I mentioned briefly on Saturday that Coalition Provisional Authority supremo Paul Bremer had an "it was the one-legged man" defense of his reign as Viceroy of the Satrap of Iraq in the WaPo on Sunday.
Jim Henley does an excellent demolition job on Bremer's defense.
His argument regarding the Iraqi Army has some internal consistency problems. He wants to damn it for its roles in the Anfal campaign and putting down the Shiite uprising of 1991 - essentially painting it as the criminal auxiliary of Sunni Baathism, but also denigrate its effectiveness.And Col.W. Pat Lang gets in on the act too:
...What Bremer actually establishes without seeming to intend is that there were, even at that very early date, no reliably good options. De-Baathification and disbanding the army worked out badly, and we can draw causal connections from those orders to Iraq’s present-day problems. But we can see plausible alternate histories in which the opposite decisions led to a contemporary Iraq that was just as bad. Unhappy occupations are all unhappy in their own way.
Bremer’s article actually shows again the folly of having conquered Iraq by force in the first place.
As an example, his characterization of the old Iraqi Army is nonsense. That army was a NATIONAL army that stood at the very center of whatever NATIONAL institutions Iraq possessed. That army fought very creditably against the Iranians. Their performance has been much distorted in American popular imagination by the political warfare of the Iranians and their regional allies. In the Iran-Iraq War the Iraqi national army's mixed units fought well against the sectarian brethren of the Iraqi Shia. There were many senior Shia officers in that army. The commanding general of the Republican Guards Armored Corps in the invasion of Kuwait was a Shia lieutenant general. He is currently employed in the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad. The Iraqis did not fight in the First Gulf War? Ask the US Marines of 2nd Marine Division who had to use MLRS in the "direct fire" mode to stop a counter-attack on their division CP just south of the Kuwait Airport. Did you ever talk to them, Jerry?Bremer's actions or inactions paved the way for the current situation - one in which, according to two former Bush administration officials:
...The understanding of the US military before the war was that the Iraqi military would be employed in stabilizing the country. American generals were discussing the basis of that cooperation with their Iraqi counter-parts when Bremer (Feith's lapdog) announced that they were out of business. The Iraqi military felt betrayed then, and still do. It had all been a lie. Nothing has changed.
"The four basic options facing this - and the next - administration are victory, stability, withdrawal and containment. Victory, as defined by President Bush, is not currently attainable."McClatchy has a mildly hawkish look at the remaining three options and concludes the best of all is withdrawal - slowly and carefully but still withdrawal.
Henley's right. The current choices all show again "the folly of having conquered Iraq by force in the first place."