Former (First) Bush Administration Defense Official on Latest Wikileaks

At the American Spectator site, former first Bush administration Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin reviews some of the initial press on the latest Wikileaks, and comes to some conclusions future Deputy Undersecretaries of State should heed. Some excerpts:

Several news organizations, including apparently the New York Times, Britain's Guardian newspaper, and al-Jazeera, were given advance access to the documents. From their reporting, and from my own scant review of just a few of the documents, they appear to illustrate the inherent -- and forseeable -- problems with the nation-building strategy we pursued in Iraq and are still pursuing in Afghanistan.

The Guardian headlines report torture, murders, and war crimes. It reports, "US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished." In an occupation, we would have the obligation to investigate and punish such crimes. But from the moment the Iraqis resumed sovereignty over their own nation, any moral obligation we had was abrogated by the Iraqis' authority over their own affairs.

The New York Times -- in extensive Sunday coverage -- returns to a familiar narrative of indiscriminate killing by U.S. security contractors. ("Contractors Added to War's Chaos.")

The security contractor issue is another result of the occupation-cum-nation-building strategy. As Gen. Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said in a CNN interview yesterday, we simply didn't have enough troops to provide security for all the other government agencies attempting to build Iraq. Neither the CIA nor the State Department, both of which have been heavily engaged in Iraq, could have attempted to operate in Iraq without contractor-provided security.....

The Post goes along with the WikiLeaks claim that the new documents show "…that U.S. soldiers killed at least 700 Iraqi civilians in situations where troops felt threatened."....

The Saudi government-controlled Arab News is ahead of the American media. Its Sunday editorial says, "The new revelations do not just detail the involvement of the US and UK forces in the casual, cold blooded killings and abuse, they also reveal their connivance of the torture, killings, rapes and persecution of Iraqi civilians by the Iraqi forces. If thousands of innocents perished in blasts and attacks by the terrorists and in sectarian killings, many more died at the hands of coalition forces at security checkpoints."

When the election is over in two-plus weeks, and George W. Bush's memoir is published, we will -- again -- re-litigate the Iraq war....

We cannot prevent the debate from going on, nor should we try. But we have to focus it on the question that is of ultimate importance to the war in Afghanistan and everywhere else terrorists find safe haven and support: that the neocons, the nation-builders of record, have it entirely wrong. We cannot win the war by fighting the enemy's proxies or in spending blood and treasure trying to create democracies in the Muslim world.

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  • ||

    The nice thing about the massive Wikileaks document dump is that there's something for everybody to confirm their pre-existing biases.

    In an occupation, we would have the obligation to investigate and punish such crimes. But from the moment the Iraqis resumed sovereignty over their own nation, any moral obligation we had was abrogated by the Iraqis' authority over their own affairs.

    Personally, I would have used "legal obligation" here, not "moral."

  • Pip||

    "It reports, "US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished."

    Why should the Iraqi police be held to a higher standard than America's police?

  • ||

    Does it say how many dogs were killed?

  • .||

    Do they even have dogs in Muslim countries? How about porkchops?

  • ||

    I saw a pic on Drudge a few months ago of an Iraqi cop about to shotgun a stray. Apparently there are swarms of them in Baghdad, and there are cops whose day is spent roaming the city, shooting dogs.

  • Tim||

    Take up the White Man's burden--
    The savage wars of peace--
    Fill full the mouth of Famine
    And bid the sickness cease;
    And when your goal is nearest
    The end for others sought,
    Watch sloth and heathen Folly
    Bring all your hopes to nought.

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/Kipling.html

  • ||

    We cannot prevent the debate from going on, nor should we try. But we have to focus it on the question that is of ultimate importance to the war in Afghanistan and everywhere else terrorists find safe haven and support: that the neocons, the nation-builders of record, have it entirely wrong. We cannot win the war by fighting the enemy's proxies or in spending blood and treasure trying to create democracies in the Muslim world.

    Ya think? Our two, count 'em two, foolish attempts at creating representative democracy with respect for human rights have either already crashed* (Afghanistan) or are going down in flames (Iraq).

