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October 18, 2005

Pourquoi Mourir pour Ibrahim Al-Jaafari?

Morton Halperin writes:

democracyarsenal.org: Training Whom For What: The debate over Iraq is at one level a debate about what the true lessons of Vietnam were. Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird has weighed in with the Kissinger version of Vietnam -- by a combination of a carefully phased withdrawal, matched by training of the Vietnamese and threats of further escalation, we had won the war, only to see victory taken away by the American people who removed the threat of escalation and cut aid to our allies. The fatal flaw in that argument is what I want to discuss, because it goes to the heart of the question of how well we are doing in training the Iraqi army and when that will enable us to leave. We tried to do the same in Vietnam and there is much that we should learn from that effort.

First we need to ask who we are recruiting... to whom he (or she) gives loyalty. In Vietnam we learned after it was over that about one third of those we armed and trained were actually in the Viet Cong... one third of the trainees in the Republic of Vietnam's army (ARVN) would quickly take the weapons they were given and sell them on the black market. In Iraq we again see signs of the same thing with large desertion levels and US weapons showing up in insurgency hands. The remaining ARVN troops... were in it for the pay and for the prestige and the opportunity to plunder....

[W]e put much of our faith and our hope in the process of training the Iraqi Army. The unstated assumption is that Iraqi men do not know how to fight and if only exposed to western methods will be able to deal with the insurgency.... The unexamined but false assumptions behind this policy are monumental.... We need to consider who we are actually training

Posted by DeLong at October 18, 2005 04:05 PM