Dresden or Hiroshima, then I daresay the "rules" and outlines of subjugating, taming and rebuilding would probably be much clearer. Not to mention easier.

7/28/2007 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"There were four main things we did that contributed decisively to the loss of China.

First was the betrayal by Roosevelt on Manchuria. After promising at Cairo that Manchuria would go back to "its rightful owners, the Chinese," to use his words, some twenty days later in Iran he gave control of Manchuria to the Russians.

This discredited Chiang and all but destroyed him at home. He had fought Japan for eight years to keep Manchuria. If it weren't for China's need to keep Manchuria, he wouldn't have had a war with Japan.

After fighting all those years, he found his trusted ally had broken its word. Without Manchuria and its resources he knew it would be practically impossible to really develop in China the strength and stability he wanted and we urged.

The second was the four cease-fires Marshall coerced Chiang into accepting in 1946--whenever he had the upper hand:
They practically destroyed the morale of his armies. Were they supposed to fight or not?

The third was the embargo that Marshall put on thirty caliber ammunition to Chiang.
We had supplied some 400,000 old Enfield and Springfield rifles--they weren't worn out, but they were obsolete. We didn't need them now because we had the Garand, a better rifle.
So we sent them over to Chiang. But that meant he had to get ammunition for them from us. His own rifles were 7.92 caliber, I think it was, the German caliber. (Chiang had tried to get military help from us in the '30s. We wouldn't give it, so he got General Von Falkenhausen from Germany to come out to help train his troops, build up his arsenals, etc. Naturally he used the German caliber.)

And so here were Chiang's best troops, the crack thirty-three divisions that Stilwell and Wedemeyer had trained--without any ammunition for their 30-caliber rifles.

Marshall put on an embargo for eight crucial months, from the summer of '46 up until about May of 1947. Chiang's best troops were disarmed.

The fourth was the "deactivation" of about 200 divisions. No wonder Acheson did not write,
"Nothing we did contributed to Chiang's defeat."
Those four actions contributed decisively to the defeat.

7/28/2007 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger lgude said...

I don't know what exactly went wrong either. Clearly there were lots of Iraqis who were prepared to use force, but Sunni and Shiite. And it is equally clear that there was support for democracy at a popular level. I agree with Nomenklatura that we are learning how to fight this war as we go along and the next president can pretend all they want that they are 'fixing' what the current administration did wrong, but in reality will have to carry on with what they inherit. I've heard both Bill and Hilary say that we have to deal with the Iraq we have, not the one we wish we had and that goes for Obama, Romney, Thompson, and Rudi too.

7/28/2007 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Mr. Churchill gave the answer to that as Mr. Nixon quoted in one of his speeches before he became President, Churchill said,

"The belief that it is possible to obtain security by throwing another small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion."

And yet we are tempted to try again to get security for ourselves by doing just that. All it does is enhance the wolf's appetite, increase his confidence and weaken his respect for us, thereby increasing the danger.

This seems to me so obvious that it always astonishes me that it seems so hard for so many people to understand or believe it. There is no peace in appeasement."

7/28/2007 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger WhiskeyBoarder said...

To all interested:

I am the author of the passage posted above and also maintain the Educated Soldier website.

While I am proud to have served my country and I am satisfied in having the ability to convey my experiences in a manner that promotes intellectual dialogue, I am disappointed in my own limited knowledge and, thus, lack of answers. In short, the discussion that is being held here far exceeds my historical knowledge. In that regard, I want to thank you for pouring so much thought into the questions that I posed.

I am fortunate. My ultimate goal, personally, is to obtain education by any available means. Much of this pursuit is made via the academic environment. However, I also collected valuable lessons that could have only been honed by real world experience. Moreover, I am amazed by how much I learn just by accessing a site and discussion such as this. It is easy to bypass the internet as a playground for immorality, but I have found it to be a valuable tool in my journey towards greater education. I want to thank you for this opportunity to learn.

More important than my personal goals are the ones that I feel we should all have for our country. Whether a supporter of the on-going mission in Iraq or not, all should agree that some end-goal has to be proposed and subsequently met. It is because of conversations like this that I am continuously optimistic that a successful result can be stated and accomplished. Healthy, civil discussion more likely leads to workable conclusions than any alternative. As an individual who has served, I am eternally thankful that people deem the situation in Iraq important enough to confer such well-analyzed thought.

