Friday, March 31, 2006

Light Blogging This Weekend

Duty Calls, so I most likely will be out of the net for the next two days, unless I can access blogger in a wifi spot with my IPAQ.

I will post something worthwhile on Sunday, I promise!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Democratic National Security Plan Dissected, Part One

The Democrats unveiled their proposal for national security plan today. The plan, entitled
Real Security: The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World.

It has taken the Democrats over four years to articulate a national security platform, which says a great deal about the inability of the party to reach a consensus on this issue.

The document is not truly a plan per se, but rather a series of goals that, taken together (the democrats believe), will increase the security of the United States of America. There are ends discussed throughout, but no discussions of the ways and means to achieve them.

Still, this is a political party's initial baseline document, so it is a start.

Wilsonizer will read through this document, and in the next week provide a critique of its major points.

Today I will start with one of the goals addressed in the military section, pertaining to Army Special Forces, which are the U.S. units that have played a large role in the war on terror and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Democrat's plan proposes to:

Double the size of our Special Forces, increase our human intelligence capabilities, and ensure our intelligence is free from political pressure [Emph Added].
This goal, as stated in the Democrat's plan, cannot be achieved at this time.

Special Forces have proven to be a highly effective, versatile tool in the Global War on Terror; however, it takes a tremendous amount of resources just to keep the current personnel force structure in place to man the five active duty Special Forces Groups (A group is the equivalent of an army regiment). There are not enough volunteers for Special Forces Duty to double the number of Special Forces units, and the Army does not have the facilities to train the number of personnel it would take to keep ten active duty Special Forces Group fully manned.

Any growth in the size of Army Special Forces units would have to be implemented slowly, and over a long period of time. And true growth in the number of active duty Special Forces units would be modest at best. Doubling the size of Army Special Forces is a bridge too far.

Any sudden, rapid growth of Special Forces units would have to come at the cost of quality and operational capability. This would violate one of the four Special Operations Truths:

Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.

While the idea of rapidly expanding Army Special Forces units sounds like a new and innovative idea, it is not a truly feasible one.

Post Script: A better idea for the Democrats to embrace might be to use Special Forces more effectively in the War on Terror; Sean Naylor's article "More Than Just Door Kickers" talks about an internal debate on how Special Forces are being employed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The "Jobs Americans Won't Do" Myth

President Bush, in his weekly radio address, was addressing the problem of illegal immigration when he said that among other things, new immigration legislation would require

a temporary worker program that will relieve pressure on our borders. This program would create a legal way to match willing foreign workers with willing American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do.

Other bloggers have already pointed out the fallacy of this viewpoint, but since it is the opinion of the President of the United States that there are certain jobs American workers won't do, let us present a few more facts to strengthen the argument against President Bush's illegal immigration stance.

The industries where a disproportionate number of illegal immigrants work (farm labor and hospitality, for example) probably are jobs that many Americans would not be willing to do right now, and why is that? Because the supply of cheap, illegal labor is such that business owners in many of these industries do not have to pay a decent living wage (by American living standards), or offer costly benefits.

This system, while it may keep prices on consumer goods and services lower, deprives under-educated, lower income Americans of many opportunities. If the supply of cheap (illegal) labor was drastically curtailed, employers would be forced to raise the wages paid and increase benefits in order to attract and maintain their work force. This would benefit the poorest in American society more than any other class.

Some Americans likely have to work at two jobs, due to the glut of illegal immigrants driving down the price of labor in many industries. Consumers and employers may benefit from this system, but the nation's poor are paying the price, and will continue to do so if watered down, meaningless legislation gets passed by Congress and signed into law.

If there are jobs that Americans will not do, it is because the inability to control illegal immigration into the United States is cheating many Americans out of the ability to find employment and earn a decent living wage.

Dirty Bomb Materials Roll Across the Border

Here's more proof that our porous, ineffectively guarded fronteras are a national security issue:

Undercover investigators bought radioactive ingredients needed to make a dirty bomb and drove them into the USA past border security agents, a government report said Monday.

The GAO said its investigators bought the radioactive material over the phone while posing as employees of a fictitious company, then had the material shipped to Washington, D.C. Several companies sell such material to buyers who have legitimate medical and business reasons for using it.

The material was apparently allowed to cross into the U.S. despite setting off radiation alarms at the checkpoint. The forged paperwork provided to border security agenst by the undercover team enabled the dirty bomb precursor materials to pass muster and enter the United States.

The test shows that measures are being put in place to tighten security along our borders. These radiation detectors are a new protective measure, something that most people did not even consider (other than in working groups far removed from policy makers) prior to Sept 11.

However, this test demonstrates that personnel with malicious intent are able to penetrate our border with enough radioactive material to conduct a serious terrorist attack on one of our cities. A dedicated, well funded terrorist cell, with time on its hands, could likely penetrate the border in the same way, with more materials to conduct a spectacular attack. Obviously, much more work needs to be done to secure our borders and protect our society.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fact Checking the New York Times

One would expect the New York Times reporters, editors, and staff to be a bit more on guard for accuracy on its news and editorial pages these days, especially after all the apparent mishaps recently. . .

Alas, they failed to achieve accuracy yet again. Today's editorial page contained a misrepresentation that, although not on par the significant mistakes that have occurred in the paper over the past two weeks, is sufficiently wrong enough to be pointed out here in the Wilsonizer.

Today's editorial page included an Op Ed piece by A. C. Grayling, entitled "Drying Out the Insurgency"; Dryer begins with the following paragraph:

London--AS we saw in the recent offensive by American and Iraqi forces against insurgents near Samarra, the term "air assault" has taken on a new meaning in military parlance. It now indicates taking troops into action by helicopter, rather than the widespread and often indiscriminately destructive firing of missiles or dropping of bombs from aircraft. [Emph Added].

Dryer continues talking about the importance of avoiding civilian casualties in war. But his Op Ed is predicated on a sudden shifting of the meaning of the term "Air Assault". In all actuality, this term, as it was used to describe operation swarmer in Iraq, has been in use for decades.

The Army's Field Manual for Operational Terms and Graphics, FM 101-5-1, defines Air Assaults as:

Operations in which air assault forces (combat, combat support, and combat service support), using the firepower, mobility, and total integration of helicopter assets in their ground or air roles, maneuver on the battlefield under the control of the ground or air maneuver commander to engage and destroy enemy forces or to seize and hold key terrain.

The 101st Airborne Division was officially designated an Air Assault unit over three decades ago, in 1974. Soldiers of that unit (and graduates of the Army's Air Assault school) were first awarded an Air Assault Badge in 1974 (first designated the Airmobile Badge, it was designated the Air Assault Badge in 1978). Hardly a new concept, to say the least.

