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If we won in Iraq, what did we win? Was it worth the cost?

15 July 2009

Summary:  Correctly understanding what happened in Iraq, and its consequences, is of extreme importance.  False conclusions will lead to more foreign wars.  Not only can we not afford them (we’re borrowing the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars), but future wars might not end so well for us.

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Michael Yon is a former Green Beret and a great reporter.  He has spent more time in Iraq and Afghanistan with US and British combat forces than any other journalist.  He publishes at his website (an online magazine), in the major media,  and has written two books.  His work has been mentioned many times in posts and comments on this site.  The fact that he has not yet been hired by a major news company is proof of their decrepitude.

While his reporting is excellent, I often disagree with his analysis.  (Of course, that does not mean he’s wrong!  We’re both writing about things on the edge of the known, the edge of the knowable.)  Esp this, written a year ago — foreshadowing claims of victory that have increased in volume and intensity since then (as in Ralph Peters’ article shown at the end of this post).

As Iraqis stop living in fear, end of Iraq war is at hand“, Michael Yon, op-ed in the New York Daily News, 20 July 2008 — Excerpt:

‘The war in Iraq is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.”

When I wrote this on my Web site a few days ago, I set off a mini-firestorm. Perhaps because I have spent more time embedded with combat troops in Iraq than any journalist I know – and have interviewed countless Iraqis and members of the coalition military.  But I stand by my words, just as I stood by my assertion of February 2005 that Iraq was in a state of civil war, and later understood that Al Qaeda was its proximate cause.

These issues go to the core of our Long War, and understanding them correctly will play a large role in determining America’s prosperity– or even survival –in the 21st century.  Yon makes 4 assertions.

  1. “The war is over”
  2. “Al Qaeda was its proximate cause.”
  3. “We won”
  4. “The Iraqi people won.”

(1)  “The war is over”

Yon explains:

So I will be very clear what I mean when I say we have won the war. A counterinsurgency is won when the government’s legitimacy is no longer threatened by the insurgents, the government is able to protect its own people and the people are participating in the government. In Iraq, all three conditions apply. … The sectarian violence is now mostly over. … There is still fighting in Iraq. But while there remain some terrorists at large, now we are truly fighting ‘the dead-enders.’

This is wrong on several levels, IMO.  First, it is premature.  As General Petraeus recently said, progress “remains fragile and reversible.”

Second, there were many conflicts burning in Iraq.  Of the big 4, two are over — and two are simmering.

(a)  Kurds fighting to establish their own state, whose borders include oil.  The first phase has ended.  Kurdistan exists de facto if not yet de jure.  The second still simmers, unresolved.

(b)  Sunni Arabs vs. Shiite Arabs — Still simmering. The Sunni Arabs were largely evicted from Baghdad, ethnic cleansing with de facto US support.  They have a high degree of autonomy in their “homelands”; their relationship with the Iraq national government remains unresolved.  As seen in the struggle over the “Sons of Iraq.”

(c)  Different factions of Shiites fighting for dominance.  Done.  Iran and the US both backed Nouri al-Maliki’s faction, over Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

(d)  Arab Islamic fundamentalists fighting for control.  Done.  When the Sunni Arab leaders no longer found them useful as shock troops against the Americans, their key base of local support disappeared (as I described in September 2007).

We can re-state the situation more accurately, using my posts at each stage of the war.

  1. The insurgency began in Fall 2003, despite US military denials, per my posts in October and November 2003.
  2. The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace, 13 March 2007
  3. Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, 27 September 2007 — Our role was largely done by this date; the struggle among the 3 parts of Iraq was beginning.
  4. We won the War“, William Kristol, debate transcript, page 79 — Brief comment, but widely cited.
  5. Iraq, after the war, 20 May 2008 — The long struggle begins between the 3 parts of Iraq (with its neighbors and us pitching in).  It need not be a war.

The process I described in March 2007 has run far, but these are only steps on a long path.  None can say how long it will take, or how much blood will be spilled before stability returns — and the Iraq War is truly over.  As I said in March 2007:

{Iraq’s} fragmentation can be seen as a descent into civil war, or instead as the preliminary to formation of a new Iraq state. These proto-states can be building blocks for something larger. Most importantly, many of these powerful local elites have the power to negotiate and strike deals. This offers a path to peace for us and the Iraq people, perhaps the only such.

