Waiting for the Suckers: “Drop Arms! Drop Arms! The Americans Are Coming!”

Gardner - RembrandtNot so long time ago the biggest and baddest Army in the world came from Britain. It had colonies all over the world. The people in one of them were not happy being ruled by Britain so they took up arms against this mighty force and forced the British to give them their freedom. Their war began with the cry: “to arms, to arms, the Redcoats are coming.”   

Today in far off Iraq you hear the opposite type of call because the people in that country do not want to fight for their liberty. They want someone else to do it. I wonder if the American revolutionaries had some bigger nation to fight for them would they have fought for themselves. Would the liberty and freedom and rights we have today exist had we been established as a country by some foreign force? Would they have known how expensive freedom is and what laws were necessary to institute to protect it?

A recent newspaper reported after the fall of Ramadi in Iraq that: “The White House said Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday to reaffirm U.S. support in light of the attacks on Ramadi. It said Biden promised expedited security help, including delivery of shoulder-fired rockets and other heavy weaponry to counter IS car bombs.”

Was there some reason to think Abadi did not know that with our 3,000 plus boots on the ground and our daily air support that we were not supporting him? Why is it we are always groveling to these foreign leaders who would not be in office without out support? Should not the White House have reported that Biden called Abadi and told him to put a little fight into his army of 270,000 men and 500,000 reserves or we are pulling out our support and letting him make a go of it on his own. Seriously, isn’t it time Iraq start saving itself.

Iraq spends the fourth highest amount on its army in terms of GDP in the world. It refuses to fight. Why is that?

You know the answer. Why should the Iraqi army fight to protect its country when it expects the United States will come in and do it for them? We already showed them our willingness to invade their country and protect them. I guess it is only natural that they think we should do it again. They, of course, were really grateful for our earlier actions. Once they felt secure they refused to sign a Status of Forces agreement with us protecting our troops so we left.

After we left to show their appreciation for our sacrifice, they immediately turned to nations that were hostile to us to ingratiate themselves with these enemies. Even today while we expend billions trying to keep them afloat and reaffirming our support they are playing a duplicitous game.

How about this news:  “Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flew to Russia on Wednesday, seeking closer military co-operation. Mr Abadi, who is travelling with a large number of ministers and advisers, is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.”  The focus will be “the development of relations between the two countries, mainly expanding the military and security cooperation, and support for Iraqi forces in the face of terrorism,” Abadi’s office said. Iraq is reportedly looking to buy military equipment from Russia, China and Iran.

You see how appreciated our sacrifices have been. You see how absurd it is this continuing groveling. Iraq expects us to give them missiles and soldiers while it buys military equipment from other countries that it refuses to use to defend itself.

What then is the response of our leaders in the Republican Party. Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham, candidate Rick Santorum, want to send 10,000 or more American troops back into Iraq. The other Republican candidates waffle on what they want but all criticize the present policy (if it still exists) of expecting the huge Iraqi army to fight for itself and hint (“I’ll listen to our military commanders”) at a willingness to go back to Iraq.

Are our leaders unable to see that it is not our job to keep Iraq safe? Sure we broke it but fixed it up again and left it as a viable functioning state with a well-trained army. We taught them how to fight but could not put the fight into them. They will never have it as long as we are willing to go back in there.

Our policy toward Iraq should be to let it stand or fall on its own. It is hard to believe that after so much loss of life we are thinking of going back in again.

 

18 thoughts on “Waiting for the Suckers: “Drop Arms! Drop Arms! The Americans Are Coming!”

    1. Ed:

      Thanks – two young Marines one 19 and the other 21 died in order to save another 150 men while those with them fled. It is a moving story.

  1. Any emerging center of gravity in these warring territories will be nothing like moderate, secular, or democratic. What’s inevitable is some old fashioned post-colonialism of a kind we have seen before, and that is very unattractive to the West.

    We are in no position to lead, but we will force ourselves into that role if our people are the ones putting their lives on the line; all the while knowing you can’t truly change hearts and minds at gunpoint.

    It’s up to the leading regional and cultural stakeholders, Iran, and Saudi Arabia to help these areas sort things out, not the United States.

