Thursday, August 23, 2007

# Posted 10:55 AM by Patrick Porter  

ANALOGY FATIGUE: This is probably an odd claim from an historian, but I'm getting a little weary of folk comparing the Iraq war/emergency to Vietnam. Particularly when they only choose the bits that suit them politically.

But the analogy is hard to ignore, as Vietnam became a kind of shorthand for a damaging misadventure.

Opponents of the war invoked Vietnam as a warning against walking into a prolonged, demoralising and futile conflict that would only embolden one's enemies, weaken one's claims to the moral high ground, drain the domestic consensus in favour of the wider struggle, and result in thousands of American military casualties not to mention millions of dead foreigners.

But now that the political class debates withdrawal, timetables for exits and 'iraqification' of the war effort, it is supporters of Bush and the surge who invoke Vietnam every ten seconds. Bush himself warns that retreat now, like then, will lead to far greater catastrophe (the killing fields, the 're-education camps', a refugee exodus, etc).

The Vietnam analogy may be accurate in some ways, although the Vietnam prism of a top-down homogenous guerrilla war was in many ways not a helpful parallel to the more complex and fragmented insurgency that broke out in Iraq.

But it seems that buying into the analogy means one cannot be too selective. If you conclude that withdrawal now will trigger a greater humanitarian disaster on a par with abandoning Vietnam, that entails that the original decision to go to war in Iraq, or at least the way it was managed, was a mistake.

If, however, you have spent the past four years presenting the war in Iraq as Vietnam redux (and there are serious problems with this analysis too), then it is surely strange now to dismiss comparisons with what happened when the US withdrew from Vietnam. Even if the post-Vietnam catatrophes were made possible by the Vietnam war.

Its a tough call. Withdrawal may well trigger a devastating wave of even worse intensifying violence and genocide. And even successful counterinsurgencies have taken much longer than four years and involved continual errors.

On the other hand, the US is waging an important wider struggle that needs to retain domestic political support. Public opinion is not just a fickle thing to criticise, but a force in its own right that needs to be accommodated in an overall strategy.
(15) opinions -- Add your opinion

Yes, I do say that withdrawal now from Iraq would result in a bloodbath that is unacceptable to anyone who wants this global conflict to end well for the industrial world. In no way does that mean that kicking out Saddam was a mistake. That simply means that people don't want to pay the real costs of World War IV, and finish the campaign in Iraq, then go on to the next campaign.

In late 2002 I was already telling friends here in Portland, Oregon that it would take a *minimum* of 5 years, if everything went *perfectly* to establish Iraqi representative government that can defend itself! It was a matter of simple numbers. Add together the time it takes to train recruits, integrate the trained men into squads, integrate the squads into platoons, the platoons into companies, the companies into battalions, the battalions into brigades, build a logistics capability, and train, then select by subtraction a General Staff that can plan operations and strategy in response to Iraqi policy. That takes 5 years if *no* mistakes are made! There are *always* mistakes!

That people did not and do not wish to face up to the real extent of effort in Iraq, and elsewhere, after they were told in late 2001 that this would be a war of years and decades, does *not* make the Iraq campaign a strategic or policy mistake. It means the policy elites are not willing to admit just how long they will have to remain under the political majority who voted for George W. Bush, without giving our hirabi opponents another spanish style political victory.

The open desire to proclaim that campaign a complete mistake, at any price, stems far more from the driving domestic class bigotry against those "Jacksonian" voters on the part of so many in our political community than it does anything on the ground in Iraq.

As you noted, *any* campaign will include mistakes, and they certainly have been made. Most of them, from the 10 month pause before invading Iraq, to the dismissal of the former Iraqi Army, to the "force protection strategy" before Petraeus took command, were from paying *too*much* attention to the opinions of those who never wanted the Iraq campaign to begin in the first place.

Like the blog. I hope all participants keep posting as regularly as possible.


Tom Billings
Tome Billing
time it takes to train recruits, integrate the trained men into squads, integrate the squads into platoons, the platoons into companies, the companies into battalions, the battalions into brigades, build a logistics capability, and train, then select by subtraction a General Staff that can plan operations and strategy in response to Iraqi policy.