When a public affairs officer briefed at some point that Swarmer was the largest Air Assault operation since 2003, reporters unfamiliar with military terminology immediately envisioned a bombing campaign of "shock and awe" proportions. In fact, when Swarmer proved to be less kinetic than the reporters imagined, at least one wrote disapprovingly that he had expected a little more excitement. Had reporters for major news media understood what the term air assault truly meant, they could have asked questions more relevant to the operation at hand, and provided more insight to their reader/viewership.

Reporters' lack of familiarity with military forces, terminology, and equipment leads to ineffective coverage of military operations. Swarmer was a classic example of this. The fact that major news media like Time and NYT are still unable to pay for reporters who have a keen understanding of military operations, or for editors who can fact check a military-based op-ed before it goes to print, is deeply troubling.

While the military has a responsibility to get its story to the American people and the world (something it needs to work on, based on the shoddy media coverage of Swarmer), major news outlets really need to police themselves for accuracy. Print and television media are not going to survive the internet age, especially if they are constantly wiping the egg off their faces each morning from yesterday's faulty reporting.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Emotional Immigration Debate

Thousands of people took to the streets in the US over the weekend to protest the proposed Immmigration bill(s) that will be debated in Congress this week.

Bloggers like Powerline and Mickey Kaus believe that the size of the protests will actually lead to a more aggressive attempt to get the legislation passed.

A few proffered opinions on immigration:

1. There is a profound national security aspect to this debate; the ability to move personnel who would do us harm, weapons, or material in support of terrorism across our porous borders is an issue that should have been addressed right after September 11, if not earlier.

2. If continued unchecked at the current rates, illegal immigration over the long term could have an impact on the quality of life here in America for many Americans, particularly in cities and areas that absorb a large population of people who contribute marginally to the tax base yet require increasingly strained social services (medical, education, etc). My guess is that this particular problem is at its worst in the Southwest United States.

3. The democrats are speaking out strongly against this type of legislation, but I can't believe ALL democrats believe hardline immigration reform is a bad deal; after all, I doubt that many illegal migrant workers pay any union dues.

4. This issue is too important to the socioeconomic future of the United States to be framed as a racist/ethnocentric rant. The reason that people should care about this issue is not because they are afraid of changes in the character of their neighborhood; they should care about it because their economic infrastructure can only handle so many people, and that infrastructure grows incrementally. If allowed to continue unchecked, there are entire regions of the United States that would be on the precipice of total collapse.

So yes, people are in the streets and are shouting about illegal immigration; hopefully people will be talking about the issue intelligently come monday.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Counterinsurgency - 2 Great Articles

Most of the information in the media today about the war(s) in Iraq and Afghanistan is overly general, to say the least. So, to get Wilsonizer readers ahead of the power curve, here are two very accessible military articles that provide detailed insight on how the U.S. Army views the war and is arraying itself for these fights.

Lieutenant General David Petraeus, the former commander of both the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, recently wrote a terrific article about counterinsurgency. It is available in the current issue of Military Review and definitely worth reading.

Meanwhile, Sean Naylor, who wrote about Operation Anaconda in Not a Good Day to Die, has an excellent article about Army Special Forces in Armed Forces Journal. Entitled "More than Just Door Kickers" , Naylor's piece argues that Special Forces' role of training and advising indigenous forces (often times in order to preclude the requirement for involvement of conventional American forces in a combat role) has taken a back seat to kinetic direct action operations.

I have met Naylor twice in the past few years, and I have always been impressed with his detailed writing and professionalism in covering military issues. His take on Special Forces, a subject near and dear to me, is spot on (in my humble opinion). LTG Petraeus is a soldier and a scholar, and his experiences in Iraq as both a division commander as well as the man responsible for re-establishing the Iraqi security forces (the schwerpunkt of this war, if there is one), make him one of the preeminent authorities on modern counterinsurgency operations.

Enjoy the readings!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Better Late than Never

***UPDATE*** Over at Belmont Club, Wretchard reports that the freed CPT activists are not cooperating with authorities in providing information about the criminals who abducted them. Apparently, they would rather that the murder of their friend and fellow activist Tom Fox went unpunished. Is justice no longer a Christian principle?

Two days after three Christian Peacemaker Team activists were rescued in Iraq, the organization has seen fit to post a
message of thanks to the coalition force soldiers who rescued them:
We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues.
CPT posted this message as an addendum to their original press release, which referred to the CPT activists as having been "released" rather than rescued; furthermore, the CPT website lacked any expression of gratitude to the soldiers who risked their lives so that these people might be free.

Undoubtably, the organization felt the heat after forgetting the thank you's, and is doing a little PR/damage control in the aftermath (Michelle Malkin has a post covering this angle). Still, CPT's original press release shows that totalitarian regimes don't have a monopoly on newspeak.

Always Give Credit Where Credit is Due

My Master's Thesis seems like it has a footnote every tenth word or so. Well, maybe not, but as a writer I possess a healthy fear of inadvertently using someone else's words or thoughts without giving them credit where it is due. I therefore footnote "early and often" as I write.

Apparently, not all bloggers are in the habit of doing this as vigorously as they should. How unfortunate. . .

Complexity vs. Clarity

Madeleine Albright wrote an Op Ed in the LA Times today entitled “Good Versus Evil Isn’t a Strategy". Albright’s piece criticized the Bush administration for portraying the foreign policy challenges of the world in terms of good and evil. She says, midway through her article,

When the U.S. invaded Iraq, Bush may have thought he was striking a blow for good over evil, but the forces unleashed were considerably more complex. . . although we all want to "end tyranny in this world," that is a fantasy unless we begin to solve hard problems.
The former Secretary of State later goes on to suggest that the U.S. should “disavow any plan for regime change in Iran” since a U.S. foreign policy desire would make it inherently harder for the regime to be changed.

Ms. Albright’s opinion piece is based upon flawed logic, most likely emanating from her well demonstrated bias against the Bush administration. The actions of this administration, especially recently, illustrate that it has an understanding of the complexities of the world. Hence the uneasy alliance with Musharraf’s Pakistan. Musharraf seized power in a coup, and the country’s intelligence services are credited with enabling the Taliban to develop and seize power in neighboring Afghanistan. Former Taliban guerrillas and anti-coalition militia forces find refuge and material support in the lawless areas of Pakistan, traveling north into Afghanistan to cause wreak havoc on coalition forces and the nascent Afghan security forces. And yet Pakistan, despite this ugliness, has been an invaluable ally in the war on terror. With Musharraf’s assistance, many terrorists have been killed or captured, including high ranking members of Al Qaeda.

An overly simplistic or idealistic foreign policy may well have written Pakistan off, yet the Bush administration has established solid relations with the country, and that alliance has reaped some positive results. There are countless other examples like this that clearly demonstrate President Bush and his cabinet members understand the complexities of the world.

