A Toothless Lion?

"Iraq’s national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, told Reuters the investigation into the raid would focus on whether the two British men were in fact handed over to the militia group and whether they were found in an annex to the jail or a private house. Iraqi authorities admitted that insurgents had infiltrated the police and other security forces in Basra and elsewhere. "Our Iraqi security forces in general, and these in particular and in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit that they have been penetrated by some of the insurgents," Rubaie told the BBC. He said he did not know the extent of the infiltration, but said new procedures were in place to get rid of bad apples. Officials in Basra said at least 60 percent of the police force there is made up of Shiite militiamen from one of three groups: the Mehdi Army; the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; and Hizbullah in Iraq, a small group based in the southern marshlands."  Beirut Daily Star

Well, maybe the British SHOULD apologize.  They were given the quietest area in Iraq.  It was quiet because the Shia are waiting to see if the political struggle inspired by America’s neocon strategy will give them control of the rump state of Iraq.  With Basra "in hand" the Brits set out to demonstrate the superiority of their knowledge of counter-insurgency tactics, and "how to handle Arabs."   For 2 1/2 years they have laughed at the ineptitude of the "Yanks" in trying to deal with the Sunni Arab insurgencies in the north.

What is the result?  They have largely lost control of Basra to various Shia militias and to the police who are heavily infiltrated by Shia militia.  Today, they are resucing their presence in the city because the governor of the province warned them off.  Is this a problem?  You can bet your life it is.

Any competent military planner prepares to deal with the worst eventuality.  The worst case here is that at some future time we will need unimpeded access to the roads that run south through Basra.  Will the British regain control of this Line of Communications that runs south from Baghdad to Kut to Basra to Kuwait.  Don’t bet on it.  Britain has been a lukewarm political supporter of this enterprise from the beginning.  Are they going to fight to regain control of Basra?  Don’t bet on it.

And still we have people like Reuel Gerecht trying to make optimistic noises about this situation on TV…  Well, he should.  He is one of the architects of the situation.  People like him are still talking about adopting the French "oil spot" counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.  My God!!

You could have done that two and a half years ago if you had been willing to accept the reality of the insurgency.  You could have done that if you had accepted General Shinseki’s estimate of the troops needed for this campaign.

Pat Lang


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11 Responses to A Toothless Lion?

  1. Some Guy says:

    I heard Gerecht. I almost spit my drink out. When he accused the military of basically being skittish and not wanting to fight a real insurgency, all I could think is “well get a rifle and get busy then you fool, this was your idea.” He sounded very much like an architect complaining about the low quality of contractors building his latest home design.
    The planners bear the blame for not being serious, not the “military.” As a dyed in the wool opponent to this invasion, I think it is most ironic that one of its architects would engage in broad handed military bashing when all along war-boosters have been trying to put those words in the mouths of people me.
    Some of my students are over there, one of them hunting IEDs day in and day out, and I don’t think they would be impressed with Mr. Gerecht.

  2. J says:

    here’s pbs’s link on Gerecht’s latest diatribe:

  3. J says:

    do you know how ‘long’ that Gerecht was an ‘analyst’? was it a sum total of 5 minutes?

  4. J says:

    isn’t it amazing how politicans squirm when they get caught with their greedy little mitts in the cookie jar? iraq’s allawi’s aides are screaming like a bunch of stuck pigs regarding their $1bill rip off of iraq’s defense funds. alawai’s aide is blaming iran for all his-their troubles.
    soowie, soowie, soowie. maybe we should have put some boar hogs in there when we put the corrupt alawi and his henchmen in, that way when they acted like sows, the boars could have nailed them to the wall. lol
    Allawi aide says Iran behind “smear campaign”:

  5. Alvord says:

    Colonel Lang wrote: “Any competent military planner prepares to deal with the worst eventuality. The worst case here is that at some future time we will need unimpeded access to the roads that run south through Basra.”
    Something I have been thinking about recently. When we begin the process of withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, could they become more vulnerable to insurgent attacks? If so, I hope that we would plan a withdrawal in such a way that it provides the maximum protection for our troops. Given the lack of planning that was done for the occupation of Iraq, I don’t know if we can take this for granted.

  6. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Alvord I see that you get the point. Let us hope that everyone does. Pl

  7. Ckrisz says:

    Well, we have carried out very large troop rotations before.
    In that kind of situation I have faith in the generals to get our troops out relatively intact. In the worst case scenario, I think we’d see B-52s carving out swaths of destruction before any sort of Athenian Expedition-style disaster. Besides, I think the insurgents would be gearing up for the real civil war to take place after the U.S. forces left and wouldn’t waste too many men or munitions to speed a departing guest.

  8. Haven been down that road, I don’t think it will be too much trouble. Plenty of unobstructed views and open lands. Pretty much smooth sailing south of Diwaniya.
    About the Brits, it sounds like a Sadrist set-up “shari’a” court to me, with the collaboration of local police and an ad-hoc jail. We shall see.

  9. b says:

    Haven been down that road, I don’t think it will be too much trouble. Plenty of unobstructed views and open lands. Pretty much smooth sailing south of Diwaniya.
    Hmm – how many bridges to cross? If Sadr, or even worse Sistani, would want the south to shut down all American traffic there would be a huge problem.
    If the resistance blows up all bridges in the path are you sure your bridging equipment will be on that side of the river where you need it?

  10. ali says:

    Yes. A totally inept humiliating cockup. It seems Soft Hats didn’t work either.
    Some British military types are grumbling that all was in order in Basra until Tony Blair ordered them off the streets in preparation for the election. The leak of MOD memo recommending a big Brit drawdown was hardly a useful signal either.
    But isn’t this just exposing one of the most basic flaws in the political plan: the big Shi’a parties all have close links with Tehran and militias. Put a police uniform on a militiaman and he is not magically transformed into a loyal servant of the state; especially if the state looks likely to fragment into ethnic components.

  11. Pat Lang says:

    Just to show you that us Yanks are not immune from this kind of foolishness, a lot of these “policemen” were selected based on a questionnaire they filled out which asked them if they were loyal to the new government. An American consultant produced that questionnaire. pl

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