Of the schisms in Iraqi society, which have contributed to much of the violence since the U.S.-led invasion, the book advises, 'The Iraqis have some religious and tribal differences among themselves.'"Which Herr Profesor Oberst Nagl described as "a stunning understatement."
So, if President George W. Bush starts to prepare—or actually issues the order—for an attack [on Iran], what should the generals do? Disobey? Rally resistance from within? Resign in protest? Retire quietly? Or salute and execute the mission?Like most who have written on this subject, Charlie is understandably torn. Civilian control of the military is one of the cornerstones of Anglo-American democracy (to the point that when we discuss reform or training of foreign militaries we forget that for many their biggest fears are coups, not invasions). But what do you do when the civilians seem to be auditioning for Dr. Strangelove? (You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!)
They should arrange to be called before congressional committees and to be asked awkward questions, which would elicit their critical replies. At the final hour, they should threaten to retire or resign en masse and, if that didn't work, they should follow through. (Even if they quietly retired, the fact that three or four or six or eight generals did so at once would have some impact.)This strikes Charlie as reasonable given the extraordinary circumstances. But in her more ornery moods, she wants to push Kaplan one further: if the Merkwürdigeliebe civilians are hell-bent on invasion, why shouldn't the Generals stand strong and wait to be fired? No constitutional violations (on either side), and the civilians get to put their money where their mouth is. Obviously this is a near impossibility, but so is three or four or six generals "retiring."
At first, Charlie thought this shot across the bow was the most startling statement in this op-ed today. But then she saw:
Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.
As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.
U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.So what they're saying is our exit strategy (such as it is) will only make things worse for Americans on the ground (to say nothing of that imminent civil war)? Why didn't they say anything while they were still in uniform?
This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.Oh, snap! They did! (We'll leave for another day the question of if and how this information was willfully disregarded.) Well, are there any options left on the table?
To many this will seem simplistic. And it is. (Charlie, for one, is reluctant to fetishize the tactical observations of boots on the ground) . But that doesn't mean it's wrong. Fellow traveler Phil Carter has been beating the draft drum for some time. And Steve Biddle has highlighted similar problems with a Goldilocks-like desire to chart a middle course of advisors and phased draw-down. We can either fight a proper counter-insurgency campaign, or we can come home.
There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.
America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.