In the comments to this post kchunk, one of my few readers, says that while he was behind the war in Iraq, he is now dismayed with the way things are going and thinks we are creating another Iran.
First, let me apologize to kchunk. I thought he was one of the usual left wing wackos I hear every day. He says he is not, so I’m sorry if I insulted him. But there’s nothing in his comments to lead me to believe that he was other than another lefty troll.
As for the war. It’s going great! I say that as someone who has read history, especially military history, and has firm grasp of reality.
It seems that most of the people complaining about the war are basing their criticism on a knowledge of war and history gleaned from watching movies. After all, it only took the “Band of Brothers” ten weeks to get from training camp to Berchtesgaden on HBO, and only ten hours on DVD, so what’s taking so long in Iraq?
If history books bore you or you can’t cope with the jargon of military writing, read Jeff and Michael Shaara’s books on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Check out SLA Marshall’s “Pork Chop Hill” or “The Elephant and the Tiger” for a look at the American military in Korea and Vietnam. You might be surprised with how screwed up thing actually were. You see the “Band of Brothers” on HBO but you never hear of the 90th or 106th Infantry Divisions. The 90th had their commanders down to battalion level relieved for poor performance in the days after the Normandy invasion. Elements of the 106th were surrounded and surrendered during the Battle of the Bulge. Not to disparage either of these units. They were made up of the same soldiers as the 101st and the 82nd. Americans all.
But things don’t ever go according to plan and real life doesn’t have scriptwriters. Wars are not won by those who don’t make any mistakes, but by those who make the fewest and can recover from those they do make.
In Iraq, the initial three week move of so much equipment and manpower from Kuwait to Baghdad would have been an incredible accomplishment even with no resistance, to do it in the face of hostile forces is awe inspiring.
Remember, we were moving the needed equipment and supplies through the needle eye of the ports in Kuwait. Those ports were already working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Moving the 4th Division, which was supposed to go through Turkey but were stopped by machinations by our “allies”, down and through Kuwait would have added weeks or months to the operation and given Saddam even more time than he already had.
As for the “looting,” I am of the opinion that it was not the ordinary Iraq that started the looting. I think it was instigated by elements of the Mukhabarat seeking to destroy evidence. It was a “no lose” situation for them. If we shot “looters” we would be heartless conquerers, if we didn’t, which is what happened, we were hapless fools for letting it happen. But it would have happened no matter how many troops we had there.
I think kchunk’s big complain is with the Iraqi Constitution and its recognition of Islam as the religion of the land. He thinks that we should not have allowed it.
First of all, the people of Iraq, or anywhere else, are not Americans that talk and dress funny. They have different priorities, different beliefs and different ideas of what is and is not important. In the Middle East, Islam is important. It permeates everything. It may be practiced more or less devoutly by different groups, but it is an important part of everything in that society. That is reality.
If we had dictated to the Iraqis writing the Constitution that it was not permitted to include language like that, we might as well have packed up and left right then. Because that would mark the Constitution as being imposed on the Iraqis by foreign conquerors and it would be meaningless.
We can suggest and we can persuade, but we can’t dictate and expect to make a lasting difference. We are not trying to make them into little carbon copy Americans. It wouldn’t work and would probably backfire. What we are doing is helping them form a government that will work for them and not be dangerous to us. Hopefully it will be enough to start a change in the Middle East away from autocratic rule, secular or religious, and toward a more representative model. That’s it. There are going to be parts of it that we wouldn’t like to have in America, NOW is probably not going to like it, but so what? Iraq is not America and Iraqis are not Americans.
There were huge problems with the occupation of Japan and Germany after WWII, but we never hear about them. I served with people that grew up in post-war Germany and joined the American Army. They tell stories of those days. Bombings, assassinations, black markets, looting, and that was just the American forces, but we made it through.
Two years is nothing. We’re barely started. But look at all the places where we have troops fifty years after we won. Look at the more recent recipients of our help. Kosovo, Somalia, Haiti? We have invested a lot more than two years in some of those places and what do we have? Violence, ethnic divisions, colonial rule by the UN, or anarchy and al-Qaeda in the case of Somalia. But Iraq is a mess?
I think we are doing fine in Iraq if you compare it to other wars, not make believe. Read Michael Yon, Mudville Gazette, The Adventures of Chester or any of the other Milblogs. Check out The Fourth Rail and the Winds of Change for analysis. I think you’ll get a different picture than that given by the news media.
In WWII our enemies had to maintain large propaganda machines. They had to find people like Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally to do their broadcasts. But in this war the American news media is lining up to do that for them, no charge. Instead of being tried for treason they’re getting awards.
If you’re going on what you read in the newspaper, without doing any independent checking, you are being badly served.