Bill Buckley on our problems in Iraq:
A problem for American policymakers
A problem for American policymakers
The best NCO’s don’t almost always make the best armies. The best NCO’s ALWAYS WITHOUT EXCEPTION make the best armies.
I’m not that sure that it was a mistake to disband the army. Or rather I’m not sure that it wasn’t the least bad of all possible decisions.
To demonstrate to the Shia and Kurds that things were going to change, their oppressors (aka the Sunni Army) needed to be seen to be taken out. So thus de-baathification and disbanding the army.
Executing every baathparty member and soldier would have done the same thing, while eliminating the labour force of the insurgency for good. This is not an option in our current morality (though not somethign unknown to communists or past conquerors).
We could have opermanently imprisoned all of the above, but that would have been physcially impossible. We would then be faced with what to do with them over the long term.
We could have enslaved them, though that’s really not on these days, and we have no way of putting that into effect.
We could have kept them in their position of oppression and supremacy, but that was just not on and would have provoked a much more violent and effective insurgency from the Shia and the Kurds.
I really would like to know what would have been a better option than disbanding the army, given the constraints of any possible American invsion force (not just the one we had or the largest one given the current size of the army, but going to WWII & of armed forces I’d still like to see how it would have been possible).
Buckley came out with that article two days after the destruction of the mosque. It’s impossible to take his opinion seriously, considering that he wrote the article without the least notion of whether Iraq really was descending into a state of civil war or not. He rushed it into print before events on the ground could make it obsolete, and got to appear right for a whole day. I’m sure he’s hoping now that by next week people will have forgotten all about it.
So we will be able to pull out in ten or fifteen years then? Was that the plan???
There wasn’t a plan, and all these decisions were made by the seat of the administrations pants as they went along.
I find Buckley a little hard to understand, but I think what he is saying is that Rumsfeld’s and Bush’s plan was that once given freedom Iraqi’s would immediately pull together and create a Democracy. That hasn’t happened and it is not verifiably any closer to happening than it was in March 03. We are almost on the verge of a civil war there. That is not improvement, and if it is going to take ten or fifteen years to get an army together there, that is hardly a success.
“I think what he is saying is that Rumsfeld’s and Bush’s plan was that once given freedom Iraqi’s would immediately pull together and create a Democracy.”
Buckley may have thought that Bush and Rumsfeld said that, but they never did. They always said it would be a long hard slog.
I thought the Iraqi army melted away after the war started. Did we actually disband anything?
Here’s what Paul Bremer says was the thinking about the Iraqi Army (from an interview with NRO).
Lopez: What’s the biggest myth about your time in Iraq you want to set people straight about in this book?
Bremer: I suppose the myth that we made a mistake
TO: Stephen Green
RE: Say What?
“You need at least two years a train a highly-skilled infantryman.” — Stephen Green
What do you mean by “highly-skilled”? Special fecees?
You can have a skilled infantryman within six month; 2 months of basic, 2 months of AIT and 2 months of intensive field training with a combat unit.
Is Iraq A Lost Cause ?
Writing in National Review, William F. Buckley, Jr., certainly not a man capable of being described as a defeatist, declares that the Bush Administration’s objectives in Iraq stand in ruins:
“I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes
OH NO! Even Stephen has jumped on the
I’ve got to side on the “what was the plan?” team. I’ve always wondered what EXACTLY we were attempting to do, how, and on what time frame.
The first version was the WMD problem. The second was that Saddam had ties to Osama. Then we went back to the “he’s a bad guy, look he gassed his own people!” thing and now it seems the only argument I hear is “we are there and we need to finish the job.” Don’t misunderstand me, I realize war is part of the continuum of diplomacy – but I’ve wondered why we chose to fight a war on three fronts when we already had a two front war (Afghanistan and “terror”).
Saddam was essentially contained and we could have invaded at our leisure later. However, there was a false sense of ugency engendered in the populace by the administration. Remember the “mushroom cloud” testimony? Right worry, wrong nation state.
Then, when we did go in, we went in with the wrong plan. Notice, I don’t suggest we didn’t have a plan – just the wrong one. Our military has been gearing itself – in general – for big battles with massive, deep strikes against other large armies. Essentially, the idea is what we saw as “shock and awe.” It’s very clean and, in theory, should make for a short war with few American casualties. However, it only works when the other nation state has a similar military and can be shocked and awed. That didn’t happen here.
Further, we did not prepare for the amount of money it would cost for the operation. Early estimates suggested $1.5 billion with the rest being funded by Iraqi oil money. We did not have adequate forces to replace the forces that maintained law and order inside Iraq and we weren’t prepared for a nation that wasn’t used to “democracy” – despite the fact that the country has no tradition of it.