 (2)  “Al Qaeda was its proximate cause.”

This is wrong on two levels, IMO.  First, the US invasion was obviously the war’s proximate cause, no matter how beneficial the result.  Al Qaeda capitalized on the almost inevitable opposition to an occupation by infidel foreigners.  Second, al Qaeda was a participant in only one of the four conflicts burning in Iraq.

(3)  “We won”

This article does not even discuss in what sense “we won.”   Let alone justifying the cost in blood (theirs and ours) and money.  The monetary costs is probably over a trillion dollars, including future pay/benefits and replacement of equipment.  We borrowed it from Asian and OPEC nations, and have no idea how to repay.  They will demand repayment, eventually.  Our children probably consider us to have been insane.

(a)  There is little, almost no, evidence that Saddam was a threat to the US.

(i)  Did we find those WMD’s?

Although the President has put forth various justifications for the war in the past 6 years, that was the first and (IMO) the only worthwhile one.  Probably the only one the American people supported.  The definitive government report so far is by the Iraq Survey Group released 30 September 2004 (see the DoD press conference transcript, full report, and Wikipedia,).   They found nothing of significance.

(ii)  Saddam the terrorist threat to America

Ditto for government efforts to prove that Saddam was a threat to the US by supporting terrorism.  The key report is “The Iraqi Perspectives Project — Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents“, Joint Center for Operational Analysis (JCOA), 20 March 2008. From they opening two paragraphs of the Executive Summary:

“Despite their incompatible long-term goals, many terrorist movements and Saddam found a common enemy in the United States. At times these organizations worked together, trading access for capability. In the period after the 1991 Gulf War, the regime of Saddam Hussein supported a complex and increasingly disparate mix of pan-Arab revolutionary causes and emerging pan-Islamic radical movements. The relationship between Iraq and forces of pan-Arab socialism was well known and was in fact one of the defining qualities of the Ba’ath movement. But the relationships between Iraq and the groups advocating radical pan-Islamic doctrines are much more complex. This study found no “smoking gun” (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda.”

(2)  The insurgency was a result of our occupation, so defeating it brings no net benefit to the US.

(3)  Will the Iraq — or Iraq and Kurdistan — be allies of the US?  Too soon to say.  Kurdistan has so far not allowed US bases in their territory; most of their oil leases have gone to non-US companies.  The Shiites running the Iraq government have long-standing ties to Iran.

(4)   No, we have not gotten any oil.  Nothing to date indicates that we — or US oil companies — will have ownership or preferred access to Iraq, Kurdish, or Sunni Arab Iraq oil.

Summary:  As an expert in 4GW theory said (personal communication):

So we won in Iraq.  How many more such victories can we stand?  The words of the immortal Pyrrhus echo through the ages: “One more such victory will undo me!”  And the Red King had a legitimate claim to having won his battles.

From Wikipedia:

Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos (319-272 BC) was a Greek general of the Hellenistic era. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house, and later he became King of Epirus and Macedon. He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome. Some of his battles, though successful, cost him heavy losses, from which the term Pyrrhic victory was coined.

(4)  “The Iraqi people won.”

The facts do not support such a statement.  The suffering since the invasion probably was worse — overall — than during Saddham’s regime.  But a free and stable Iraq (or Iraqs) would make it worthwhile.  The picture is not yet clear.

  1. Have the women of Iraq won?  Most have lost both freedom and security since the invasion.
  2. Violence is still high —  far above that before the invasion, the average of Iraq’s history, and that of the region.
  3. It’s too soon to say if the roots of democracy have a firm root in Iraq.  Post-WWII history suggests caution about such predictions.

But even peace and freedom for Iraq — when or if achieved — does not mean that we have won, for two reasons.  We cannot know if the Iraq people could have come to this point more quickly — and without the bloodshed — if the US had not so nakedly attempted to colonize Iraq in 2003.  The resulting insurgency was almost an inevitable result of that.

On a deeper level, so what if we helped one nation establish a democracy.  How many billion people remain?  Why is it America’s job to bleed and borrow itself to ruin in order to lift up other nations?  Will they thank us, or like the people of Iraq, cheer when we leave afterwards?

