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April 19, 2006

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» The Genius of George Catlett Marshall from Bloodless Coup
Need some military history for your Sunday morning? Sara recently posted these two pieces on General Marshall and planning for post-war environments.... [Read More]

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Oops forgot to siugn the above -- by Sara.

the best posts present ideas and information new to the reader, and stimulate new questions. This is a good post. Thanks, gotta go. the library opens at 9.

It would be very interesting if you could post more details about the Army's occupation manual, circa 1945. At the macro level, I fear that Rumsfeld et al. were only too clear about the "demanded political outcome" -- a non-sectarian, pluralistic Iraq with democratic institutions, checks and balances, and a free market economy, all of which are embodied in the American-drafting Transitional Administrative Law. What they lacked was any sort of coherent operational plan for reaching that objective in the aftermath of the fall of a totalitarian dictatorship that had been in power for 35 years (setting aside that they junked the operational plan that had been developed over a period of ten years by the State Department).

great post, Sara. Thanks!!

Well done. Concise. Hits the target center. Your use of Gen. Marshall to pinpoint the cause of the political failure of the Iraq occupation -- too much attention to counter-insurgency, and not enough to actual reconstruction -- is right-on. Please do more historical work. You're good at it.

I'd like to make one observation about the failure of the American Occupation Forces in Germany to destroy the Freikorps. You should look into the role of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Division (MID), specifically its commander in Germany, then Col. Van Deman, and that institution's role in fostering anti-communist political and paramilitary forces in Germany. You will find that the expedience of suppressing "Bolshevism" outweighed the dangers of cultivating the most vicious elements of the Far Right in Germany, including the rise of fascist anti-semitism, an ideology that many MID officers and their British counterparts shared and helped spread back to America and the UK. See, http://www.army.mil/CMH/books/Lineage/mi/ch3.htm

"[At the 1919 Armistice meeting]Sixty CIP (MID) agents, directed by Van Deman, provided security for the American party . . . Meanwhile, Army intelligence personnel accompanied the new Third Army the American occupation force that marched into the Rhineland under provisions of the armistice. On the domestic front, Bolshevik agents replaced German spies as the focus for MID's counterintelligence efforts. In the fall of 1919 a naive MID officer warned that "the situation in the United States [was] . . . verging on revolution."4 [Memo, Col C. H. Mason for Brig Gen Marlborough Churchill, 31 Oct 19, sub: Sinister Inertia in Present United States Situation, MID Documents.] However exaggerated the estimate, it accurately reflected the fears of many Americans who found the world changing too fast for America ever to recover her lost innocence."

After WWI there was little consensus among the allies on what Germany should look like. Neither Britain nor France had any real committment to liberal democracy there. Wilson acted like he did. Fear of bolshevism was rampant and in that context, the Freicorps was seen by many allies to be a counter to Soviet influence. The original death squad option, so to speak.

My point is that Marshall only got one part of the equation. He didn't address the fact that if there is no unity on what the outcome should be, or if it's politically impossible to be open about what the victor actually wants, then the victors can't achieve the clarity and straightforward approach to building a coherent, rational polticial structure for the vanquished.

The occupation of Iraq lacked both unity and transparency. The Bush Administration itself was not unified in what it wanted from Iraq. It's policy making on occupation was a political ouija board -- pushed around sub rosa by neo-con factions, contractor aspirants and emigre groups. State and Defense fought each other for control of the Iraqi occupation. And none of these groups -- except, perhaps, the Wolfowitzian neo-cons -- really wanted liberal democracy in Iraq. But all of them had to act in public as if that were their goal there.

Marshall was insightful about the need to focus on the political architechture of the vanquished; he was totally clueless about real politics in and amongst the victors. It's easy to say, "you have to be rational in approaching occupation." But it's impossible to accomplish that when the people in charge are neither rational nor coherent.

Great post, Sara.

sara!

my first questions was going to be who?

what a superb historical tale for our times and dilemmas.

i love it when the internet does for me what i would/could never do for myself,

give me some new info and insights from a region of knowledge

i would never walk in by choice.

thanks


i was about to asked who

Stimson: the guy who said "Gentlemen don't read other people's mail" (or something very close to that) and shut down our code-breaking operation.

Kaleidoscope adds an important point to this excellent post. I think it clear that many elements pushing the Iraq War (esp Cheney) did not really want democracy. Greg Palast's article on Jay Garner makes that clear--Garner (who evidently understood Marshall's points) wanted elections within 90 days, but no sooner had he landed than Rumsfeld ordered him home. We wanted the oil and we wanted the reconstruction contracts. We wanted to impose all sorts of "free (i.e., rigged) market" cockamamie stuff, and so Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority did so. But none of this was politics--it was business, economics of a sort. The political architecture received short shrift, since it was all in service of the business aspects. They really wanted Chalabi or another strongman, and are still trying to install Iyad Allawi again.

The "freedom is on the march" stuff may be for Bush's consumption or maybe just for the gullible press and public. it was always about the oil and the contracts and making the Middle East safe for US business.

I agree with everyone else, thank you so much Sara. It would be great if we could get the corporate media to pick this content up. A lot of times, they are looking for content.

I also agree with MimiKatz about the historical accuracy and strong relevance of kaliedescope's comment.

Exactly -- our current rulers don't do politics. They do power.

yo, Sara

Since Colonel passed, I've been looking for a Secretary Of Defense candidate

think you're up for the job ???

the most informative post I ever read on the internets. That's a really big piece of the puzzle

Another odd Marshall resonance: the general was so famously apolitical that while he was in uniform, he refused to even vote.

Goddess of the internet strikes again.

Great, well-timed article. I knew I liked Truman for trusting Marshall - I did not know the man's background.

Thanks.

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