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Thread: How the Iraq War Got off on the Wrong Foot

  1. #16
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    But we went to war on ego and not on facts ... and that disturbs me to no end.
    Col,

    Not to put insult on your injury, but it disturbs you because it is repeating or just in this particular case?
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  2. #17
    Officer of Engineers
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    I don't know and maybe I don't understand your question.

  3. #18
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Kosovo was same case. Going to war on ego, not on facts.

    So, does it disturb you for becoming a pattern or there is something special in Iraq 2 case?
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  4. #19
    Officer of Engineers
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    Now that you mentioned it, I supposed it does. I opposed Kosovo, and so did MGen MacKenzie because both of us were so intimate with the facts on the ground.

    We were not with Iraq. So, we both did our research. I am still of the mind that removing Saddam was a strategic imperative but to learn that a decision for war, even the proper war, was more ego based than fact based.

    I don't know what to think. I always respected GW Bush for making a tough decision. As I stated, I spent months coming to mine but to learn that men died because some fucks can't stand Saddam?

    That is NOT good enough. NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT ALL.

  5. #20
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    But we went to war on ego and not on facts ... and that disturbs me to no end.
    Don't understand why you said that.

    From the interview it would appear that ego caused operational difficulties AFTER you got there.

    How did ego affect/change the REASONS to go to war ?

    Nothing i've read in that interview refutes what you've said over the years.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 21 Jun 13, at 11:26.

  6. #21
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    DE,

    How did ego affect/change the REASONS to go to war ?
    for much of the leadership, WMDs weren't the REAL reason why we went to war with saddam. yeah, they thought there were some WMDs, but it was never their primary focus-- it was the justification.

    it was the belief that the US could make an example of iraq; that the spectacle of bringing down a US enemy with minimal effort like the US did with the taliban in 2001 would serve as an abject warning to america's enemies. it was the belief that the US could completely remake a country (that's why comparisons to post-war germany/japan rebuilding were so popular with the neoconservatives.

    once you think through this, you'll understand much of the otherwise nonsensical decisions that were made at the time.

    why wait for the canadians/4th ID to properly deploy/use more troops? because we don't need them.
    why disband the Iraqi Army? because we can remake it into a professional western army from scratch.
    why undergo de-Baathification? because we can rebuild the iraqi bureaucracy.

    i still think the iraq war should have been fought. but the way it was fought, and the reasons why we went in...a tragedy beyond belief, wasting thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  7. #22
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    i still think the iraq war should have been fought. but the way it was fought, and the reasons why we went in...a tragedy beyond belief, wasting thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
    I supported the war when it began because I foolishly believed that whatever my political differences with the Bush Administration, the US would plan & undertake the whole thing properly. I can recall back in the days when I was on 'StrategyPage' the Ditto head army treating Rumsfeld like some sort of God of War & treating any criticism as something akin to treason. Oh how things have changed. It wasn't until some time later that it dawned on me just how criminally incompetent the guys at the top were. Had I known that at the start I would have opposed the war.

    This is a quote from the excellent 'Fiasco' by Thomas Ricks.

    "I actually was surprised to find, the first time I met him, that he was pretty likeable, which surprised me, because I hate him," said Paul Arcangeli, who served as an Army officer in Iraq before being medically retired. (His loathing, he explained, is a policy matter: "I blame him for all this shit in Iraq. Even more than Rumsfeld, I blame him." his bottom line on Wolfowitz: "Dangerously idealistic. And crack-smoking stupid."
    That should be Wolfowitz's epitaph. I'm sure some kind soul can provide something similar for Rumsfeld.


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  8. #23
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    I still wonder how Powell feels these days.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  9. #24
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    DE,



    for much of the leadership, WMDs weren't the REAL reason why we went to war with saddam. yeah, they thought there were some WMDs, but it was never their primary focus-- it was the justification.

    it was the belief that the US could make an example of iraq; that the spectacle of bringing down a US enemy with minimal effort like the US did with the taliban in 2001 would serve as an abject warning to america's enemies. it was the belief that the US could completely remake a country (that's why comparisons to post-war germany/japan rebuilding were so popular with the neoconservatives.

    once you think through this, you'll understand much of the otherwise nonsensical decisions that were made at the time.

    why wait for the canadians/4th ID to properly deploy/use more troops? because we don't need them.
    why disband the Iraqi Army? because we can remake it into a professional western army from scratch.
    why undergo de-Baathification? because we can rebuild the iraqi bureaucracy.

    i still think the iraq war should have been fought. but the way it was fought, and the reasons why we went in...a tragedy beyond belief, wasting thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
    1. ok

    2. less than the minimal effort its the willingness to camp out there for a decade that is warning enough. Maybe not completely remake the country but change its current course. What complicated matters is you picked countries with sharp sectarian differences vice Germany or Japan. They need to sort that out themselves now that they got the opportunity.

    3. This is where i see ego getting in the way of operational decisions. I sense laments & anger here over lives that could have been saved but were not. All to do with the occupation.

