Monday, August 23, 2010

25 (Unlearned) Lessons From Iraq

Herewith my 513th (count 'em) but probably not the last post on the Iraq war:

(1.) Don't go to war for political rather than national security reasons.

(2.) Don't start a war based on dubious intelligence.

(3.) Don't falsely link a war to the 9/11 attacks.

(4.) Don't start a war without a plan to finish it.

(5.) Listen to your generals even when you don't like what they have to say.

(6.) Provide enough troops to do the job.

(7.) Don't muddle the rules of engagement.

(8.) Don't give short shrift to your troops' psychological needs.

(9.) Give those troops the proper armaments and protective devices from the start, not only when you are pressured to do so.

(10.) Don't try to hide the sacrifices that your troops are making.

(11.) Don't declare as heroes troops who are not.

Don't engage in a war without understanding religious, ethnic and social norms.

Don't engage in a war without understanding the larger regional ramifications.

(14.) Don't name as your point man a widely discredited and exiled native who is a crook.

Don't be surprised when your point man ends up siding with your arch enemy in the region.

Don't try to impose democracy at point of gun.

(17.) Don't be disappointed when paying bribes to secure allegiances backfires.

(18.) Don't be surprised when the man you anoint to lead a civilian government is a sectarian thug.

(19.) Don't use torture as a weapon, let alone as a way to try to extract intelligence.

(20.) Don't give civilian contractors sensitive assignments that are best handled by the uniformed services.

(21.) Don't assert that you are going to rebuild the nation's infrastructure and then do a job that at best is half-assed.

(22.) Don't be surprised when billions of dollars designated for do-gooding go missing.

(23.) Don't run a war without asking people on the home front to make sacrifices.

(24.) Don't sugarcoat troop withdrawals by claiming that the men and women left behind won't be in harm's way.

(25.) Don't be surprised when the country as you left it ceases to exist in a few years.

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