And yet words mean things, do they not? When the President labels a terrorist group like Al Qaeda, or a regime like the current one in Iran (whose president in recent speeches has denied the holocaust and called for the destruction of Israel) as “evil” he is doing something that is as deliberate as it is clarifying. The Bush administration has recognized the complexities of the world in its many foreign policy pronouncements and cultivated diplomatic relationships; yet he has demonstrated that some actions, behaviors and stances are abhorrent and intolerable. The use of terror as a tactic to enable political or social change has been labeled as evil. Complexities aside, the deliberate slaughter of civilians , whether by Al Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, the FARC, Hamas, or whomever, is now unquestionably addressed by the government (and thus the people) of the United States for the malevolent act that it is. Evil can be a descriptive word, indeed.

There is something refreshingly clear in President Bush’s use of descriptive words like evil and tyranny, concepts that Ms. Albright proved somewhat uncomfortable addressing during her tenure as Secretary of State. If the United States President uses words like evil to describe acts of terror, it further de-legitimizes these abhorrent acts of violence. This in turn makes it easier to deal with the “hard problems” that exist in a complex, interconnected world.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ingratitude of "Christian" Peacemakers

Stalin once said gratitude is the disease of dogs, and perhaps Christian Peacemaker Teams took those words to heart.

How else to explain their apparent ingratitude to the British and U.S. military forces that rescued them, risking life and limb to ensure they did not suffer the same fate as fellow peace activist Tom Fox? Christian Peacemaker Teams gave no thanks to their rescuers whatsoever, at least publicly. Their release statement does not even acknowledge they were rescued, but instead cites their suddenly free status as the result of being "released".

Meanwhile the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi captives (a dubious number if there ever was one) is mentioned in their statement, apparently to display solidarity with the Iraqi people:

During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?

Perhaps this group plans to continue operations in the Middle East, and fears antagonizing Islamic militants by praising the men who rescued them from certain death. It would make a small amount of sense not to celebrate the military action of Westerners in this case, purely for security reasons. But if this is not the case, and the group is guided by the belief that any US activity, no matter to what end it is pursued (like rescuing naïve activists from fanatics and criminals who would murder innocents for so many pieces of silver, coin that would likely be used to initiate further mayhem) originates from malevolence, then these Christian Peacemaker teams have truly lost their way.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Wilsonizer is going through some cosmetic changes. I bought a book on HTML and plan to fine tune the blog's interface a bit in my spare (ha ha) time. Obviously, I will continue to provide great content on timely topics, but I want to make the blog itself speak more of who I am than is currently possible with the templates Blogger provides. Stay tuned. . .

The Media and the War

I received an email today forwarded from an Army officer and colleague of mine currently in Iraq, decrying the media's coverage of the situation there. As luck would have it, I also read an excellent commentary piece this morning by Jack Kelly on the same subject.

The officer in Iraq believes that the American press, the fourth estate, has failed egregiously in its reporting on the war, especially of late. He writes in his email, comparing current media coverage to that of wars past,

Anyone remember Casserine Pass? Cisterna? The escape of the German main force from Sicily? The devastation of the Murmansk convoys? Tarawa? New Guinea? The failure to capture a major French port until weeks after D-Day? Were these openly portrayed in the papers as disasters that should cause us to lose faith in the government? We had a totally false picture of the status of the Nazi Nuclear program, the major factor behind our own urgency to develop the H-bomb - mistaken intel about WMD's? when have we heard that before? Certainly WWII was easier to focus on, with a geographically and nationally defined threat, so if anything today we need the best efforts of the politicians and the press put the country first and try to unite us, rather than divide us

Today I watched a CNN report in disgust, as they tried to make sense of a large airmobile operation [Swarmer] in Iraq and intially got the story wrong, then tried to bring on a retired Air Force (?) general to talk about it, all the while running footage of burning M1 tanks and trucks and troops fighting in the streets, clearly file footage from 2003 to an educated observer, but only a fraction of the footage was labeled as such.

Every negative report on our effort, every self-righteous congressional monologue on what wrong we are doing, feeds the enemy hope and makes our lives more difficult and more dangerous. Somewhat discouraging.

My colleague in Iraq is building a bridge too far in expecting American media to see itself as such, and many in the news business would argue he is asking for press that is overly biased toward one side in a conflict (even if that side is our own!).

But in his rough analysis he brought up some excellent points. There were catastrophic setbacks in other wars, especially the disasters he cited during World War II. Yet at no point was there such an unbalanced cacophony of reports that would lead readers/viewers to believe the proverbial sky is falling, as there is today.

The past three weeks have brought nothing but reporting on the likelihood of civil war in Iraq, including frequent polling of Americans on their belief of this occurring. Meanwhile, there has been virtually no balancing coverage of events that could be indicators that Iraq is not on the brink of a civil war. Some Blogs have shown large scale religious events like
pilgrimages that transpired peacefully during this period, and the fact that the Iraqi army is capable enough to conduct an operation like Swarmer (without dissolving completely and forming into sectarian militias), is a visible counter to the monolithic Iraq-in-civil-war drum beaten every day in the press recently.

Another timely complaint brought up in my colleague's email is the media's apparent ignorance of military operations. The United States has been at war continuously for over four years, and yet major media outlets like CNN are unable to distinguish between a strategic air bombing campaign and an Army air assault operation, apples and oranges if there were ever two different things to compare. Ignorance of military forms of maneuver makes it difficult, if not impossible, to analyze why operations are conducted or what fruits are gained by them. Thus, a Time Magazine reporter on the ground hears the words air assault and envisions in his minds eye a conflict on par with the Battle of Bastogne; when the forces are inserted by helicopter and seize their objectives without encountering hostile fire, the reporter lamented that Swarmer "failed to live up to its advanced billing." Meanwhile, no useful analysis is made of the fact that Iraqi soldiers developed the intelligence, planned the mission, and executed Swarmer during a time of "impending civil war" . For shame!

Jack Kelly's article also addressed the media's ignorance of all things military. He takes issue with a prevailing attitude in today's media that correspondents with military experience, or military bloggers (whose experience would seemingly provide insight into how the military operates), are too biased to report accurately:

Consider the implications of this attitude [ that those with military experience are too biased to report on military matters]. Would a reporter who is a lawyer (such as Fox News' Megyn Kendall) be considered biased in covering the courts simply because she actually knows something about the law? Would a reporter who is a doctor (such as CNN's Sanjay Gupta) be considered biased simply because he actually knows something about medicine? Yet news organizations consider it proper to have our wars covered by people who are unclear about from which end of the rifle the round comes.

