2007 October 13 Saturday
US Army Officers Debate Iraq Mistakes

Who to blame?

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas: Here in this Western outpost that serves as the intellectual center of the U.S. Army, two elite officers were deep in debate at lunch on a recent day over who bore more responsibility for mistakes in Iraq - the former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, or the generals who acquiesced to him.

"The secretary of defense is an easy target," argued one of the officers, Major Kareem Montague, 34, a Harvard graduate and a commander in the Third Infantry Division that was the first to reach Baghdad in the 2003 invasion. "It's easy to pick on the political appointee."

"But he's the one that's responsible," retorted Major Michael J. Zinno, 40, a military planner who worked at the headquarters of the Coalitional Provisional Authority, the former American civilian administration in Iraq.

The size of the initial invasion force should have been bigger assuming we should have done the invasion. But that's a big assumption. Also, we didn't just need a bigger invasion force. We really needed a far larger army to occupy Iraq. But to build up an army big enough for occupation was an obstacle to invasion that George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Lewis Libby didn't want to deal with.

But the questions about the needed size of the military force in Iraq are a distraction from two far more important questions. First, should we have invaded in the first place? That's an easy question: No. We harmed and did not advance American interests by invading Iraq. Yet at the end of the article we find that these officers do not know whether the war should have been fought in the first place. We have tons of evidence with which to judge that question now. These officers are very disappointing.

Second, the biggest question we face today is whether we should pull out our forces. To put it another way: what justification is there for keeping soldiers in Iraq with about 100 dying per month and about 5 or 6 times that number injured? How are we being made safer by this? I think this war is worse than pointless. It does not make us safer. These officers should justify why the US military should be used or they should advocate for withdrawal.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 October 13 09:59 PM  Mideast Iraq Blame Game


Comments
Wolf-Dog said at October 14, 2007 3:14 PM:

Instead of blaming and finding fault, it is much wiser to figure out a plan to minimize the damage after we pull out of Iraq.

Some of the issues are:

1) After the US leaves Iraq, Al Qaeda and Iran will probably get the Iraqi oil

2) After the US leaves Iraq, probably the pro-American Saudi monarchy will collapse, and the Saudi oil fields might become the property of Al Qaeda or even Iran.

3) After the US loses control of the Middle East, the worst nightmare of all U.S. economists and strategists might materialize: the enemies of the US might establish an oil market that is dollar-free. This would have dire consequences for the ability of the US to continue the $700 billion trade deficit year after year, because then gradually raw materials will no longer be traded in dollars, and there will be very few reasons to accept dollars for exports into the US. This would be a disaster for the US. But like all disasters, we can survive this one also. It would be a depression, but depressions do end. It is worth planning for this depression, and the survival strategies.

Randall Parker said at October 14, 2007 5:13 PM:

Wolf-Dog,

Al Qaeda isn't going to get Iraq's oil because Al Qaeda is Sunni and the oil is in the middle of the Shia zone.

gcochran said at October 14, 2007 6:23 PM:

Randall, I think you've told him before. It doesn't seem to stick.

Wolf-Dog said at October 14, 2007 8:13 PM:

Randall Parker and GCochran: "I was saying Al Qaeda and Iran", might get the oil in Iraq, meaning at least one of the two. Maybe I should say "or", but ultimately, if the War ultimately involves Iran also, you can be sure that Al Qaeda will take the side of Iran.

In any case, it does not appear as if you are worried about 2) and 3).

I hope you are right. I prefer being 100 % wrong about this.

Kenelm Digby said at October 15, 2007 4:26 AM:

One curious point is how the neo-cons running the Bush administration have managed to p*ss-off Turkey so much recently, firstly by PKK raids from Iraq into Turkish territory and by the recent 'Armenian Genocide' vote.
Turkey was probably America's staunchest and best ally anywhere in the world.


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