Preventing Iraq from Slipping Back into Sectarian Chaos
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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It is at least possible, if not likely, that different choices on two key 2003 U.S. decisions would have allowed the United States to withdraw most of its troops from Iraq well before the present date. The two decisions that are now widely understood to have been disastrous mistakes are the dissolution of the Iraqi Army and the decision to pursue harsh punitive actions against vast numbers of former Baath party members beyond the leadership of Saddams regime. Both decisions alienated Iraqs Sunni Arabs and opened the door for a strong al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. Despite the remonstrations of the former Chief Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority CPA, it is well understood that abolishing the Iraqi military rather than issuing a selective, voluntary recall was one of the worst mistakes of the war. Even former President George W. Bush, in a 2006 interview with journalist Robert Draper, refused to defend this decision, asserting instead that dissolving the army was contrary to the policy that he authorized. De-Baathification, for its part, disproportionately punished the leadership of Iraqs Sunni community as well as its professional class by removing them from their jobs or nullifying their pensions. CPA authorities and later the Iraqi De-Baathification Commission which was and is dominated by former exiles treated a large number of ordinary people as Iraqs victimizers while these people saw themselves as victims. The humiliated ex-Baathists usually responded to high-minded rhetoric about the price for collaboration with assertions that if you had not lived under Saddams regime, you could not understand what it was like for those who did. Pressures to submit and conform permeated the Republic of Fear.
- Unconventional Warfare