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Meanwhile Back In Iraq...


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The eventual future might be another Iran and Iraq conflict but with tactical nukes on both sides.

 

With this logic, why India and Pakistan (both armed with nukes and in decades-old conflict) are not bombed by US into stone age, as prevention measure?

As for me, the answer is simple: Iraq looked like easy target for US. But consequences of this easy victory were for some reason not predicted by US planners - indicating how poor their strategic vision actually was (and hardly improved since then).

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The eventual future might be another Iran and Iraq conflict but with tactical nukes on both sides.

 

With this logic, why India and Pakistan (both armed with nukes and in decades-old conflict) are not bombed by US into stone age, as prevention measure?

As for me, the answer is simple: Iraq looked like easy target for US. But consequences of this easy victory were for some reason not predicted by US planners - indicating how poor their strategic vision actually was (and hardly improved since then).

 

September 11, 2001

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The reason Iraq was undertaken was for a multitude of reasons.

 

1 Because it would mean a good demonstration of how powerful the US post 911. Saddam had nothing to do with that, he was an arab and a pain in the arse, so why not?

2 Because France and Russia were busy eroding the sanctions on Iraq, which would mean both could sell high tech weaponry and nuclear reactors and chemical plants, and we would be right back to 1990 again, or worse.

3 Because there was a possibility Saddam had chemical weapons,and who wanted to take a chance? Contrary to narrative, he had suppported terrorist groups. Nothing comparable to Gadaffi, but he had his hands bloody. Read up on Princes Gate seige in London.

 

Getting rid of Saddam wasnt the problem. That was entirely legitimate and if the explanations were contrived, the reasons were not. No, the problem is what came afterwards. We spent 10 years planning for the war, and 2 months planning for the aftermath. The results reflected it.

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It was an endeavor that did not justify the loss in treasure and blood. I don't think it ever could have been truly successful, but it certainly could have been handled much better - disbanding the Iraqi army was monumentally stupid and just one of several colossal mistakes the Bush administration made in the process.

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The reason Iraq was undertaken was for a multitude of reasons.

 

1 Because it would mean a good demonstration of how powerful the US post 911. Saddam had nothing to do with that, he was an arab and a pain in the arse, so why not?

2 Because France and Russia were busy eroding the sanctions on Iraq, which would mean both could sell high tech weaponry and nuclear reactors and chemical plants, and we would be right back to 1990 again, or worse.

3 Because there was a possibility Saddam had chemical weapons,and who wanted to take a chance? Contrary to narrative, he had suppported terrorist groups. Nothing comparable to Gadaffi, but he had his hands bloody. Read up on Princes Gate seige in London.

 

Getting rid of Saddam wasnt the problem. That was entirely legitimate and if the explanations were contrived, the reasons were not. No, the problem is what came afterwards. We spent 10 years planning for the war, and 2 months planning for the aftermath. The results reflected it.

1.Yeah that demonstration ended up really well. Anyhow, that's a stupid reason.

2. There was no chance of that. Post-DS under-sanctions Iraq was broke beyond any definition of bankrupcy. They couldn't even keep very basic infrastructure up.

3. So what if he did? Any state-level player can easily cook up basic chemical weapons within a short timeframe. It's not really something to lose much sleep over because it can't be stopped.

Saddam was a known enemy of Al-Qaida and other Wahhabist terrorist groups responsible from 9-11 and nearly all other terrorist strikes undertaken against USA over the last decade. As was Gaddafi. Truly a brilliant strategy to take those guys out, huh?!

 

Saddam's terrorism connections...okay, have to be blunt here. If evidence of chemical weapons was flimsy and often questionable, pre-invasion 'evidence' about Saddam's terrorist connections were truly laughable. As if, people were literally laughing and pointing at the TV when it was presented. I know I was. It was very much a pre-school logic: "Mary knows John and John knows Jim so Mary knows Jim". That was the extent it.

Seriously, you would have been hard pressed to find a single person outside US or UK to believe those claims.

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Saddam had a history of using chemical weapons on his own people and enemies. Saddam created one of the worst environmental disasters prior to the invasion of Kuwait by draining the marshes to destroy the marsh Arabs(His retreat from Kuwait breaking his record for the worst environmental disaster in the region). He routinely tried to ethnically cleanse the Shiite and Kurds from Iraq. He pretty much attacked the majority of his neighbours. I have no doubt he wanted more and better WMD's and would restart those programs the moment he could. Most Arab states are morally ambiguous and have a history of supporting groups to hurt the bigger threat on the assumption they get the other group later. Iran was a perfect example, oppose the Taliban prior to the US intervention and for a period during. However when the west was looking to successful, start supplying the Taliban with more advanced weapons.

 

Saddam was a menace to everyone, the ROW would do nothing and the only reason he tolerated the inspection team was the big honking US army on his doorstep. Had the US said "F**k it and pulled out their army, Saddam would have booted the inspection teams the next day. The option of leaving him intact is blissful thinking. The invasion despite the best efforts of Rumsfeld was a fantastic success. The occupation and administration was a utter cockup and much of that lands on the State Department and senior Whitehouse officials.