Other declarations of victory in Iraq

Ralph Peters has written some seminal works in the military arts (like this one).  Here his euphoria runs wild:  “Bye-bye Babylog – Exiting Iraq’s Cities, Victorious“, New York Post, 30 June 2009.  I don’t believe his articles about the Iraq War will be read well once the dust has settled, probably seen as a low point in an otherwise powerful oeuvre.

Other declarations of victory:

  1. Victory in Iraq“, Editorial of The New York Sun, 18 July 2008
  2. 22 November 2008 declared “Vicotry in Iraq Day” — Originally, I believe, at ZombieTime (link no longer working), and widely copied.  Some examples:  Gateway Pundit, News Blaze, Blackfive.
  3. Quiet Victory in Iraq“, Editorial in National Review, 2 February 2009
  4. Victory in Iraq“, Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 6 June 2009 — “How we got here is a matter for history. But the democratic ideal is still within reach.”

For more information

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest these days:

  1. About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – my articles
  2. About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – studies & reports
  3. About the Iraq War – Goals and Benchmarks

Posts about the war in Iraq:

  1. The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace, 13 March 2007
  2. Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, 27 September 2007
  3. Iraq, after the war, 20 May 2008
  4. Slowly the new Iraq becomes visible, 18 July 2008

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Tibby permalink
    15 July 2009 2:03 am

    The war was for Israel’s security. It about NetanYAHOO’s “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The ADL was one of the biggest supporters of the war. See here.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Whatever, dude.

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  2. mclaren permalink
    15 July 2009 3:41 am

    We won control of the third largest reserve of oil in the world. The longer that oil stays in the ground, the more valuable it becomes, and the greater the power we will exert by controlling it. At present the Iraqi oil reserves are estimated at 12 trillion dollars in value. When the price of oil reaches $200 per barrel, that value will rise to 50 trillion dollars, and it will keep going up from there.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You’re dreaming. There is zero evidence that we have won control of Iraq’s oil. The Kurds have granted contracts mostly to non-US firms. The recent failed auction by the Iraq government was open to all the majors, with no signs of prefered status to US firms.

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  3. SRL permalink
    15 July 2009 4:51 am

    Some people want to believe very badly that a disaster was somehow worthwhile. As a result, they will purposely become delusional. They retreat into a verbal world (a term first used by Jacques Ellul) where those beliefs are validated by any means necessary.

    In extreme cases, almost any fallacy may be grasped as an end to this means. As far as it goes, the better way to avoid such a path is to admit one’s susceptibility to their own progaganda and examine the reasons for this weakness. Why does one so badly need this to be true? Very few seem to have this sort of courage.

    You can poke holes in their weak logic, but can never force such people to change their views. However, maybe those less gone may be reached. Keep on keepin’ on.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The strong beliefs evoked by our wars are astonishing in their intensity and often irrationality. The belief in the enemy, its threat to us, the purity of our movitves, our superiority to the foreign people on whose land we fight — it’s a long list. And of the large fraction of the US public affected becomes fodder for politico to exploit. The passivity of the majority makes this even easier. And the wealth of a great nation flows down the drain, to no gain — and our strength of our military erodes away. Few care.

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  4. 15 July 2009 5:26 am

    FM: “No, we have not gotten any oil. Nothing to date indicates that we — or US oil companies — will have ownership or preferred access to Iraq, Kurdish, or Sunni Arab Iraq oil.

    In the interests of snark, may I suggest that – at least to those of us who view US oil companies with a jaundiced eye – their failure to have access to various Iraqi oils constitutes a victory of sorts. Now if only we could figure out some means of getting Goldman Sachs mired in Iraq….

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  5. mike j permalink
    15 July 2009 7:23 am

    FM: “Correctly understanding what happened in Iraq, and its consequences, is of extreme importance. False conclusions will lead to more foreign wars.

    Maybe it started around Tom Ricks’ “Fiasco”, but certainly through “The Surge”, the whispers have been saying “If we’d only done it a little differently, it would have worked.” How do we inoculate ourselves against more of this adventurism? Gen. Abrams tried to do it through restructuring post-Vietnam; it didn’t last long. The Brits haven’t had a colonial empire in a long time and still get themselves sucked in. What’s it going to take, unequivocally getting our butt kicked?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: A severe financial crisis might also do it.

