Presented by Lapham's Quarterly and the Institute for the Future of the Book

Table of Comments

Total Comments in Report: 92

Comments on

1. Security

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Here the Study Group discreetly fails to mention one of the main reasons for the failure to build a professional, effective police force: the disastrous supervision of disgraced, former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, whose actions in Iraq remain cloaked in mystery prior to his sudden bolt out of Baghdad.

Kerik’s regime was all-too-indicative of U.S. personnel policies in Iraq. As has now been well-documented, the Bush administration has consistently filled vital, nonmilitary positions by trawling Republican think tanks for volunteers; ignoring lack of experience or expertise and placing a premium on ideology and political loyalty.

Somehow, though, no hint of this surfaces anywhere in this report…in order to preserve the Study Group’s vaunted “consensus,” perhaps?

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The lack of funding for seemingly obvious purposes that would benefit the reconstruction of Iraq surfaces again and again in this report. It is baffling, except if one recalls that the Bush administration’s move to war coincided with its massive tax cuts for the wealthiest elements of American society. This is, I believe, the first time in U.S. history that the government has slashed taxes while the nation is at war. It may well be the first time that any government has done so during the whole of human history, and it reflects once again the administration’s determination to hide the full costs of the war from the American people–and the unsustainability of this policy.

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To get a good idea of how vastly inadequate the U.S. military commitment to Iraq has been from the beginning, one need only examine the Bush administration’s own, favorite analogy, the occupation and reconstruction of Germany after World War II.

Robert Mackey, writing last month on the Guardian’s commentary site ( mackey/2006/12/ robert mackey on iraq troops.html.), puts the number of American troops in the U.S. section of occupied Germany as stabilizing at 290,000 soldiers and 38,000 police. In other words, well over twice as many troops as we now have in Iraq, and that to oversee a population of 17 million Germans (as opposed to 27 million Iraqis), in a much smaller area…and not to mention the fact that the German population in question had been thoroughly disarmed and demoralized, pounded into submission by a devastating war, and left with an urgent incentive to embrace their American occupiers as the only alternative to a much more onerous, Soviet occupation. (Mackey’s source is James Dobbins’ Rand Corporation study, “America’s Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq.”)

Here, once more, we return to the original problem of the Bush administration’s illegal rush to war. Subjecting the war to a congressional vote, as mandated in the Constitution, might have brought about a real examination of the force levels necessary to occupy Iraq. This, in turn, would have made clear that the necessary troops would have been nowhere available–based upon our experience in Germany–without a draft. And as the Bush administration well understood, anything approaching universal conscription would have fatally undermined the move to war.