Obviously, Iraq in June 2007 is a bloody mess. If you had told me in March 2003 that Saddam’s government would be vanquished by the U.S. military in less than a month, but that the situation inside the country would actually be worse four years later, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The number of U.S. screw-ups in Iraq is so large, that one blog post couldn’t possibly cover all of them in any detail. I’m going to focus on one: the U.S. treatment of the defeated Iraqi military. Maybe at the time, it was not possible to see that the U.S. treatment of the Iraqi military would lead to a terrible result, but it certainly is possible now. So even if the lesson is to be learned for future wars, it would be valuable. But there may even be to recover somewhat even in Iraq.
The primary U.S. screw-up regarding the U.S. military versus the Iraqi military is that we never demanded a formal unconditional surrender by the Iraqi military. Iraqi military was allowed to simply melt back into the populace, with no formal acknowledgement of defeat, and no effort by the U.S. to provide assistance to a large number of armed and trained men who suddenly had no jobs.
Here is something we could have done in April of 2004. However, it seems to me it is something we STILL COULD DO in June of 2007:
1) Identify, to the extent possible, the entire make-up of Saddam Hussein’s military. Branch of service, division, battalion, platoon. Everything. Who were the generals? The colonels? Majors? Captains? Sargents? Privates?
2) Once they have been identified, invite them to sign a binding contract. The contract would require them to give something, and for giving something, they would get something.
3) They would acknowledge that the military of Iraq had been defeated in 2003, and would give their oath on the Quran (or Bible, or other religious text) that they would not participate in any way in any attack on a U.S. soldier for the next 2 years. In fact, they would also be required to inform the U.S. of any knowledge they have of anyone else who had planned or participated in an attack on U.S. troops.
4) They would also give their oath by voice, which would be recorded in a manner that would allow later voice analysis. They would sign their names to the binding contract. They would give a full set of 10 fingerprints. They would give blood that would allow DNA analysis. They would get retinal scans. They would be photographed from all angles. In fact—this would be very controversial—they might even be required to wear ankle bracelets so that the U.S. military could track their movements at all times.
5) In compensation for items 3 and 4, they would get full pay (i.e., what they got under Saddam) for the next 2 years by the U.S. This pay would be obtained directly from the U.S. military. They would also be given the option of either being a member of the new Iraqi military, or any other job of their choosing. If they choose to be a member of the military, they could collect whatever they collect from the Iraqi government. If they chose some other employment, they’d get whatever they could from that employer.
6) At the time the U.S. military paid the members of the Iraqi military, they could be questioned about any recent attacks on U.S. or Iraqi troops. Also, it might be useful to offer bonuses of up to several weeks’ pay for information that ended up leading to the arrest and conviction of perpetrators of attacks. If any Iraqi military member was found to be guilty of an attack on U.S. troops, he would forfeit all remaining pay, and could be prosecuted by the U.S. military, and held for up to two years in a U.S. military prison within Iraq.
These are just ideas of what could be done. But the main aspects are:
1) Every member of the Iraqi military acknowledges defeat, and swears on a religious text not to attack U.S. soldiers,
2) All members of the Iraqi military are identified by multiple methods, such that if they participate in an attack, it may be possible to later identify them. Further, the structure/membership of the Iraqi military is known, right down to platoon/squad level.
3) All members of the Iraqi military are given two years full pay…even if they decide to pursue other careers.
3) The U.S. government does the payments (not the Iraqi government).
4) Because the U.S. government does the payments, it can also question all former military members about any attacks that occur.
Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Does anyone know how to slip this suggestion into President’s or Vice President’s daily reading? ;-)