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  6. Nicholas Weaver permalink
    15 July 2009 1:43 pm

    I think we “won” in a very important way: We were able to convince many of the idiots who drove us into this war and cheerleaded this war that we “won”, enabling a “declare victory and pull out”. This seems to be the common fate of late 20th and early 21st century offensive occupiers.

    So lets not question this victory, lest they understand that all their victory is dust and ashes and decide we need to go back into the cities because “The job isn’t done”. Instead, lets focus on what it would take to spin afghanistan as a victory so we can do the same thing there: claim success and get out of Dodge.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Establishing bases — “enduring” was the codeword — were and are a key goal of our expedition to Iraq. Keeping those will be a focal point of struggle over Iraq in the future. We want to keep them; Iran wants them out; the Iraq government is in the middle. I don’t understand why this gets so little attention.

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  7. Nicholas Weaver permalink
    15 July 2009 2:46 pm

    I think because the bases are destined for irrelevance, and the Iraqis know this. We may have token bases, as basically armed airports well out of town (how much control of Washington DC could a military exert if they stayed at Dullis airport?), but as long as we are contained inside, the Iraqi government can believe it can live with it for now (until they need more $$$ from us and pull a kazikstan).

    “When your enemy has a large, fortified position, see that he stays there.”
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    Fabius Maximus replies: These bases are intended to project power across the region, not just Iraq. “Containing US forces in them” misses the point of their existence.

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  8. Captain Ramen permalink
    15 July 2009 3:42 pm

    For the cost of the Iraq occupation we could have doubled or tripled the size of our nuclear carrier flotilla. Perhaps the army has more sway in Washington?

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  9. Greg L permalink
    15 July 2009 4:18 pm

    FM, I agree with your replies to #2 and #6. If things were so rosy, seems like the oil majors would have jumped in. With permanent bases nearby, they don’t have to. They can wait for the dust to settle. As for Captain Ramen’s post, I side with the War Nerd. I think our carriers are just big floating coffins. I suggest the Captain read the War nerds recent post on them.

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  10. Ken Hoop permalink
    15 July 2009 6:33 pm

    Well, look. You did a fine job and sadly a necessary one. But to take Yon – and Michael Totten for example – as anything more than consciously dishonest propagandists for American/Israeli Empire is to enhance reality or something.

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  11. 15 July 2009 9:13 pm

    The folks who destroyed the British Empire in 1914 have nothing on the folks who have been running us into the ground for the last thirty years. Not surprised to see the antisemite brigades are represented here as well. The rising of the Iranian people make it certain now that we will not leave Iraq. This will bring more misery our way along with our current “strategy” in Afghanistan. Until we have an upheaval in our politics, we are doomed to continue the mugs game we took over from the Great Powers who shepherded us to World Domination. No doubt we have done some beneficial things for ourselves and others during the last half century but in the last 30 plus years, it has been bad, bad, bad. Yes, Saddam needed to be removed because he was able to maintain himself only by making foreign war. The U.N. has failed so he had to be killed: O.K. that’s why we pay them the big bucks. Instead, they created a disaster. Now we are stuck. Nobody knows where this will end.

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  12. John Klug permalink
    16 July 2009 12:01 am

    FM: “No, we have not gotten any oil. Nothing to date indicates that we — or US oil companies — will have ownership or preferred access to Iraq, Kurdish, or Sunni Arab Iraq oil.

    The world will get more oil from Iraq. If the demand for oil follows a very steep curve and oil production has peaked, just getting some oil on the world market could have an enormous price benefit for all countries that import oil.

    I realize that so far Iraq has not been that significant a producer, but if sanctions had continued against Iraq they couldn’t legally expand their exports.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I agree. But the subject under discussion was direct benefits to the US from our expedition to Iraq, such as profits to our oil companies. Increased oil production from Iraq would be an indirect benefit. One that probably would have happened anyway, eventually.

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  13. Patrick Cummins permalink
    16 July 2009 4:15 am

    I think that a good case can be made that the point made in comment no. 12 corresponds precisely to one of the expected benefits of the invasion. Lawrence Lindsey, who was Pres. Bush’s chief economic adviser, explained this to the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 16, 2002,

    “When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add three million to five million barrels of production [each day] to world supply. The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy.”