Tom did come to your mind there are 250,000 Iraqi military are trained and ready to use with their gear the new government or US when went in they can use them to set the security and help in reconstructions Iraq?

You may be saying they are Saddam military, I answer you and assure you not, Saddam regime had his own military force carefully selected and specially trained to protect the regime, If Bremer saying there are no Iraqi military when he went their simply because they wont like to fight for the regime they hate instead Bremer in one line dismantled 250,000 military personal and left without any wages and finance for themselves and their families while Bremer had very ambushes plane for resorting and privatizing Iraq he did not set social welfares to help these guys.

Coming here by saying “five years” to get military and police force, this just not right and excuses for failing to deliver the promises to Iraq.
The Iraqi army was not particularly good.
Bringing them back by the unit--after they'd all gone home without much fighting--would have been a problem. You'd get back the army of poorly-trained Shi'ite enlisted men officered by poorly-trained and corrupt Sunnis.
Getting them in by individuals to man up units organized, at least at the beginning, according to US doctrine and training standards, seems like a better deal. The Iraqi vets would have to be trained, anyway.
Starting from scratch seems like the better alternative.
George Bush and his pals have spent 5 years saying Iraq is never like Vietnam, and now all of a sudden it is. The mistake was not in leaving Vietnam, but getting involved in the first place. The unpleasantness that occured after we left was nothing compared to the bloodbath that occured while we were fighting that stupid war. I am appalled that we sent our brightest college students to Oxford, where they learn how to be boneheads. Very, very disappointing.
Richard Aubrey
The Iraqi army was not particularly good. Bringing them back by the unit--after they'd all gone home without much fighting--would have been a problem. You'd get back the army of poorly-trained Shi'ite enlisted men officered by poorly-trained and corrupt Sunnis.

I don’t know from where and how are your expert in Iraqi army forces info came from?

I agree they have problems, but this army is the same army your media and your official made scary stores, during Kuwait invasion and US sent Half millions Military personal to out them of Kuwait!! Also at some stage US, and other western media and US administration put Iraqi army one of top ten well trained and powerful army in the world!

So I don’t go to argue here about the level of them but they are definitely not to US slandered and may a bit of training with short time period they can be up to the job that US need to get help, but the point not all Iraqi army personal corrupted as you stated and there are very well respected generals and commanders and solders between them, its easy screening process to find out and use good of them form the total number of 250,000, I did not said use all of them, let say use 100,000 those who are good, work with them to achieve the goals that set to establish a new democratic Iraq.

If you recall the recent history, when US went to Japan, they did not dismantled the loyal army of the Aspirator of Japan, US used them in rescue missions and restore the public services and all of that, so why that not copied in to Iraqi army? That the question you should give reasonable answers not talking about corruptions, poor trained whatever reasons you hid your thought, but they are manpower you need them in time there is disastrous Shock & Awe war which may be in the affecting number of people can be compared with Hiroshima


"I am appalled that we sent our brightest college students to Oxford, where they learn how to be boneheads. Very, very disappointing."

why did you say that, and who are you directing it towards?

btw, isn't it a little unbalanced to refer to Vietnam as a 'bloodbath' yet call the Cambodian genocide as 'unpleasantness'?
There is always the danger of carrying a metaphor or an analogy too far. I see nothing wrong with cherry picking the way you use your rhetorical device (in this case, the analogy of Vietnam).

Why should denying that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake on a par with Vietnam preclude the opinionator from asserting that withdrawng from Iraq would be a mistake on a par with withdrawing from Vietnam?

The consequences of going in and, having gone in, the consequences of coming out are two distinct things.
The closest analogy is that if the war is lost, it will not be lost by our troops on the ground. It will be lost in the halls of congress (just as it was in Vietnam) by ceasing to fund our military and those who continue the fight for Iraq's fledgling democracy. Iraq will need support even when their military is able to manage the country's security. Nation building (even if you don't like the concept or the term) takes time. The US congress pulled the rug out from under the South Vietnamese just as they began to have a chance to prevail.