    The same people who criticized the president for drawing lines in the sand now complain that the Administration’s position lacks clarity. A little bluff and ambiguity, however, doesn’t hurt as far as what areas we consider part of our sphere of influence and what are now areas where people need to look somewhere else for help.

    Our commitment levels to places like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have to change. It has to be downgraded and we seem to be doing that.

    The Democrats and the Administration will take some flack from talk radio, Fox News and the presidential candidates, but I don’t think elected Republicans in Washington, will seriously challenge the Administration for taking a more hands off position in these areas now.

    Trigger happy McCain might give some semblance of a Republican support on the Hill for greater American intervention, but most leaders in both parties will get behind a policy of containment.

    1. R.

      Good analysis. I hope you are right. ISIS is a threat to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Sunni countries; they are the ones who should be taking the fight to them. Until they do I hope we won’t be lured in.

  2. The debt incurred by the French supporting American Colonists in the American Revolution contributed to the French Revolution in 1789:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_in_the_American_Revolutionary_War

    On a more modern note, I recommend reading H. R. McMaster’s book “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam”. From the book jacket: “Based on dramatic and irrefutable evidence, “Dereliction of Duty” proves that the war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, on the front pages of the “New York Times”, or on college campuses. It was lost in Washington D.C., even before the U.S. military assumed sole responsibility for the fighting in 1965 and before Congress and the American people realized the country was at war; indeed, even before the first American units were deployed.”

    http://breakingdefense.com/2014/02/army-promotes-controversial-generals-what-mcmaster-mangum-mean-for-the-future/

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/23/more-from-lt-gen-mcmaster/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._R._McMaster

    As George Santayana said, like many others in various forms, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    1. Ed:

      I went to my bookshelf and took down “Dereliction of D?uty” I just skimmed it. It reminded me of how much the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) contributed to the Vietnam debacle. The author McMaster noted “the JCS remained fixated on gaining approval for additional deploymentss.

      It reminded me how I reacted when I heard some of the Republican candidates for president say they had no plan against ISIS but would rely on the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be funny that so few in leadership positions have forgotten.

      1. What is this “no plan against ISIS” argument? Even if a candidate (of any party) had a workable plan different from the current administration’s plan, it would not be implemented until the new administration is in place, namely after January 20, 2017. So, what is needed for everybody to decide that they are happy with the status quo and are able to live with the inevitable, or we decide that we need a different plan, NOW. We can only hope that the State Department (both appointed and career service diplomats) and the Joint Chiefs are wisely advising the current administration on the best course of action, because I strongly believe that the current plan does not give the outcome we desire.

        What worked yesterday (or wishful thinking for the pessimists out there) is what is used in today’s plan, but that may not work today or tomorrow. “Improvise, adapt and overcome” is wise advice, because “no plan survives contact with the enemy”:

        https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/improvise-adapt-and-overcome-changing-plans-but-not-changing-vision/

        1. Ed:

          I am talking about the people who criticize the president’s plan which is as I understand it to let the Arab forces fight ISIS but do not have a suggestion what other plan might work other than getting us back into a war with more loss of American lives. It doesn’t have to be implemented; it only needs to be set out. Perhaps Obama’s plan may not work out because the Arabs refuse to fight; that does not mean we must then do what they won’t do.

