Road Not Taken

Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of the US forces in Iraq a couple of years ago, had a pretty scathing attack on the civilian leadership. He's full of shit of course. He can't see the beauty in what the political leadership is doing. Didn't he cotton on to the fact that there was something happening above his pay grade when the civilians issued an order to let Muqtada live? Fortunately the soldiers are wonderful people who obey orders even when they sometimes appear ridiculous. So long as the civilian strategy is allowed to complete, there is no problem.

There is an excellent reply here from "Soldier's Dad". Like so many things, it's exactly what I've said myself already, but hopefully it will be more understandable when said by someone other than me. Let me quote:

"Gen Patraeus also has an Iraqi population that has experienced the lifestyle various extremist groups in Iraq would impose on them. Would the Iraqi people have been more or less accepting of a lifestlye imposed by 500,000 pairs of American boots not having experienced first hand Osam Bin Laden's romantized version of the 7th century...it is unknowable...that road was not taken."

Exactly right. It was important to have that security vacuum to see what forces would bubble to the surface in Iraq under their own steam. And then to wipe out any undesirable elements that surfaced. Or more precisely - empower good elements to take out the undesirable elements. All indigenous movements. While I didn't specifically plan on Osama rocking up and while I didn't expect him to be dumb enough to show his hand early, the romantic 7th century is exactly what the doctor ordered. The Iraqis needed to see the 7th century first hand, and then be extremely happy with the secular liberal democracy that they got instead. It all appears to have worked.

And another thing:

"Gen Patraeus has something Lt Gen Sanchez and Gen Casey didn't have...300,000 semi-functioning Iraqi security forces..."

Yep. It was hoped that the Iraqis would step up to the plate when their shot at freedom was given to them. And they did. They came through with flying colours. Really, is there anything more beautiful than an Iraqi soldier? A Gurkha perhaps? Anyway, these ISF are now available, and prior disappointments are pretty irrelevant. The military situation has been constantly changing as these Iraqis came online. It's silly to evaluate things in the middle of that process. The Iraqi can have 1 million soldiers if they want. It's a reasonable way to spend that oil wealth. The soldiers are now a force for good, and they aren't wasting money trying to defend against external invaders - they are instead correctly utilizing the US to do that heavy-lifting, and spending their own valuable resources on internal security. Way to go Iraq! We're now up to 359,700 ISF by the way.

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