There are more problems than solutions addressed in this post, unfortunately; I simply don't have all the answers yet to the media's inability to cover the war effectively. But one thing is for certain: the media is failing to provide accurate and in depth reporting of the largest and most important military endeavor undertaken by the United States in the last four decades. This failure of the fourth estate makes it difficult for the American people to properly understand the stakes for America in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jack Kelly summed up the problem addressed here better than I can in his editorial today. According to Kelly,

Actor and antiwar activist Richard Belzer said he knows more about the war in Iraq than do U.S. servicemen in Iraq because he "reads 20 newspapers a day." But 20 biased, shallow and incomplete accounts don't add up to the truth.
Well Said.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Retirement Bass?

This lucky fisherman, who apparently landed a 25 pound largemouth bass, probably won't get his catch certified to beat a world record set in Georgia back in 1932.

The article says he foul-hooked the bass (the hook was lodged in a fin, rather than the mouth of the fish), which if done intentionally disqualifies the catch, according to IFGA rules. He also released the bass without first taking all appropriate measurements to confirm the fish's size. Probably not going to retire to your own show on the outdoor network now, buddy.

Personally, I keep IFGA's contact number stored on my cell phone so that if, er, when I catch my 26 pounder, I can double check and get it right!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Vicious Hindsight of Major General Eaton

Retired Major General Paul Eaton unleashed a vicious Op-Ed attack on the Secretary of Defense yesterday, calling for Rumsfeld to resign immediately due to "incompetence", among other things. In making his point that Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, Eaton also maligned nearly all of the military's key leaders of the past four years. Eaton's attack was innacurate, unprofessional and uncalled for. In summing up his case against the Secretary of Defense, the retired general illustrated a mindset that appears focused on issues that have already passed, rather than the problems being faced by commanders in the field today.

Eaton's attacks on Rumsfeld appear to be largely ad hominem, and rarely backed up by facts. He cites General Shinseki as the only uniformed officer willing to stand up to the Secretary, and that the early announcement of Shinseki's retirement scared all of the military's leadership into silence.

To boldly state that all of the flag officers lack the conviction to present ground truth to the Secretary of Defense, to the President and Congress, and ultimately to the American people is absolutely outrageous. Denigrating all of the Generals with whom and under whom you have served speaks more of a bitterness at one's current lot in life than of rational analysis.

General Shinseki may have been right about the low occupation troop estimates initially made early on by the Pentagon; however, he was ultimately proven to be stubbornly wrong about several outmoded weapon systems that cost the Pentagon billions prior to this, and his judgement was likely suspect at the point that he provided his estimate to Congress. While I am inferring what two people may or may not have thought in this one situation, Eaton, in his opinion piece today, stated outright that the ENTIRE military chain of command is too afraid to speak the truth to the American people. Who is more likely to be right, or at least accurate?

Eaton's statements about Secretary Rumsfeld alienating European allies out of supporting the Iraq mission early on are wrong, too. Building coalitions is beyond the realm of the Secretary of Defense; the President ultimately decided to go to war (with the approval of Congress) with the coalition that had been put together at the time. Rumsfeld's comments about "Old Europe" played no role in support that any other ally (ie Germany or France) was willing to provide in Iraq in the past or now (the Secretary later made light of these remarks during a tour of Europe later on, too).

Beyond his unforgivable lapse into personal attacks, Eaton's judgement is shown to be most suspect when commenting on Army end strength. The retired general called for increasing the Army's size from ten to fourteen divisions, a massive increase in manpower. While he faults Rumsfeld for seeking technological silver bullets, Eaton's own panacea to the problems of the world is an improbable giant Army. But who is being more realistic in their approach to solving problems? Not Eaton, certainly. By its own admission, the Army is challenged recruiting enough people to maintain its current end strength; increase its size by forty percent and the Army would not be able to man its formations. Thus, there would be divisions on paper (requiring Major Generals to command them, of course), but the force would truly be a hollow one.

Instead of focusing on unworkable solutions like the one suggested by Eaton, the Pentagon has spent the last few years adapting the forces available and emerging technology to enhance the effects the military has in the operational environment. Divisions are reorganizing now to maximize deployable subordinate combat units (Units of Action) by another twenty-five to thirty-three percent. Replacing soldiers with contract civilians, while maligned in Eaton's opinion piece, actually frees up Army manpower to be focused in areas more critical to the fight; infantrymen and military police are much more invaluable in counterinsurgency than cooks, after all. And finally yes, technology has increased the operational capabilities of men in battle in this war, as it has in virtually every war before it. Today, a unit's unmanned aerial vehicle (technology that has only become widely available in the last few years) can eliminate the need for a unit to conduct certain types of reconnaissance, or lower the risk that a manned overflight of a target area would incur for an operation. Technology is not a silver bullet, but it is definitely an operational enhancer in today's operational environment that should not be so easily dismissed.

Paul Eaton's op-ed piece is thus inaccurate, untrue, and served no purpose that is constructive to the successful conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While the retired general may have (arguably) served his country well in unform for three decades, his vicious attack did little more than provide soundbites to those who cheer out load at every setback and misstep in this conflict. Better that a man with Eaton's experience rolled up his sleeves and helped the country win its wars, than to bleed all over the editorial page of the New York Times.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Anti-War Protests So So, as Expected

From the
Salt Lake Tribune:

The protests, like those held to mark each of the two previous anniversaries of the March 2003 invasion, were vigorous and peaceful but far smaller than the large-scale marches that preceded the war. . .

And here, in Fayetteville North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer reported on the diminished anti-war effort's showing:

Last year, as many as 4,000 demonstrators crowded into the park. Police put this year’s attendance at no more than 1,000. The turnout was smaller this year because of other peace rallies across the country, organizers said. Last year’s event also was held in conjunction with national meetings of several anti-war groups in town. Counterdemonstrators numbered about 200 last year.

The photo above is a pic of demonstrators marching in front of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, which is located on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville. It is the keystone of the downtown revitalization project and definitely worth a look if you ever happen to find yourself in town. There's a few good restaurants and a coffee shop a stone's throw from the place too, by the way. Hopefully the protests drummed up some extra business for the shopkeepers downtown this year. . .

The ineffectiveness and sparse attendance of these protests are in line with the theory I advanced in a previous post: Protesting is cathartic for those involved, but actually does little to advance a given cause. Protestors, after an act of disobedience, feel like they have taken action, taken a risk, got out there and said something that had to be said. In truth, however, American society has become conditioned to accept that there are going to be people on the greens or in the plazas of our cities protesting something, anything, and most Americans really don't give them a second thought. So while a stand may be taken when placards are lifted and guest speakers take the stage, in reality the cause never truly advances. Keep at it though, don't let those feelings stay bottled up for too long. . .

Post Script: A commenter at Gateway Pundit suggested that the protests had light attendance due to the fact that the majority of Americans already disagree with the War; this is counterintuitive, actually.

