So the Wikileaks people have done another infodump regarding the Seven Years' War in central Asia, a.k.a. the Third Gulf War (counting Iran-Iraq as one and 1991 as two) or, if you insist on the silly DoD "code name" (a "code" which would have a hard time fooling Shaggy and Scooby), Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As usual, there is no shocking revelation here. There is nothing we haven't heard of, seen, or suspected, since the days when the shock came with a side order of awe.What is just depressing to me as an old soldier, though, is the pure predictability of the information we're seeing in the sitreps and TOC logs the Wikileaks people have amassed.
1. Iran was heavily involved in messing with our operations in Iraq. I'm shocked, shocked! After the way the Chinese left us alone in Korea in the Fifties and the Chinese and Sovs stayed out of our hair in Vietnam in the Sixties and Seventies, who'd have thought it?No wonder the finest geostrategic minds within the Beltway were utterly blindsided by this!
2. The Iraqi "government" we sponsored - in a crude, post-Ottoman, ethnically-divided, bitterly impoverished, historically kleptocratic- and thuggish pseudostate, mind you - turned out to be as or nearly as brutal and arbitrary as Saddam's.Well, Damn.
Didn't see that one coming.
3. We killed more hapless civvies at places like checkpoints and from the air than we did the muj. I predicted this one from back in '03, knowing what I did about our Army's obsession with force protection. If you capped an Iraqi mama-san you risked at worst a slap on the pinkie. If you let a car-bomb do one of your roadblocks? Kiss that OER goodbye, sir. So we capped assloads of innocent people.
The cumulative thing that makes this frustrating is the same-same-ness of it all. Back in the Seventies Dan Ellsberg took a pretty huge personal risk to expose the mountain of lies that the Vietnam War was built over and the national response was a collective yawn.
Now we're reading - again - that this fucking Mess-o-potamia was built on lies and lies about lies.
Don't get me wrong here. My country has lied its way into war, lied about its conduct in war, time and again. No, the Mexicans didn't invade the Nueces Strip, the Spanish didn't sink the Maine, and the the Vietnamese didn't attack the C. Turner Joy, either. Yes, we bombed civilian targets in WW2, we burned out downtown Panama in 1989 and lied about it. Churchill, no stranger to the politics and strategems of war, said that in it truth needed a bodyguard of lies.
But, as these documents remind us - again - this damn war didn't just have a bodyguard of lies. It had a recon and security screen of lies - lies about smoking guns and mushroom clouds and model airplanes filled with death from above. It had a main line of resistance of lies, lies about flowers and candy, lies about easy peasy, lies about body counts, lies about Iraqi exiles and Iraqi politics, lies about reconstruction and "coalition" provisional authorities. It had reserves of lies, lies about Shiites and Sunnis, lies about weapons and where they went, lies about Al Qaeda and muj and Sadrists. It had a logistical and support base of lies, lies about no-bid contracts and mercenaries and political and diplomatic conditions. It had a no-bid contract of lies, an entire Third Shop of lies, a theatre-level of lies, an entire Base Section and CONUS-full of lies and spin and bullshit.
And all these lies, for what?
Yes, Saddam is gone. In 1918 many an Englishman or Frenchman would have told you that the defenstration of the Kaiser was the best thing that could happen to Germany and that they couldn't imagine anything worse, and many a Russian, a Pole, or a Ukranian would have told you that the fall of the Tsar was a victory for Everyman everywhere inside the old Russian Empire.
And within twenty yearstwo menwould make those wishful-thinking optimists long for the old autocrats.
We had an uneasy arrangement with Saddam for decades. It wasn't good, it sucked for the Iraqis, it was expensive and irritating and we wanted things to be better. So in a moment of hubris and willful ignorance we kicked it to splinters and had to lie our asses off to do it and what did we get in return?
I don't think we even know yet. I think we will have no idea what we will see there for a decade, or two, and whether it will make us long for Saddam's mere brutality as a zek perishing in Stalin's lead mines may have pined for the Tsar.But this leaked pile of crap reminds us that what we do know is that whatever rough beast is slouching towards Baghdad to be born was engendered and midwived by lies, fucking lies, piles and heaps and mountains of lies upon lies.
(cross-posted from MilPub)