    The US wanted to see Iraq start producing at its full potential (that is, its assumed full potential), but NOT with Saddam Hussein in power. Undoubtedly it was expected that with a friendly regime in place in Baghdad, oil production would be ramped up in accordance with US wishes.

    Of course, in this regard the invasion has so far been a failure. Iraq is not producing at a much greater rate than it was in 2002. Serious miscalculations were made on how rapidly production could increase. And the people in power in Baghdad can be expected to put Iraq’s national interests ahead of US preferences when it comes to managing their resources.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: While that might have been a reasonable expectation, it has (as your note) not in fact happened. The cost of the war will be close to $2 trillion. If the war eventually (in 5 – 10 years) reduced the cost of Ameria’s oil imports by $50/b (a bizarely high estimate), it would take several thousand years days (about 10 years) to recoup the monetary cost. The cost in lost and wrecked lives is another matter.

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  14. Patrick Cummins permalink
    16 July 2009 5:20 am

    The Iraq war was supposed to be easy. This was the key consideration, and the calculations all hinged on this.

    It was also supposed to be cheap. The same Lawrence Lindsey predicted it would cost between $100-200 billion. His estimate was controversial at the time and derided for being far too high.

    (BTW, I think the ‘several thousand years’ estimate to recover $2 tillion is a mistake, although I agree that $50/barrel is exaggerated. Importing 12 million barrels/day, as the US does, $50 on the barrel comes to $219 billion/year. So it’s under 10 years.)
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Whoops, math error. It comes to several thousand days.

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  15. Pete permalink
    16 July 2009 5:59 am

    FM, you mentioned “change blindness” a while back; I believe that the wars in Iraq and A-stan present examples of it. So few people seem to capable, or willing, to reconsider their position on the war. Everyone is an ideologue these days, and digs in his heels when challenged by new thinking, new evidence or simply unfolding events.

    I’m reading Taleb’s “The Black Swan” presently, and he discusses this and related phenomena extensively, as you know. We can argue all we like amongst ourselves about whether or not we were justified in going to war in 2001 and 2003; that’s now irrelevent. Let the historians figure that one out. The strategic picture has changed since then – we have been overtaken by (economic) events, and can’t afford to be in either place. If the folks beating the war drums were a bit more savvy, they’d realize that our precarious financial situation offers a face-saving way to go home, i.e. “Sorry guys, (NATO, OPEC, etc.), we’re broke, and can no longer afford to occupy/nation-build in Iraq/Afghanistan…” and so on. That it happens to be the truth doesn’t hurt, either. It would also have the salutary effect of forcing others to defend themselves, fight and win/lose their own battles, rather than expend our blood and treasure. Finally, we’d likely improve our standing internationally. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, at least some of the time. Maybe we ought to sit out other people’s wars for a change, and work on the real foundation (the one in such disrepair) of our strength as a nation – what we have right here at home.

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  16. Nicholas Weaver permalink
    16 July 2009 3:54 pm

    But how do the bases really EFFECTIVELY project power?

    The US navy and USAF are specialized around long distance power projection anyway.

    Anyone else in the region (Iran, Syria, etc) already have to assume that the enemies they face (the US, Israel) can launch significant air strikes without a few airports in Iraq. The “power projection” from the bases is the ability to sustain, not initiate an attack. But they don’t really allow ground-power to be presented in any significant amount.

    So although its a capability, if I was Iran, I’d see it as a not-that-significant capability: I already have to cede control of the skies to the US (and would plan accordingly), while bases in Iraq would actually make the US more vulnerable in case of a shooting war with Iran, because it gives a target that is at least theoretically reachable using Iran’s available resources (their allies in the Shiite population of Iraq).

    Why there are so many in the US who want an “enduring presence” I just don’t get. It helps our enemies but doesn’t really strengthen our position if the shooting starts, and in the meantime, it weakens our position by sapping resources.