I’m a supporter of the military. I’m finishing my MA in military history and then I’ll move to a Ph.D. program in the same. I’m not an arm chair general or an academic who thinks he can do everything better than the military – but this thing was a mess from day one.
For someone who is finishing his MA in military history I am surprised at your comments. They are more rhetorical than factual. Please take the time to review the documentation before wasting your time with such commentary.
and can ANYONE guarentee me that keeping the old “saddam” army would have not been a ANY BIGGER mistake? No. No one can guarentee that that would have been a better solution. All you people have is hindsight — the very knowledge of which you fault the administration for not making its judgment based on.
DON’T be so quick to condemn the decision. In fact, this whole notion of training an “ARMY” is really a misnomer. These soldiers are not fighting any other country (the purpose of an army)… they are trying to keep domestic order. My point being::: do the numbers you provide have any grounds in the time it takes to train a peace-keeper? (which is, after all, what the ‘army’ is doing).
Question… how long does it take to train someone to stop a suiside bomber from blowing up a mosque? Never mind the fact that once a bomber is in a mosque having a guy with 30 years of army training is of little value, it is imperitave that I point out that the problem you THINK a well-trained army will address is something an army is incapable of addressing! The PROBLEM with Iraq has nothing to do with the lack or presence of an army but the presence of extreemist suiside bombers—its time we start addressing THAT problem and not some secondary unrelated one.
I’m in my mid-40s. We’re still in Germany and SorK, been there longer than I’ve been alive.
How come we’re still there?
What’s the plan?????????
Which documentation are you suggesting? I’ll be curious to see where you suggest the military was planning to fight small unit insurgency battles instead of larger unit engagements. The former goes against everything the military has worked towards since the 1970s. Everything TRADOC has put out up until recently has been almost exclusively geared towards larger engagements based on rapid strikes. Look at the weapons systems – the Abrams isn’t exactly meant for small unit fighting. Although I’m not a fan of Rumsfeld in some ways, he’s done some smart things like cancelling the Crusader: a monument to large unit warfare that was about as mobile as the Paris Gun.
Although this is anecdotal, I happened to be watching a documentary on the Marines as they moved into Iraq. A soldier said something along the lines of “this isn’t what we expected at all. This is like WWII, having to go house to house fighting hand to hand.”
So if it takes time and patience to create a stable army, why were administration officials telling congress that it would only cost $1.7 billion to rebuild Iraq? Was this another colossal blunder by the administration?
No, just another myth TomInCO.
The Iraqi army was organized along the Soviet model, leavened with the finest qualities of tribal bigotry and viciousness. In that model, NCO’s are simply the biggest thugs, who take care of the bullying for the absentee officers.
Even if the Shiite conscripts had stuck around, there would have been nobody to lead, as opposed to drive, them.
One of the problems here is that if you read a liberal source you get that disbanding the army was a disaster, a conservative, that it was unavoidable. Then multiply that times every problem that came up. So what is a guy in his jammies in his bedroom with only a computer to guide him to think?
That’s where I am at. I supported Bush and voted for him twice, but lately he has lost me and I am starting to believe a lot of the Democrats criticisms. One thing that is clear is that we were unprepared for the situation we found in Iraq, and there were many warning of what would happen that did happen that the administration did not listen to.
As regards disbanding the army, look on page 194 of George Packards book(Assasin’s Gate), who conversed with Colonel Paul Hughes who was handling dealing with Saddam’s generals early on. He developed a plan to pay each soldier $20 a month in salary to keep them going til they could figure out what to do with them. He had seven Generals with 100,000 former soldiers, and they were going to go through a process of weeding out the bad ones and keeping them controlled. Then unbeknowst to him, orders came over his head from Cheney’s office to dump them. This was early on before the insurgency was going too much. They faded away then, but got a lesson in not trusting Americans.
I think it was a mistake not to control that army—they needed jobs for God’s sake, if nothing else. There was no plan to deal with that.
Another thing, I am just beginning to read Bremer’s book, but the way Packard describes him and the CPA is that you toed the party line on everything, and anyone giving a different opinion was out. They wouldn’t even let staff there use the word insurgency, because they pretended there wasn’t one.
It’s too bad things have become so partisan because if I were Bush I wouldn’t admit a damn thing either, but it is a huge problem. A lot of mistakes were made and we need to sort it out honestly to see where we go from here. Fortunately our military is great and they have figured it out and are gradually improving things there, or at least it appears so. I don’t think they have had much help from Washington. Rumsfelds plan was to be out in three months.