If the majority of Americans disagree with the war, than they should be extremely dissatisfied with the political system, since politicians in both parties have continued the funding and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom for three years now. In contrary to the commenter's post, this is typically a time when people would come together and organize acts of civil disobedience, since the system offers no satisfaction. The fact that they are not could mean a variety of things. Most likely, it could be contributed to the fact that the majority of politically active American people are uneasy about the war due to expectations they had for OIF compared to recent military actions elsewhere (Afghanistan, Kosovo, Haiti, Desert Storm, etc), along with the added uncertainty of a seemingly open-ended, expensive commitment that the Iraq War seems to be; this is in contrast to what are arguably
extreme views espoused by some of the so called mainstream protest groups, who use invoke themes like illegality, war crimes, etc, in their manifestos and calls to action. The uneasy American center is not aligned with this group, so they choose not to participate in acts of civil disobedience with them, either.

Of course, judging by the political apathy of a large portion of American society at election time, an equal number of people don't get out in the streets because they don't want to miss the NCAA Basketball Finals, or the new season of Surreal Life on VH-1. Just a theory, though.

More on Operation Swarmer

The Belmont Club has a terrific post today on an aspect overlooked by most of the media analysis of Operation Swarmer: the showcasing of the nascent Iraqi security forces' operational capabilities.

The foundation of a successful conclusion to Operation Iraqi Freedom is the ability of a sovereign Iraq to secure itself, both from internal as well as internal threats. Swarmer shows how far the Iraqi security forces have come in the past 12 months. The Belmont Club also argues that Swarmer itself points out that a great deal of US Central Command's strategy since the beginning of OIF may have been more correct than it was given credit for:

It now seems fairly clear that many of the 'far better' strategies which were suggested in 2004 and 2005 in place of CENTCOM's may not have been as good as they were made out to be. There were many calls for more American troops on the ground, up to 400,000 men. There were even calls for a return to the draft to rescue a "broken army". It had been suggested that it was a "mistake" to fire the old Saddamite Army, which alone could maintain control, or so it was said. In the end, CENTCOM's strategy did not prove so amateurish after all.

While the final tactical results of swarmer may or may not yield anything of major significance, the mere fact that an operation is occurring that was planned and mostly executed by Iraqi forces is illustrative of a strategic end in itself. The world (America/the West, Arab and Muslim countries, Iran and Syria, Islamist terrorists, Iraqi insurgents, supporters, and the Iraqi people as a whole) sees the not insignificant growth in Iraq military capabilities via the conduct of Swarmer. A nation that can defend itself from threats both internal and external can no doubt embark on a course of democratic self determination as well.

Post Script. Again, the lack of any analysis of this sort in the mainstream media represents a contiinual inability on the part of the press to transcend bias and discern realtity on the ground. Brian Bennett's piece for Time is a case in point. Bennett's piece, one of the earliest filed relating to Operation Swarmer, implies failure because the area where Swarmer occurred was sparsely populated, and because there were no shots fired during the operation. Conversely, by Bennet's own account, a fair amount of materiel was recovered as a result of the operation:

the [Iraqi] soldiers had found some 300 individual pieces of weaponry like mortars, rockets and plastic explosives in six different locations inside the sparsely populated farming community of over 50 square miles and about 1,500 residents. The raids also uncovered high-powered cordless telephones used as detonators in homemade bombs, medical supplies and insurgent training manuals.

So Bennett has now effectively elevated the media's standard for a successful coalition military operation in Iraq; not only must weapons and explosives that have no civilian utility whatsover be recovered for an operation to be considered successful, but there must be an intense, cinematic, and ultimately climactic battle as a component of the operation as well. Time is one of the widest reaching "newsmagazines" in the United States, and other than Bennett's limited and condescending piece, it offers no analysis on what this operation may or may not have represented. A pity.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Forget V, Who Watches the Watchmen?

This weekend the movie
V for Vendetta is at the top of the box office. My brother and I collected comic books as kids (no smirking, or we'll kick your ass!), and Alan Moore, who wrote V, has shown true genius in elevating the graphic novel to a higher form.

Everyone here in Wilsonizer's house is sick, or I would have definitely checked out V this evening (posting on this blog be damned!)

But in all honesty, as good as V for Vendetta was, Moore's greatest creation has to be Watchmen, a 12 issue limited series that many would argue is the single greatest comic book/graphic novel of all time. The plot, storytelling, and subject material are incredible, and the art binds all of it together in an unforgettable medium that had never been pushed to the limits that Moore
brought it to.

Set in 1980s New York, in a world where the U.S. had won the Vietnam war, Nixon served three terms in office, and masked vigilantes had roamed the streets (until outlawed by Congress in 1977), the complex story travels from the 30's to the present day, as some retired (and active outlaw) heroes attempt to determine who killed Edward Blake, aka the Comedian. As they investigate, they come to terms with things they saw and did in the past, and it sheds light on their flawed humanity.

There are compelling characters, like the violent but emotionally damaged Rorchach, the near Omnipotent yet aloof Dr Manhattan, and even the sadistic Edward Blake, who calls himself the comedian because he has figured out that life is the biggest joke of them all. The mood is dark and the storytelling is intense, but once read, you can never forget

My comic book cllection has long since disappeared, but a copy of Watchmen sits proudly on my bookshelf.

Protesting Lite

Even on NPR today, the turnout for U.S. Antiwar protests was described as "lower than expected", so apparently people took advantage of a nice spring-like day to do something more enjoyable.

Gateway Pundit
has a nice wrap up of protests from around the globe, all of which were pedestrian, more or less.

Michelle Malkin pokes fun at the mixed signals displayed by some protestors.

And remember, a few days ago I wrote about why protests and acts of civil disobedience no longer drive political change in American society.

Check it all out!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sick Blogging, Live from Home!

The throat cultures are back, and we have a verdict: everyone in Wilsonizer's household is down with
Strep. That's a picture of Streptococcus pyogenes up top, by the way (not mine, though!)

We started our anti-biotics, ate lots of ice cream and snacks, and napped through most of a lazy Carolina day.

I'm lacking motivation in my feverish state. Therefore, in lieu of crafting a post on something, here are some interesting subjects, and links to explore them a little more thoroughly.

Operation Swarmer. Lots of traffic on "the Largest Air Assault since" out there. By the way, as a former proud member of the 101st, I always smile whenever I see something written in the papers about a "largest air assault"; a quote like that can only emanate from the public affairs office of the "only Air Assault Division in [Oak Grove, Kentucky] the free world, ha ha! Air Assault! Countercolumn provides a little clarity on Air Assault Operations; Belmont Club laments the mediocre press coverage; meanwhile, over at Mudville Gazette there are all kinds of links to learn more about what's going on, just scroll down! UPDATE: KOS Folks, of course, are dripping with bile and subsituting rage and sarcasm for analysis over Swarmer; check out the comments section to get a feel for the "enthusiasm" of progressive activists across the country.