The historically challenged should count the years from the Declaration of Independence to the signing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That is how long it took for an orderly society to come to grips with how to govern itself. How long does it take for a corrupt, tribalistic, society used to a reign of terror and beset with religious hatreds?

The analogy with the Japanese army after WWII is completely off base. The Japanese army was highly disciplined and devoted to the Emperor who had agreed to cooperate with the US occupation after relinquishing his divine status. Those who could not tolerate surrender killed themselves (rather than their innocent countrymen) after a brief coup attempt by junior military officers that lasted only a matter of hours before it was thwarted. There were benefits to dealing with a homogeneous and orderly society which are not seen in Iraq and were a big factor in the successful democratization of Japan. Again, count the years from 1945 to the end of the US military occupation of Japan and the beginning of independently functioning Japanese government. This, IMHO, would represent the shortest period possible which would allow the establishment of a new government from the ashes of the old.
Paul Bremer he did not took serious actions with rising Security issues as he stated " Security issues are a matter of grave concern" but he have seven objects to do before his " Security issues are a matter of grave concern" this rises many questions here?

If he knew there were Security issues and they are a matter of grave concern, so why then he dismantled the Iraqi army and police forces?

Iraq faces many problems, including decades of under-investment in everything from the oil industry to the sewer system. Security issues are a matter of grave concern. There are other problems as well, but knowing how to turn Iraq into a sovereign state is not one of them.

There wasn't any cookbook answer to it. One couldn't say, "Well, let me look up and see what the recipe is here for success." We went back and forth. But it was a genuine intellectual inquiry into the merits of a longer period before sovereignty was turned over, and the shorter one.
Robert Blackwill
'The US congress pulled the rug out from under the South Vietnamese just as they began to have a chance to prevail.'

Interesting how this has now become the new orthodoxy-it looks at the problem from entirely the wrong angle, as if it was merely a military question. One could just as easily point to the fact that the Soviets had established a viable and combat capable Afghan army before their withdrawal after nearly ten years of effort in 1989 (which they had by the way, albeit an army still afflicted with enormous problems of corruption and desertion). The essential challenge in these scenarios however was never military-it was the fact that the whole society was inherently unstable. The South Vietnamese government, after years of American-backed figurehead swapping,(Allawi/Jafaari/Maliki today anyone?) financial patronage, and a heavy advisor presence, lacked internal legitimacy-a problem Afghan President Najibullah also faced after 1989. Najibullah lasted longer than the South Vietnamese govt., but when the external patronage ended, his regime also collapsed due to internal defections. Basically, the longer the presence of an external patron in such scenarios, the more the problems of dependency upon that actor and ongoing internal problems (corruption, lack of an effective civil society, perceived lack of need/excessive difficulty of reform etc.) become intertwined. Going 'long' in such scenarios is not necessarily the answer, since the problems along the nation's developmental curve on the path to becoming a sovereign state again become compounded and in fact multiply (look at Afghanistan today for example, where the democratically elected government is floating on a bubble of economic growth, but one provided entirely by international aid and a fantastically blossoming illegal heroin economy). Going 'short' (Haiti, Panama, Granada) or not going at all in such scenarios begins to look like the better option. There is a very good piece in latest edition of Orbis about strategy for the next American administration-basically arguing for continued American leadership in the world, but for America as security provider of 'last resort', rather than what it currently is i.e. an anti-status quo power wedded to changing the whole Middle East in a single generation. Worth reading even if you don't agree.

First, I draw your attention to the fact that the North signed a peace agreement.

The North invaded, yes invaded, twice, after the peace agreement.
The first time the South beat back the North. The second time, the North succeeded with its invasion.

What changed? The Soviets and the Chinese increased their support to the North fourfold and the Congress stopped all support of the South.

There well may be other reasons that the South fell but I suggest to you that the major reason was indeed Congres's Case Church Amendment denying support to the South.

Comparing what happened after Vietnam to what might happen after Iraq is entirely appropriate. The aftermath of a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq could be far worse than Vietnam.
"The aftermath of a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq could be far worse than Vietnam."

Could be NOT?

This set of argument just sick neocon scary stores like WMD weapons.

What will be worse will happen more that what Iraqi being now for years going from worse to more worse?

