In Iraq, That Dog Don’t Hunt

That President Don't Hunt?
That President Don’t Hunt?

W.J. Astore

News that President Obama has doubled the number of American troops (whoops — I mean advisers) in Iraq to 3100 is already a tacit admission of defeat in that troubled region.  Let’s recall that the Iraqi security forces the U.S. trained and equipped to the tune of $25 billion simply melted away when faced with serious combat this summer.  Their performance put me to mind of the National Rifle Association’s slogan against John Kerry in the presidential campaign of 2004.  Kerry had gone bird shooting, mainly it seems to be photographed with a gun in his hand, a necessity for any red-blooded American male (just ask Obama).  But the NRA wasn’t fooled (or so they claimed).  “That dog don’t hunt,” the NRA said about Kerry.  And something about that slogan stuck.

You could say the same of that Iraqi army that the U.S. created and funded and trained and equipped: That dog don’t hunt. Or, it won’t hunt for us.  Because that’s not its purpose.  That’s not how or even why we trained it.  But that’s OK.  We’ll just send more American troops to Iraq, and waste more money, further destabilizing the region, making it even easier for radical jihadists to recruit more followers, whether to the ISIS banner or some other Islamist flag (Khorasan, perhaps?).

It’s just incredible how inept U.S. foreign policy is today.  If George C. Marshall had been like this during World War II, we’d be speaking German today at the Pentagon, instead of simply misinterpreting Clausewitz.

Of course, Congress will have to authorize funding for the latest U.S. military misadventure.  Anyone want to offer odds on Congress actually exercising oversight on our foreign entanglements?  A long shot, indeed.

Even as Congress seeks to cut funding to the poor, there’s always plenty of money for military adventurism overseas, no matter how often those adventures fail.  When it comes to exercising real oversight, Congress is always a lame duck — so lame that even a dog that don’t hunt (that Iraqi military again) succeeds in bagging billions of dollars from the American taxpayer.

The moral to the story?  America doesn’t lack for guns; we lack for brains.

Update: Iraq has “shook up” its military, relieving 26 officers of their commands and forcibly retiring 10 others, even as 18 new commanders were appointed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi among promises of greater professionalism and less graft and corruption.  Progress?  Time will tell.  But what does it say about a military that, in spite of prolonged training and massive infusions of cash from the U.S., was so ridden with corruption that it collapsed when facing its first challenge?  Sadly, the need for ever more U.S. advisers and money suggests this is yet another case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Update 2 (written by b. traven)

What is truly tragic is how the back story to the total failure of the Bush-Cheney wars is not reviewed by Obama, the Senate, or the House as this tragedy for Iraq unfolds. Obama just continues to follow the Bush lies by one week saying no “boots on the ground” while his top military people say “yes, more boots” and the next week Obama announces doubling the number of troops with no sense of embarrassment. And the American people stay entranced with baseball, football, and basketball scores.

And you can say you saw it here first. No sooner had General Dempsey said he wanted more troops in Iraq then Obama complied by doubling the force. Now Dempsey has told Obama what he wants even more troops so you can count on Obama complying in a couple of weeks. There’s nothing like doubling down on a failed policy in hopes that the result will come out differently than the last failure. Here’s Dempsey’s new demand as reported in the Guardian of London newspaper:

“The top-ranking officer in the American military said on Thursday that the US is actively considering the direct use of troops in the toughest upcoming fights against the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq, less than a week after Barack Obama doubled troop levels there.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, indicated to the House of Representatives armed services committee that the strength of Isis relative to the Iraqi army may be such that he would recommend abandoning Obama’s oft-repeated pledge against returning US ground troops to combat in Iraq.”

President Truman fired the most renowned five star General of his day, Douglas MacArthur for voicing a policy contradicting Truman’s in regard to China. If we had a real president he would do the same with Dempsey, who is certainly no MacArthur.

9 thoughts on “In Iraq, That Dog Don’t Hunt

  1. True, true, all too true. Nor did “Our” Vietnamese do very well against “Their” Vietnamese. The exception was the South Koreans, but they were fighting an invading Army and not on behalf of the successors of their colonial masters. And the Vietnamese in the 13th century did quite well in wearing down the supposedly invincible Mongols, the conquerors of China, with guerilla tactics–a bit of history that the Pentagon seemed to have been unaware of.

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  2. Commander-in-Chief Obama’s mission is to ensure that he has a war (or wars) to pass on to his successor, who I believe will be from “the other” party. Thus, failure after failure, “requiring” escalation, is essential for a successful mission! (You following this logic?) Oh, and those billions of bucks flowing to the Iraqi military? The important thing is for US “defense” corporations and private security contractors to be siphoning off huge chunks of them. Meanwhile, IS claims its leader is alive and well despite recent US air strikes and issued an audio recording of him taunting the US and its Coalition of Lickspittles (the latter phrase is my own). He reportedly said IS soldiers will continue to fight until their dying breaths. That remains to be seen, of course.

