Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent
header_02 home about login header_06
sidebar-top content-top

Iraq – What could have been done better?

Stuart Lord wrote Contestable concepts on Iraq: a pro-war view

Iraq – What could have been done better?

by Stuart Lord

I was asked a very relevant question after my original article on Iraq, namely ‘What could have been done better?’ After some careful consideration and consultation with various people, some who had served in Iraq, I came up with the following.

1. The job should have been done in 1991

When it comes down to it, Saddam’s regime should have been torn down in 1991. The military capability was there, the US had a much larger regular army and would not have had to rely on National Guard to the extent it is now, it would have received wider support from Europe and Russia (not necessary but nice) and would have saved the American people a lot of money.

More importantly, it would have saved the Iraqi people a lot of lives (lost due to the crippling sanctions imposed and the number of people killed by Saddam’s regime between the end of the Gulf war and the beginning of the Iraq War), especially the lives of the Kurds and Shiites who rebelled against the Iraqi regime during the Gulf War at the instigation of America, only to be slaughtered after the UN brokered peace deal left them stranded.

Not only would it have been almost incontestably legal in nature, it also would have avoided much of the morality issues surrounding the Iraq War and saved years of the United Nations time, leaving it fully available to pursue more meaningless resolutions against Israel (the last nation in the Middle East apart from Turkey that would deserve the UN’s attention if it were properly run, in my opinion.)

2. Better training and tactics for the Coalition troops in Iraq

Some of the problems in Iraq can be related to the composition of US forces which invaded and are currently occupying Iraq (both invaded and occupying have been denuded of political inference and innuendo for the purposes of this article). A large proportion of these forces are National Guard, which runs in similar fashion to our reserves though on a more active basis. These troops often have the job of escorting convoys, patrolling residential areas, guarding military installations, among others.

However, as can be seen with the Abu Ghraib scandal, a lack of training and professionalism can have disastrous consequences. Experience within the US army with peacekeeping missions is not widespread, even within the officer corps, and their equipment is more suited to combat rather than occupational duties.

This is quite pointedly different to the British army, who have had far fewer incidents during the occupation. Part of this can be attributed to the placement of British troops among the less hostile areas; however the nature of the occupation has been different in Southern Iraq. A more community centred, mutual help system has also been enacted. British soldiers can often be seen moving down the streets with helmets off and guns pointed to the ground, holding conversations with local leaders, engaging in local projects such as water purification and electricity restoration in cooperation with Iraqi residents.

Though it’s hard to say it, British colonialist techniques of cooperative organisation and mutual obligation seem to be working, as can be seen by a lower incident rate even among an increasingly active Shiite population. Such techniques combine with peacekeeping experience entrenched after years in Northern Ireland and Kosovo to create a more stable area, and US forces would be smart to try and emulate some of these ideas. It must be admitted though that Britain would probably run into the same problems if higher amounts of green troops were deployed due to a larger deployment.

However classes to teach troops the local language and culture along with cultural respect, greater interaction between US troops and local Iraqi citizens, further peacekeeping training for National Guard and active and seen to be active assistance by troops with the restoration of services would all have been useful.

3. The engagement of the Bedouin population

The Bedouin population, nomadic by tradition though reasonably settled in Iraq, makes up approximately 10% of the population, however their potential in stabilising Iraq is far beyond mere numbers. Leaders of the tribes carry enormous respect throughout most of Iraq, which is backed by a similar amount of power.

Mudher Al-Kharbit stated in the SMH that he had the power to stop the Iraqi insurgency if he and other tribal leaders were given unelected power over internal security and defence.

While this price may be too high to pay, there is good reason for engagement with these people if they can halt the violence, especially since their reputation rests upon their honour, and so any agreement reached would in all likelihood be kept. The Bedouin people were steadfast allies of the Coalition during the Gulf War and kept subsequent good relations with the US after the war, and in my opinion would continue to be good allies in helping to attain security in Iraq with a minimum of harassment.

4. The handling of the Iraqi Army post war

One of the stupidest things to happen after the liberation of Iraq was the disbanding of the Iraqi Army by order of the former administrator Paul Bremner. This decision was probably the largest mistake, because it turned 350,000 soldiers onto the street. It has been said that it was this decision which swelled the ranks of the insurgency beyond all others, with terrorist and resistance groups offering up to $5000 a head for the deaths of occupying troops and contractors.

While the decision was reversed a month later, the reconstruction of the Iraqi army and police force was only done slowly, leaving the vast majority without meaningful employment and entrenching anger within these groups, again adding to those going towards the insurgency.

