The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Update for Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Those of you who remember Today in Iraq will know that the Nisour Square massacre in 2007 preoccupied us for a long time. We never believed that there would be justice in the incident, but a federal judge has sentenced 4 of the perpetrators to what amounts to life in prison. They continue to maintain their innocence and insist that they acted in self defense, but the evidence is clear that nobody shot at them. The original investigation was botched, perhaps deliberately, and the Bush Justice Department tried to find reasons not to prosecute, but the trial finally happened.

The Bush Administration paid Blackwater something like $1 billion to provide mercenary services in Iraq. Why hire mercenaries instead of having the military do the job it exists to do? That's an interesting question. Unfortunately, this was only one of innumerable instances of mercenaries murdering Iraqis. But it happened to result in prosecution.

Meanwhile, PM Abadi is in Washington asking for money and weapons. The administration has indicated he'll likely get what he wants. Obama has already pleged $200 million in humanitarian aid.

But what as the result of the previous U.S. investment in the Iraqi military? It was completely squandered, as soldiers involved in the former round of training have discovered upon their return.

Colonel Schwemmer said he was stunned at the state in which he found the Iraqi soldiers when he arrived here. “It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “I was kind of surprised. What training did they have after we left?”
Apparently, not much. The current, woeful state of the Iraqi military raises the question not so much of whether the Americans left too soon, but whether a new round of deployments for training will have any more effect than the last.
Car bombs kill 20 people in and around Baghdad.