  3. The Iraqi Army won’t fight for the same reasons ARVN wouldn’t fight. The Iraqi Army is a political creation of the US. All the armaments, and, training, in the world won’t give the Iraqis the gumption to battle the DAESH. Only a regular pay-check motivates the average Iraqi soldier to show up for work. There is no sense of serving the nation, because there is no nation. Why should any Iraqi soldier sacrifice himself for a nation-state that only exists in the minds of westerners?
    Modern Iraq is a fantasy of the West. At the end of WWI, Iraq was formed of three distinct provinces of the defeated Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans ruled the disparate peoples of their state through the “millet system.” The administered populations were divided by sect, and, their religious leaders held hostage in Istanbul to assure compliance to the policies of the Sublime Porte. When the Ottomans ruled the geographic area called al-Iraq, the Sultanate divided it into thirds: one dominated by Kurds, another by Sunnis, and, the third, by Shia.
    People in Iraq don’t self-identify as Iraqis. They are tribesmen first, then, members of a sect, and/or ethnicity, loyalty to the modern nation comes in dead last. Soldiers see no sense in sacrificing themselves to defend an artificial concept of the nation state imposed on them by the West. They aren’t cowards. They would gladly go to battle to preserve their sect, and, or, ethnic group. People in the US have been fed a constant stream of propaganda regarding the existence of a so-called Iraqi nation (credibility gap).
    The reason Iraqi national troops bug out, is that they have no real stake in the nation, being a soldier is just a job. If you get killed, your family loses that pay-check. There are also a lot of ghost troopers on the pay-roll. As in Vietnam, higher level commanders carry non-existent soldiers on the books in order to collect the dough for themselves.
    The Daesh, who are highly motivated, roll right over the Iraqis at will. They are fighting their war, their way, and, they are winning. Like the great Islamic conquerors of old, Tamerlane, Suleiman, and, Salah ad-Din, the Daesh are fighting a war of annihilation against their foes.
    The only reason there is any talk of sending additional US troops is because the military situation in Iraq has created a political vacuum that that is being filled by Iran. If the US does not send military forces to Iraq, Washington must acquiesce to Iran’s de facto control of Baghdad, and, the Shia populated southern third of the country.
    The G, whether controlled by Reps, or, Dems, always lies during war-time. Politicians can’t help it. It’s in their DNA. We are headed down the road to another Vietnam style disaster. You can tell, because, the lies are getting bigger, and, bigger.

    1. “We already showed them our willingness to invade their country and protect them.”

      We had to destroy the country to save it.

        1. In 1919, Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist political leader, went to Versailles to petition for freedom for his “little nation” – then part of French Indochina. WWI had been fought for the rights of little nations as President Wilson so often preached. Ho quoted the US Declaration of Independence in his Petition.

          Wilson refused to meet with Ho Chi Minh or any other representative wanting Vietnamese self-government and civil rights.

          Another politician at Versailles heard of this, contacted Ho Chi Minh and offered him material and political assistance, which he accepted.

          The man who befriended Ho Chi Minh in 1919 was Leon Trotsky and that marked Ho’s conversion to Communism. In 1923, Ho left Paris for Moscow, where he was employed by the Comintern.

          The Vietnamese had made the error of believing that people like Wilson were honest men who really believed what they said.

          1. Henry:

            Good history lesson. Many people have believed what the U.S.preached only to find out that it was just feel good talk. Didn’t Obama go to the Arab nations and give a speech about the Arab spring and how America was with the people – the Egyptians had their little uprising and it was crushed and now a dictator like the one they threw out is back in power but he is a U.S. friend. In Syria Obama’s words stirred up a peaceful protest that was quickly fired upon by Assad and Am erica wrung its hands but did nothing else.

            The idea that you cannot run a foreign policy on nice words with nothing behind them continues on. Who knows where it will lead.

    2. Khalid:

      The ARVN soldiers did have a country to fight for but many also refused. The reason is they had someone else to do it. I would have thought that as far as a Shia Iraqi was concerned they had a nation to fight for. But someone told me that many of the troops in Ramadi were Sunni. If that is the case then surely they do not feel they have a country or that their country was taken away from them by the people who they are supposed to fight for.

      You make many good points. It is a mess. I get a chill thinking of the reaction of our country when ISIS manages to capture some of the new American offerings that will be sent in there for them to chew on; no doubt in my mind we can defeat IS but it will require us to pile up the number of troops like we did in Vietnam. A future Westmoreland will be calling for another 500,000 troops because he can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      The only good that may come from going back to Iraq is that we won’t be going on to Tehran.

