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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by zimv20, Feb 25, 2006.
With Iraq slipping ever into Civil War.. America will have to live with the seeds it has sowed... even if it has to sacrifice american needs for iraqi needs. Iraqi needs should come first.. since america plunged Iraq into the Chaos it is in now.
Not to beat a dead horse here, but this goes to show again the stupidity of disbanding/disallowing the original (baath) Iraqi forces - as they were the prime candidates for re-training by US forces after Saddam was toppled.
Strangely, the US has often trained those who they were previously ideologically or actually opposed to, in countries they had a vested interest in. Afghanistan and most of Latin America spring to mind - curious as to why it didn't happen this time in Iraq.
This bodes poorly for any US chances of disengagement from Iraq - as the first rule of any occupation (benevolent or otherwise) is to train local forces to replace your own (or so I've been led to believe).
I'm not sure that we jumped on training Japanese troops after WWII, and of course we've also had troops there for 61 years and running...
Oh yeah, corruption and graft rule the day. We've all heard how the billions flown over there in suitcases has wound up buying shoddy weapons systems and copies of the specified weapon rather than the real thing. This is the result. The equipment the American taxpayer has bought is crapping out and if we want it to work we need to pay some more.
But the American taxpayer is just about sick of paying to rebuild Iraq when we can't even seem to afford to rebuild the LA and MI coasts. But hey, lets top that off with tax cuts that aren't even offset by the cuts to be made in social programs. I can understand why Congressional Republicans are quietly sweating under their suits right now. Their fate is largely out of their hands now. If things in Iraq go well, and no more major damaging stories come out about the Bush administration that require defending, and if they can stave off a few more of the trials that are scheduled for this year, and keep from getting too many more members indicted, they might hold even or maybe only lose a few seats to the Democrats. If things go badly between now and then, the country will be ripe for a change.
Right now I think a lot of Americans are thinking a divided government might be a Good Thing.
After World War II, Japan renounced militarism, and today they still technically have no armed forces. As for U.S. troops based in Japan, I'm not sure what analogy you are attempting to make here.
Presumably the Japanese "Self-Defence" forces (which are substantial and have a huge budget) were remodelled by the US after the war.
Japan's SDF is larger and more modern now than it has been, but still the nation's defense budget is far smaller than the U.S. as a percentage of overall spending. I'm still not sure I get the point of the analogy.
which nations spending is _not_ smaller ? isreal ? north korea ?
Indeed: $40 billion is not small change. Are we now gauging the adequacy of defence budgets by the example of the US?
My point was that we're likely to be in Iraq forever, unless of course we give up and quit (and fail). Those are two options.
And Japan's inadequate self defense forces still rank among the world's most powerful militaries, behind probably only the US, Russia, China, France, and England. 1% of the world's second largest GDP is still more than 3-10% of much smaller GDPs.
Weren't Nazi personnel left in some positions of control until suitable non-Nazi personnel could be trained. I could be mistaken but I seem to recall a US military commander saying something to the effect of, "Right now they know how keep the trains running better than anyone so why not let them do it?"
Only the ones who weren't immediately re-employed by the victors.
Unless we've failed already, in which case quitting might be the better part of valor and good sense.
One of the world's most powerful militaries, but still inadequate? For what, exactly? Keep in mind, Japan took militarism off the table after the war, writing this principle into the country's new postwar constitution. All of this occurred under the watchful eye of the U.S. occupation authority. The only relevant point I can see in all of this is that the U.S. did not attempt to rebuild the Japanese military after World War II; in fact, a conscious decision was made to not do so.
In all seriousness, have we failed? Sure, it sure looks like that in terms of stated objectives, but howabout unstated ones?
Not that I would know, but if there is a (somewhat) hidden strategic goal(s) to the occupation of Iraq - perhaps this festering mess is tolerable and in some cases, even desireable. Consider:
- An open-ended occupation of a resource and geographically advantageous country,
- This being a tactical or strategic play against the other major powers in the region (Russia, Iran, China).
- Keeping Iraq destabilized to secure unstated objectives, both in intelligence , political and economic spheres
- The Domestic windfall of maintaining a war-like climate to deflect attention from domestic failures and the excuse for astronomical defense spending.
I freely admit I have not particular reason to believe the above is plausible except that the US has had considerable experience dealing with insurgencies from the Phillipines, to Latin America, to SE Asia and other parts of the ME - that I find it hard to believe that they would make so many obvious mistakes without it being purposeful.
I don't know...if we did leave, however - what could we expect to happen? Because if it was increased Iranian dominion in the area, on a principled and strategic level I doubt the US would find that tolerable - and would therefore not leave in the first place.
If the "unstated objectives" were to widen the conflict, destroy the country, weaken the armed forces, compromise America's reputation and prove - again - that the vaunted US military can be rendered ineffective, they've done really well.
