A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
MISTAKES, WHAT MISTAKES? The Stratfor Group outlines tactical errors that it thinks the Bush Administration has made since it began the occupation of Iraq. It makes for interesting reading:

* A failure to detect that preparations were under way for a guerrilla war in the event that Baghdad fell.

* A failure to quickly recognize that a guerrilla war was under way in
Iraq, and a delay of months before the reality was recognized and a strategy developed for dealing with it.

* A failure to understand that the United States did not have the
resources to govern Iraq if all Baathist personnel were excluded.

* A failure to understand the nature of the people the United States was installing in the Iraqi Governing Council -- and in particular, the
complex loyalties of Ahmed Chalabi and his relationship to Iraq's Shia and the Iranian government. The United States became highly dependent on individuals about whom it lacked sufficient intelligence.

* A failure to recognize that the Sunni guerrillas were regrouping in
February and March 2004, after their defeat in the Ramadan offensive.

* Completely underestimating the number of forces needed for the
occupation of Iraq, and cavalierly dismissing accurate Army estimates in favor of lower estimates that rapidly became unsupportable.

* Failing to step up military recruiting in order to increase the total
number of U.S. ground forces available on a worldwide basis. Failing to
understand that the difference between defeating an army and occupying a country had to be made up with ground forces.

These are the particular failures. The general failures are a compendium of every imaginable military failing:

* Failing to focus on the objective. Rather than remembering why U.S.
forces were in Iraq and focusing on that, the Bush administration wandered off into irrelevancies and impossibilities, such as building democracy and eliminating Baath party members. The administration forgot its mission.

* Underestimating the enemy and overestimating U.S. power. The enemy was intelligent, dedicated and brave. He was defending his country and his home. The United States was enormously powerful but not omnipotent. The casual dismissal of the Iraqi guerrillas led directly to the failure to anticipate and counter enemy action.

* Failure to rapidly identify errors and rectify them through changes of plans, strategies and personnel. Error is common in war. The measure of a military force is how honestly errors are addressed and rectified. When a command structure begins denying that self- evident problems are facing them, all is lost. The administration's insistence over the past year that no fundamental errors were committed in Iraq has been a cancer eating through all layers of the command structure -- from the squad to the office of the president.

* Failing to understand the political dimension of the war and
permitting political support for the war in the United States to erode by failing to express a clear, coherent war plan on the broadest level. Because of this failure, other major failures -- ranging from the failure to find weapons of mass destruction to the treatment of Iraqi prisoners -- have filled the space that strategy should have occupied. The persistent failure of the president to explain the linkage between Iraq and the broader war has been symptomatic of this systemic failure.

How to put this critique into perspective? What does this say about those who currently lead us in this war in/on Iraq?

Remember the objective; respect the enemy; be your own worst critic;
Exercise leadership at all levels -- these are fundamental principles of warfare. They have all been violated during the Iraq campaign.
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Thoughts on What One Experiences These Days

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Blogs I Read


Mike Spenis

Megan McArdle

Juan Cole

Joshua Micah Marshall



Emperor Misha I

Andrew Sullivan

Bob Somersby

John Quiggin

John Rogers


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