Sunday, October 30, 2005
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Tell me something I don't know about pre-war planning
In the Financial Times, Stephanie Kirchgaessner report on a finding that will not surprise loyal readers of danieldrezner.com:
Here's a link to Bowen's actual report.
[C'mon, you're not hiding behind the incompetence dodge, are you?--ed.] Rosenfeld and Yglesias make some provocative points but in the end are unpersuasive. As Fareed Zakaria points out in today's NYT Book Review in his review of George Packer's The Assassins' Gate:
Say, this reminds me of a question you might be interested in looking into, Dr. Drezner: When did the word "troops" suddenly stop meaning "groups of soldiers" and start to be used to mean individual soldiers? I'm pretty sure the armed forces would never use the word "troops" the latter way, but it seems to be standard among everyone else these days.
(The traditional meaning of the word "troops" would make "500,000 troops" be a heck of a lot more than just 500,000 soldiers, but apparently that's not what's meant here.)posted by: CB on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
"If Gen. Tommy Franks "hadn't offered some resistance, the number would have dropped well below 100,000," Packer says."
I dont believe this. Defeating a half a million troops with 2 divisions?
Comparing the incomparable.
Iraq drives islamists there because it's a more central place, it's more arabic less asian, it's were the war was contested, it's also easy to put resources there and supply. If there wasnt invasion they were in Afghanistan and exploding in some world cities.
This reminds me of G. Allison's "bureaucratic politics" view of policy-making: the adopted policy is the result of bargaining among a group of influential officials around the president (who may or may not put their departments' interests above the nation's best interests).
CB, a "troop" still does mean a group of soldiers. Use of that word to signify an individual soldier is incorrect.
I am little perplexed by the after the fact analyses of whether planning was sufficient or not. It seems that it is easy to spin arguments both ways that can't really be falsified because there are very few experiments and dozens of potentially significant variables.
I.e. things might be considered to have been more of a success in Afghanistan and more a failure in Iraq, but no one seems to have laid out in advance exactly and only the criteria by which success will be judged in advance.
Seems like statistically it's all just noise.posted by: Robert Bell on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
Here's how Iraq reconstruction "worked." Hemlock for Gadflies walked around his piece of the Sunni Triangle with $40,000 USD in cash, to spend as he wished, with the only stipulation being he could spend no more than $2,500 per vendor per day.
When the 40 large was exhausted, so long as he produced receipts totalling the same, he got another $40K and repeated the exercise.
Thus, accountability, direction, and top-down visibility. Oh, you rebuilt a school today? Great -- where are the receipts?
That's been the problem all along -- lots of microeconomic successes, no macroeconomic management.
From a "troop," here's the skinny on "troops" -- pretty much a one-size-fits-all term.
A "Troop" is an element of cavalry, armor, or attack aviation led by a Captain, and is the equivalent of an infantry Company or an artillery Battery. Depending upon type, anywhere from 70 to 150 soldiers.
"Hey, Troop" is a term often used when hailing a soldier one does not know personally and whose name-tag not legibile by virtue of distance or equipment.
A "Troop General" is a favorable term for a flag officer who is regarded as being very hands-on with the soldiers.
The "Commander-of-Troops" is a ceremonial position in particular Battalion and Brigade formations (usually changes-of-command).
The "Troop-Leading Procedures" is a systematic format for issuing operational plans and orders to elements under one's command.
"The troops" is a collective noun for soldiers, though it's often used to refer to any military personnel ("we support the troops").
And by the way, we're not really thrilled that you "support the troops" by displaying a magnetic ribbon on your car.
Support us by enlisting in the Army or Marine Corps and helping to suck up some of this shrap-metal with which we're constantly contending. Check the Government section of the Yellow Pages under "Recruiting" -- so long as you're under age 44, we can find a space for you.
And if you've got a Ph.D., we'll even let you enlist older than that.
Wife and kids? No problem -- $400,000 life insurance policies are available at low cost to all service-members....posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
"CB, a "troop" still does mean a group of soldiers. Use of that word to signify an individual soldier is incorrect."
It's not incorrect. It's simply the use of an old word in a new way. Language evolves. Over time words gain and lose meanings and are adapted for new purposes.posted by: pb on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
Sorry, pb, it is incorrect. Excusing errors of this kind only excuses intellectual laziness and the manifold inadequacies of the American educations system. We should not confuse evolution with decay.posted by: Zathras on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
Hemlock for Gadflies gives a good example of what went on. When I was there the first time, we had the mission of spending a lot of money in a very short period of time. Much of it produced benefits, some of it was utterly wasted and maybe stolen.
But everything was completely ad-hoc. There was no policy direction or assistance from the palace, no "vison," other than bromides about democracy.posted by: Participant on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
At command-post.org, I was pointing out problems as they occurred, such as our failure to secure al Tuwaitha (thus potentially spreading nuke waste), shut down Iraqi TV (thus continuing Iraq spreading propaganda), etc.
In addition to other reasons, I believe the general lack of a rebuilding plan reflects on the Bush administration's view of a "free" market. They think they can disband the Iraqi Army, put thousands of people on the streets with nothing to do, and then the invisible hand will just make everything hunky-dory.
One can see that same "vision" of a "free" market at work in New Orleans right now.
If Bush is going to spend like a drunken Dem, he might want to consider other Dem ideas like the WPA, something that would have helped maintain stability in Iraq, and something that would even help in New Orleans right now.posted by: Illegal immigration news on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
Mismanagement and spectacular waste is nothing new in war.
Read Catch22 to get the flavor.
If there was relatively little waste I'd say they were not moving fast enough.
Excellence, economy, speed. Choose two.posted by: M. Simon on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
The thing is, it was pretty obvious before the fact that the Iraq war was going to be a neocolonialist power grab. The tipoff was the total contempt and hostility toward international institutions and rules, toward recognized and sovereign regional powers like Iran and Syria, toward the world community as a whole. If you were taking seriously the challenge of nation building on the vast scale required in Iraq, you would pay *more* attention to the legitimacy of your efforts and to your structure of supportive alliances, not less. You would go in with far more troops than you needed for the military phase, and you would make every effort to involve a wide range of experts in the region (which includes surrounding nations) and experts in civil reconstruction (at international agencies and non-profits). There were a lot of tipoffs to the real agenda and what was going to happen. The "responsible pro-war" types did not pay attention to those.posted by: Marcus Stanley on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
"so long as you're under age 44,"
The age was lower in September 2001. I know, i checked it out.
But dont worry. I live in a major US city, so Im on the line anyway, in a different way.posted by: liberalhawk on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
zathras, PB IS correct - language DOES change over time, and words that have a formal meaning in one institutional context come to have different meanings in other contexts.
posted by: liberalhawk on 10.30.05 at 11:35 PM [permalink]
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