Have we lost and is this why we lost ?

A new book by a retired army general explains that we lost the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Why ?

I have had reservations about Iraq for years, at least since 2008.

When President Bush convened a meeting of his National Security Council on May 22, 2003, his special envoy in Iraq made a statement that caught many of the participants by surprise. In a video presentation from Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III informed the president and his aides that he was about to issue an order formally dissolving Iraq’s Army.

I think that decision probably lost the post-invasion war. The other puzzle that was not explained until the recent book, Days of Fire explained it, was why Bremer was put in place of Jay Garner, who had done well with the Kurds.

Garner began reconstruction efforts in March 2003 with plans aiming for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. Talabani, a member of Jay Garner’s staff in Kuwait before the war, was consulted on several occasions to help the U.S. select a liberal Iraqi government; this would be the first liberal Government to exist in Iraq. In an interview with Time magazine, Garner stated that “as in any totalitarian regime, there were many people who needed to join the Baath Party in order to get ahead in their careers. We don’t have a problem with most of them. But we do have a problem with those who were part of the thug mechanism under Saddam. Once the U.S. identifies those in the second group, we will get rid of them.

Had Garner continued with that policy, we might have been out of the cities in a few months instead of years, as was the case with Bremer.

When Garner was replaced in his role by Paul Bremer, the former Managing Director of Kissinger and Associates, on May 11, 2003, there was quite a bit of speculation as to why he was replaced so abruptly. It has been suggested that Garner was moved aside because he did not agree with the White House about who should decide how to reconstruct Iraq. He wanted early elections—90 days after the fall of Baghdad.

The book “Days of Fire,” suggests that Bremer charmed Bush and got the job. The result was disaster.

There has been considerable criticism of Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks about their lack of plans for the occupation. It may well be that they did NOT plan an occupation. That was Bremer’s plan and he did not even consult Bush .

When President Bush convened a meeting of his National Security Council on May 22, 2003, his special envoy in Iraq made a statement that caught many of the participants by surprise. In a video presentation from Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III informed the president and his aides that he was about to issue an order formally dissolving Iraq’s Army.

The decree was issued the next day.

That was the end of “Iraq for the Iraqis.”

The account that emerges from those interviews, and from access to previously unpublished documents, makes clear that Mr. Bremer’s decree reversed an earlier plan — one that would have relied on the Iraqi military to help secure and rebuild the country, and had been approved at a White House meeting that Mr. Bush convened just 10 weeks earlier.

Now we come to Afghanistan. I have been no more enthusiastic about that war, as it developed.

The second ground reality is the clear distinction in behavior and operations between the “Neo Taliban” of Afghanistan, headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar, based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the various Pakistani Talibans led by tribal sirdars such as Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan

These are people we deal with in Pakistan. They are essentially the same as those in Afghanistan.

“By next Memorial Day, who’s going to say that we won these two wars?” Bolger said in an interview Thursday. “We committed ourselves to counterinsurgency without having a real discussion between the military and civilian leadership, and the American population —’Hey, are you good with this? Do you want to stay here for 30 or 40 years like the Korean peninsula, or are you going to run out of energy?’ It’s obvious: we ran out of energy.”

The military fumbled the ball by not making clear how long it would take to prevail in both nations. “Once you get past that initial knockout shot, and decide you’re going to stay awhile, you’d better define ‘a while,’ because in counter-insurgency you’re talking decades,” Bolger says.

The military was not really prepared for a long counterinsurgency war and the politicians certainly weren’t. We will be lucky to get out of Afghanistan without a massacre. This is not Vietnam with the ocean a helicopter flight away.

The nation and its military would have been far smarter to invade, topple the governments they didn’t like, and get out. “Both wars were won, and we didn’t know enough to go home” after about six months, Bolger argues. “It would have been messy and unpleasant, and our allies would have pissed and moaned, because limited wars by their nature have limited, unpalatable results. But what result would have been better — that, or this?”

I have believed this for several years. Afghanistan, even more than Iraq, is a cancer on our military. The war is lost and getting out will be a real challenge.

Pakistan is probably lost, as well. It has not been an ally for years and their cooperation has been bought but even that is failing.

Here’s how the game works. The Pakistanis are currently engaged in a much heralded crackdown on jihadists. But they are limiting those operations to the jihadists in the northwest tribal region — i.e., those whose primary target is the Pakistani government. By contrast, the Taliban — i.e., the jihadists targeting the U.S. and Afghanistan — are holed up in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, under the protection of the ISI. In fact, there are now reports that Mullah Omar has been moved to Karachi to protect him from U.S. drone attacks.

That was written in 2009 !

If the likes of Mullah Omar take over in Afghanistan, it will have serious implications for Pakistan,” Mr. Qureshi said. “They have a larger agenda, and the first to be impacted by that agenda is Pakistan. . . . Whether they do it in Pakistan or whether they do it in Afghanistan, it will have implications on Pakistan and it will have implications on the region.”

Bolger does not avoid tough talk.

Bolger said his views on the wars grew more sour during his three tours. “My guilt is not having earlier figured out what was going wrong, and making a more forceful case and working with my peer generals to make a better military recommendation,” he says. “What eats at me the most is the 80 dead people I had in my command over my three tours, that eats at me a hell of a lot.”

Getting out will be major military action with the result in doubt It is time to acknowledge this. The British already knew this and their evacuation of their positions in Helmand province was done with careful planning .

It comes after Task Force Helmand moved from provincial capital Lashkar Gah, where it had been based since 2006, to Camp Bastion in August.

Its disbandment yesterday is the latest in a series of steps marking Britain’s withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan – due to be complete by the end of this year. This was a complex military move comparable to an invasion but in the other direction. The Russians are enjoying the dilemma we face .

The US military is learning the hard way from its lengthy experience in Afghanistan that it is far easier to get bogged down in a foreign adventure than it is to extricate oneself from it. Landlocked, isolated and surrounded on all sides by potential enemies, Washington’s withdrawal of its troops and equipment from the Central Asian country by the end of 2014 is beset with numerous obstacles.

Obama’s diplomatic success with Russia has probably blocked one route, through the northern republics.

The main problem confronting Pentagon planners is choosing the best exit route, an option that has substantially decreased thanks in large part to Washington’s failure on the diplomatic front, for example, with Russia over the ongoing political crisis gripping Ukraine.

One of the most reliable methods of moving military equipment in and out of Afghanistan has been via the Northern Distribution Network, 3,000 miles of winding railroad that passes through Central Asia into Kazakhstan, Russia and through parts of northern Europe to the sea.

In fact, 75 percent of military supplies into Afghanistan were delivered by this slow but reliable route.

However, recent violent protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, which led to the overthrow of the government and Crimea voting in a referendum to become part of the Russian Federation – an event that Washington has attempted to label as a “Russian military invasion” – have put a severe strain on Russia-US relations.

How about the other way ? No luck there, either.

“The best, fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get out is to drive south from Afghanistan and through Pakistan to the major port of Karachi, on the Indian Ocean,” Doug McGreger, a retired colonel with the US Army, told RT reporter Meghan Lopez.

However, Washington’s heedless and occasionally reckless determination to eliminate terrorists in the region at all costs, even at the expense of Pakistani lives, it seems, has placed a heavy toll on the Islamabad-Washington partnership, a relationship that was never on solid footing from the beginning.

What’s left ? THere are no good option. The British fought their way out in 1842. Is that the future ?

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.