    And just to spice things up some more on the world stage, the US pokers of hornet nests are getting their wish for escalated tensions with Russia. The latter is allegedly (report on CNN website, so must be treated with extra skepticism!) going to start sending air patrols over the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Do they have “Fail-Safe Points”?? Folks, let us not forget that there are still a helluvalot of nuclear warheads lying around on the planet, and weapons once manufactured tend to get used.

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  3. What a shame — or duplicitous propaganda crime — that the U.S. military cannot even employ the word “reinforcements” to describe … well … reinforcements. Of course, the simple truth in plain language would implicitly admit that the “mighty” U.S. Military has erred — once more — in previous estimates of the requirements necessary to defeat yet another rag-tag, pick-up assemblage of barely armed stateless gangs. Now, if it possessed an ounce of honesty and/or integrity, the U.S. military could just admit that it has no idea whom to fight, where to fight, how to fight, for what reason to fight, or how many national resources fighting would take in order to succeed, that might at least prompt a national consideration of waging peace by some other, more effective means. Unfortunately, whether from monumental incompetence, venal careerism, and/or shameless mendacity — the U.S. Military seems intent on recommending itself as an instrument of American policy, both foreign and domestic, even though its track record of colossal failure over the past half century ought to have embarrassed it into a humble retreat back to Fort Podunk, Kansas, where it could practice staging “victory” parades organized by military “intelligence” and accompanied by military “music.”

    Or, as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., wrote in The Imperial Presidency (1973):

    “The policy of indiscriminate global intervention, far from strengthening American security, seemed rather to weaken it by involving the United States in remote, costly and mysterious wars, fought in ways that shamed the nation before the world and, even when thus fought, demonstrating only the inability of the most powerful nation on earth to subdue bands of guerrillas in black pajamas.”

    Forty years later, we can substitute “hashish-smoking poppy farmers in the Hindu Kush” for “peasants in black pajamas” without missing a beat or altering Professor Schlesinger’s meaning one iota. Ditto for Iraq and Syria and …

    Going ever backwards while navel-gazing and running madly in place — the American Military Way. I saw it up close and personal in Southeast Asia forty years ago. I see it on the Internet News today. What a case of National Learning Impairment.

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  4. I realize this sounds conspiratorial, but I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the POTUS has become a marginal figure in American foreign policy. The U.S. intelligence community, its covert operations, and official military operations, have maintained a consistent strategy since WWII. The only thing that seems to change is the intensity of its application. Occasionally, Congress challenges its excesses such as the recent inter-branch squabble over “enhanced interrogation” (i.e. torture). But, what about the presidency?
    Yes, Truman fired MacArthur. Eisenhower warned the nation about a growing “military-industrial complex.” Kennedy’s relationship with the CIA was strained at best and downright hostile at worst. Which other successive presidents have dared to be so bold? Carter? Possibly, but the rest have pretty much fell in the established line.

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      1. As a former five-star general, Ike could rein in the national security state, but he recognized his successors wouldn’t have his pedigree or power, hence his warning against the military-industrial complex in 1961. Of course, the national security state has only grown more and more powerful since then, adding more intelligence agencies, Homeland Security, and so on. Meanwhile, presidents have steadily grown weaker in their control over this colossus. Obama is only the latest president who is being pushed around, gently or otherwise, by the colossus.

        Another way of looking at it: You’re just elected president, with no military experience, but now you’re “commander in chief.” Every day you get briefings by the colossus warning you about all the threats America faces. Much of this is threat inflation, but how would you know, unless you’re a man like Ike? So you defer to the military, the “experts,” the colossus. And before you know it commands you, rather than you commanding it.

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      2. Precisely, Colonel, but let’s say “…it controls you…” instead of “commands.” The part of POTUS’s Job Description that the Ruling Class doesn’t air in public is to be the SERVANT of, not master of, the inner workings of imperial power, sometimes called “the Secret Government,” “Shadow Government,” “Government Within the Government,” whatever phrase you prefer. As I have observed before, I’m willing to grant that current POTUS most likely entered the upper echelon of government a basically decent individual who would prefer peaceful resolutions to global issues (and domestic, I guess I should add, as we all await the next outbreak of violence in Ferguson, MO). But in rather short order he became the complete CAPTIVE of the Military-Industrial-“Intelligence” Complex. (As a veteran of US Army it’s automatic for me to cast doubt, via quotation marks, on any notion of “Military Intelligence.” It’s in my blood, permanently.) And as “b. traven” observed, this is simply the way the System works; no requirement to be a card-carrying Conspiracy Theorist to hold or publicly espouse this view.

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