June 28, 2004

Mistakes

One thing that really bugs me are the people who write, with ponderous grief, that the coalition has made mistakes in Iraq. Of course we made mistakes. Every single war we've ever fought has been a mish-mash of mistakes and blunders!

So why did we usually win our wars? Because every single war anyone else has ever fought has been a mish-mash of mistakes and blunders! The very essence of war is blundering in the dark. Using human beings as fingertips, to try to locate sharp moving objects.

What's important is not 'avoiding mistakes." (I'd like to see the complainers point out the mistake-free war they are comparing to.) What's important is learning from mistakes. Learning and adapting quickly.

This is a good article on the subject:

What is striking in Iraq, though, is an emphasis on learning from mistakes and moving forward, because there isn't any alternative. This is noteworthy among two groups in particular: Iraqis who have signed on at considerable risk to build a new democratic government, and U.S. soldiers and Marines...

...When some Iraqi units fled in the face of attack in April, it prompted a debate here in Washington: Will Iraqis fight for themselves or won't they? In Iraq, allied officers examined cases where Iraqi units had stood their ground (in Mosul, for example), studied why other units had failed and tried to adjust accordingly. Marines near Fallujah discarded numerical quotas for training Iraqi troops and concentrated on finding a few good sergeants. Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division, turned to Iraqi party leaders to supply assigned numbers of troops and to tribal leaders for police recruits. He set up new joint operations centers, to enable coordination between U.S. and Iraqi forces even while allowing Iraqis to report up through their own chains of command.

The same kind of improvisational pragmatism is evident in Adnon Palace, where the new Iraqi government is taking shape in a frenzy of corridor encounters and cell phone conversations about armed forces organization, amnesty and reconciliation, paying civil service salaries, and a hundred other gargantuan challenges. "I want to guard against major expectations," said Barham Salih, the new deputy prime minister. "This is a country that is in dire trouble."...

One oddity about the article is that the author says: By noting this distinction, I don't mean to join with critics of "negative reporting." Iraq-based reporters are focusing on violence because that is overwhelmingly the most important story, shadowing everything else that happens...

But unconsciously that's just what he's doing. For instance, he notes that Iraqi units fought in Mosul and didn't run. But that wasn't reported! You never heard anything about it, while the Kerry-crowd drooled with pleasure at our problems in Falluja. But in fact, Mosul was the real news! Read this! Violence and terrorism in the Middle East isn't news! It's just dog-bites-man.

What happened in Mosul, what's happening in hundreds of Iraqi local council elections, is strange and new! News. Fascinating. Unprecedented. An Arab country acting like no other Arab country. But the news media have intentionally buried the real story, to help elect their candidate and preserve their sinking Party. Jerks.

Posted by John Weidner at June 28, 2004 11:25 AM
Weblog by John Weidner