A quick purge of officers implicated in war crimes or other unsavoury practices and their replacement with more honest and upright candidates, and the restructuring of the army’s mechanisms and chain of command to incorporate a separation between the military and the executive, would have served far better and left the insurgents bereft of all the men and looted equipment it gained from the army disbanding.

5 Regional carrot and stick

A more pro-active stance with Jordan and Syria to try and stop some of the foreign fighters entering the country would have been very helpful. Further encouragement and interaction with those two nations would be helpful, especially if they agreed to actively try and stop terrorists and weaponry entering the country.

This could be done through trade credits or special favours with those two countries, with the implication that if smuggling of men and weapons was not properly policed they would be subject to certain consequences, and if either state encouraged or actively assisted terrorists then ‘severe consequences’ would ensue. Consequences could equal sanctions or other economic penalties while severe consequences could have meant military strikes against suspect areas and forces within those two countries. All of this would have been useful.

6. Bombing of infrastructure

By doing this the Coalition greatly increased the burden of reconstruction - for no real good purpose after the true state of the Iraqi army and other defence mechanisms became known after the softest of victories entering Baghdad. By destroying a majority of the communications, power and water infrastructure, as well as closing and often ruining major bridges, ports (along the rivers) and other parts of the civilian network, the Coalition gained the enmity of much of Iraq’s population, especially because of the slow progress it has made in restoring and rectifying the damage.

Militarily it made sense when the Coalition thought it would face a hardened, well prepared and embedded opposition instead of the ramshackle army they ended up defeating. However from a public relations point of view, and in terms of the welfare of the Iraqi people, it was not a fantastic choice. The Coalition would have eliminated these problems almost completely if it chose not to destroy these civilian networks.

6. Shoot all the naysayers?

It deals with opposition to the war at home, doesn’t it? And the greens would have been happy with all those trees saved because pamphlets and opinion articles against the war would not have been printed (even though most of them would have been dead). Just kidding, but it would have saved a lot of political hassle, no?

THIS is not a comprehensive list. It does not go into intelligence failures before the war, nor other justifications and reasons for the invasion, simply what I feel may have helped to ease the transition of Iraq to a post war democracy friendly towards the Western powers. Any other ideas or comments will be happily accepted.

Previous comments on this thread

[ category: ]

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

We had absolutely no right to invade a sovereign country

Stuart Lord, after all the lies have been exposed still asks: Iraq – What could have been done better?

I find this stance totally incredible. He goes on to say:

“was asked a very relevant question after my original article on Iraq, namely ‘What could have been done better?’ After some careful consideration and consultation with various people, some who had served in Iraq, I came up with the following.

“1. The job should have been done in 1991

“When it comes down to it, Saddam’s regime should have been torn down in 1991. The military capability was there, the US had a much larger regular army and would not have had to rely on National Guard to the extent it is now, it would have received wider support from Europe and Russia (not necessary but nice) and would have saved the American people a lot of money.”

Stuart, have you ever considered where you get the information which allows you to believe that the “Coalition of the Willing” (with most of the people “unwilling”) should have invaded Iraq and brought down Saddam Hussein?

Do you really believe Hussein was more of a "monster" than the Bush cabal? Have you ever read alternative views? Or, for that matter, Castro, Milosevic and all the other manufactured “monsters” and “madmen”? Why do is it only in the “other” countries that we find these scary, dangerous leaders?

Here is an excellent essay asking a very simple question. Perhaps you should start investigating other sources than the PTB, who have managed to turn history on its head over and over again, and provably so.

Of course, this is a Russian site, so you may easily dismiss it as propaganda. Personally, I am seriously wondering just which countries are the most propagandised at this time in our history.

by Malcom Lagauche
December 29, 2005

Through the years, we have become accustomed to hearing so many allegations against Saddam Hussein that they eventually become mundane: 100,000 here; 400,000 there; etc. If one adds up the numbers, it would appear that Saddam killed more people than the entire population of Iraq. Many people are now asking, "Why is he only being tried for one incident that led to the deaths of 142 people? How about the big stuff?"

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Mother of All Battles. It will explain some of the more well-publicized anti-Saddam propaganda. And, it will answer the questions about why he isn’t being tried for the massive amounts of people killed in his regime. There is no proof of the genocide charges against Saddam and both the U.S. and the stooge Iraqi tribunal have decided not to bring these charges because of the embarrassment and international condemnation that would ensue.

