At least he can make you laugh.

It all depends on your sense of humour I guess:

This made me laugh:
(emphasis added)

First, it is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in a post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army–hard to imagine.

Second, in making predictions, one should at least pay attention to past experience. And in the case of Iraq, we have some recent experience to look to. The northern third of Iraq has been liberated from Saddam Hussein’s grasp since Operation Provide Comfort, which we undertook just 1 month after the cease-fire of the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

After that operation, we withdrew our ground forces from northern Iraq completely in the fall of 1991, and in the 12 years since then, we have not had any forces–emphasize, “any forces”–on the ground there. And yet the northern third of Iraq has remained reasonably stable even though, sadly, it is subjected to the same economic sanctions that have been applied to the rest of the country, and even though the people there live under daily threat from Saddam’s military, from Saddam’s security forces, and for the last year and a half, from an al Qaeda cell that operates in northeastern Iraq called Ansar al-Islam.


There has been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia, along with a continuing requirement for large peacekeeping forces to separate those militias.

Third, whatever numbers are required–and I emphasize I am not trying to make a prediction, but I will say, there is no reason, there is simply no reason to assume that the United States will or should supply all of those forces.

Many countries have already indicated to us, some of them privately, a desire to help in reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq, even though they may not want to be associated with Saddam’s forcible removal.

Indeed, remember that we are talking about one of the most important countries in the Arab world, with not only enormous natural resources that we keep hearing about, but equally importantly, I would say more importantly, extraordinary human resources.

I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest in assisting Iraq’s reconstruction.

In short, we don’t know what the requirements will be. But we can say with reasonable confidence that the notion of hundreds of thousands of American troops is way off the mark.

That was Paul Wolfowitz, February 27, 2004.

Excuse me while I pick myself off the floor….

As a reminder…

Right now, 2 years later there are 138,000 troops in Iraq.

The Shia militias of Sadr were the first to cause trouble real trouble… then the Sunnis got rolling… they kill Kurds and Shia as well as Coalition forces almost daily. The Kurds are the only ones not being overtly violent, though they’ve done their share to destabilize and block the political process.

The Coalition of the Willing started at an optimistic 47. 2 years later, instead of growing it has consistently shrunk starting with the pullout of Spain (due to Madrid bombings and lack of UN resolution authorizing peacekeeping force)… by the end of the year Poland, the UK, Japan and Australia could be the only countries still with significant numbers of troops in Iraq. 21 countries will have completely withdrawn or significantly reduced their troop numbers. That’s nearly half.

While NATO is helping to train security forces… France is not sending troops to Baghdad anytime soon.

Excuse me for being blunt… but in any other countries that claims to be democratic this sort of arrogance and complete and utter incompetence would be greeted with a public inquiry and a swift kick in the ass by the electorate.

Yet, in the United States of America people like Paul Wolfowitz are never elected and rewarded with postings to the World Bank?

This man should be thrown in jail for comtempt of Congress or at least extreme arrogance and ignorance.

2 replies on “At least he can make you laugh.”

  1. Chris,

    Don’t fall into the numbers trap. In the first place, there were far greater numbers two years ago that aren’t even considered. I was in Kuwait at the time, and there were thousands there supporting the effort in Iraq. Not to mention all the aircraft flying from outside the country–including the US, carriers, and Diego Garcia–and all the folks supporting those. We also has ships launching cruise missiles. Our manpower commitment in Iraq is probably about half what it was then.

    Secondly, the mission is now different, and the force structure has to reflect that. Small team operations are far more prevalent now than then. Putting a soldier on every street corner sounds like a good idea to many, as that is the only use for more soldiers. That simply gives the enemy more and easier targets. The team concept is far more effective, and much safer. Mutual support is how these folks are trained, and how they operate.

    The majority of forces now in Iraq are on sustainment missions. They are providing security for logistics operations and training Iraqi forces. The mix will be different, and continually changing over the next twelve months.

    Why would the coalition need to grow? Personally, I would expect it to shrink. Not all countries can afford to keep their military on constant deployment. Most no longer have enough troops to keep a rotation going.

  2. Mike:

    You’re right, in terms of absolute numbers the US forces participating in Iraq may have dropped. Though are there not just as many carrier groups still in the Persian Gulf?

    That said, aircraft carriers, Stealth Bombers and B-52s don’t provide security.. they are purely offensive and reactionary devices. As are all the people who support them.

    Wolfowitz was clearly referring to troops on the ground in Iraq who would provide real security, and reconstruction aid to Iraqis during and after the invasion.

    And the reality is that the number of troops needed on the ground has increased or at the very least remained constant rather than decreased since the invasion started. There is a reason why US Army reservists have drawn “6 weeks my ass” on their poorly armoured Humvees. That alone should be enough for heads to roll in the Administration.

    As far as the rotation of international troops, you’re right.. the US is one of very few countries that can sustain a deployment over a long period of time… but Wolfowitz clearly expected there to be more people joining his “coalition” than leaving it, rotation or not. Please explain to me his quip about France if this is clearly not what Wolfowitz meant.

    The fact is that Iraq is still a war zone, and is still a political hot potato and as such is not fit for countries to participate in reconstruction as Wolfowitz so naively expected them to do.

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