I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Iraq - It didn't have to be this way but ....

Early war cheer leader Jacob Weisberg has a very confused piece on Iraq in Slate today, Our Iraqi Mistake. On one hand he seems to be trying to make the bad execution argument and the outcome didn't have to be the way it turned out.
This litany of failure has become familiar (here's a good survey by Kenneth Pollack). Rumsfeld's Pentagon and Cheney's White House simply rejected the idea of planning for a hostile occupation. They disregarded basic counterinsurgency theory, which suggests that you need to send 20 troops for every 1,000 civilians to ensure order and that the occupiers need to operate with a light hand to win hearts and minds. In Iraq, that would have amounted to something like 450,000 troops, if you exclude friendly Kurdistan. A smaller number might have served if coupled with shrewd application of strategy, but less than one-third that number and no counterinsurgency strategy meant we couldn't secure the country. Paul Bremer's early decisions to disband the Iraqi army and security forces and proceed with radical de-Baath-ification alienated the Sunnis and fueled the insurgency. As Iraq descended into mayhem, a disengaged president continued to put forth the absurdist goal of establishing liberal democracy in a catastrophically damaged country where it had no root.
Every thing Weisberg says here is true but we still have a serious problem, 450,000 troops were simply not available - not by a long shot. The administration invaded Iraq with "the army they had" not the army they needed. Since the Army they had was not adequate one can only assume that the invasion itself was the ultimate mistake eclipsing all others. Sorry Jacob, it did have to be this way.

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