17 April, 2006

Iraq and Military Order

The recent uprisings by retired generals against Rumsfeld(motto: "It if ain't broke, we'll break it")
has been blamed on a breakdown of military order. What is forgotten about the criticisms of the generals that stand up to address the failures in Iraq, is that order comes from the top down, not the other way around. It is the leadership, not the generals, not the soldiers that are responsible for maintaining order, through wise governance and through careful planning - this of course has not been done and therefore the presence of discontented generals is nothing surprising. Zhuge Liang writes of 15 things a leader must do to maintain order, by maintaining order a military functions effectively.

1. Thoughtfulness: using secret agents for intelligence - George II had intelligence, much of it was inconclusive, yet he did not look at the intelligence as a whole but picked out the intelligence favourable to him, therefore there is a failure of thoughtfulness.

2. Organisation - collecting news and watching carefully. Again by only favouring news that supported the administration's position, and by ignoring the many warning signs, the Bush regime has invited disaster.

3. Courage, not being disturbed by the number of the enemy. Here, the initial numbers were small, therefore no concern. But underestimating the insurgency that was to follow and by failing to address soldier's concerns at an ever strengthening movement, the Bush administration again fails.

4. Modesty - thinking of justice and duty when seeing the opportunity for gain. The Iraq war was fought for opportunity, for corporate opportunity with Halliburton and others, for theocratic opportunity with the Rapture-frenzied base, for oil... Justice and duty never played a part, only a justification once mistakes started coming to light.

5. Impartiality - being egalitarian in matters of rewards and punishments. Giving the Medal of Freedom to those responsible for intelligence breakdowns, keeping members of staff on despite repeated mistakes and scandals, punishing whistle-blowers, etc. Impartiality definitely not one of the administration's beliefs.

6. Forbearance - being able to accept humiliation. This administration has been ever reluctant to admit any mistakes, even ones that are glaring. Instead of dealing with the issues, the administration repeatedly undertakes public relations campaigns to save face.

7. Magnanimity - being able to accept the masses. Despite repeated criticism, the administration has turned a deaf ear to the voices of the masses. It has repeatedly shown itself beholden to a small number of interests to the exclusion of everyone else. In terms of the Iraqis, the administration ignores civilian casualties, fails to fix fundamental infrastructure such as electricity, water and hospitals. The torture scandals show clearly the disdain that the regime has towards the Iraqi people(you know, the ones we came to liberate)

8. Trustworthiness - so there can be effective cooperation. Bush and his cronies do not seek cooperation, they do not even try to make themselves appear trustworthy. It is no wonder the international community and the majority of the American people no longer see the Executive branch as being honest or concerned with anything but its own private interests.

9. Respect - honouring the wise and able. Competency has not been a qualification of Bush appointees, ideological conformity and blind loyalty has. Therefore, competent persons are demoted, fired or quit in frustration while the Liu Shans of modern times get medals and honours.

10. Clarity of mind - not listening to slander. Slander is prevalent, most of it comes from the Executive Branch which seems to believe its own slander. Clarity of mind could have addressed the glaring faults in Iraq policy, but a need for temporary self-preservation has overshadowed this crucial component.

11. Reason, not forgetting past experience. Nation-building has been a disaster from Colonial times. Using the same techniques as European colonisers has led to the same results(though quicker - perhaps the Iraqis have not forgotten past experience). We cannot expect to conquer a state, destroy its infrastructure, kill and torture its populace and expect them to throw flowers at us in gratitude, hasn't worked in the past, will not work now.

12. Human kindness, taking care of the soldiers. Soldiers have been neglected, they have not gotten necessary fighting equipment, have seen cuts to veterans benefits and even lack armour in battle. If that's kindness then Slobodan Milosevic was Mother Teresa to the Bosnians.

13. Loyalty, devoting oneself to the nation. Bush has no loyalty to the United States, he wants blind loyalty while spitting in the face of the populace. This war does not benefit the people, it was not started to help America, it was started to help Bush and his friends.

14. Moderation, knowing when to stop when you have enough of anything. Haliburton and other contractors have reaped giant profits, they want more, there are never enough profits for Bush & friends to stop doing what they're doing, hence the rhetoric towards Iran.

15. Planning - assessing yourself first, then assessing others. Planning has been almost non-existent. There was no objective analysis of the aftermath of the war, there was no analysis of our military's capacity to fight an insurgency.

With the fundamental mistakes in planning, and carrying out the Iraq war, it is clear why things aren't working, why problems stay unresolved and why generals complain.

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