Saddam Docs have been out for about 24 hours now! Michelle Malkin, of course, is all over the newly released Saddam Docs; no doubt she'll keep us all updated as they get translated and analyzed. Speaking of translating, Iraq the Model claims to have done just that over at his site.

Rachel Corrie. LGF discusses the Left's near-canonization of the late Rachel Corrie.

Why Mommy is a Democrat. OK, tell me, democrats out there, would you really read this tripe to your 4 year-old before bedtime? I don't believe it, I really don't. Or maybe I just don't want to believe it. Gateway Pundit has a little more on this wonderful [indoctrination tool] children's book; Powerline has some more on this from a few days back.

For Laughs. Don't read this if you're a baby seal lover! And speaking of laughs, Tom Cruise apparently does not have much of a sense of humor these days (although he apparently has some clout to shut down South Park). And over at the Onion, a conspiracy theorist has a lengthy er, hypothesis explaining while he is still single after all these years.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Ineffective Catharsis of American Protest

Recently, in countries such as the Ukraine and Lebanon, the power of people in the streets helped spark meaningful democratic change. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine enabled a popular candidate to overturn the results of a rigged election and successfully win a second, fairer contest; Lebanese popular outrage at the assassination of a politician compelled Syria to drastically reduce its authoritarian hold on that country.

Perhaps it is because these countries have been in the throes of corrupt and/or authoritarian regimes that the roar of people in the streets resonated powerfully through the establishment’s corridors.

Here in the United States, protests are blasé.

As a thirty-seven year old, I have lived through the million man march, a million mom march (were there two of those, I can’t remember), Live Aid, Live 8, anti-globalization riots, numerous protests against both Iraq wars (as an ROTC student at the University of Connecticut during Desert Storm, one pleasant anti-war fellow was kind enough to call me a whore for the Pentagon during a debate); many of these events mobilized thousands of people and were well documented by the media, but not one of ever gained traction and forced significant political change.

Yet people still protest. And it’s such old hat in New York and DC that the police have choreographed playbooks to maintain control, and permits are issued, and people register for events on the internet, and classes are offered in many colleges to teach people how to organize effect protests and sit-ins and it is all so bourgeois.

Seriously, when is the last time that a protest (or protest movement) really shocked America into political action? It’s been a few decades, at least. The civil rights protests and civil disobedience in support of that movement are probably the best and most recent example of effecting change through organized protest.

So why do people protest today? Because, of course, it feels good. If you are a protester, you are taking passionate action against something you abhor. Civil disobedience is just that, disobedience, lawbreaking of sorts, and so it generates a bit of thrill for those who desire such things in their lives. But of course, since American society is no longer shocked by mass protest as it once was, being jailed for civil disobedience does not force one to carry a burden of shame that makes it difficult to find employment or say, get a cheap mortgage on a house, or even run for office.

So if you are one of those people out there protesting something, more power to you, and I hope you feel better after the crowd disperses and you do whatever it is you do with the placard you carried (ie do you toss the “No War for Haliburton” sign, or put it in the back of the Suburban to re-use in the next act of civil disobedience?) and head back home. I hope later that there is some satisfaction gained, as you check out the action pics on the web site of the protest organization of choice. Protesting in America today helps people feel better about themselves, and it enables middle class city cops to earn a little extra overtime pay that is hard to come by, and that’s about it.

PS: In a similar vein, the Weekly Standard published an article about the relative ineffectiveness of Habitat for Humanity; once again, based on information in the article, the well-funded charity offers a cathartic actrivity (ie building homes for the poor), which in actuality does little to alleviate the problems it is purporting to solve.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Gary Hart 's Napoleon Complex

UPDATE: I had a little mathematical error. I should have said two centuries, not three, when I spoke about the gap between Napoleon in Russia and the U.S. in Iraq.

Gary Hart’s latest column on the Huffington post calls to mind an unfortunate incident in the late astronomer and science advocate Carl Sagan’s career.

During the first Gulf War, Sagan famously opined that Kuwaiti Oil Well Fires set by Iraqis would spell ecological disaster for planet earth. The outrageous prediction was proved wrong shortly after the late Dr. Sagan uttered the words in front of a live television audience. Sagan was foremost an astronomer, so he was likely a tad out of his lane to predict the effects of oil

Similarly, the former Senator and candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination erroneously compared the U.S. military’s situation in Iraq to Napoleon’s Army in Russia when he wrote

[The Russians] burned Moscow down around Napoleon. Denied his last great
triumph, the disappointed emperor abandoned Moscow and started home. Along the
way, he lost the world's most powerful army. Recently one of Islamic Shi'ites'
most revered sites, the golden mosque at Samarra, was destroyed by sectarian
enemies. By this act and the reprisals that followed, Iraq moved a substantial
step closer to civil war. Though a remote, but real, possibility, an Iraqi civil
war could cost the United States its army. . . It is strange to contemplate the
possibility that the greatest army in world history could be slaughtered in a
Middle East conflagration.

People who dismissed my Japan/Iraq analogy as inadequate should righteously tear into Hart’s view of the U.S. Army as the tattered Grande Armée, slogging across Russia en route to France on tenuous, unsecured lines of communication. It was in Napoleon's retreat, across the immense distances of Russia, that the French Army was utterly decimated.

A very poor analogy, indeed.

The tactical situation on the ground in Iraq could hardly be more different, even if one did not take into account the differences three centuries have brought upon the endeavor of war. American and Coalition forces enjoy multiple lines of communication in Iraq to resupply, move, and reinforce their positions. Moreover, they can harness and mass a nearly unimaginable level of lethality at the time and place of their choosing. The Russians were largely united against the French, whereas coalition forces enjoy the support of much of the populaton ( and a civil war, after all, would be between different Iraqi factions). Napoleon’s forces enjoyed none of these advantages in the disastrous retreat back to France.

Also, the largest and most pointed critique of the U.S military is that it has difficulties operating during low level conflicts (ie insurgencies, unconventional warfare, stability operations et al); the “comfort zone” for the majority of senior level commanders in the military is mid intensity conflict (ie conventional warfare), which is what Hart seems to imply would be the outcome of an Iraqi Civil War.

Hart seemed to cherry pick the French in Russia more to portray President Bush as Napoleon than to compare the American Army to the Grande Armée. Again, another poor analogy.

Peters Challenges "Conventional" Media Wisdom

Ralph Peters has a great column up today that is available here at RealClear politics. Peters dispels the following myths perpetrated in the relentless negativity of most media accounts:

- The failure of the Iraqi army. Instead, the past month saw a major milestone in the maturation of Iraq's military. During the mini-crisis that followed the Samarra bombing, the Iraqi army put over 100,000 soldiers into the country's streets. They defused budding confrontations and calmed the situation without killing a single civilian. And Iraqis were proud to have their own army protecting them. The Iraqi army's morale soared as a result of its success.