And every time they've tried it, it was an unqualified disaster, costing millions of lives for no discernible gain. They are just incorrigible fools in hock to their military-industrial complex, is all. Eisenhower knew it.
The whole point of foreign policy is to work this kind of scenario through before acting. There are no principled options left.
You know, I have been thinking about the Phillipines more and more lately, as the US experience there over a Century ago - has some important similarities to it's experience in Iraq now - and perhaps some lessons to be taught.
The Phillipines was the first time the US deliberately set out to conquer a large piece of territory overseas in order to occupy it - and would not be repeated until our entry into Iraq.
Like Iraq, the initial military victory was decisive - but it soon descended into a military nightmare and a domestic traumatic experience.
The war was a messy and gory affair, that much like Iraq the Media and the public could not bear. The instances of brutality commited by Us troops, partly in response to the brutality of the Filipino insurgency, allowed a somewhat naive and muckraking press in the US to smear the whole campaign - again much like the present. Nevertheless, many consider, as a whole, the US campaign in the Phillipines to be one of the most successful counter-insurrgency campaigns in modern history.
Some more similarities:
Initially, the US helped local insurgents topple the Spanish rule there, but then made a mistake, as they did in Iraq - they assumed that because the locals welcomed the ouster of a despotic regime, that they would automatically remain friendly once the regime was toppled. This was not to be the case.
Tensions mounted between the US forces and the fledgling Filipino Government that could barely control it's own faction-ridden armed forces. This local anarchy combined with US idealism ignited a full-scale war between Us forces and Filipino Guerilla armies - again, remarkably similar to Iraq.
The collapse of Central Authority led to a complete reorganization of the conflict - with various guerilla leaders becoming de-facto local warlords. Again familiar. The US strategy was to pacify each region and turn it over to civilian reconstruction (which was headed by future President Taft BTW). This also is familiar. It was this civilizing strategy, however, that accounted for much of the wars brutality, for it was a direct threat over the warlords' authority over their own populations. This could also apply in Iraq, I would imagine.
At this point is where the similarities may end, however. Due to the war in the Philipines being at the end of the 19th Century - middle level commanders in the field did not have access to radios and helicopters, and as such had no possibility of following orders from a central command. They became de-facto policymakers in their own patch of jungle, aquiring local expertise, and developing their own counter-insurrgency campaigns by improvisation. Their reports of successes and failures to their superiors influenced subsequent policies up the command chain. This may be in direct opposition to current US strategy in Iraq - to our detriment.
Successful tactics included a certain heartlessness - aggressive patrols, killing and surrounding guerillas, often allowing them to succumb to starvation or disease, while offering amnesty to civilains who had been coerced into supporting the guerillas. It also amounted, however, to pointed warnings to local civilians that support and aid to the guerillas that continued support to the guerillas would be met by complete destruction of the area. It also amounted to the establishment of local intelligence services, with native scouts and that of native village governing councils - the first step to self-rule. The US also kidnapped members of well-known guerilla's families in retaliation for the kidnapping of US indigenous forces. Some of these policies, however distasteful probably can, or have had, decent application in Iraq.
There are still more relevant lessons. The US's attempt to modernize the Phillipines, which refused to recognize the traditional sultans of the Muslim South - unwittingly united disparate Muslim tribes, by effectively erasing the differences between the local tribal communities. Thus from the turn-of the-century continuing for more than a decade - US attempts to impose Democracy led to a more militant Islam. That seems familiar...
Now, all that aside, one could very well argue that McKinley, like Bush entered the US into a completely unnecessary conflict, a political blunder of the highest magnitude - in which American idealism and naiveté led it on a path of destruction and brutality. The charge can (and often has) been leveled fairly at both Conflicts.
However, just like the US's entry into the Phillipines had nothing to do with events in the Pacific ( having to do with Spanish repression of Cuba among other things and the declaration of War on Spain), the fact that we have no seemingly valid reason to be in Iraq may no be true - we may just be looking in the wrong places.
Two more things should be noted:
1. Decades of US rule in the Phillipines were notable for their degree of enlightenment, compared to European colonialism. The US, for better or worse, brought modernity to the Phillipines. They also redistributed wealth to the peasants from Church estates, built roads, railways, dams, ports and irrigation and sewer facilities. These expenditures led to a doubling of the Filipino population in twenty years.
It also effected US destiny in the 20th Century - many of the pivotal leaders of the early-to-mid 20th Century learned their skills in the Phillipine Conflict. Taft's leadership in Civic reconstruction propelled him to the Presidency. Douglas MacArthur went to the Phillipines to command an American Brigade and returned as an advisor to the local government. One of his aides, a middle-aged major named Eisenhower honed his analytical skills later used in WWII by organizing the Filipino military.