Just go and see the number of Iraqi killed till now?

Can some one answer what will be worse than that?

there are no civilians or sectarian war between Iraqi those mercenaries their number now up from US troops in Iraq now those professional killers and inside those 10,000 criminals that Saddam free them and those Saddam brigades forces they are the all the element who responsible for most of chaos now.
We're going to be in Iraq for decades, if we do it right.

The lesson from Vietnam is that if you want an ally's fragile government to stay intact and not fall to your enemies, you leave behind a sufficient deterrent. We did that in Korea but not South Vietnam.

When and if the problem of terrorist cells has been quelled, we will still need to establish a permanent airbase in Iraq at the very least, to ensure against possible external threats (mainly Iran).
the army of poorly-trained Shi'ite enlisted men officered by poorly-trained and corrupt Sunnis.
How long does it take for a corrupt, tribalistic, society used to a reign of terror and beset with religious hatreds?

Some samples corruptions by heros. Enjoy

Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse knows this only too well. As the highest-ranking civilian contracting officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she testified before a congressional committee in 2005 that she found widespread fraud in multibillion-dollar rebuilding contracts awarded to former Halliburton (nyse: HAL - news - people ) subsidiary KBR (nyse: KBR - news - people ).


Then there is Robert Isakson, who filed a whistleblower suit against contractor Custer Battles in 2004, alleging the company - with which he was briefly associated - bilked the U.S. government out of tens of millions of dollars by filing fake invoices and padding other bills for reconstruction work.

He and his co-plaintiff, William Baldwin, a former employee fired by the firm, doggedly pursued the suit for two years, gathering evidence on their own and flying overseas to obtain more information from witnesses. Eventually, a federal jury agreed with them and awarded a $10 million judgment against the now-defunct firm, which had denied all wrongdoing.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the U.S. military outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.
He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers -- all of them being sold for cash, he said.
Vance told a federal agent that the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, U.S. soldiers, State Department workers and Iraqi government employees.
The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co. "It was a Wal-Mart for guns," Vance says. "It was all illegal and everyone knew it."
So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other evidence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn't know whom to trust in Iraq.
For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein.



The largest case is against Maj. John Cockerham, who was indicted Wednesday with his wife and sister on charges he took $9.6 million in bribes from contractors in Kuwait. Cockerham will plead not guilty, says his lawyer, Jimmy Parks Jr.
• Col. Curtis Whiteford, Lt. Col. Debra Harrison and Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler, who were indicted in February on charges they participated in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme at a contracting office in south-central Iraq. All three pleaded not guilty. In that same case, Lt. Col. Bruce Hopfengardner pleaded guilty last year. Hopfengardner was sentenced to 21 months in prison in June.
• Chief Warrant Officer Peleti "Pete" Peleti Jr., who pleaded guilty in February to taking a $50,000 bribe from a businessman seeking a food-service contract. Peleti has asked to withdraw his guilty plea; a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5.

Textron will pay $1.15 million as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, and an additional $3.5 million to resolve charges filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

The Green Zone quickly became Baghdad's Little America.
Appearances aside, the same rules applied in the palace as in any government building in Washington. Everyone wore an identification badge. Decorum was enforced in the high-ceilinged halls. I remember hearing a soldier admonish a staffer hustling to a meeting: "Ma'am, you must not run in the corridor."

Whatever could be outsourced was. The job of setting up town and city councils was performed by a North Carolina firm for $236 million. The job of guarding the viceroy was assigned to private guards, each of whom made more than $1,000 a day. For running the palace–cooking the food, changing the lightbulbs, doing the laundry, watering the plants– Halliburton had been handed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Halliburton had been hired to provide "living support" services to the CPA. What that meant kept evolving. When the first Americans arrived in Baghdad in the weeks after Saddam's government was toppled, all anyone wanted was food and water, laundry service, and air-conditioning. By the time Cole arrived, in August 2003, four months into the occupation, the demands had grown. The viceroy's house had to be outfitted with furniture and art suitable for a head of state. The Halliburton-run sports bar at the al-Rasheed Hotel needed a Foosball table. The press conference room required large-screen televisions.
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