    I would like to thank Bush the Lesser for getting us into these clusterfucks with a special shout-out to Barack Obama for failing to read the writing on the wall, continuing the failed policies in both theaters in the vain hope that somehow a miracle of two will somehow occur vindicating his "leadership".

    I'll bet the Nobel committee regrets their hasty awarding of the Peace Prize in 2009 getting sucked in by the hype like so many others.

    * Nobody believes a representative government in Afghanistan will take root in the next two decades. Much less one with respect for human rights. Those extra 30K troops are just compounding Bush's failed and foolish efforts,** wasting US and Afghan lives and pissing away dollars by the freighter.

    ** Ask me sometime why I refuse to vote for any member of either major party.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'll bet the Nobel committee regrets... getting sucked in by the hype like so many others.

    Shit, they have less shame than Elliott Spitzer.

  • Eliot Spitzer||

    One 'l'... ONE 'L'!!!!1!

    I'm bangin' Hos here.

  • Paul Krugman||

    wasting US and Afghan lives and pissing away dollars by the freighter.

    You say pissing away, I say 'stimulus'.

  • Neo-con||

    But how else are we to maintain our global dominance in the world? Can't let those commie bastards captlitalize on those lucrative pipelines. You should be proud that we're fighting to continue your burgeoning lifestyles. We're fueling America'so insatiable appetite for cheap Chinese shit they don't need, while funneling billions to private contractors with no-bid-cost-plus deals. It's for the economy, stupid.

  • ||

    I do not believe in nation building. I believe in nation destroying.

  • ||

    Slacker!

  • Wind Rider||

    I'm thinking that our failure was in that we half assed both efforts (A and I). We were more worried about if people "liked" us or not, which kept us from clamping a lid on Iraq (hey, minus the feeding people into plastic shredders and systematic rape rooms, our most draconian measures would have made us seem pretty namby pamby to a populace conditioned to put up with Saddam's shit). In A-stan, we've always underplayed it, focused far too much on "well, how do THEY want to do it" despite the abject failure of the medieval ideals they'd come up with on their own. We also got hung up on what amounted to conducting brain surgery with a chainsaw in A-stan, as well.

    The German and Japanese post WWII models were instructive, but ignored. In the modern examples, we effectively bought used cars with bad brakes and tossed the keys to a bunch of six year olds.

  • PicassoIII||

    While Germany and Japan are 'intructive' they are hardly appropriate. These were modern nations who went toe to toe with the Allies with equal technological sophistication. One need only look at their auto makers after.
    Nothing of the sort will be possible with Afghanistan and highly unlikely with Iraq.
    We need to look elsewhere for solutions .... if there really are any.
    *shrugs*

  • Mo||

    Also, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan*, they were the aggressors in WWII. It's easier to convince the local population that you're there to fix things up and leave when you're not the one that started the invasion.

    As for being more brutal with Japan and Germany during the occupation, I don't recall reading about prison that we manned that did worse things than we did at Abu Ghraib.

    * Technically we invaded Afghanistan because the refused to turn over the group responsible for attacking us, Al Queda, but that's going to be viewed differently by the local population a bit differently than if their government did it. Especially in a country with as little central government control as Afghanistan.

  • zoltan||

    Germany and Japan also had homogenous populations with extremely similar and non-crazy religious beliefs.

  • Coeus||

    non-crazy religious beliefs

    Ain't no such animal.

  • PicassoIII||

    I take it you don't live in TX-14, OH-23 or WI eh JsubD..
    *smirk*

  • ||

    You'd think by now even the most highly educated Ivy Leaguer would realize you can't build a decent nation from competing gangs of barbarians.

    Germany and Japan were modern nations that we rebuilt. Rebuilding a country back to its former level, and raising a nation a century (or eight, in Afghanistan's case) are completely different things. One is possible, the other is not.

  • Ryanxxx||

    Damn wikileaks and all the blood on its hands!

  • Kolohe||

    My opinion is that we should GTFO of Afghanistan tomorrow and never should have gone into Iraq in the first place but this:

    . If thousands of innocents perished in blasts and attacks by the terrorists and in sectarian killings, many more died at the hands of coalition forces at security checkpoints


    is unadulterated horse hockey.

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