Peters catches on
Ralph Peters, who should be Secretary of Defense, has finally and grudgingly admitted
that Iraq is broken.
Since I'm ill with some kind of flu this week, I'm not up to snuff on writing... so I'll "reprint" something I wrote in June of '05, leaving out some bits that referred to immediate events.
On a deeper level, this is what happens when an aphasic administration starts a war without communicating the real reasons for fighting. The real strategy is quite logical and comprehensible, given what we knew at the time, but for reasons I can't begin to fathom, Zenmaster Bushi decided to explain the war solely to the UN, using reasons crafted to appeal to the UN. In a republic, the President's job is to get his own country behind a war, not to gather support from permanently hostile nations like France.
George Friedman (not Tom!) in his book America's Secret War, lays out the underpinnings of our strategy and how it came about. Friedman is harshly critical of our mistakes, but he differs from the [Leninists] in that he actually wants to see us win.
In super-condensed form: Partly we were still fighting the last war. All of our strategic and intelligence forces were still totally nuke-minded. When 9/11 happened, the paralyzing fear was that Osama would hit us next with fission. At the same time, CIA took a new look at its sources, and decided to pay close attention to those who had been predicting 9/11. In late October, two of those sources independently said that Osama had a suitcase nuke already in place, ready to take New York. "From that briefing onward, the entire strategy of the war was changed. The obsession with WMD and nuclear weapons became an obsession that changed the war permanently." Then more nukes were discovered by Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency.
In hindsight, the whole thing was entirely too neat; but "given the zero-risk premises of the Defense Department, how could the United States ignore the report?"
Again in hindsight, this appears to be an effort by Pakistan to grab full US support in its perpetual feud with India, which at that moment (early 2002) looked like a potential small nuclear war. Bush gave Musharraf a choice. If he wanted our support, he had to kick out the pro-Osama elements in his own government and help us. (It appears now that this bargain has worked fairly well.)
So it was in that atmosphere of total nuclear panic that we took the word of Chalabi and others who were serving their own ends. Bush never told the American public how awful the world looked at that moment; if he had, he might have gained a wider sympathy for the mis-aimed effort, and critics might have been more inclined toward helping instead of harming.
There were other reasons for taking out Iraq, which make good sense but have never been officially stated. "The central dilemma the US now faced was how to get the Saudis into the war. The Saudis did not think the US was going to win this war. They understood the region and their own country far better ... and the US did not terrify the Saudis nearly as much as Al Qaeda did. Somehow the US had to demonstrate just how serious and frightening it could be, and then be in a position to put massive military and political pressure on the Saudis. This was the origin of the US decision to invade Iraq. There were other strands, such as fear of WMD, concern that Al Qaeda was collaborating with the Iraqis, and a genuine feeling that Saddam was a monster. But to understand the American decision to invade Iraq, it is essential to understand the American concern with the course Saudi Arabia was taking amid growing evidence that the Saudis were financing Al Qaeda."
(End Friedman, back to me.) This line of reasoning still makes sense, and could be fleshed out by good rhetoric, if Bush had any desire to help Americans understand what he's doing. I have to conclude that he has no such desire.
Still, errors or no errors, we now have Saddam out of power (though not dead, which to my mind is a huge error) and we have large parts of Iraq turning toward a new kind of governance. If we're smart, we'll separate the three parts, wall off the Sunnis, and let them continue being Arab savages. We owe a lot to the Kurds, who have been developing a civilized little country since 1991. They don't deserve to be dragged down by Arabs. (However, I'd be happy if events prove me wrong on the need for separation!)
Well, events have proven the 'separationist' view to be right. Arabs have shown themselves to be utterly incapable of assuming any aspect of civilization. This shouldn't have been surprising.