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June 02, 2014



FYI: My comment at July 17, 2014 at 03:16 PM was posted here in error. It has been re-posted at its intended destination, http://www.reflectivepundit.com/reflectivepundit/2014/07/dick-cheney-did-not-learn-from-iraq-debacle-wants-repeat.html .


Regarding Rand Paul, his brand of libertarian is a direct descendant of the WW2-era America First Committee radical isolationists who, along with the American Friends Service Committee radical pacifists, tried their best to keep America out of World War 2 and WW2's post-war occupations.

In Paul's worldview, Europe ought to be Fascist and/or Communist right now and Asia should be under imperial Japanese and/or Communist control.

Regarding Paul's substantive point, our main problem in post-war Iraq was, indeed, insufficient method (strategy, plans, tactics, techniques, procedures, etc.) for an effective post-war occupation, rather than troop numbers or funding. (Our post-war troop level in Iraq peaked at 157,800 in FY2008.)

Despite the modern history of successful American-led post-war nation-building occupations, the regular Army of 2003 simply was not prepared to do a nation-building occupation of the kind needed for Iraq. The Army's post-war shortcomings were mainly due to an institutional mindset deeply rooted in the fall-out of the Vietnam War, exemplified by the Powell Doctrine, that was averse to nation-building occupation. Before 9/11, when the Army was tasked to do a mission on the spectrum of civil affairs or peace operations, it was done ad hoc as an "operation other than war". Given the military's aversion to dedicated peace operations before OIF, the only way the Army could develop a sufficient peace-operations doctrine, capability, and more fundamentally, a proper civil-affairs mindset for occupying post-war Iraq was to actually occupy post-war Iraq and learn through necessity. Ergo, the conception and birth of the Petraeus-led Counterinsurgency "Surge".

That's normal, though. The standard of perfect preemptive anticipation, preparation, accounting, and execution that critics like Paul apply to OIF is ahistorical. I agree we should do what we can beforehand to prepare. However, that the learning curve for victory in Iraq was driven by necessity on the ground is consistent with military history. The US military has always undergone steep learning curves in war. OIF just demanded a steeper learning curve for the peace operations of the post-war.

Moreover, the US historically has followed victory in war with a long-term presence and comprehensive investment in the post-war. As the World War 2 victors, we learned the importance of securing the peace after the war and not repeating the post-war mistakes made by the World War 1 victors.

We gain little from war itself because war is destruction. The prize of war is the power to build the peace on our terms. The long-term gains we historically associate with wars have actually been realized from our peace-building following those wars. To resolve the Saddam problem and then leave Iraq without first responsibly securing the peace would have been a contradiction of all our acquired wisdom as leader of the free world, an inhumane abandonment of the Iraqi people, and a short-sighted, enormously risky gamble that invited new problems.

Our long-term post-Saddam, peace-building mission in Iraq was normal. Leaving Iraq prematurely in an unsafe environment like we did was abnormal.


That's like saying you agree with a spree killer not involving the police, because of course there are always police who oppose any spree killings, and plans for mass murder only work if kept secret.

Except we're talking about 5 of the worst killers and the 6th who set them free.

This wasn't just "any deal between the US and the Taliban". Obama freed not just any 5 random Taliban fighters. He freed the 5 most dangerous, most senior Taliban commanders in our custody. There were obvious reasons these 5 were off limits for "any deal" except with very careful consideration. The best we can hope for now is they will contain their carnage to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

How many American soldiers have been killed or wounded protecting the people of Afghanistan? Helping them build a nation that can withstand a return of the Taliban's terrorist rule? How many of those Afghanis has Obama condemned with this act?


Not to mention the bloody consequences for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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