Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Sunday, January 07, 2007

A matter of terms

The "isolationist" George McGovern flew this
over Germany in 1944-45.

Our Iraqi MistakeWhat was it, exactly?

By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007, at 3:44 PM ET

Virtually everyone now agrees that the war in Iraq has been a vast mistake. But what, exactly, was the nature of that mistake? The isolationist left and the realist right—George McGovern and Brent Scowcroft—emphasize that our error was intervening in the absence of overwhelming national interest. At the opposite end of the foreign policy continuum, the neoconservatives contend that invading Iraq was a perfectly good idea undermined by incompetent implementation. In the space between are liberal hawks who originally supported the war and a variety of skeptics who didn't. They now tend to agree that the war was both a mistake in theory and a disaster in execution.

What makes this backward-looking conversation more than academic is its implications for American foreign policy beyond Iraq. The U.S. defeat in Vietnam left a disinclination to use military force that lasted many years. "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all," the first President Bush declared at the height of his seeming Gulf War triumph in 1991. And I've brought it roaring back, his son might well respond.

But if the invasion of Iraq is mainly a case of bungled execution—a war that, whether justified or not in principle, could have left behind a peaceful, functioning Iraqi state at a tolerable cost—then the isolationist/realist lesson is the wrong one to draw.

I love when some assclown like Lord Weisberg questions someone like George McGovern, who's personal courage is beyond question.

But here's a brief explaination of why the Iraq war failed.

1)Iraq is not an artificial state, but one with distinct interest groups. Saddam spent much of his time protecting himself from, and catering to them. Some people, the Talibanis, the Sadrs, were never happy, but others were. If you try to fracture Iraq, no state will be strong enough to survive.

2) Exiles sold their fantasies of being conquering heroes and instead were met with contempt from the survivors of Saddam. They were weaker compared to the prevailing forces, the Sunni shieks, B'aathists, Sadrists and Sistani. All would define what would happen in Iraq far more than any exile

3) There were two different plans for Iraq, both doomed to fail. The first was to hand the country over to Chalabi, which would have resulted in anarchy within days, or to establish a colonial regime. Since the infighting was so intense, neither plan was fully hatched until Viceroy Bremer was sent to bring order

4)The Bush Administration had no respect for the complications of establishing order in a colony, so they sent the young and untrained to run Iraq. Few ever saw what they were supposed to be changing. The Americans neither trusted nor respected the Iraqis they were supposed to serve. Having no training in foreign service matters, they were more hinderance than help.

5)Combat never stopped. The US was unable to ever establish order in the streets of Baghdad, which meant their word was useless. Soon, those who worked with the Americans became targets. The Iraqis had a much better sense of how to manipulate the Americans than vice versa.

6) Despite all their blather, few people realized what this war was quickly turning into. They talked about Al Qaeda and dead enders, but in less than a year, the Shia were running major attacks on them. Only Sistani's intervention prevented a full scale war on the Americans. The US was falling into the trap of fighting a colonial war, while all the warbloggers talked about Islamofascism. While they were attacking Cindy Sheehan, they forgot one thing: her son was killed by the Sadrists. Which went against the narrative we had been fed.

7) By the time the Iraqis finally had elections, what you had was all the factions, excluding the Sunnis, in parliment, and they wanted revenge. The government forces quickly fell under the spell of various militias and while we trained them, they didn't improve their effectiveness. But the Mahdi Army did. SCIRI did, the guerrillas in Anbar Province did.

While there was a great deal of rhetoric about a united Iraq, the US was playing the game of divide and conquer. Their trump move was to install Hakim's puppet over Maliki. Until Sistani said no, and left the power in the hands of Sadr. The exact opposite of their plans.

It wasn't bungled execution.

No Iraqi government not controlled by the Sadrists could have survived. Because they are the majority. They had no interest in sharing anything or a democratic government. Because this is a colonial war, and no structure set up by the US would have had any credibility.

posted by Steve @ 1:28:00 AM

1:28:00 AM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans