Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.

From the No Duh Files

Today's WaPo has the headline Inexperienced Hands Guide Iraq Rebuilding:

Two months after the fall of Baghdad, the critical task of postwar rebuilding and governance of most Iraqi cities remains in the hands of U.S. military personnel, almost all of whom lack expertise in government administration and familiarity with the Arab world.

Some current and former U.S. officials involved in the reconstruction effort contend that the failure to more quickly include civilian reconstruction specialists in the postwar occupation has delayed resumption of local government operations and led to resentment among the nearly 20 million Iraqis who live outside the capital.

"The reliance on the military has been a mistake," a senior U.S. official here said. "You need civilians in an operation like this. This is both a political and a military operation. We need to emphasize the political dimension more."

As Lt. Colonel Wally Z. Walters concluded in his April 2002 report THE DOCTRINAL CHALLENGE OF WINNING THE PEACE AGAINST ROGUE STATES:

The U.S. military may be capable of defeating Iraq or other rogue states in war, with or without the assistance of allies. It is less clear that the U.S. can win the peace after war, if it limits its wartime objectives, empowers others with the initiative, or fails to act now to develop the doctrine which would be necessary for success.

I think we have in fact empowered others with the initiative. But just how bad is this, really? A bit earlier in his report (which is subtitled HOW LESSONS FROM POST-WORLD WAR II GERMANY MAY INFORM OPERATIONS AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN’S IRAQ), the good Colonel makes an observation about how we handled our occupation of Germany:

American failure to achieve coordination of political, military and allied policy was to haunt the United States for years, especially in the 1948 Berlin crisis, and ultimately in the division of Germany until 1991.

I've referred to the problems with historical analogies before and while we can't say history repeats itself exactly, I think we can make some general observations in applying historical lessons. Clearly, we did not learn much from post-WWII Germany--or rather, not everybody got the memo. Some of us, however, saw this coming. Small solace. I just hope our recent mistakes don't haunt us until 2049.


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