As I have stated in other forums, my greatest fear is not a resilient enemy by an apathetic American population. While I rely on answers from people more educated than myself, I can only hope that my own discourses can continue to keep readers focused on the situation.

I thank you for your time and interest. I will follow this thread closely. It is interesting, informative, and greatly appreciated.


Steve B.

7/28/2007 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...
Rumsfeld’s War, Powell’s Occupation
Rumsfeld wanted Iraqis in on the action — right from the beginning.

A Rumsfeld occupation would have been different, and still might be. Rumsfeld wanted to put an Iraqi face on everything at the outset — not just on the occupation of Iraq, but on its liberation too. That would have made a world of difference.

Rumsfeld's plan was to train and equip — and then transport to Iraq — some 10,000 Shia and Sunni freedom fighters led by Shia exile leader Ahmed Chalabi and his cohorts in the INC, the multi-ethnic anti-Saddam coalition he created. There, they would have joined with thousands of experienced Kurdish freedom fighters, ably led, politically and militarily, by Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani. Working with our special forces, this trio would have sprung into action at the start of the war, striking from the north, helping to drive Baathist thugs from power, and joining Coalition forces in the liberation of Baghdad. That would have put a proud, victorious, multi-ethnic Iraqi face on the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and it would have given enormous prestige to three stubbornly independent and unashamedly pro-American Iraqi freedom fighters: Chalabi, Talabani, and Barzani.

Jay Garner, the retired American general Rumsfeld chose to head the civilian administration of the new Iraq, planned to capitalize on that prestige immediately by appointing all three, along with six others, to head up Iraq's new transitional government. He planned to cede power to them in a matter of weeks — not months or years — and was confident that they would work with him, not against him, because two of them already had. General Garner, after all, is the man who headed the successful humanitarian rescue mission that saved the Kurds in the disastrous aftermath of Gulf War I, after the State Department-CIA crowd and like thinkers in the first Bush administration betrayed them. Kurds are not a small minority — and they remember. The hero's welcome they gave General Garner when he returned to Iraq last April made that crystal clear.

Finally, Secretary Rumsfeld wanted to cut way down on the infiltration of Syrian and Iranian agents and their foreign terrorist recruits, not just by trying to catch them at the border — a losing game, given the length of those borders — but by pursuing them across the border into Syria to strike hard at both the terrorists and their Syrian sponsors, a move that would have forced Iran as well as Syria to reconsider the price of trying to sabotage the reconstruction of Iraq.

None of this happened, however, because State and CIA fought against Rumsfeld's plans every step of the way. Instead of bringing a liberating Shia and Sunni force of 10,000 to Iraq, the Pentagon was only allowed to fly in a few hundred INC men. General Garner was unceremoniously dumped after only three weeks on the job, and permission for our military to pursue infiltrators across the border into Syria was denied.

7/28/2007 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

General Garner's Lament

When it comes to Iraq, Lt. Gen. Jay Garner has been there, done that for 15 years, so his new plan for getting out of the mess there might be worth listening to.

"You couldn't have gotten the 10 most brilliant men and women in America to design a way for us to fail in Iraq that would have been any better than what we have done on our own," lamented Garner, whom President Bush dispatched to Iraq to heal the country only to stand aside as Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III gutted the very post-combat pacification program that Garner had gotten the president to approve.
"I was never able to find out," Garner answered when I asked him where Bremer got the authority to reverse the presidentially approved plan shortly after taking over from the retired three-star general in Baghdad in May 2003.
I served under Gen. Garner in Germany until he left for his assignment with the Kurds in 1991. I knew then if anyone could succeed in such a crucial assignment it would be him. He was the best team builder I ever encountered in my 25-year career.

I agree with his ideas to save Iraq. However, they may be too late to implement. I think our nation has lost its commitment to forge ahead in this crucial war.

It breaks my heart he was not left in charge instead of being replaced by Ambassador Bremer. Gen. Garner's suggestion on modern equipment for the Iraqi Army is correct. If you trace what was actually paid under Bremer for old Soviet weapons, I think you will find the actual cost far exceeded the cost of modern weapons because of the bribes involved.

