Wrecking the army (cont’d)

In response to my moan about the wreckage that’s been made of the military over the past four years, (based largely on Andrew Tilghman’s reporting), a hawkish reader, formerly, following his family tradition, an Army E-6, writes:

The sorry part is how soon into the war this was a 100% straight-line mentat- predictable computation.

When I watched the Baghdad Museum being looted of millions of dollars in antiquities and there was nothing being done to stop it, that was the point I decided this was going to be a clusterf*ck of monumental proportions. When we rolled into France, Italy, and finally Germany, we had a Mayor, police units, and medical units assigned and in place as fast as we rolled through.

The lack of foresight demonstrated by the Museum situation should have been the first clue that this was not going to go well. Yes, they did plan and fight the war well, but that was a given. The fact that they didn’t have the support structure in place, record pace or not, was the warning to those of us who follow this sort of thing that bad news was coming, and it would be a long time getting clear of it. And repeating the mistakes of Vietnam over again and again is just pathetic.

As noted in the article, post-Vietnam, the military, lost a huge amount of its junior and midlevel officers (except for pilots).Then it got them back. Now they are leaving again, Nobody wants their wife to sit in Kileen, or Minot or any other middle-of-nowhere base where she can’t get a job and slowly goes crazy.

Another reader queried why my post, unlike the underlying article, blamed Bush & Co. for the debacle. Well let’s see:

1. They got us involved in the wrong war.

2. As noted above, they fouled up the occupation to a fare-thee-well. In addition to not having a governance plan in place, they also decapitated the civil service with de-Ba’athification and by not arranging to the the remaining civil servants paid (after all, aren’t all bureaucrats worthless at best?), manned and armed the insurgency by disbanding the army, staffed the CPA with young ideologues who didn’t speak Arabic or know anything except Republican slogans, and turned the reconstruction budget into a slush-fund for Halliburton and suchlike, rather than creating local governments in Iraq and funnelling the money through them.

3. They failed to put in place a genuine national government for Iraq, treating the fact of elections as more important than who got elected or what they did with their power.

4. They created a culture of torture that helped recruit more terrorists.

5. They never asked U.S. civilians to sacrifice anything: not even enough tax money to fund the war.

6. They made the war into a partisan issue in order to obtain partisan advantage in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

7. They chose generals on the basis of their willingness to offer as military advice whatever stupid policy Cheney and his fools just dreamed up.

8. They never called on their own families and political supporters, or the people of their own social class to enlist.

9. They have at least acquiesced in the mistreatment of wounded warriors both in terms of medical care and in terms of benefits, e.g., by mustering out soldiers with PTSD claiming that their mental problems pre-existed their service and thereby denying them any care.

For all these reasons the Bush Maladministration is culpable for the decline of the military, a piece of institutional vandalism that will take decades to repair.

Of course, that only explains why it’s rational to blame Bush & Co. The reason I blamed Bush & Co.(the “efficient cause,” if you will) is because I hate them. But that doesn’t make me wrong.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com