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The invasion despite the best efforts of Rumsfeld was a fantastic success. The occupation and administration was a utter cockup and much of that lands on the State Department and senior Whitehouse officials.

1018_paul-bremer-1000x763.jpg

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The reason Iraq was undertaken was for a multitude of reasons.

 

1 Because it would mean a good demonstration of how powerful the US post 911. Saddam had nothing to do with that, he was an arab and a pain in the arse, so why not?

2 Because France and Russia were busy eroding the sanctions on Iraq, which would mean both could sell high tech weaponry and nuclear reactors and chemical plants, and we would be right back to 1990 again, or worse.

3 Because there was a possibility Saddam had chemical weapons,and who wanted to take a chance? Contrary to narrative, he had suppported terrorist groups. Nothing comparable to Gadaffi, but he had his hands bloody. Read up on Princes Gate seige in London.

 

Getting rid of Saddam wasnt the problem. That was entirely legitimate and if the explanations were contrived, the reasons were not. No, the problem is what came afterwards. We spent 10 years planning for the war, and 2 months planning for the aftermath. The results reflected it.

1.Yeah that demonstration ended up really well. Anyhow, that's a stupid reason.

2. There was no chance of that. Post-DS under-sanctions Iraq was broke beyond any definition of bankrupcy. They couldn't even keep very basic infrastructure up.

3. So what if he did? Any state-level player can easily cook up basic chemical weapons within a short timeframe. It's not really something to lose much sleep over because it can't be stopped.

Saddam was a known enemy of Al-Qaida and other Wahhabist terrorist groups responsible from 9-11 and nearly all other terrorist strikes undertaken against USA over the last decade. As was Gaddafi. Truly a brilliant strategy to take those guys out, huh?!

 

Saddam's terrorism connections...okay, have to be blunt here. If evidence of chemical weapons was flimsy and often questionable, pre-invasion 'evidence' about Saddam's terrorist connections were truly laughable. As if, people were literally laughing and pointing at the TV when it was presented. I know I was. It was very much a pre-school logic: "Mary knows John and John knows Jim so Mary knows Jim". That was the extent it.

Seriously, you would have been hard pressed to find a single person outside US or UK to believe those claims.

 

1 Agreed. But it doesnt mean it wasnt part of the reason. :)

2 Perhaps. I guess it really depends how quickly they could get their oil industry on line.

3 Well its the moralist in me. I think one less psychopath in the world is no bad thing. Was it worth the cost? Not for us anyway. Perhaps not even for Iraq.

 

He didnt have much connection to terrorism, but it did exist. As said, look into the guys who were behind the Princes Gate seige. There was also a hijacked airliner in Kuwait IIRC. There were far worse of course, Gadaffi being a prime example.

 

Well I believe in no3. No2, it was clearly the intent, and you have to deal with intent rather than capablity. 1, I completely agree, totally ridiculous. But a humbled nation looks at the world in strange ways. Look at Putin.

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Saddam had a history of using chemical weapons on his own people and enemies. Saddam created one of the worst environmental disasters prior to the invasion of Kuwait by draining the marshes to destroy the marsh Arabs(His retreat from Kuwait breaking his record for the worst environmental disaster in the region). He routinely tried to ethnically cleanse the Shiite and Kurds from Iraq. He pretty much attacked the majority of his neighbours. I have no doubt he wanted more and better WMD's and would restart those programs the moment he could. Most Arab states are morally ambiguous and have a history of supporting groups to hurt the bigger threat on the assumption they get the other group later. Iran was a perfect example, oppose the Taliban prior to the US intervention and for a period during. However when the west was looking to successful, start supplying the Taliban with more advanced weapons.

 

Saddam was a menace to everyone, the ROW would do nothing and the only reason he tolerated the inspection team was the big honking US army on his doorstep. Had the US said "F**k it and pulled out their army, Saddam would have booted the inspection teams the next day. The option of leaving him intact is blissful thinking. The invasion despite the best efforts of Rumsfeld was a fantastic success. The occupation and administration was a utter cockup and much of that lands on the State Department and senior Whitehouse officials.

I think my take on it, at least when it was all over was 'The Right War, at the Wrong Time, done the Wrong Way'.

 

Well one out of three ain't bad....

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It was an endeavor that did not justify the loss in treasure and blood. I don't think it ever could have been truly successful, but it certainly could have been handled much better - disbanding the Iraqi army was monumentally stupid and just one of several colossal mistakes the Bush administration made in the process.

The Iraqi Army was bout the only administration in Iraq that knew what the hell it was doing. Although in fairness, the newly reformed Iraqi army IS starting to look a lot more impressive than the old one.

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.........disbanding the Iraqi army was monumentally stupid and just one of several colossal mistakes the Bush administration made in the process.

To elaborate, Bremer dismissed the entire Iraqi government military and civilian.

 

Shortly after the coalition crossed the K-line Saddam opened all the prisons. It has been reliably shown the majority of violence was from organized crime rather than insurgency. But by disbanding everything Bremer not only caused the insurgency but made it impossible for the occupation forces to shut down the gangs.