- Reconstruction efforts have failed. Just not true. The American goal was never to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure in its entirety. Iraqis have to do that. Meanwhile, slum-dwellers utterly neglected by Saddam Hussein's regime are getting running water and sewage systems for the first time. The Baathist regime left the country in a desolate state while Saddam built palaces. The squalor has to be seen to be believed. But the hopeless now have hope.

- The electricity system is worse than before the war. Untrue again. The condition of the electric grid under the old regime was appalling. Yet, despite insurgent attacks, the newly revamped system produced 5,300 megawatts last summer--a full thousand megawatts more than the peak under Saddam Hussein. Shortages continue because demand soared--newly free Iraqis went on a buying spree, filling their homes with air conditioners, appliances and the new national symbol, the satellite dish. Nonetheless, satellite photos taken during the hours of darkness show Baghdad as bright as Damascus.

Peter concludes with the following judgement of recent media coverage:

While there are and have been any number of
courageous, ethical journalists reporting from Iraq, others know little more of the reality of the streets than you do. They report what they are told by others, not what they have seen themselves. The result is a distorted, unfair and disheartening picture of a country struggling to rise above its miserable history.

This column helps to confirm what many of those who have posted comments on this blog and many others have decried, especially recently: the failure of the media to get a grasp on the realities of the situation in Iraq. Read the whole thing.

Post War Planning - The Final Cut!

There was a great deal of intelligent feedback on my recent posts about postwar planning, all of which achieved the purpose of Wilsonizer, which I started as a place where ideas and opinions could be exchanged and debated.

An excellent comment posted by Bill W., who had personal experience in OIF from 2003-2004, argued against my point that there was little to no coherent U.S. government planning:

I think it is simplistic to say there was no plan. Bremer and his team hit the
ground in June or July of '03 with a 4000-5000 point plan. . .

They laid out a plan of building a representative government from the ground up, which meant going to all 18 provinces, and starting with town councils, tribal
councils, etc to start electing the first representatives. They laid out the
plan of electing national representative, provisional government, turning
authority over to them in less than a year, having first democratic election 6
months later to elect representatives to write a constitution, write &
approve a constitution, and elect a permanent government all within 2005. This
is the plan that was laid out from day one and they followed.

In the meantime, they had to work to get women represented, and set up a lot of special councils and many, many meetings to get that into place.

They also had plans to execute for the banking system (setting a real one up, getting it certified, opening banks, opening a stock market), which also could not happen without setting up the whole legal system - again something from scratch for this area.

They had plans for reconstruction, for the health care sector, education, civil rights, industry, etc, etc, etc. It was an enormous effort, and because of the lack of real, balanced reporting that puts all of this in context, many well educated and thinking people in this country think as you do - that there was no plan and it has all been chaos.


Bill W. makes several strong points to counter my argument, as did an anonymous poster, who pointed me in the direction of State Department documents of working groups of expat Iraqis who provided expertise in various areas to help prepare for a post-Saddam Iraq.

I never had any doubt that Ambassador Bremer and Lieutenant General Sanchez provided decisive guidance to subordinates, and that Ambassador Bremer’s guidance extended across all civilian lines of operation required to re-establish Iraq as a civil, functioning democratic society.

Paul Bremer did not come on board until May of 2003, however, weeks after Saddam’s government dissolved. He replaced retired General Jay Garner, who had this to say about the Pre War planning that took place during a frontline interview:

On Jan. 9 [2003], I was in Manhattan to give an end-of-year report to our
corporation. I got a call on my cell phone from Doug Feith, [who] said that
Secretary Rumsfeld asked him to call me and ask me if I would come and put
together a team from the other agency to do the planning for postwar Iraq, if
there was a war. If there was a war, yes. "Should there be a war," I think
he said, and that many of the plans had already been done, but what had not been
done [was] there hadn't been a horizontal integration of the plans. ...

When asked about the level of planning that had been done, Garner said

Yes, some of [the plans were] pretty good, too. State Department does some real
good planning. The Justice Department does some good planning, the Defense
Department had done some good planning. But what had happened is the
planning, I guess most of it started in October 2002, but they were all done
in the vertical stovepipes of those agencies. What you find in any one plan,
there's multiple agencies or players. I mean, one might be the proponent of
the plan, but it takes multiple agencies. So that vertical integration of
those plans had not occurred up to that point
... [emph. added]

Gen Garner’s comments echo the main pointt hat I attempted to make in my previous posts on this subject: that a coherent plan, involving multiple agencies under one lead planning agent, was not truly conducted; however, the general's the comments do show that a hastily gathered together organization did some integrated planning in the days leading up to the war. Thus, I learned something more of the preparation done priot to the war that I did not know prior to my first post.

And what does General Garner say about the way this planning group came together in preparation for the tasks at hand:

I think the day you start building the war plan is the day you start beginning
the postwar plan.

This is just one man’s opinion, of course, albeit the original leader of the Iraqi postwar construction team.

Here is a little of a disclaimer. My posts are not intended to disparage the tremendous accomplishments of the people on the ground, military and civilians both, who are participating in the most challenging undertaking of this government in over a generation. Massive amounts of progress have been made on all fronts in Iraq. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree with Gateway Pundit’s comments, that

It is a shame that the defeatist media has spent such a small percentage of
their reporting on the great things that have been happening in Iraq.

The majority of those reporting (or commenting) on this endeavor seem to have collectively decided that the Iraq War is going poorly on all fronts, and incessantly report negative indicators above the fold. Hence, instead of hearing about progress in re-establishing a power grid across Baghdad over a given period of time, readers instead get a report of how many corpses entered the Baghdad morgue last evening.
Thankfully, there are now alternatives to the standard news outlets to help paint a more complete picture of the situation in Iraq (and elsewhere).

I stand by the claim, however, that all of the progress is being made in spite of the minimal integrated planning conducted by the U.S. government. The military spent ten years preparing for what it perceived as the inevitable return to Iraq; various government agencies, in a vacuum, analyzed the situation in their individual area of expertise for a postwar scenario, but there was no real coherent plan development until the days leading up to the war.

OOOKAY, I will get out of this rut and move out smartly to a new topic in my NEXT post. . .

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More on Planning for the Post War Iraq

In my earlier post about a perceived lack of planning on the US Government's part for postwar Iraq, I challenged readers to provide me with evidence of compreehensive planning done at any level of the government. Well, an informed reader of the always on target Gateway Pundit came through, and I stand corrected! Someone logging in as anonymous posted a comment on Gateway's link to my post saying, among other things:

As for the Japan comparison, you say in your post that unlike the conflict in Iraq had no prewar planning. Kind of like, no one anticipated the breach of the levees. I would differ, since there was a massive amount of planning that the Pentagon simply dismissed.