His ideas about creating three regional governments within a united Iraq are correct as well. The alternative is a civil war with the winner trying to subdue the other two factions. If this happens, the country will end up with a dictator worse than the one who was deposed.

Should this happen, our only chance at salvaging anything from Iraq is to support the Kurds. They have been our only true allies in this whole mess, and we owe this friendship and support to Gen. Garner who cultivated their loyalty.
Thank you for covering this great American in your article. Believe me, he could be King of Kurdistan if he so chose, but he is an American through and through.
MAJ Ronald C. Winkles, US Army (RET)

7/28/2007 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Doug, I don't know why you slapped up a 3 year old article that hardcore Zionist and neocon Barbara Lerner wrote to argue that if only dear Rummy and her good friend Ahmed Chalabi had only been allowed to liberate Iraq with 10,000 exile freedom fighters and 5-7,000 of Rummys beloved "high tech special ops supermen" everything would be different. (What's Arabic for Bay of Pigs?)

Then she says that it wasn't too late for the great Chalibi, tanned and rested from his 30 years in exile to be installed as head of Iraq to become the Great Unifier. She, Rumsfeld, Feith, Perle, and her Straussian classmate Wolfie made quite a team.

When you dredge up these old, foolish articles, they do bring out the dark humor. That is appreciated. After Lerner wrote her article Apr 30, 2004 - Salon blasted her and others complete ignorance of Iraq with "How Ahmed Chalabi Conned The Neocons".

Lerner's later articles are unintentionally funny as she blames "hurting Chalabi's feelings" with failure to end the insurgency and Chalabis 1000 or so remaining exiles now huddled in the Green Zone cutting lucrative business deals not going out and "stopping the terrorists coming across the borders and invading Syria and Iran in hot pursuit."

Embarassing stuff Lerner writes, and she is still cranking out her vast strategic vision at NRO despite her PhD in psychology, her Israel-centricity, and being 76.

7/29/2007 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Garner link is Dec 2006.
General Garner seems to confirm that SOMEONE torpedoed the plan approved by GWB and Rummy.
(Almost surely State and CIA)
Their non-occupation plan made more sense to me 3 years ago, and still does today.
Before Garner spoke out, however, it was he said she said.
I'll take General Garner's word, myself.

7/29/2007 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

(Garner scores above Salon (CIA inspired story?) for Iraqi knowledge in my book.)

7/29/2007 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

Oh w✡ll, n✡v✡r mind. C-4 found the conn✡ction. That s✡ttl✡s it. It all mak✡s s✡ns✡ now.

7/29/2007 03:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"L. Marc Zell, a former law partner of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, responds to John Dizard's Salon story
"How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons.

"The Salon article by John Dizhart [sic] entitled "How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons" contains several quotations attributed to me.

None of the quotations ascribed to me was made by me and I categorically disavow each of them. I have never met with Mr. Ahmed Chalabi nor have I ever held any discussions with him.
I have no personal knowledge of his past or present dealings, other than what I myself read in the international and national press.
Moreover, I have never met with a Mr. Dizhart although I did speak by cellphone on a few occasions with a reporter for the Financial Times by that name about doing business in Iraq.

Contrary to what is said in the article, at no time did the person representing himself as Mr. Dizhart ever disclose that he was doing an interview for Salon.Com or for any other newspaper than the Financial Times, for which, he told me, he was tasked to write business stories only.

Indeed, at no time did I ever consent to be interviewed by Mr. Dizhart for the article in question or any other article. As I recall, the views attributed to me in the article were those of Mr. Dizhart personally and not mine."
-- L. Marc Zell

7/29/2007 03:17:00 AM  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

What we still do not understand is standing up the top of a government is not the same as standing up a government. That is the problem we faced in Iraq, and I have yet to see the indication of any military unit, any government department, any police organization that was *left* to administer over. That was why the concept of 'oil drop' would not work and why the old regime was dismissed on paper in JUN 2003: Jay Garner had been spending time since APR 2003 looking for the *basis* of his plan on the ground - anything that would transfer over to it for continuity.

