October 29, 2005

Assassins' Gate

Zakaria reviews George Packer's latest. Recommended.

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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 02:55 AM | Comments (10)