Here's the link, which is a pdf document summarizing what several expat Iraqis produced in working groups organized around the societal needs of a nascent democratic country (economics, education, security, transportation, environment, et al).

So yes, the State Department DID convene working groups, consisting of expat Iraqis, to identify issues and develop goals for a post-Saddam Iraq. But the efforts of these workiong groups, which apparently convened 2-3 times for a few days over a 6-9 month period, hardly qualify as "a massive amount of planning" by anyone's standards. The end result of the effort of these groups appears to be a press release by each of the groups detailing the goals and challenges each one idfentified; a great effort, for certain, but hardly a road map for the U.S. government to follow when re-establishing democracy in a recently liberated authoritarian state!

Anonymous' comment about the Pentagon ignoring State's efforts actually helps reinforce the point I made in my previous post about the differences between the Japanese and Iraqi occupations. The planning for postwar Japanese occupation was a joint effort between State and Defense (or War, as it was called back then). Military planners had to be involved, since they ultimately would be required to provide a great deal of lthe leadership, manpower, and logistical support of the occupation of Japan.

By most accounts, the Pentagon and the State Department's planning, when it came to planning for postwar Iraq, were not a coherent and synchronized joint effort. Thus, the initial efforts of the U.S in the early days after Saddam fell did little to create a stable environment where it would be difficult for an insurgency (and factionalism, and organized crime) to take hold.

Apparently it was not, and the initial efforts of the U.S in the early days after Saddam fell did little to create a stable environment where it would be difficult for an insurgency (and factionalism, and organized crime) to take hold.

Why is this important to rehash right now, when it matters little to the people on the ground who did what and when? Because throughout its history (and especially the last several decades), America has been drawn into situations like Iraq again and again and again; as long as America is a superpower on the global stage, there will inevitably be other Iraqs. the scope, scale and stakes may change, but sooner or later there will be an American presence in some failed (or toppled) state, and the American government will endeavor to leave that state as a viable self governing entity. Better we capture all the lessons learned, in Iraq and elsewhere, so that mistakes are not repeated the next time(s) around.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Post War Iraq and Post War Japan, Contrasted

In an earlier
post, I made a brief comparison of the American government in planning and executing the postwar occupation of Japan following the Second World War, and its planning for post hostilities in Iraq. In reality, this is a somewhat unfair comparison.

Japan's population had truly been beaten into submission by the U.S. and its allies at the conclusion of World War II. Two of its cities had been destroyed in the first (and hopefully only) use of atomic weapons in warfare; a sea power, Japan's once powerful Navy was largely destroyed; and the allies had virtually cut Japan off from its crucial overseas resource bases as well.

Moreover, Japanese forces formally surrendered to the Allies. Hirohito himself, the Emperor of Japan and symbol of the nation state, cooperated with the surrender and occupation.

While corruption, crime, and black markets no doubt marred the occupation of Japan, no significant organized resistance ever arose during the time of occupation. Japan's geographic isolation (it is an island nation) as well as its cultural isolation (the Japanese are a homogeneous and unique people, different from the Asian nations that are physically closest to them. Also, at the time of occupation, the Japanese could not expect to receive much support from nations like Korea and China, which they had occupied during the war years), limited any of the key external support any would-be insurgent group could have expected to receive during the occupation.

The situation in Iraq, of course, is drastically different. The Baathist government dissolved and disappeared before offensive operations were completed, and the Fedayeen, dedicated Saddam loyalists, were using guerrilla-type tactics long before an actual insurgency erupted. Thus, combat operations never truly came to a definitive halt in Iraq, as they did in Japan.

Iraqi society is tribal, and consists of numerous religious sects and ethnic groups, many of them adversarial. Iraq's borders are porous, and many of the aforementioned ethnic groups have ties beyond Iraq's political borders with other members of their respective groups. Furthermore, at least two of the states bordering Iraq (Iran and Syria) have adversarial relationships with the United States.

All of the above factors make Iraq a vastly different contest than Japan. Iraq's geographical, social and political conditions increased the chances of an insurgency occuring, and make it that much more difficult for nascent Iraqi forces to quell.

There is one "take-away" from conducting the comparison between the occupations of these two countries however. The United States began planning for the occupation of a defeated Japan as early as 1939, TWO whole years before World War II ever began. The planning started at the State Department level, but as the War progressed the planning became a joint effort between the State and War (Defense) Departments.

And for Iraq? Up to this point, I have never heard of a detailed, comprehensive plan prepared by any part the United States Government to deal with a defeated, post-Saddam Iraq. I haven't seen evidence from the the occupation to convince me that we started with a strategic plan as a foundation for our actions and have been adjusting based on the situation, either. Perhaps one of Wilsonizer's readers will prove me wrong, and point me in the right direction on this front.

FOOTNOTES: I had a class last year called "Small Wars and Occupations". We read the following books for the course, which will be helpful for anyone looking for historical precedence for what the US is attempting to do now in the Global War on Terror:

1. Wofe, Robert, ed., Americans as Proconsuls: United States Military Government in Germany and Japan, 1944-1952, Carbondale and Edwardsville, Southern: Souther Illinois State University Press, 1984 .

2. Dower, John W., Embracing Defeat, NY: Norton, 1999.

3. Boot, Max, The Savage Wars of Peace, NY: Basic Books, 1999.

All of these are interesting books, well worth reading. Proconsuls is likely out of print and will require a hunt, no doubt. Boot's book deals more with short term occupations of places like Haiti and Nicaragua (in the 20s and 30s, NOT during the '80s), but is relevant to the topic nonetheless.

Information and the Global War on Terror

For those interested, the Multi National Forces in Iraq have their own web page
HERE. This site has been gradually improving over time, I must admit. However, there are still no links to bloggers anywhere that I can find on the page. A blogroll with caveats ("The opinions on these blogs do not necessarily reflect Blay Blah Blah") would further the reach of the page and assist in the informational aspect of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Overall, the site has more of a public affairs feel to it; MNC-Iraq's web page seems designed to provde information for someone looking for a quick generic overview on operations in Iraq, rather than as a dynamic tool for getting MNC-Iraq's messsage out with teeth. Also, the site is English only; three years into Operation Iraqi Freedom, why is MNC-Iraq not getting a message out across the internet in other languages (say, for example, Arabic)?

The informational aspect of the Global War on Terror has been identified as
being crucial to our success, even while the U.S. has been admittedly behind the power curve fighting in this medium. Just recently, General George Casey, commander of multinational forces in Iraq, stated that the media was "exaggerating" the extent of sectarian conflict and it was a detriment to the cause. If the MNC-Iraq web page was used as more than just a "feel good" public affairs vehicle (ie as an informational tool to get the command's message forcefully and loudly out to the masses), maybe there would not be so many "exaggerations" out there in the main stream media. In fact, maybe the MNC-Iraq web page would
BE the main stream media. Just a thought!