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  17. Ken Hoop permalink
    16 July 2009 9:30 pm

    Jonathon Rubenstein is a {snip — We don’t care. Write his mother.}

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  18. 17 July 2009 2:18 am

    Ah shucks FM, you are ruining my fun. I will refrain from posting my brilliant riposte to the silly slander that you snipped. My mother,may she rest in peace, might have received him with grace.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: If I could contact her via the Witch of Endor, she’d probably have approved the snip. Why waste the time of so many reading petty personal snipping?

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  19. OldSkeptic permalink
    26 July 2009 9:10 am

    I have an exteremely different interpretation of the Iraq war and its aftermath. Firstly they won so easily because they paid off many Iraqi Generals, carefully taken out of the country shortly afterwards, with huge amounts of cash and nice brand new US passports.

    “If only we had done it differently”: Well there actually was a State Dept plan, basically get in, get Hussain, change the Govt, pour some money in, end sanctions, leave as quickly as possible.

    The real plan, and I think it was totally deliberate, was (judging by the effort taken, not the rhetoric): smash the country to pieces. Eliminate all opposition, by killing them directly, rounding them and killing them, rounding them up and torturing them, smash their Govt, industry, infrastructure and agriculture. Set up massive and many bases, take their oil (and all using foreign labour) and make it clear to Iraqis’ that anyone who steps out of line gets smashed, if they were lucky, if they were unlucky they get to see their children tortured.

    The US went in hard, very hard, this was not France in ’44 where GI’s were welcomed and behaved wonderfully. Dahr Jamail (for one example) documented how the US troops (fired up by propaganda that it was Iraq that did 9/11 and aided by atrocious discipline) rounded up Baathists stright after the invasion. Home invasions, people hauled of to Abu Grahab and all the other places (some just places out in the desert with troops and barbed wire … here’s your blanket your piece of sand is there). Plus theft by soldiers, smash into a house, grab a couple of males, steal the money and the jewelery .. all documented. Every Sunni was in the firing line.

    Plus it was a free fire zone from the beginning. I remember a Bradley, one of the first into Bahgdad going down the road and blowing the c**p out of cars. Like they were a threat? Oh, maybe the GI’s should have done that to Paris?

    Every organ of Govt was destroyed, except the security and oil ministries. Everyone was fired. Administrators, techers, lecturers, docters, nurses, policemen, soldiers …. Oh I remember how the Iraqi oil unions (yes they had them) headed off an attempt to totally take over oil production.

    And all totally deliberate. Iraqi industry, such as it was, eliminiated, agriculture eliminated. Water, sweage, electricity eliminated.

    And all this before a single IED went off. So they fought back .. such a surprise? What would you do?

    As I said, this was not France in ’44, think more like the Indian wars on a much, much larger scale.

    And ‘divide and conquer’, the British speciality that the US, sort of, learned (oh those plain clothes SAS people with the trunk full of explosives, the UK has lost its touch .. they got caught). As if Turkey, Iran and the remainder of Iraq will ever let a Kurdish State happen (a semi autonomous area yes, maybe, with very strict conditions).
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thanks for this interesting comment. I totally agree with your opening 2 points.

    First, there is a large element of “hidden history” to our victories in 2002 Afghanistan and 2003 Iraq. The public narrative — and also the version that professional military folks analyze — consists of special ops in Afghanistan (as in Doug Stanton’s new book “Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan”) and conventional ops in Iraq. As Oldskeptic notes, the key element in both were probably CIA bag-men. Buying support from Afghanistan war lords and Iraq generals.

    Note: Stanton does allude to the CIA’s program to buy support in Afghanstan (pages 37 and 57), but never discusses the full scope of the project nor its relative contribution to overthrowing the Tailiban’s regime.

    Our inability to see this distorts our understanding of the utility of military force in today’s world, encouraging us to exaggerate its power to influence events.

    Second, Rumsfeld ignored the State Department’s detailed post-invasino plans to govern and rebuild Iraq. He substituted almost nothing in the way of research and planning. The reasons for this remain unclear at this time. Understanding this is critical to a history of the Iraq War.

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  20. OldSkeptic permalink
    27 July 2009 9:25 am

    Yes, it can create a ‘victory disease’. ‘We won because of our technology our …. and so on’. No you won because bag men paid off (at least) a majority of the Iraqi Generals. The Iraqi Govt by then had been so riddled by informers and denuded by defectors (including some of Hussain’s immediate family and some really senior people .. which is why we knew absolutely positively that they had no WMD). The ‘real’ CIA (etc) should get medals for what they did.

