Sunday, December 03, 2006

Even More Iraq!

That leaked Rumsfeld memo. What strikes me is that it's incredibly poor in quality. Rumsfeld was clearly...well...labouring under delusions of adequacy when he wrote this.

Consider the "options". "Significantly increase the number of US trainers and transfer more equipment to Iraqi security forces," "Reduce quickly the number of US bases, currently 55, to five by July 2007", "Position substantial US forces near the Iranian and Syrian borders to reduce infiltration and Iran's influence", "Withdraw US forces from vulnerable positions, such as patrols, and use them as a quick reaction force to help Iraqi security forces when needed", "Reconstruction efforts should be in those parts of Iraq that are behaving and no more reconstruction assistance should be given in areas where there is violence", and "Provide money to key political leaders (as Saddam Hussein did), to get them to help us get through this difficult period."

Well, not only is none of this very inspiring, but most of it is mutually incompatible. How the hell do you reduce the number of bases whilst increaing the numbers of advisors with the Iraqi forces? They are both good ideas in themselves, but more advisers means lots of little camps with US officers and NGOs in. Reducing the number of bases to five fortified desert superbases has been official policy since June/July 2003, so must anyway be considered pure ponyism.

Further, how are the substantial US forces meant to be positioned near the borders and be withdrawn to five big bases at the same time? At best, this would mean big bases with the field forces out on the borders, hence lots of road convoys between the two. Which means that US forces will have to get out and patrol the roads to keep them open. And how will these forces on the borders secure them without either going out on patrol, or else placing lots of small observation posts along them?

Not doing reconstruction in places where there is violence is, well, interesting. It is probably the truth - where there is violence, the contractors won't go. And anyway, one doesn't try to persuade one's allies. Finally, showering cash on Iraq has been tried continuously since the 9th of April, 2003, and seems to have resulted in the biggest theft in history.

Donald Rumsfeld was actually stupider than I thought.

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