June 23, 2006

We don't need no stinking diplomacy!

The following is a guest post by valued commenter "Huck Finn"'

Where are the American diplomats in Iraq?

"When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

One of my major complaints about the handling of the Iraq War has been the lack of U.S. interagency involvement and support, particularly the State Department. In the days leading up to March 19th, 2003, I wrote in my journal that I envisioned huge contracted cargo ships at the docks in Um Qasr unloading massive supplies for interagency groups and non governmental organizations. I finally realized that it was not part of the plan. Three years later, it's the military doing the nation building.

The military’s mission to fight and win the nation's wars now includes rebuilding nations as a core military mission. With 113k troops deployed at a cost of $10 billion per month, perhaps only two of the four major elements of national power—diplomatic, informational, military and economic—are fully engaged in the war. Most notably absent is diplomatic power and the result is that the military is burdening the load that civilian diplomats should bear.

In the June 15th edition of Government Executive Magazine Katherine Peters wrote an article on the subject. She notes the observations of several players, including retired General Barry McCaffrey and Assistant Secretary of State John Hillen.

She quotes McCaffrey in a report to fellow professors at West Point, “The U.S. Interagency support for our strategy in Iraq is grossly inadequate.”

Hillen is quoted: “There’s a lot of disappointment across the government that [the mission in Iraq is] still a DoD show. The great ‘aha’ of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is that we cannot kill or capture our way to victory in either Iraq or Afghanistan or the [global war on terrorism] in general.”

(Now that you've read Hillen's quote, reread the quote in italics at the top of this artice)

Colin Powell and James Webb didn’t need to wait on the post-invasion, group-think QDR to warn them of the dangers of relying exclusively on military power to achieve victory. They made their points known before the invasion. Just as they predicted, we "own it," referring to our costly long-term presence in Iraq.

I recommend anyone recommending changes to our role or strategy in Iraq read this well-written article on one area where our government can more effectively use its talent and expertise before drawing conclusions on how we should pursue a satisfactory end state in Iraq.


At 6/24/2006 10:47 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Americans! the most gullable people on earth!
"War on Terror", Puleeease.
No wonder PT Barnum made his fortune here.
The press,media, and general public as a group have swallowed this fake war hook,line and sinker!

At 6/28/2006 2:25 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

I'm too lazy to look up links now, but my understanding about the State Department involvement in the War in Iraq was----they were against it. There's been a lot written about how the State Dept. is staffed with Clinton holdovers who have the "realist" view of foreign policy and are absolutely against the neo-con view that American power should be used for liberal purposes. It's not that the State Department wasn't asked to participate in Iraq, they refused. Condi Rice recently stated that more State Department personnel would be going to global hot-spots like the Middle East, India and Africa. State Department officials do not want to leave their cushy postings is Europe, which isn't exactly on the front line of anything. Plus, they don't want to go anywhere there is danger. Pampered poodles all.

Colin Powell was a "realist", which means upholding the decades-old idea of propping up dictators and thugs in order to have "stability". I would have thought that the events of 9/11 would have convinced most people that sucking up to people like the mullahs in Iran and Saddam Hussein didn't work. But you know how some people are----they just won't let go of their cherished beliefs----even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So I guess that the "realist" school of thought is just another one of the secular fundamentalist religions like the "right to choose" and "diversity".

At 6/28/2006 10:58 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

You win the conservative buzzword prize! 957 in one comment!

Actually, you'd make sense if you hadn't riddled your comment with so many conservative stalking horses.

I think the idea that the state dept. refused to get involved in the run-up to Iraq is dubious at best. They had a team which specialized in Iraq and since they were "realists" in the literal sense of the word, in other words, kind of fond of reality and fact rather than ideology and spin, they were dubious at best and didn't buy all the hokum about Sadaam and his terrible WMDs.

So what did the neo-cons do? Why they set up their own little Iraq group in the DoD. Kind of like they set up their own alternate media structure to sidestep reality.

This outfit, headed by Douglas Feith, completely excluded the working group from the State Dept. and eagerly ginned up and "fixed" all the intelligence they could to scare us into war.

As we all know now, even you, this was patent bullshit. The group from State was dead right, and the little cabal from Cheney Inc. was dead wrong.

Throw out all the conservative buzzwords and cliches you like, but that won't change that fact.

Trying to blame the invasion of Iraq on Clinton, even obliquely, is simply laughable.

At 6/29/2006 3:26 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

I didn't mean to imply that Clinton was responsible for the Iraq war, even though his feckless behavior toward Islamist attacks didn't help. But then neither did the fecklessness of Carter, Reagan and GHWBush.

I should have been more clear that "realism" had been our government's policy for decades, if not generations. Henry Kissinger being a major architect for that policy.

As for the State Department's role in Iraq. I'm agnostic. There are two separate narratives going on about this: that State really, really, REALLY wanted to help in Iraq, but were rebuffed by Rummy and Cheney; the other being that State was less than enthused about invading Iraq and were less than accommodating toward that effort.

Since I don't work at the State Department, I have no clue which is correct. It is well known, however, that the Iraq war has caused major turf wars among the WH, State, DOD, CIA and possibly the Department of Agriculture.

I certainly don't believe everything I read, but I did want to add this counter-narrative to your post.


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