2. Despite all this, the legacy of US presence in the Phillipines has made little differnce in the life of the average filipino. Throughout most of the 20th Century, the Phillipines remained one of the most dysfuctional, intractable and poverty-stricken societies in Asia. Phillipine Democracy was as corrupt as it was ineffective. Some of this is the fault of the Spanish Legacy, and some the fact that geographically-speaking, the Phillipines should never have been considered a candidate for a single country under Central Authority.
Perhaps a different type of determinism will undermine any effort in Iraq as well. It should be remembered, however, that the Phillipines did, and still remains an important strategic location for the US - for WWII against Japan, and in more modern times perhaps against any number of potential Asian powers. It also stands, that if it was not us - it would've been someone else - and it is doubtful that their influence would've been as benign as ours - and it definitely wouldn't have served our interests.
So with all of this, I am not taking one position or another with regards to the wisdom of US engagement in Iraq or in the PHillipines - just laying out some remarkable similarities and reminding that the truth of the matter, of success or failure - is a complex affair. Take as you will...
The only counter-insurgency operation of modern times which actually worked was the Brits in Malaysia: small groups of SAS doing a "hearts and minds" campaign. The Philippines, with up to 3 million dead, and especially in view of the present state of the country, could hardly be called a success.
well, I guess "success" is a relative term. For the difference it makes (which may not amount to much for many) - the success was largely a military one.
The intractable realities of the Phillipines, past and present, while reminding us of deterministic factors that lay above almost any idealistic notions, is not as applicable at this stage in the game, as the fact that there is still a possibility for military success in Iraq - though the ultimate difference of that success remains to be determined. Whether we are willing to sacrifice what we'd have to for unspecified gains resulting from such a victory remains the question of the day.
As I said before, I really don't know where the US should go from here, or how history will ultimately judge our efforts thus far.
Still, I wonder which is the more moral option at this point - cut-and-run and leave the region in chaos and disorder resulting in certain misery and long-term negative consequences for the US and the ME
Stay, and most certainly be ruthless enough against the enemy to cause certain misery, and undermine that same morality in the pursuit of a victory that may ultimately be hollow and cause long-term negative consequences for the US and the ME.
But what does that mean?
In other words, it's a total f*ck-up either way.
We just get to pick a flavour of ****-up.
thanks for that interesting and long read blackfox.. it's one of those US history chapters which don't really make it into the history school books over here
for a solution: i think that there is no easy or fast or cheap solution
The notion that "success is still possible," despite the amassed evidence to the contrary, is quite possibly one of the leading causes of human tragedy throughout history. Sometimes you have to admit error, push away from the table and claim what chips you might have left, rather than bet the house on your luck suddenly changing.
I've been slow to come around to this view on Iraq. I've been of the school (with the majority of Americans, it seems), that the Iraq adventure was a terrible mistake, but that the fate of the Iraqi people had become our responsibility, and that we had no honorable choice but to tough it out. Now it is becoming clearer to me that we very likely can't do much of anything to help the Iraqi people, and more likely will only make the situation worse by remaining. Consequently, I now believe that the only honorable course of action is to declare victory and retreat.
The result will be a donnybrook in Iraq, but no more than it is today. Looking down the road, the political and military situation in the country (such as it is) probably won't stabilize for another generation. This should not be surprising to any student of history, and in fact should have been understood by the planners of this business before March 2003. But they thought they could cheat history. They though they could pull off a magic act.
They were wrong -- completely and utterly wrong. The time for cutting losses has arrived.
IJ, I understand your position perfectly and a large part of me is forced to agree with you, however reluctantly.
That said, Considering the gravity of the situation and the sheer breadth and depth of repercussions this will have on Iraq, the ME, the US and Geopolitics in general for a great time to come, are the options only "stay the course" and "cut our losses"?
Could not a more modest and realistic goal for US involvement and the future of Iraq be salvaged? Geared towards stability and small-scale SF intervention?
Since it is doubtful this might happen under Bush, might it be worth it to go until we have a new Administration who might be able to do a better salvage job?
I know the costs (financial and otherwise) are immense, and there are no guarantees with regards to a future Administration, or the future in general, but the stakes are so high.
Alternately, could we leave, let things cool down a little and go back? I'm not kidding...do it in a different way and try and repair what we've done...
These are open-ended questions...It is so goddamn depressing and heart-wrenching to mull over...
No such easy options remain. They have been removed by mismanagement and abysmal planning.
The only thing Bush could do to improve things would be to fall on his sword.
The capital is all used up. You're living on your overdraft, the interest payments are hell, but that's what you get. You've sown the wind - with a little help from us - and now you get the pleasure of reaping the whirlwind. PNAC indeed! Project for a New American Catastrophe.