Sunday, December 03, 2006

Monday Preview: Fools, Fanatics and Iraq Lessons Learned

What I've feared the most about our woebegone war in Iraq is coming to pass. We're learning nothing from the experience, and we're taking our "lessons" from people who are trying to make excuses for their mistakes.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Paul Bremer, who was young Mister Bush's pick to head the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, has written a new afterword to his book on what went wrong with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"The biggest obstacle [to progress] has been the failure to provide adequate security for the Iraqi people," writes Mr. Bremer.

Really? Let's get something straight here. The only legitimate purpose of government is to provide security for its people. Bremer is a career diplomat who earned an advanced degree in political studies. You'd think he'd have understood that when, under his care, Iraq's security situation went to hell in a coal car.

Another "lessons learned on Iraq" book writer is Larry Diamond, a "democracy expert" who was a senior adviser to Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority. Diamond wrote "If we learn from our mistakes, our next engagement to help rebuild a collapsed state might have a more successful outcome."

No, Larry. If we learn from our mistakes, we won't collapse any more states that we have to rebuild.

You may not be surprised to learn that Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, which is part of the network of neoconservative think tanks that include the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Heritage Foundation, and Bill Kristol's infamous Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

The people writing the lessons learned on the Iraq disaster are the very people who created it, and who have a vital stake in rewriting history before anybody figures out they're the ones responsible for one of history's most profound fiascos.

Weekly Standard publisher and PNAC founder William Kristol, whose father Irving is considered to be the founder of American neoconservatism, has called on numerous occasions to send more ground troops into Iraq, even though he has no knowledge of warfare, much less the kind of warfare he helped create in Iraq. Here's a perfect example from an article he recently co-authored for the Washington Post of just how sans-a-clue Kristol is about his favorite form of national power:
The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.

Insurgent forces, especially successful ones like the ones we face in Iraq, don't engage in decisive battles with superior, conventional military units. That's Asymmetric Warfare 101 stuff. It doesn't surprise me that Kristol doesn't know that, but why anybody still listens to Kristol or any of his cronies in the Big Brother Broadcast Network is a mystery mini-series to me.

But listen they do. Conservatives and liberals alike are pushing for a U.S. force structure shift that would increase the size of our ground forces, but why would they want to do that?

Back to the bogus lessons learned from Iraq. Proponents of establishing a larger ground force base their arguments on the principle that we needed--or need--a larger ground force to "win" in Iraq. But the real lesson from Iraq is that invade-and-occupy wars are counterproductive.

So why would we want to pursue a force strategy that supports a grand strategy of pursuing further counterproductive wars?

Pavlov's Dogs of War

Don't think for a lightning bug's blink that our Iraq experience has taught the neoconservatives anything.

In a recent piece for The Australian, Joshua Muravchi, who lo-and-behold is a "resident scholar" with the American Enterprise Institute, says "Neo-conservatism isn't dead, it's the only viable option." And that "the neo-con strategy of trying to transform the Middle East, however blemished, remains without alternative."

The neo-con strategy remains without alternative.

Oh my stars and stripes.

Fools and fanatics. Absurdities and atrocities. Are the imbeciles putting us on, or do they really mean it?

More to the point: will we ever learn to ignore the absurdities of fools and fanatics, or will we continue to act like imbeciles and commit their atrocities for them?


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.


  1. I've just discovered your blog. You write good stuff. Good to discover a fellow Hampton Roads blogger!

  2. Hi, Vivian. Welcome to P and S. Good article on the local trades situation. Kids going to work who can't read a tape measure?


  3. Ozzie Bloke9:47 PM

    Dear Jeff

    Love your stuff... I'm one of many million Australians sick to death of following America into debacle after debacle. So sorry about the loss of lives - both American and Iraqi. Strangely only a couple of Aussies have died so far and it hasn't had any effect on our Teflon PM : so far. He faces the electorate next year however. Read something recently about Winston Churchill saying that the creation of Iraq had been one of his biggest mistakes : given Gallipoli and the Fall of Singapore that's saying plenty! George Santanya: Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    George W. Bush: Loved Santana's early stuff - especially Caravanersai

    As for The Australian owned by ex Australian Rupert Murdoch, even he's backing away from Your Idiot in Chief. You know things are bad when that media rat's jumping off the neo-con bandwagon.

    Keep Up The Good Words My Man

    GRADUATE 1976

  4. Ozzie Bloke1:00 AM


    Don't you hate it when you make a joke about an idiot and idiotically mispel the original quotee...

    GEORGE SANTAYANA is of course how he spelt his name!

  5. Ozzie,

    LOL. Don't worry too much about it. If it weren't for cut and paste, I'd misspell darn near everybody's name.

    Thanks for stopping by and posting. Please visit again.



  6. Those who are trying to re-write history at lightning speed -- they get it. They're in a hurry because too many of us might get it, and soon.

    There are those who never have and never will get it, though -- as you say, Asymmetrical Warfare 101. I believe history courses in public schools should be teaching the real why and how of war, way beyond "who won? and what date?"

  7. "The biggest obstacle [to progress] has been the failure to provide adequate security for the Iraqi people," writes Mr. Bremer. uhhh... that would be the same Mr. Bremer whose first act was to disband the Iraqi Army and security forces to expedite the "debaathification" of Iraq? That would be the same Mr. Bremer whose CPA was staffed with incredible idealogue know-nothings who hid out in the Green Zone, ate Pork BBQ and drank in the Green Zone discos on Thursday nights?

    The biggest obstacle to progress was Mr. Bremer acting as His Imperial Majesty in a country he hardly understood, doing a task he wasn't suited for and wanting to get home to Momma in Vermont ASAP.

  8. Jeff, but teaching more than dates & who won would not be in the interests of those wish to start new wars!

    Jeff H, in Hampton Roads news, what country would you bet on as being the recipient of Petty Officer Ariel Weinmann's stolen classified info? My bet would be the country that gave us the attack on the USS Liberty...

  9. Discovered your blog through Vivian Paige.

    Read a lot here and I see where you are coming from but what is not clear to me is what you suggest. I know that is a cliche retort, but please understand, it is not meant to be.

    I do not think anyone who could go back in time would do the same thing (Some would go in different, some would not go in at all) but now we are in the situation.

    I am curious as to your "If I were the President, I would..." take on this.

    You write well and obviously you are one of the few bloggers who THINKS through what they are saying, but I am interested in your take on where we go from here (Of course, if I knew, I would be a rich man, but I don't, so I'm not :-)

    I may not agree with you in general, but like honest intellectual conversation, so you are bookmarked now!

    Thanks to Vivian for introducing some of us to another quality Hampton Roads Blogger!

  10. Martin K3:46 PM

    The two things I want to know:
    1) Who ordered the demobilization of the Iraqi army.
    2) Who ordered the destruction of Fallujah.

    That person should be, if not waterboarded, then at least forced to carry heavy objects for the rest of his life on a daily basis. Two single most IDIOTIC moves of the whole sad, sad, sad idiotic venture.

    When Highschool Jocks Invade Countries. Just stupid, no point whatsoever.

  11. Thanks to all for the great additions to the discussion.



  12. "what went wrong with Operation Iraqi Freedom. (?)" For starters, Paul Bremer.

  13. Anonymous8:01 AM

    If I recall the reports correctly, at least Jay Garner, and perhaps Paul Bremer as well, was vehemently opposed to demobilising the Iraqi army. The orders to do so came from above, from very high above...