    4. here you are repeating what OOE said, agreeing that the war should have been fought but doubting the reasons. Which reasons ? I don't think anybody here doubts the primary reason. The secondary ones don't seem like reasons to me more like nice ideas but not entirely required to go in the first place. Nevertheless they represent a break by the west with 80 years of arab order status quo. A radical a change as this is going to have strong detractors.

    If i can seperate those out then things become more clear. Mixing it up gives the impression you think the primary objectives have somehow been compromised some where along the path and that it was not worth it.

    If $1 insurance cost protects up to $100 then its worth it in my books.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 21 Jun 13, at 15:33.

  10. #25
    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post

    it was the belief that the US could make an example of iraq; that the spectacle of bringing down a US enemy with minimal effort like the US did with the taliban in 2001 would serve as an abject warning to america's enemies.
    2003-Do as we say,or we'll kill you.
    2013-Do as we say,or we'll arm the Jihadists,to kill you.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    DE,

    3. This is where i see ego getting in the way of operational decisions. I sense laments & anger here over lives that could have been saved but were not. All to do with the occupation.
    i think i'm getting a sense of what you're trying to say.

    to put it in a better way, i think the REASONS for going to war mattered. if the reason why you're going to war is this expansive, "we will remake the entire middle east at minimal cost," then that produces a different strategic/operational imperative than if your reason is "saddam hussein is too dangerous to have nukes."

    for that matter, even if you changed the reason to "we will remake the entire middle east," but KNEW the cultural/religious sensitivities, then that would create a different strategic/operational imperative.

    it's clear now that there was NONE of this knowledge there; they really DID think that 'inside of every gook, there's an american trying to get out!'

    you'd fight the war differently, and you'd carry out the occupation differently.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  12. #27
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    Colonel,

    I feel much the same as you. I was working with XVIII Airborne Corps right after 9/11 on working the deployment and support of the 10 MD. We saw the effort required. In 2002 my project shifted to V Corps. I spent most of that autumn in Poland and Heidelberg doing planning. And I was stunned to see what the force would not contain. I was asking when the ARNG and USAR MP battalions would mobilizing to plus up 18 MP BDE I was told the initial mobilization request had been turned down by ARCENT. Couldn’t believe it. I also asked who was going besides 3 ID…1 AD? 1 ID? I was told 82d and 101st. WTF?!?!!? Don’t worry, the AF and 11 CBT AVN will more than make up for it. We have Blue Force Tracker and satellites, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    We as a planning staff were astounded on how large of an endeavor we were undertaking with such a small force.

    And it was all on a lie and deception.

    DE,

    On 12 SEP 2001 Paul Wolfowitz brought up the opportunity was now there to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. The fires in New York were still burning and this asshat was all set to move on who was not our prime target.

    He and Cheney decided on war and then built a case to justify it. It’s supposed to be the other war around.

    As for how does SEC Powell feel? I don’t know but I imagine it’s a mixture of shame, anger and maybe a little vindication.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

  13. #28
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    DE,

    On 12 SEP 2001 Paul Wolfowitz brought up the opportunity was now there to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. The fires in New York were still burning and this asshat was all set to move on who was not our prime target.

    He and Cheney decided on war and then built a case to justify it. It’s supposed to be the other war around.
    1. ok, you're saying here that attention was drawn away from Afghanistan to Iraq. At the time people said fighting two wars was possible. The result was sub-optimal in both theatres.

    2 Extraordinary situation requiring an extraordinary response. Why these two got the lead, i don't know maybe because nobody had as ambitious an answer that would address this multi-faceted challenge. Read or heard somewhere that if Cheney got a do over he'd do- it-over. again. Doubt Wolfowitz thinks differently.

    Was going to post this op-ed in the Boston thread but it applies to 9/11 just as well.

    The only solution is to undermine the global jihadist brand by making its ideology as unpopular as communism has become today. Grassroots democratic alternatives must be supported. Counter-narratives must be disseminated and key facts — for instance, that more Muslims have died in Pakistan as a result of Taliban actions than American drones or that the Taliban were behind those who attacked the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai for wanting an education — must be widely publicised.
    That is what you were and still are up against. Its an ongoing struggle and will take time. Iraq & Afghanistan were just the beginning.

  14. #29
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    He and Cheney decided on war and then built a case to justify it. It’s supposed to be the other war around.

    I'm not privy to all the information that you were. I was somewhat dubious about WMDs. I was very dubious before things started because I thought the real battle would start, in the towns, after the Iraqi Army was crushed. The so called battle for peace if you will and no one seem to comprehend that. It was simply we'll do this and that so don't worry.

    Yet, in a nutshell I always though the first and foremost reason for going in was because Cheney, et al had a personal score to settle. Seems that is the case more and more. Many called me naive back then.
    Last edited by tbm3fan; 21 Jun 13, at 21:05.

  15. #30
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    TurkeyFan, you are spot on.

    Like the Colonel I took some convincing. But I saw "intel" which convinced me....guess they were wrong. And Cheney? I didn't respect him much as SECDEF and my opinion never improved.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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