  4. Ian Bremer in Time writes that the US foreign policy is incoherent. But don’t blame BHO for that alone. He says it been that way for 25 years. He sees three options for the future. 1. Consider us the indispensable nation that will confront every conflict on the planet. We are the only superpower and that responsibility falls to us. If we don’t act it won’t get done. Only 28% of the nation support this approach. 2nd We can pick and chose what is most important and ignore the rest ( moneyball). Thirdly we can take an independent approach and avoid most of the world’s conflicts. The last two options are supported by 36% each. Approach number one which McCain , Graham and the neocons suggest has a limited following. Less foreign policy adventurism has substantial appeal. Bremer asks what if the trillions of dollars spent in Afghanistan and Iraq had been used in America? How much better off would our nation be? It is interesting to note Bremer, a liberal academic supports position number three. National Review, Fox News and others have tried to label anyone promoting less war as an isolationist. They attempt to marginalize anyone supporting #3. It appears based on that survey that their efforts have failed. The non interventionist philosophy of Ron Paul and Buchanan seem to be gaining strength. 2. In the Revolutionary War Washington frequently retreated. A tactical retreat doesn’t portend an unwillingness to fight. 3. Let China and Russia have the Middle East. We don’t need it.

    1. NC:

      2. “Retreat, Hell! We are just going at them from a different direction.” That is the answer the Marines gave when the Chinese swarmed over the border in Korea. I am not sure the Iraqi army felt the same way but I agree that remains to be seen. There are estimated to be 300 ISIS forces in Ramadi; the Iraqi army has the odds of 1,000 to 1 in its favor not counting the Shiites.

      1. Pat Buchanan thought us getting into WWII on the side of the English was a mistake. I know he didn’t want us helping the Ruskies; I wonder which side he was thinking we should join, or was his plan that we sit it out. If Hitler had another six months to a year and put his new inventions into operation the outcome would have been different. Remember Pat is from an old Southern family.
      Bremer is right when he says our foreign policy went astray with the demise of our old enemy the USSR. But we have really not had any coherence in it since the early 1960s. The in and out of Vietnam does not speak well for what we intended to do.
      Bremer’s 3 points: take on everyone; take on some; or avoidance is not a brilliant deduction. It seems those are the only choices available to any nation. I would suggest that our foreign policy should be that in all cases we only go to war abroad when our nation is confronted with a real, not imagined, danger that if not confronted will result in great harm at home. I suggest we reserve for ourselves whether we will interfere in other matters for the purpose of preventing huge tragedies. As you know I was for sending in a huge armed force to slowly move through Syria for the purpose of establishing a huge peace zone. That to me would not be going to war but going to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands and the desperate flight of millions.
      To give you an idea of how we are operating the Chief of Staff General Dempsey admitted that the U.S. military had never considered that ISIS would take over Mosul with its million population. As you can see my view differs from that which Bremmer said were the only ones available. You may be right that 28% of Americans agree with point one but the people in power are the ones who will decide the policy and right now point one is way ahead among them.

      3. China and Russia are smart. They are building up their resources at home while we squander what we have. They have no desire for the Middle East. If they did and entered there nothing would change. Or, perhaps the Muslims in Russia and China would be conducting more attacks at home.

  5. Yes, the American colonists stood alone against the might of Great Britain. France promised assistance, but only came through in the end. The colonists, most with no military experience, stood, fought and won (against the mightiest force on Earth at the time) establishing the fundamental principles that made this nation great. (President George Washington avoided involving the USA in foreign battles).
    Today, it’s commonplace for the US to be the major force in almost every conflict that arises — our soldiers come back in coffins, or are permanently damaged from injuries to the body, mind, and/or soul. This has to stop.
    Matt, have you read Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger’s book, WHY WE LOST. It’s insightful. His basic premise is that if the US is sent to these countries to accomplish a task, then let them do it, or get them out of there entirely! Let the Marine Corp and Army do what it is trained to do — with the force they need to do it. Get the job done fast and be done with it. The political micromanagement of War has been going on for decades. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable having my children and grandchildren sent to fight a war lead, not by Generals and Admirals, but by politicians!
    Should we be there in the first place? Obviously not. Though I’m not privy to the information Washington bases such decisions on, the fact that we are not there to win clearly answers that question.

  6. I well remember the Kuwaiti who fled to the pleasure spots of London, the south of France, Rome and the Caribbean while waiting for US troops to save them from the Iraqi army. The Kuwaiti government (i.e., the top Sheiks and Royals) fled to Saudi Arabia. That was 25 years ago. The First Gulf War was not the first surrogate war, nor the last. The US was rewarded for the ‘rescue’ by 9/11. No ‘good deed’ goes unpunished.

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