    If the Iraqi’s had fought, with even minimal competance they could have asked a price in blood that would have been agonising.

    Take (forgotten which tank regiment) out of fuel and stuck …a sitting duck. Or the battle that ended the idea of air cavalry forever, the helo’s went out and they did came back, shot to bits though. All the prepared positions the Iraqi’s were in, in good ground no less, and we all know how hard it is to blow that setup away even with total air superiority (as the Israeli’s found out in 2006).

    Oh they would have lost, but the US’s butchers bill would have well been into the many thousands dead. But stories by ordinary Iraqi soldiers were revealing (as told to people like Fisk and Cockburn, et al, straight after the US got to Baghdad), well dug in and waiting and their senior officers disappearing and/or or ordering them to leave.

    Basically there was virtually no opposition at all .. because the fix was in.

    And if they had been even half competent then the US would have suffered its biggest military reverse since the Bulge (only saved by Eisenhower putting Monty back in charge of US forces again, after that prat Bradley denuded the same area through which the Wehrmacht had invaded the west in 1940, by putting to many forces into helping that other prat Patton who was fighting in the meaningless and worthless southern front).

    As for Afghanistan, my theory is that the Taliban panicked, if they really knew that they only faced the, well beaten, ‘Northern Alliance’ some special forces and some air power, they would never have left. And that would have been a war that would have taken 100,000+ soldiers and might never have been won at all.

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  21. OldSkeptic permalink
    27 July 2009 10:07 am

    I should add Rumsfeld (and Chaney’s hand was all over this) applied their own plan and people. 20 something year old politically connected (ie neo-con) people being put in charge of ‘reconstuction’ projects. That was deliberate. Turning Abu Grahab into a production line torture machine .. deliberate. Tank firing at the independent journalists hotel .. deliberate. Al Jezeera being bombed (again) .. deliberate.

    Plus the money that was stolen. C-130’s full of cash, able to be used with no accountability at all. How much of that disappeared into various peoples’, who worked there, pockets I wonder? Then things like Halliburton killing soldiers through shoddy electrical work. Iraq became a money pit of rip-offs, Iraqir money ripped off, US money ripped off … didn’t matter to the many who got the rip-offs. Billions, tens of billions disappeared, as Iraqi children died.

    Killing their agriculture to benefit Mansanto .. deliberate. And so on. You know when they started building their first 100+ ‘enduring’ bases .. straight after the war .. deliberate (and planned before). The talk by (forgot the neo-clowns name) who said it would cost nothing because the Iraqi ‘oil for food’ program surplus would pay for it … at least they were honest about the straight theft of it (it would have been illegal), pity for the US taxpayer that their calculations were a bit off by several orders of magnitude.

    Heck if they had actually pulled it off then they would have probably herded the remaining Iraqi population into ‘reservations’ a few years after disease and people fleeing had taken its toll.

    I knew when the US had really lost it in Iraq .. the second attack on Fallujah .. notice how few prisoners there were (were there any at all?), 70% of buldings destroyed .. before the attack they did let women and children out, but every male between about 12 and 70 had to stay (fortunately most escaped because it is surrounded by desert). But a lot of people couldn’t go: old, infirmed, plus many families stayed to be with them .. some even actually survived. History lesson .. what does that sound similar too?

    No this was not COIN, it was a failed colonisation attempt straight out of the 1800’s playbook with some ‘Indian wars’ and Israeli spins (translated: zero subtlety and maximum violence). The neo-cons read a bit too many ‘Bulldog Drummond’ books in their childhood I think.

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  22. 14 December 2009 3:37 pm

    Any thoughts on Petraeus’s recent comments talking about the “return on investment in Iraq” given the great human and economic costs of the war? http://www.dinarbanker.com/2009-iraq-dinar-news/feature-article-understanding-iraqi-dinar-exchange-rates.html

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  1. The Wrongness. It Burns. : DelawareLiberal.Net
  2. Posting posts from better blogs makes this blog better « gringo lost
  3. Did we win the war in Iraq? - Page 6 - Volconvo Debate Forums

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