by H.D.S. Greenway
".......The one lifeline that both the Bush administration and the study group are clinging to is the concept that training an Iraqi army can provide enough security for the United States to withdraw without leaving utter chaos. But the record so far, as Iraqi president Jalal Talabani said, has been to "move from failure to failure."
A year ago I visited some of the American trainers in Iraq. They told me that training a soldier to stand and fight was the least of their problems. Harder was getting the logistics straight so that ammunition could be brought up in time, soldiers fed, and personnel paid. But hardest of all, they said, was something they had no control over: the Iraqi civilian authorities who would have to one day take responsibility. For if the civilian authorities were warring with each other, if sectarianism prevailed over a unified national purpose, then all the training in the world would go for naught. In the end the United States would be training soldiers to fight against each other or, perhaps, the United States as well.
It may be too late to count on building an Iraqi army to defend and hold a unified Iraq together, and the American presence itself is a major incentive for insurgency.
Iraqi soldiers fighting in the service of a puppet government will seem like puppets even to themselves, and their very association with the US occupation limits their effectiveness. They will be branded as collaborators in the pay of infidels. I am haunted by the remark Iraqi soldiers made to the Washington Post's Anthony Shadid. We know we are bad Muslims, they said, but we need the money.
The president says he is disappointed at the slow progress of success. But there isn't going to be a success in Iraq, and the job now is to manage and mitigate failure. The Iraq Study Group understands that, but there is little evidence that Bush does. He has commissioned other internal reviews to lessen the impact of the study group's conclusions. He apparently finds it difficult to comply with so many distinguished, bipartisan Americans and senior statesmen, several of whom served his father, who understood what would happen if we occupied Iraq........"