June 05, 2003

Military Intelligence

Who says it's an oxymoron? While it may look like the Pentagon was caught completely flat footed by the collapse of social order in post-invasion Iraq, the brains at the Army War College actually did a pretty good job of predicting what the boys in cami would find once they booted Saddam out of power. They even wrote a report.

Which, of course, nobody bothered to read. Tapped however, has retrieved it from the Army's trash can, so to speak. Would that our neocon warriors in the Pentagon had done the same.

Here's some of the pages the neocons probably should have dog-eared:

Most Iraqis and most other Arabs will probably assume that the United States intervened in Iraq for its own reasons and not to liberate the population. Long-term gratitude is unlikely and suspicion of U.S. motives will increase as the occupation continues. A force initially viewed as liberators can rapidly be relegated to the status of invaders should an unwelcome occupation continue for a prolonged time. (pp. 18-19)

"Prolonged," in this case, meaning about six weeks.

Many Iraqis can also be expected to fear hidden U.S. agendas. The United States is deeply distrusted in the Arab World because of strong ties to Israel and fears that it seeks to dominate Arab countries to control the region’s oil. (p. 19)

And what a great job the necons are doing of persuading them otherwise!

Many Western visitors to Iraq who have traveled throughout the Arab World consider that country to be a culture apart, more hostile and less welcoming than other Arab countries. Understanding Iraq is therefore a much greater challenge than considering the political culture of most other Arab nations. (p. 20)

What, you mean it's not like "Morocco" at the Epcot Center???

While many Iraqis may currently only go through the motions of believing the propaganda associated with this cult of personality, nevertheless a number may be pro-Saddam true believers. Such individuals will have no role in the future of a reforming Iraq and vetting will be necessary to insure that they are not retained in positions of responsibility. (p. 23)

Well at least Bureaucrat Man finally got around to doing something about that (on paper, anyway.) Better late than never, I suppose.

It is also reasonable to expect considerable resistance to efforts at even pluralism in Iraq. Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, having enjoyed disproportionate power under a series of regimes, have every reason to assume that a democratic opening will occur at their expense by allowing traditionally disenfranchised groups to claim larger shares of power. (pp. 23-24)

Sunni day, chasin' the clouds away! I'm on my way to where the air is sweet . . .

Ethnically-based political parties generally increase divisions rather than mitigate them in highly fractious countries. Moreover, the current Kurdish political movements are also armed militias and thus set the wrong kind of example for others to follow by establishing political organizations which also maintain para-military forces. (p. 24)

So of course, the Pentagon is going to let those "wrong examples" keep their weapons.

Occasionally, some Israeli leaders and analysts have stated their preference for an Iraq broken into three separate states, all fighting each other. While such statements should be expected from a democratic state allowing divergent opinions, they are viewed with absolute suspicion in the Arab world. (p. 25)

So a screwed-up occupation that causes Iraq to break up into a collection of feuding mini-states would be in Israel's national security interest? Maybe these guys aren't as dumb as I thought.

U.S. policymakers sometimes assume that a democratic government will also be friendly to U.S. policies in the Middle East. This cannot be assumed in the case of Iraq. (p. 25)

Or anywhere else in the Islamic world, for that matter . . .

Most Iraqi Shi’ites have proven themselves to be unwilling to cooperate with Tehran against their own country . . . The public would probably favor cooperation with the Iranians only in cases of extreme need or clear political disenfranchisement by an emerging post-Saddam government in Baghdad. (p. 27)

So let's just skip all this "interim authority" nonsense and go straight into an open-ended U.S. military occupation. That should make the Iraqi Shiites feel enfranchised!

It is doubtful that the Iraqi population would welcome the leadership of the various exile groups after Saddam’s defeat. Many Iraqis are reported as hostile to the external Iraqi opposition groups despite the fact that a post-Saddam power struggle has yet to take place. According to former CIA analyst Judith Yaphe, “[Iraqi exile leader Ahmad] Chalabi and the INC [Iraqi National Congress] are known quantities and extremely unpopular in Iraq. (p. 31)

So let's make Chalabi our main front man! We can always rely on him to toe the line.

In a highly diverse and fragmented society like Iraq, the military (primarily the ground forces) is one of the few national institutions that stresses national unity as an important principle. To tear apart the Army in the war’s aftermath could lead to the destruction of one of the only forces for unity within the society. Breaking up large elements of the army also raises the possibility that demobilized soldiers could affiliate with ethnic or tribal militias. (p. 32)

So of course, what does Bureaucrat Man go and do but disband the Iraqi Army, dumping thousands of "demobilized" troops out on the street.

Update 11:08 pm ET: Read it and weep:

Jobless Iraqi soldiers issue threats

"By next Monday, if we don't have results, we will form a new Iraqi army, called the Armed Front Against the Occupation," warns Maj. Assam Hussein Il Naem, who says he represents about 160 officers - all trained men who could make life difficult for the US and British soldiers here. "New attacks against the occupiers will be governed by us. We know we will have the approval of the Iraqi people."

The military is not the only institution that has been completely dissolved. Occupation authorities in Iraq will be putting about half a million Iraqis out of work when military and civilian employees are lumped together.

Look I could go on -- and on and on and on and on. But it's pretty clear what the Pentagon hawks did: they read the report, then decided to do the exact opposite of nearly everything it suggested.

Why would they do that? Could it be because they're too intellectually arrogant to think that anybody -- even the Army War College -- could possibly tell them how to run Iraq? Maybe.

But looking at the results, you'd almost think the necons want to reduce Iraq to utter chaos. Hmmm. I'm going to have to go back and read that part about Israel's national security interests again . . .

Posted by billmon at June 5, 2003 02:09 PM | TrackBack

Looking at how these people handle everyhting from the economy to Afghanistan, I don't think they are capable of creating anything but chaos.

BTW, you might be interested to know that Chalabi has ties to JINSA -- an Israeli lobby -- going back 10 years. Woolsey and Perle sit on the board.

Posted by: Vin Carreo at June 5, 2003 03:51 PM

Billmon, I just don't know what to believe - are they so blind that they believe they can ignore anything outside of their calcified view of the world? Tom Friedman's column yesterday talked about the lancing the boil of terrorism by going into Iraq. Is that what they really thought? Could they really believe that the Iraqis would love the Americans because we liberated them from Saddam? Or that things would magically work after Saddam was gone (note the total shortshrift for humanitarian needs)? Or that the American display of force would so frighten everyone that they would gladly submit to an American regime?

Whatever it was, they truly have a very poor grasp of reality and understanding of human beings.

Posted by: Mary at June 5, 2003 03:58 PM

Mary, if these guys were any more drunk on power they would need liver transplants.

Posted by: Billmon at June 5, 2003 04:50 PM

I can't read Friedman any more -- the guy just. doesn't. get. it.

It's a clusterf*ck in Iraq, and only going to get worse.

Reading Salam Pax in the Guardian was a nice way to start the day, today.

Posted by: Scott at June 5, 2003 07:21 PM

I really wonder ... have Soviet spies finally infiltrated the very top of the US government and are now implementing their "how we will self destruct the capitalist-imperialist USA from inside" program?

Posted by: Chris K at June 5, 2003 08:12 PM

Yeah, Chris,looks like they have-- 13 years too late, though.

Posted by: JeffC at June 5, 2003 10:41 PM
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