November 19, 2004

Kagan Reviews Feldman

Here. Don't miss the little epingle in Richard Clarke's direction. Or these key grafs:

The most tragic was the failure in the early days after the invasion to fulfill the ''first duty'' of an occupying power: providing basic security. Much has been made of the looting that occurred immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, but Feldman notes the essential point: by allowing the looting to proceed, American forces sent a clear message ''that the United States was not in charge, and that no one else was, either.'' Iraqis had to seek security for themselves in what was for a time a state of anarchy, and it was hardly surprising that they turned to their own kind for protection. Feldman says that it was not ''ancient'' ethnic and religious differences that empowered armed militias, but the human instinct for survival. ''Had there been half a million U.S. troops on the ground,'' he insists, ''it is highly likely that there would have been little looting, no comparable sense of insecurity and therefore a reduced need for denominational identities to become as dominant as they quickly did.''

The United States failed the Iraqi people again, he writes, when, in the winter and spring of 2004, it did not take the necessary steps to put down the growing insurgency. Although Feldman does not say so, much of the blame for this moral and strategic failure must fall on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whose responsibility it was to have enough forces on the ground -- not only for war fighting but also for the nation-building that followed. America's efforts in Iraq have never fully recovered from this monumental error.

People ask me why I don't like Don Rumsfeld much. Well, here's why. Because he never put enough troops on the ground to provide secure conditions. And security was the 'critical enabler' for all our other goals there: 1) democratization, 2) reconstruction, er, 3) getting out. Also, Abu Ghraib--partly a result of too few troops, of course, but also a result of his arrogant insouciance of Geneva norms. Oh, and his reaction to Abu Ghraib--arrogant, dismissive, no time to read Taguba report, you know, like what's the big deal? 'Stuff happens' and so forth. And, worth mentioning, his overall cock-sure hubris through it all--reminiscent of McNamara.

Just for the record.

Posted by Gregory at November 19, 2004 02:55 AM

I have followed you closely for the last 2 years and find your views and opinions informed and enlightening. The size of the occupying force in Iraq has been your greatest criticism of the strategy for the campaign as it relates to the ability to provide security on the ground. I understand that entirely, but the question that, to my knowledge, has never been addressed satisfactorily is whether the US actually had ground forces available to provide that level of occupation. General Zinni (I believe it was) said that we would need 500,000 troops to successfully occupy Iraq. I have no idea whether that numbber is right or not, and maybe no can truyly answer that question, but taking that number as a given for the sake of argument, did we have that level of force available to us at any time? My understanding is that with 140,000 troops on the ground now, we're already stretched to the maximum between deployment, recruitment and training. If that's true, how should DoD have addressed the force posture?

Posted by: Lycurgus at November 19, 2004 04:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1) More US troops = more targets, and not necessarily more security

2) No plan survivies conact w/the enemy. The Rumsfeld Franks Plan did not envision that so many of the enemy would surrender/fade-away in the first phase of the war -- only to become the shadow insurgency in the current phase. NO ONE DID.

3) Nuking Fallujah (after evacuating unarmed civilians) would've wiped out the insurgency there, but nuking fallujah was not politicallly feasible; neither was an occupation of iraq w/400,000 US troops

4) MORE feasible than 400,000 troops: dividing Iraq into three states - liberating the Kurds; and setting up the Shia South as an independent state; and then using ALL 150,000 US troops to completely destroy all insurgency in Sunniland.

5) The GWOT will not end until we neutralize Iran and Syria - the main sponsors of Jihadoterrorism.

We should do this IMMEDIATELY by issuing them ultimatums: "cease and desist all pro-Jihadoterrorist activity or we will destroy your military and your economy; we will NOT invade or reconstruct or transform you into democracies; we will just destroy you."

Then - if they send one penny to Hamas or Hezbollah or Iraq - we should destroy them.

Everything else is merely wishful thinking.
We must DESTROY them.

Sound brutal? It is.

BUT HEY: that's what war is ---- win or lose.

And we did not start this one.

So... you gotta just ask yourself: Do you want to win, or would you rather be popular in Europe?

Posted by: reliapundit at November 19, 2004 01:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On breaking up Iraq: A free Kurdish area would be a problem with our ally Turkey. Otherwise, breaking Iraq into three makes sense. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a border drawn by Churchill in the area that doesn't need to be erased and replaced.

Posted by: Dave Jacoby at November 19, 2004 04:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


The comparison of Rumsfeld to McNamara is really out there. McNamara was a numbers cruncher, a whiz kid with outstanding academic credentials. Rumsfeld is tough and smart and doesn't care about theoretical applications of force type analysis.

Rumsfeld did not do a good job of preparing for the occupation, but I don't think that was his prime consideration. This falls into the bailiwick of the President, or Secretary of State.

Fred Jenson

Posted by: Fred Jenson at November 19, 2004 05:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just curious --

Is there any record of any current military commander on the ground in Iraq requesting more troops and being denied them by Rumsfeld?

I'm neutral on Rummy either way, but if the commanders on the ground didn't request more troops, should the civilian SecDef be overruling them and giving them more than they requested?


Posted by: TheSophist at November 19, 2004 05:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dividing Iraq into 3 parts will require massive ethnic cleansing, no matter where you draw the border. Why do you think the US will need fewer troops once it has a million refugees on its hands, on top of all other problems?

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