OxBlog

Thursday, March 30, 2006

# Posted 1:31 PM by Patrick Porter  

GREETINGS FROM OZ: with bleary jet-lagged eyes peering at the screen.
I strongly recommend Cobra II, an inside account of the war in Iraq based on interviews with military and government personnel. As if we need to hammer the point home any more, here is a tiny insight into the administration's unsatisfactory attention to postwar planning. Steve Hawkins, a brigadier general assigned to work on postwar planning issues, even faced challenges getting stationary:

Eager to get going on his task despite his mounting problems, Hawkins headed down to a trade fair at the base to scrounge up office supplies. He went from booth to booth, appropriating pads, pens and staplers - not an auspicious start for an organisation charged with smoothing the path to a new Iraq.
When it came to logistics, the problems that come with paranoid dictatorship dogged Saddam's prewar preparations:

Division commanders could not make any decisions without approval from the Republican Guard chief of staff in Baghdad, a trusted Saddam loyalist. In fact, the strictures against contacting let alone coordinating with, neighbouring units were so severe that the commander of the I Republican Guard Corps developed a new use for his reconnaissance units: scouting the location and strength of nearby Iraqi divisions.
You know you are dealing with a self-paralysing system of personal rule when military commanders need covertly-gathered intelligence about their own side's units.

At this point I would be happy to make the case that the war seems not to have been a distraction from the wider war on terror, given the growing evidence of a Hitler/Stalin pact between Saddam and radical Islam. But supporting the war is now, like, so five minutes ago. But I would rather read their thoughtful doubts about the war than the haughty, sanctimonious certainty of the New Yorker, whose opinion pieces have been ruining my breakfasts.
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