The Butcher of Baghdad Babies Killed … People Boiled in Acid … Human Shredding Machines … Gassing His Own People … and Whatever Else Sells Newspapers

For the five weeks of Desert Storm, we heard Bush I and every other government person say, "We’re not targeting Saddam Hussein." That was as big a lie as ever was told. The first and last bombs of the conflict were aimed at Saddam. Just minutes before Bush called the cease-fire, a super bomb was dropped in the bunker where Saddam was thought to have been. Unfortunately, a few hundred people lost their lives because of Bush’s obsession with Saddam’s death. If the U.S. was not targeting Saddam Hussein, it would not have unsuccessfully bombed that same bunker 15 times previously, then put hundreds of Americans on round-the-clock shifts to produce the super bomb which finally penetrated the bunker. Bush II ordered similar bombing runs against targets in Iraq in 2003 where he thought Saddam was located that produced the same results — many casualties, but no Saddam.

In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed a law prohibiting the U.S. government and its agencies from assassinating officials of foreign countries. That was just and necessary because, at that time, the U.S. was behind the scenes in assassination attempts on various people in Central America during the Cold War years. However, when it came time to try to kill Saddam Hussein, the law was forgotten. The U.S. Congress, as well as the president and the American people conveniently forgot the law, making a sham of the justice system.

Much of the world was aware of the conditions in Iraq after Desert Storm. People were starving and the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. Sewage treatment was non-existent and farm lands and irrigation systems were destroyed by U.S. bombs. During the first year after Desert Storm, more than 120,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died because of malnutrition and other diseases that were brought on because of the conditions Desert Storm created.

How was life in Iraq before Desert Storm? This is a subject that is taboo for Americans to know.

The entire country was electrified. Health care was free and education was universal and free throughout college. Women held a much higher status in Iraqi society than women in other Arab countries.

Food was inexpensive and readily available. Because of the abundance of food, people from surrounding countries shopped in Iraq. The Iraqi government supplied either low-interest or no-interest home loans and also offered land for those who promised to work the land and produce outcome within five years. Over a million Egyptians and hundreds of thousands of people of other nationalities participated in this agrarian reform program, which was one of the most successful the world had ever seen. It had been a decade since a case of malnutrition had been seen in Baghdad, yet, after Desert Storm, malnutrition was in force in epidemic proportions and caused the deaths of many.

. . .

In the buildup to Desert Storm, Bush I took the Halabjah gassing out of the closet and he made great strides in gaining people worldwide to support a military conclusion to the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq. All of a sudden we heard him tell the world, "He gasses his own people."

That statement was made so many times by administration officials that it became a household cliché. The problem is that no one ever checked out its authenticity. A fw months after Desert Storm, Greenpeace published an in-depth study called "On Impact" about the reasons for the massacre and how in the future war may be a last option instead of a first choice. A portion of the report covered the demonizing of the Iraqi leadership. It brought out many lies Bush used to con the world into supporting military intervention. Then, it addressed the Halabjah incident and threw doubt on whose military forces bombed the town with chemical weapons. On Impact quoted two writers from the U.S. Army War College who wrote a book called Iraqi Power and Security in the Middle East. The concluded, "The first attack occurred at Halabjah in north-central Iraq. All accounts of this incident agree that the victims’ mouths and extremities were blue. This is consonant with the use of a blood agent. Iraq never used blood agents throughout the war (Iran-Iraq War). Iran did … hence, we concluded it was the Iranian’s gas that killed the Kurds."

This short statement is devastating in many aspects. If doubt is cast on who gassed the Kurds, many people in American politics will not come out smelling squeaky clean on the issue of integrity because they have been spouting the same words for years.

This allegation is powerful. I know many people who supported the war only because of this statement. A common account is, "I would not support a war except that Saddam gassed his own people."

In 2002, in the buildup to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, many people came forward to challenge the "he gasses his own people" statement. Some were retired CIA officials and some were retired military personnel. They have uncovered much proof to show that Iran may have gassed the Halabjah Kurds.

* * * * * *

If you can offer a rebuttal to any of this, please do. However, I had read widely before coming across this article, dated 29 December 2005, and am convinced that this is a truth we in the West simply do not hear.

Of course, I'm sure our "dear leaders" have excellent reasons for shielding us from these truths.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
© 2005-2011, Webdiary Pty Ltd
Disclaimer: This site is home to many debates, and the views expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the site editors.
Contributors submit comments on their own responsibility: if you believe that a comment is incorrect or offensive in any way,
please submit a comment to that effect and we will make corrections or deletions as necessary.
Margo Kingston Photo © Elaine Campaner

Recent Comments

David Roffey: {whimper} in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 3 days ago
Jenny Hume: So long mate in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 3 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Reds (under beds?) in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 5 days ago
Justin Obodie: Why not, with a bang? in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 5 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Dear Albatross in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 5 days ago
Michael Talbot-Wilson: Good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 5 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Goodnight and good luck in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 3 hours ago
Margo Kingston: bye, babe in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 3 days ago