Daily Archives: February 7, 2007

The Civilian Component

Since I read a book on the Marshall Plan, I’ve been dismayed that there was never an economic plan to rebuild for the Iraq War. I’ve recently been using it as an argument that Bush was never serious about the war and as an argument as to why the surge will not work. This requires a large civilian component, I realize. The military is not made for nation-building, but if we want a democracy, we have to nation-build. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll find that this sounds familiar because I had a similar complaint after the State of the Union. I only wish I had the necessary historical knowledge all along.

In light of the importance of the civilian component for victory, I point you to this article in the New York Times: Military Wants More Civilians to Help in Iraq. This is really, really, really, really important, and I hope that I see it hammered in the blogosphere, but I doubt it. I’m going to quote liberally from the article.

As evidence of the importance of civilian reconstruction, military officers involved in the internal debate are citing a recent classified study, conducted by the Joint Warfare Analysis Center of the Defense Department, based in Dahlgren, Va., that suggests violence in Baghdad drops significantly when the quality of life improves for Iraqi citizens.

Relying on surveys and other data on those wounded and killed in the violence as compiled by the military, the study found that a 2 percent increase in job satisfaction among Iraqis in Baghdad correlated to a 30 percent decline in attacks on allied forces and a 17 percent decrease in civilian deaths from sectarian violence.

The study did not examine the security benefits of adding troops to Iraq or compare it to the nonmilitary portions of the new strategy, according to those who have been briefed on the classified document.

But its emphasis on the importance of reconstruction is being cited by senior military officers and Pentagon officials as more evidence that Congress and the government’s other civilian departments must devote more money and personnel to nonmilitary efforts at improving the economy, industry, agriculture, financial oversight of government spending and the rule of law.

People can talk about the lack of troops, but in my mind this is what lost us the war in the first place. We never took seriously the rebuilding of Iraq (or perhaps suspected that major corporations would magically rebuild). Even if we did what we did, when people don’t have jobs, they become criminals. In Iraq, the criminals pose as religious fanatics. Unless we take seriously this civilian build-up, I guarantee that if any violence is quelled, it will quickly crop up again. These are good statistics to back-up my prediction.

Here’s a quote on why we’re in this situation in the first place:

The mounting tensions between the Pentagon and other departments are in some ways the mirror image of those that roiled the government before the 2003 invasion. Then, State Department officials grumbled that the Pentagon was usurping its role in planning the postwar civilian occupation; today, the military is eager to see others step in.

Now I wish I had finished Fiasco. I will do it eventually. Anyway, from what I can glean here, it looks like it may be Rummy’s fault. This is a massive strategic failure. So, even if the neocons counter me when I’ve argued that there was no plan, I can still claim that these “plans” lacked sufficient cooperation from other departments. After all, I will stress once again that the military is not built for nation-building.

Members of the Joint Chiefs and commanders in Iraq have been delivering the same message recently to the president and defense secretary about the necessity for other parts of government to join the effort, according to administration and military officials.

Oh good, it’s not just me who thinks it’s important. I just wish it had been stressed all along.

The entire United States Foreign Service numbers only 6,000 people, about the size of a military brigade.

This doesn’t sound good.

The officials said the commanders had also been expressing broader frustrations, including that the additional $1 billion in new money for reconstruction requested by the president may not be sufficient.

This doesn’t sound good either.

So, my fellow conservatives, when you complain that Americans don’t have the backbone to win this war, maybe we should all be asking if we have the pocketbook to win the peace. People moan about how this war is so far away, and that’s why people don’t protest. Well, it does affect us. Right in the wallet.

Are you willing to put up the necessary money to win the reconstruction? Are the American people willing to put up this money?

If the answer is no, then the only other option is to support a withdrawal.