What we did we wrong in Iraq – the simple, short version
Fourth in a series of notes about grand strategy, applying the principles sketched in previous chapters to current events.
Did the President lie to us?
Was invading Iraq a “just war”?
What did we do wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan?
What should we have done?
1. Did the President lie to us?
Probably. We have developed a taste for leaders that lie to us. Lying well is one of the major attributes for which we screen candidates. Obama is a star due to his awesome ability to speak platitudes as though they have meaning and he believes them.
2. Was invading Iraq a “just war”?
Certainly. Saddham made insufficient effort to convince us he was no danger to America.
3. What did we do wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Our error resulted from the neocon disease that infected senior elements of the Administration, spread by carriers such as Tom Barnett and others. The prime symptom: a delusion that America can and should remake other societies in our own image. A delusion of Godhood.
DoD executed the invasion well, but their planning should have included the exit phase. They appear to have forgotten that what counts is not what you win during the game, but what you leave the table with.
4. What should we have done?
The simple post-conflict process…
- Immediately place Iraq under martial law
- Quickly appoint new leaders,
- Gave them lots of money to get them started (in Iraq, the oil money sequestered by the UN) and
- Announced we were leaving 90 days. Or 180 days (what matters is the firm date).
- Perhaps leave advisers, trainers — and, of course, the UN and NGO’s.
Would a fast exit by Coalition forces have left Iraq and Afghanistan looking like Gardens of Eden — or even placid and adequately governed places (like Cleveland)? Probably not. But (see my previous chapter) these people can and must govern themselves. In the modern era we cannot do much for them. Money, advisers, fine advice, best wishes — that is about all. Beyond that we, in accord with the rules of our world, turn the task over to the UN and the many non-government agencies.
These invasions would have been a clear lessons, encouraging sensible behavior by other minor league tyrants. Our forces would remain trim and intact, ready to apply additional lessons to slow learners.
This is a grand strategy built on low but solid ground.
Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
Other posts about grand strategy
Does America need a grand strategy? If so, what should it be? Answers to these questions illuminate many of the questions hotly debated about foreign policy and national security. Here are some posts on this subject.
- The Myth of Grand Strategy (31 January 2006)
- America’s Most Dangerous Enemy (1 March 2006)
- Why We Lose at 4GW (4 January 2007)
- America takes another step towards the “Long War” (24 July 2007)
- One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? (28 October 2007)
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part I (19 March 2007; revised 7 June 2008)
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part II (14 June 2008)
- America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past (30 June 2008)
- President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris (1 July 2008)
- America’s grand strategy, now in shambles (2 July 2008)
Click here to see a list of all posts about strategy and military theory.