The look at that comes from John Burns and Michael Ware. The Saddam regime was based on multiple, internal secret police and Republican Guards keeping the population in check via internal terrorizing of them. When the 'Elite' Republican Guard counterattack was broken the major internal cohesive force of the Saddam regime went out with it. The word 'disintegration' comes to mind: lacking integration capability to hold together. With no heavy backing the light secret police forces found themselves isolated, dispersed and no longer in communication and the major backing for them was gone. Starting with the very highest level the regime realized it had just had its power basis removed completely and that regime not only disintigrated but 'vaporized'. It turned into its components of very, very small groups and many, many individuals on their own and fled. That is the description by John Burns that as the MNF rolled into Baghdad the entire regime was fleeing, abdicating power and not doing anything to be caught near their jobs as they felt, after 30 years of terrorizing their own people, that they would have a short life span if they actually stayed at work. We are very lucky that the very lowest workers, those that just maintain equipment and keep it running stuck around in a few key areas.

When Jay Garner complained in JUN 2003 about the dismissal he could not do one single, solitary thing to show that *his* plan had basis to be put in-place on the ground. The entire logistics support part of the regime was *gone*. To those of you who work in the military, the form the US uses is replicated from the civilian side, and Michael Yon does well to point out that base commanders are referred to as 'mayors.' Outside of the Kurdish provinces under US protection, the entire knowledge base to run Iraq left to *not* be held accountable.

All the people who knew who to contact for what supplies were *gone*. The folks who kept the books left. Their administrators hit the road and fled. Any and all internal accounting systems fell on the floor as the accountants did not want to be accountable. Imagine the US government from the President, Congress, SCOTUS all the way down to the line staff boss at a small Dept of Agriculture sub-station just walking off the job not wanting to be found again. Why, yes, you can install a few folks at the top who would bring their cronies with them and they would start getting something up that would be... perhaps more aligned to *their* wishes? From that lovely alternate reality I can hear the screams of 'Toppling one dictator to install another'. Very clearly, too.

That very slight lull between the end of the regime and the coming chaos would *not* have been stemmed by a few men and their cronies placed in power. They had one very salient feature to them, to the population in Iraq: they had left. The one thing that has come through loud and clear on the negotiations for the oil plan, is that those that left during the Saddam regime will not get a part of that. There are very, very hard feelings on the ground and Chalabi has had to demonstrate his capability as a politician to the people of Iraq *inside* Iraq, not to US Adminstrations and the DoD. He has had to adapt to the place Iraq had become and change with it and has worked hard to become a voice in the New Iraq. He only gets *that* legitimacy by being there and proving it by his activities on the ground... he did not have that walking into Iraq. No one who left did. Remember, if Chalabi's contacts along with Garners and everyone else they wanted to install had proven out, Mr. Garner would have had a full cabinet and most of the government ministers lined up and ready to go based on that contacts list. Where were they? He couldn't even find someone to surrender the old Iraqi Army not to speak of finding a capable individual for as an 'Interior Minister'.

The greatest problem the US and the West, in general, has had is *not* understanding that Iraq is not a simple place, that standing up an accountable military and government is damned hard to do and actually getting stability in lives means more than just getting a few individuals up as a 'transition government'. If there is no basis for sustainability under that government, it will have a damned hard time 'transitioning' to anything. The entire concept of an 'accountable central bank', as an example, had to be built from scratch as modern accounting and transaction tracking methods were not used in Iraq under Saddam. Just training people to get the expertise to handle those things was nearly a year in the doing and finding individuals who understood 'management' took longer.

Replicate that across all the essential and critical government services from basic potable water delivery to functioning sewage lines to picking up and disposing of trash... all of that needs understood accountability, managers, procurement officers, oversight of those, then sectional oversight of the organization by small region and then by larger region then by province... finally you can formulate a thing called a 'National Budget'. Of which Iraq finally had enough folks to do in 2006. No matter how much folks want to say 'it could be done better', the hard problem of getting these multiple infrastructure skill sets taught, find individuals who can 'perform them', ensure that there is an accountability and tracking system in place that is understood and *that* has oversight... how was this going to be done *any* faster without such things as 'police officers' to keep the peace? They also are part of this, and they left, too. And have had their own training cycle and their own systems for getting accountability and finding management talent that need to be done. Ditto the New Iraqi Army which got the nastiest crucible you can give to a green army: combat, and lots of it. That *works* but is a damned hard thing on that army and getting the infrastructure supply capability also takes time to do. Only now, with an Iraqi Air Force can indigenous air-supply be done and that only for limited regions.

