Victory Anywhere Any Time

Pat Ryan

Guts I've been watching The Decider's moves since the election and I ain't encouraged that he's learned anything at all. For historical reference, I supported the invasion of Afghanistan, and did not actively oppose the Big Adventure  in Iraq, because I was pretty clear that they were going to do it no matter what, and The People were so terrorized by the whole NeoCon War Machine effort, that  reason was not going to make any headway at all.

In fact, like a few million other progressives, I kept up with the whole Scooter, Dougy, Wolfie, Shooter crowd.Their Office of Special Plans, Cheney's 1% Doctrine and all of that intentional lying in service of a higher calling, proved out to be exactly what we all knew already; an unholy alliance between failed business executives, failed academics, and a subset of Christian Leadership that Christ would have driven out of the temple with a whip in a New York Minute.

Still, there have been voices of sanity at every stage of this sick little adventure:

General Shinseki told these yo-yos that they'd need around a half million troops to hold and rebuild. Rummy had a whole different vision of a lean mean force, and hey, that worked ok, because if it turned out that we were understaffed, we could blame it on Clinton, but not with the meddlesome Shinseki throwing sand in the gears.

Gen Jay Garner (retired)
was fired within a month because he was advocating, you know, Democracy and self-determination. Obviously didn't get the memo.

Ayatollah Al-Sistani
, apparently the only player in this game on any side who has actually read Madison, Jefferson, Locke, and Hume. After Garner was thrown to the wolves, Sistani tried to get Bremmer and his crew of Republican dirty tricks operatives to begin reconstituting gummint by holding local elections, thus having local pols answerable to local people early on.  Bremmer, like his clueless masters in DC, could not even get his tiny brain around this very basic concept. I mean how could the savage brown skinned people possibly be capable of  this sort of rational decision making.  They were (and are) cynically manipulated US electoral politics so easily, and the basic fratboy arrogance dictated all of their moves in what should have been totally predictable ways.

I could go on until my monitor runs out of ink, but from Sun Tzu to Machievelli to Maslow, the big brains agreed on a few basic concepts for holding a conquered nation...

Retain as much as possible of the existing power structure.
Get the soldiers on your payroll.
Ensure the availability of basic services to the civilian population.
Be brutal and public in punishing resistors, but be generous and rewarding to collaborators.
Give priority to employing men between the ages of 15 and 35. They get bored standing on the street corner. They are ashamed to be conquered, ashamed to be unable to provide for their families, and ashamed to get their doors kicked in at two in the morning and have some 19 year old kid put his boot on their heads.
Hint: Nobody wants to see their own house and family blown up, and they'll cooperate with anyone who will help to keep that from happening. So far we've failed to demonstrate that we are that trustworthy entity.

So-o-o-o-o-o-o why the title?

In early December '06 a Captain Travis Patriquin did a little powerpoint presentation for his homies in Anbar Province. Eighteen slides that clearly and simply laid this situation out for those unfortunate to be actually  out there trying to make it all work.  This  presentation has been widely circulated among the field officers and NCOs but The Dark Lord and the puppets don't see how this'll  help with those permanent bases, and it could easily lead to a situation where the Iraqis actually controlled their own economy.

Captain Patriquin was killed by an IED just days after he wrote this presentation, but there are good men and women, American, Iraqi, British, and Kurdish, all over Iraq that are doing the right thing right now. What we're lacking is leadership.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Be brutal and public in punishing resistors, but be generous and rewarding to collaborators.

    That's (to give just one example) how the Nazis occupied all of Europe with fairly small forces. This was explored at length in a recent Harper's article by Edward Luttwak.

  • geoffludt (unverified)

    Is any of this news?

  • (Show?)

    probably not, if you keep up with this stuff. It's definitely not being discussed on Salon, Huffpost, Indymedia, Blue Oregon, or the United States congress.

    In those venues it's about surging, redeploying and other generalized policy issues. I personally haven't seen many debates to actually salvage something positive from the mess.

    Did you actually read the powerpoint, or are you already clear that there's nothing informative there?

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)

    I like the post. It's got a good lively writing style that captures the insanity of it all in a cool way.

  • (Show?)

    Agreed. You tell a compelling tale. I'll be back for that slideshow.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Disregarding the reasons for being in Iraq, there probably were moments when something at least reasonable could have been pulled out of it.

    Despite BushCo's denials, this war has been more politically driven than Vietnam in it's conduct. There are some hard and fast rules of warfare and occupation that you've noted, all of which have been igonored. The problem at this late date with trying to rescue something out of the mess is the learning process we've subjected the Iraqis to. We have shown them once again that we are not to be trusted, we talk a good game and then boot it. We've given them 4 years of education of what to expect and how to deal with us, that ground would be extremely difficult to regain. How would I or anyone of us react to the same policies and regimens we've used there and react to the proposed changes? I personally would not believe, not trust, not cooperate; at best I would be an unfriendly neutral - that's not good. I might try to stay out of your sights, but pressed by both sides, I wouldn't pick your's. A point of analogy with the villagers of Nam.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    [Off-topic comment removed. -editor.]

  • Thomas Ware (unverified)

    You missed one:

    Know your enemy


    Else, spot on.

  • (Show?)

    Pat, while I think there are improvements to be made in Iraq, the slideshow doesn't touch on the incipient civil war and the conflicts between the three ethnic/creedist factions. "Terrorist" is a blunt word that doesn't describe the complexity of rivalries in Iraq. What works in al Anbar province is not necessarily a prescription for Iraq.

    Does that mean you lean toward Biden's "soft partition?"

    (And yeah, Pat's writing is always entertaining and controversial. It has only one fault: it appears too rarely.)

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    Hmm, I think this slideshow, this post, and these comments, lead to only one reasonable conclusion:

    In order to regain the trust of the Iraqis (much less the rest of the international community, or Americans), in order to properly implement the reasonable strategy depicted in this powerpoint (which is simple brilliance at its best) --


    Honor must be brought back to the Constitution, and the constitutionally-provided-for remedy to the current situation that we find ourselves in.

    It is not our fault that impeachment was frivolously used by this same group of folks in the late 90s.

    It is our responsibility, however, to uphold the Constitution and democracy by impeaching Bush & Cheney for their crimes, in an open and civil process that is transparent and understandable to everybody.

    Once we have a regime change in this country, it will be much easier to make the case for a strategy & policy change to Iraqis that allows us to fix up the country and exit as quickly as possible.


  • Kim McKaig (unverified)

    Hey, Pat. The same scintillating stuff I've known and loved you for all these years. We looked at the powerpoint. Thanks for providing it. Since I don't run in the same circles as you do (not to suggest you run in circles, don't get me wrong...or that I do, by the way) I enjoy reading your take. The whole misadventure is such a disappointment. Not an unexpected disappointment. Just the kind that you don't want to be disappointed in. Because so many have lost so much. For so little. I don't know if it was ever doable...but doing it well would have been preferable. Given the mindset of the powers that be, I don't see doing it better as a likely option. Cuz who didn't do it well already? Us?? Not bloody likely.


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