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Almost as if the plan was to plunge Iraq and Iraqis into a state of total chaos.

 

To make them beg for American rescue later.

Yes, almost.

Except the people in charge weren't smart enough to make any sort of plan what so ever.

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Yes, almost.

Except the people in charge weren't smart enough to make any sort of plan what so ever.

 

"Never attribute to a malice what can be explained by stupidity"

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Yeah, I'll go with that.

 

There was also an unbelievable amount of corruption. Supposedly after the contractors arrived at Baghdad airport they nicked a load of ground handling equipment from iraqi airways, resprayed in their own colours, then leased it to the US Government for extortionate rates. Nobody ever complained.

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.........disbanding the Iraqi army was monumentally stupid and just one of several colossal mistakes the Bush administration made in the process.

To elaborate, Bremer dismissed the entire Iraqi government military and civilian.

 

Shortly after the coalition crossed the K-line Saddam opened all the prisons. It has been reliably shown the majority of violence was from organized crime rather than insurgency. But by disbanding everything Bremer not only caused the insurgency but made it impossible for the occupation forces to shut down the gangs.

 

Blaming it all on Bremer is of course the easy Machiavellian option. Incompetence was far more pervasive in both the occupying civilian and military authorities in Iraq. Read David Ucko's account on the Brits in Basra or Rory Stewart's Prince of the Marshes. No deeply experienced colonial administration, but complete amateur hour.

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I think tactically, the British Army did ok.No worse than when it was doing the same thing in Belfast. Where it fell down, and you can read this in Dusty Warriors, is there was a complete lack of integration between military power and the Foreign office and Difid, the Department of International development, in the field. This was apparent in Al Amarah where they (or perhaps it was The yanks) were slagging off the soldiers, telling them to leave so they could do their job, and the soldiers not unreasonably pointing out that the only thing stopping them being lynched was their presence. It was never successfully resolved.

 

The simplest thing would have been to create a military commander responsible for all of them. But the Blair regime clearly was looking to how the Americans did things, and there was clearly no integration there either.

 

One wise bird in the Iraq inquiry said if we were going to do this again, we should form a Calabinieri that could successfully bridge the military and civil realm. But we don't think we are going to do it again, so we wont.

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Oh yes, the army was able to arrange for costly and short-term tactical gains. Operationally and strategically, the UK failed in Basra, as it did later in Helmand. It also was not as flexible as the US in learning from its mistakes and developing a new strategy, instead intransigently pursuing an unconditional and messy retreat after 2006. For an elaborate academic dissection of how and why it went wrong, I refer to Ucko, which is quite cheap nowadays on Amazon. I have partly read Dusty Warriors, but it being mostly a unit narrative, I did not find its analysis very rigorous, nor its style very engaging.

Edited by Daan
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Oh I love Dusty Warriors, granted Richard Holmes WAS their honorary Col so you can say there was some bias in favour of the PWRR. OTOH, seeing how many war crimes trials were held against them and Richard Holmes was latterly proven right they hadnt done anything wrong, there was little apparently wrong with his analysis. I think the analysis he did of the interaction between the civilian and military authority was perceptive, so I think you are doing him a bit of a disservice there.

 

There was another book by a guy who fought in CIMIC house in Al Amarah, im damned if I can recall the name, but that was very good. The impression you get again is, there just wasnt enough numbers to be flexible. They were there, and more so in Helmand, taking a fire brigade approach to deal with problems that greater boots on the ground would probably have avoided. The death of those RMP's is a case in point, it would never have happened if they had been given support and they were not playing silly shell games with ammunition to do it on the cheap. Which was the entire British approach to both wars, do it on the cheap, dont put in the numbers that will take greater casualties, dont take the kit that will make greater presence. The RAC was begging to be allowed to take Challenger 2's to Afghanistan, which was denied as inappropriate, despite the Canadians and the Americans proving Heavy Armour had a utility. As even the RAF admitted in inquiry about their participation in Basra.

 

I think a distinction has to be made between the guys who were there, and the people in Whitehall making the big decisions. On the ground, they did ok. I would not say exceptional, the best ever, they did the job they were asked to do the best way they could. Whitehall completely dropped the ball, and at least some of the testimony from the Iraq inquiry seemed to support that.

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.........disbanding the Iraqi army was monumentally stupid and just one of several colossal mistakes the Bush administration made in the process.

To elaborate, Bremer dismissed the entire Iraqi government military and civilian.

 

Shortly after the coalition crossed the K-line Saddam opened all the prisons. It has been reliably shown the majority of violence was from organized crime rather than insurgency. But by disbanding everything Bremer not only caused the insurgency but made it impossible for the occupation forces to shut down the gangs.

 

Blaming it all on Bremer is of course the easy Machiavellian option. Incompetence was far more pervasive in both the occupying civilian and military authorities in Iraq. Read David Ucko's account on the Brits in Basra or Rory Stewart's Prince of the Marshes. No deeply experienced colonial administration, but complete amateur hour.

 

The difference is more than an order of magnitude. IIRC BillB wrote here some time ago the British position was to keep the Iraqi government intact but weed out the rotten bits. That plan was tossed by Bremer.

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