There is a reason I put my own personal expectations for getting Iraq up and running and most of the shooting done at 8-15 years. That is what it takes to create a government and get it up and running for something of this scale. That is just on recruitement, training, finding initial managers, washing out unfit managers, getting better managers, ensuring accountability systems are installed and working... I will be convinced the the Iraqi Police are getting on the path to a cohesive force, BTW, when they have a good 'internal affairs' unit.

In my time in the government I have only heard of one individual that went from a basic entry level position to Senior Executive in under a decade. And he was well on his way to burning out three years later. And yet that is *exactly* what we are expecting in Iraq, save faster. There have been mis-steps, no doubt about it. But the timelines are incompressible to a very high degree, no matter how much skill is infused by Iraqi ex-pats, the necessity is getting indigenous training and accountability up that satisfies the folks who live there. And they have had to find out if, after decades under a dictator, decades under authoritarian regimes, and, before that, being a province of an Empire... if there is a society there that can rebound and cohere to protect itself. From what has happened in Anbar and now, increasingly, Diyala and other parts of Iraq, that is happening. And without folks like Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, John Burns, JD Johannes, Bill Ardolino, Michael Totten and many others, we would not have the resources to piece together what Iraq is.

It is, apparently, not what we were expecting.

7/29/2007 05:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am hesitant to post after A.Jacksonians fine comments however I would like to add that recriminations and blame will not move us forward. I heard someone say the other day that we will leave the past to the historians. We must concern ourselves with the here and now and tomorrow. What's done is done. Our primary concern should be today and tomorrow.

7/29/2007 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Way good stuff, Jacksonian.

It almost makes me want to have more patience with the obdurate Iraqi's. However, you did leave out one step in their process and that is what percentage of their population took off a year or two or three to go shoot at Americans? If you're not in there actively trying to rebuild your country, but are out playing "hit the mole" with Strykers, it can have an effect on your overall timeline.

And that is what I cannot forgive them.

7/29/2007 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Progress is actually being made concerning Iraq, at least in the rightwing blogosphere. Why only two or three years ago I was shouted down on this very site for using the word “insurgent” to describe the people killing our troops in Iraq. Now even a soldier is allowed to discuss the dynamics of insurgency. Well, only after the necessary homage is paid to the official narrative as Educated Soldier rhetorically asks if the delay in the development of the insurgency was due to travel time for all the foreigners who make up the insurgency. Of course his need to stay on official government message contradicts established facts. Since only about 150 foreigners are currently in custody in Iraq (half Saudi nationals and we are about to sell them 20 billion in arms in a pathetic attempt at appeasement), it is rather difficult to say simultaneously with a straight face that the US is both making huge progress against the insurgency, and the insurgency is mostly foreign because we only have these 150 foreigners in jail in Iraq (and tens of thousands of Iraqis). These facts just don’t add up but that is the way with it goes with propaganda. At least by the rules of the Right, it is not patriotic to ask embarrassing questions about official narratives after all – or at least not until two or three years after the truth is obvious even to the true believers on the Right.

If Educated Soldier is interested in the development of insurgencies after foreign invasions the two best recent historic models are the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Spain in both the Napoleonic and Roman times is also interesting for models further in the past. In both of the recent cases, the occupiers were granted a brief respite, in southern Lebanon the Israeli soldiers were greeted as liberators by the poor local Shiites who hated being harassed by the PLO. In Afghanistan as well the Soviets initially met little resistance in setting up a workers paradise. Forest fires are a good analogy to the way insurgencies start and spread; not initially as raging infernos but as small sparks that eventually ignite into small blazes if the occupier does not have the ability to stamp them out quickly. These small blazes quickly join together to become larger and larger. What is interesting though is that once started, an insurgency is amazingly resilient and even if the occupiers are extremely successful in containing them as the French were in Algeria, insurgencies can smoulder for some time and then reignite again into full blazes. After a few cycles of failure, the amount of effort (in terms of lives and treasure lost) a great power exhausts trying to put down an insurgency eventually surpasses the any potential benefit gained. It took the Soviets a little more than nine years, France eight years, and Israel 18 years to make this calculation.

