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Larry Beinhart Headshot

War Dispatches from the War On Stupidity

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The strategy for Iraq is still: "We'll stand down, when they stand up!"

Why can't they stand up?

For starters, we dismantled their army, their police, and their
government. Government here refers to more than Saddam and his cronies.
It means the entire administrative apparatus that runs a country. It
never occurred to anyone in this administration that countries need to
be run. But that's another matter.

Then, when the looting began, the American occupation force stood by
and let it happen. Indeed, many members of Bremer's Coalition
Provisional Authority thought it was a good thing. Sweep out the old,
then when the fresh rain of democracy came, a whole new country would
spring up, like mushrooms. That didn't happen.

Eventually, the administration thought we better create a new army and
a police force. Arm them, train them, give them uniforms. Then they'll
stand up, and we can stand down.

They put an American general in charge, David Petraeus.

Petraeus trained the new Iraqi army. And - for whatever reasons - he
failed. He utterly failed. They don't show up. They don't fight. They
work part time for the army and part time for the militias they're
supposedly fighting. Not to take anything away from General Petraeus.
Everyone says he's brilliant and dedicated and competitive. It's just
that, he failed. Completely.

When it became evident so evident that the Iraqis were not standing up
that even the administration and the media noticed, the Bush
administration came up with a plan. The surge. More soldiers, to stay
there longer, so that the Iraqis would have time to stand up.

Who did they call forth to take command?

General Petraeus. The man whose failure created the condition,
according to which we have to stay there.

It's even more bizarre than that. The Senate voted to confirm him
81-0. Not a single one of our learned statesman saw sufficient
contradiction in the facts to vote against him.

It's even more bizarre than that.

After Petraeus failed in training up the Iraqi military, he got sent
back to America. There he wrote the army's new counter-insurgency

The manual calls for a force ratio of 25 for every 1,000 in the population.

Let's do the numbers.

The population of Baghdad is just short of 6,000,000. The population
of Iraq is 26,780,000. Therefore, according to Petraeus, according to what is now official
army doctrine, it would take 150,000 troops to control Baghdad alone.
It would take 669,500 to control Iraq.

There are currently about 145,000 troops in Iraq. And it's a disaster.
Which, according to Army doctrine, is perfectly logical. It is exactly
what is to be expected.

In theory, the force in that force ratio is supposed to include Iraqi
army and police. But in fact, neither Iraqi army or police can be
relied on to be fighting the same war that America is (to the degree
that we know who we're fighting and what we're fighting for).
Indeed, there are enough of them, on paper, to have brought Baghdad,
at least, under control. So either we have to accept that in fact,
they can not, at this time, be put into the equation. Or say that the
theory is wrong and the number has to be far higher.
Let's accept the theory and accept, at the same time, that Iraqi
forces should not be counted.

The bizarreness continues.

The Bush administration, as we all know, came up with a plan. The plan
is the 'surge.'

The 'surge' will take the troop numbers up to 160,000 or 170,000 or
maybe even 180,000. Both experience, and the army's own official
doctrine say that is vastly insufficient. It is a guarantee of
disaster. The same disaster that's there now. Just going on longer.

To summarize, General Petraeus, the man in charge of the initial
failure, has been put in charge of a new plan that requires his
original failure to magically reverse itself and which is also
guaranteed, according to the mathematics of own theory, to fail.

It is clear that real war we must fight, is the war on stupidity.