Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No Plan Survives Contact With Multiple Enemies

We had a plan for Iraq in 2003. Our enemies had plans, too.

In an otherwise interesting article on how post-ISIL territory in Syria, including Raqqa, will be governed (if defeating Assad is a post-April chemical attack American priority, it will have to be rebels in charge), there is this nonsense:

[Analysts and former U.S. diplomat] worry Washington could be on the verge of repeating the Iraq War mistakes of 2003, when the Bush administration didn't plan sufficiently for a post-invasion political order.

"Iraq 2003 and Libya 2011 teach a valuable lesson: Plan carefully for post-combat governance," said former U.S. diplomat Fred Hof.

Planning is definitely needed for Syria what doesn't include Assad resuming his usual programming.

And there was certainly no plan for post-Khaddafi Libya in 2011.

But Iraq 2003? The problem in Iraq wasn't a lack of planning for the post-war.

The problem was that we didn't have a plan to deal with an al Qaeda invasion of Iraq enabled by Syria that teamed up with Saddam's backers to wage war on the new Iraqi government.

The problem was that we didn't have a plan to deal with Iran's complementary subversion to back violent pro-Iran Shia terrorists and insurgents who waged war on the new Iraqi government.

We let Iran and Syria get away with murder in Iraq after Saddam's removal.

But you are thinking, "Brian, are you insane? Everybody knows that there was no planning for the post-Saddam period? How can you say that?"

Well, I can say that we had a plan because I read it in the New York Times:

President Bush's national security team is assembling final plans for administering and democratizing Iraq after the expected ouster of Saddam Hussein. Those plans call for a heavy American military presence in the country for at least 18 months, military trials of only the most senior Iraqi leaders and quick takeover of the country's oil fields to pay for reconstruction.

The proposals, according to administration officials who have been developing them for several months, have been discussed informally with Mr. Bush in considerable detail. They would amount to the most ambitious American effort to administer a country since the occupations of Japan and Germany at the end of World War II. With Mr. Bush's return here this afternoon, his principal foreign policy advisers are expected to shape the final details in White House meetings and then formally present them to the president.

So there was a post-war plan.

But as the article shows, we recognized that there could be problems after Saddam Hussein was defeated:

The plans presented to Mr. Bush will include several contingencies that depend heavily, officials say, on how Mr. Hussein leaves power. ''So much rides on the conflict itself, if it becomes a conflict, and on how the conflict starts and how the conflict ends,'' one of Mr. Bush's top advisers said.

Much also depends on whether the arriving American troops would be welcomed or shot at, and the Central Intelligence Agency has been drawing up scenarios that range from a friendly occupation to a hostile one.

Boy were there problems. Chiefly Syria, Iran, and al Qaeda, who made sure that there would be people shooting at us and our Iraqi allies after Saddam was defeated.

And we did beat those many threats that erupted, you must admit, even before the slaughter that peaked in the latter half of 2006 that prompted our surge offensive to exploit the Awakening that flipped the bulk of Iraq's Sunni Arabs. We won the war.

Sadly, The Obama administration didn't follow the plan by staying until Iraq was secure enough to stand on its own. So it had to engage in Iraq War 2.0 and send American forces back into combat in Iraq, and then Syria, to battle a revived Sunni Arab jihadi uprising bolstered by Saddam's boys.

Let's hope the Trump administration doesn't back away from the basic plan of helping Iraq until they stand on their own against the multiple enemies foreign and domestic that would still like Iraq to fall apart.