There is a growing body of literature on the early days of the Iraq debacle that can help explain the growth of the insurgency but most of it is still considered as treasonous lies to many on the Right who still claim the only problem in Iraq is the corporate media lying about it. The story that I most remember is Naomi Klein’s Baghdad Year Zero which concentrated on the calm before the insurgency, where she describes the NeoCon economic fantasies that the US was trying to impose on Iraq. She described one factory that was getting shut down and how the workers there were discussing taking up arms. In the end the NeoCon dreams in Iraq make Mao’s policies in China seem downright pragmatic in comparison. At the time though, instead of learning from her, she was denounced as a Jihadi-lover by the supposedly patriotic Right.

If there is any message for Educated Soldier in all this it is that American citizens should never, ever, trust their government to get anything right. It is Patriotic to question authority. It is Patriotic to understand the lessons of history an applying them to current situations. It is Patriotic to ignore your government’s propaganda line and to search for the truth instead.

After all, who were the true patriots a few years ago? Those who were warning about the dangers of insurgents? Or those who repeated government lies and denied the very existence of an insurgency?

7/29/2007 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Kevin, I wonder if you have as long a description of what you would have done instead, as you do deriding what *was* done in good faith?

7/29/2007 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

via debka:

Bush plans for massive $20bn arms sale to our good Saudi friends


Just how many Saudi Awacs and F-15's fighters does it take to defeat Iran's awesome air force that is made up of 40 year old F-4E Phantom II, F5-E and F-14A Tomcats, French Mirage F-1EQ/BQ, Russian MIG-29, Mig-27, MIG-31 and Sukhoi Su-20, 22 and 25, plus Iranian made Saeqeh-80 Owj and Azarakhsh? Maybe we should ask the Syrians and the Israelis?

7/29/2007 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

Amr said:

"If I remember correctly, there was no official plan for Germany..."

This is absolutely incorrect. In fact intense preparation went into the civil-military government of Germany post victory. The official Army history is located here:

Planning started in 1940 before the war began for America. Why this knowledge has been lost to us is incomprehensible to me. Even in the milblogs, I have never seen it mentioned except by yours truly. Contrast the level of planning and preparation that went into WWII civil-military government with the criminal neglect of it by a certain former SECDEF and his circle.

7/29/2007 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

The planning for Germany failed from the very beginning.

Occupation officers on the ground had to fight both the White House, the Press ( which was horrbile like today), and the State Department.

Eventually, they dropped the old plan and improvised.

They had enormous problems with displaced persons, gangs, insurgents, starvation, sanitation, and education.

Due the early end to the war in the Pacific, they had extra manpower, huge amounts of foodstuff, and the psychological ability to focus on problems.

It was touch and go the first three years - they had to make common cause with the mid and low-level Nazis and other German institutions including the Wehrmacht and Polizi and the old secret service - enlisting them as Allies to make things work.

A special MP COIN unit was formed to shut down the DP, gangs, and local power grabbers. They brought in dissidents and honest politicians to run things.

7/29/2007 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

Contrary to Germany, most of the Japanese Army was intact on the Chinese Mainland as well as on many Islands.

Japanese Institutions such as schools and the police and much of the Industrial and Political elite were intact.

The solution in Japan was to provide policy then oversee its implementation.

Very different from Germany where much of the adult male population and the corresponding institutions ( and infrastructure) were gone.

7/29/2007 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

In Iraq, most of the Baath Party was still intact as were their connections and ratlines in Syria and elsewhere that provided foreign fighters. Same goes for their money.

The situation was not helped by the heavy-handed treatment of Iraqi civilians in 2004 as well as Fallujah I when the insurgency began to hurt.

The Insurgency was composed of Sunni Baathists, Al-Qaeda, Sunni Nationalists, Shia Extremists, Soldiers of Fortune, and Iranian Quds. Each had to be dealt with differently.

Some form of insurgency was inevitable and most likely the Baathists and AQ would have been just as bad to any new regime no matter its creds.

Putting in place a COIN strategy when we first saw the Fedayeen and Foreign fighters as well as the Baathists going to ground should have been our first response.

The British experience from the 1920s should have been another clue and provided us our model and the response to the Brits by the Iraqis then should have been and obvious one in our mind when we went in. It roughly paralled the current conflict in most respects.

The Afghan situation clouded many minds, but Iraq and Afghanistan were and are totally different places socially and culturally and historically.

While the US has been historically good at COIN - but ONLY because the US Military and Polical Elite are not dogmatic ( with the exception of the current Democratic Party ) in the long run - and are willing to learn.

The US is NOT instinctively good at COIN because its elites are NOT historically adept, NOT cultural didacts, nor deep thinkers.

7/29/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Jacksonian and Kevin,

Thanks for the comments you made.

This has been one of the most educational comment threads I have seen!

Thanks Educated Soldier for the stimulus!

Salaam eleikum!

7/30/2007 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

Red River:

Every plan "fails" from the very beginning, or haven't you ever heard the old saw that no plans survives first contact with the enemy?

I'm sure there was bureaucratic friction as there is in every war. However, the point is that there were hundreds of trained teams assigned right down to the town that were intellectually and psychologically prepared to deal with the challenges that went along with the job. If you have trained for a couple of years to be the mayor of Someburg, you will probably do a better job than someone with no training for that particular task -- like say a 26-year-old infantry company commander in some Iraqi Hamlet. Or to trot out another old quote, "Chance favors the prepared mind."

None of the millions of dollars of projects and endeavors that I have managed or led have been without the equivalent of the post-WWII chaos you describe. My job was to clean them up like the CMG teams in Germany. Or is your experience somehow different? Did everyone always cross the LD on time? Did the enemy always fail to anticipate your plans? Were all of your projects on time and under budget? Inquiring minds want to know.

7/30/2007 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger ziontruth said...

Wretchard said: "But I think the biggest difference was that Japan was an ancient nation state. The Yamato people's origins are lost in prehistory. In contrast Iraq was a creation of the British colonial office in long ago 1925, cobbled together from ethnic groups who would, as we have seen, cut each other's throats at the drop of a turban."

Such is true for many of the colonialist enterprises of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In Africa too, European generals just took their rulers and stretched their lines arbitrarily, prying apart the lands of one tribe, and uniting the lands of two warring tribes.

Thus new nations emerged from scratch: "Congolese Nation", "Ugandan Nation", "Lebanese Nation", "Iraqi Nation" and "Palestinian Nation" *. In one of those ironies in which the Leftists excel, the old colonialism is being perpetuated by the call to stand up for the rights of those "nations", and the demand that the West pay reparations for them (reparation moneys which, of course, go to the pockets of the Mugabes and Assads of the world).

The only true fixing of the colonial damage would be to repartition the lands according to their nations. But that requires intervention, usually military. The Left would decry it as "neo-colonialism", as "present-day Western imperialism". Again and again, the doves are doing everything to ensure that the strife and oppression will never end.


* The "Palestinian Nation", when talking about the Arabs of the Land of Israel, fits the bill, for they were a mixture of disparate, often feuding, groups until fighting the Jews drove them to fake out a national identity from scratch. However, there is a real, cohesive nation that can truly be called the Palestinian Nation, better known to the world as (drum roll, please) the Jews.

7/31/2007 04:47:00 AM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...

Young Zionist,

Palestine? Isn't that the name of a region that used to contain Judea and Israel since around 900BC? Then it was overthrown by Assyria about 700AD?

Assyria? Is not that the Cradle of Civilization, the land of Hammurabi? Did not the British cut that up also in the 1920's into Syria and Iraq? Damn, what a tangled web was woven. Now those Brits are in Iraq apologizing and trying to make amends!

In 1948 young and old Zionists persuaded those who named it Palestine, the British, to depart?

Oh yeah! That means Palestine existed from 1948 until now! This means the great Palestinian Civilization is 59 years old!

Do you think this "Great Civilization" will last through this century?

I wish those "Palestinians" would admit the truth and take responsibility for the fact they are Arabs and poor examples of Muslims.

It pains me so.

Salaam eleikum.

7/31/2007 05:30:00 PM  

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