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Ullman On 7 Years Of War  
User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Posted (3 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1249 times:

An interview with Harlan Ullman reputedly the originator of Shock and Awe:

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s2999409.htm

Speaking about Obama's speech Ullman comments:
I thought it was an opportunity lost. I did not think it was a great speech. I didn't think it was a good speech. I didn't think it was a particularly useful speech. I don't think he made any points that were able to lift the American psyche and the American mood above a rather dismal position and I think therefore it was an opportunity lost.

As to the present status:

We have a lose/lose situation in Iraq. The situation in my judgement is very, very unstable. As you point out the elections were held March 7th. There is still no government. If there is not a government by the middle of September which is the end of Ramadan which is a huge Muslim holy period, it is going to be very, very difficult to get that government to do anything.

Oil production is not where it should be, unemployment is hugely high, insurgent attacks are coming back and so therefore Iraq is far from stable and I would suspect the situation there is as desperate as it was in 2005 and 2006 for different reasons.

It’s not so much the insurgency, it is the question of political control and how this government is going to rule the country. And in a sense while the draw down is good from an American perspective, it may not be good from an Iraqi perspective and I think that the administration has failed to understand what the implications are of this campaign promise in terms of making Iraq into a stable country which by the way may be a bridge too far. That may be impossible for anybody to do.

....
To draw down from Iraq in a sense is good because you are removing Americans from the fray but we haven't put in place a strategic alternative in my judgement in the region that can take account of all these other factors that are going to be much more powerful.

The increasing role of Iran, the role of terrorism, what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that as an American distresses me enormously.

The Interview Hall played back a 2003 comment from Ullman:
What you saw today was a shock and awe in a writ large scale but it was not just air strikes - it was ground strikes. Most of those ground attacks, of course, have not been covered. Perhaps there were as many as 20, 30, 40, 50 different ground operations going on simultaneous throughout the entire country.

This is a massive blanket of power encouraging the Iraqis to quit. So far is has been extraordinarily successful if you believe the administration conversations with large number of Iraqi generals suggested that they are about to quit or not fight.

BUT!!!!
I was opposed to the war at that stage. You might have played the rest of that particular tape. What is interesting about shock and awe was that shock and awe was really based on what the outcome was that you wanted to achieve and at that stage my expectation was that the administration wanted to have some sort of stable pluralistic government in Iraq not a Jeffersonian democracy and unfortunately we did not anticipate what would happen in the post-war period.

The war was fought brilliantly but the war was really Desert Storm in 1991 fought on steroids and we didn't think about what was going to happen in the aftermath and that is where we really screwed it up and so what you have to realise that shock and awe was about influencing and affecting the will and perception of the adversary to getting them to do what you wanted them to do and stop doing what you didn't want.

After we won the victory in a few days, we disbanded the Iraqi army, we moved into a campaign of de-pacification and as a result we turned most of the Iraqi elite against us and that became the catastrophic result.

So my argument was that it was a brilliant military victory and it was a strategic catastrophe probably far worse than Vietnam in terms of its consequences because we didn't fully anticipate what we wanted as an end result and that has got to be the focus of whatever kind of strategy you have.

What is it you ultimately want to achieve - defeating the Iraqi army and going to Baghdad was not an answer. It was a tactical success and a strategic failure.


No. It is very, very difficult to come up with a really good assessment of what we should do because in many ways our political process is really broken. We face, as many countries do, very intractable problems. You take a look at American society, we've got debts and deficits. You saw the rallies in the mall with Glenn Beck and these other strange characters. America is really struggling to find its place and this shows a broken system.

In many ways we have a country that is extraordinary in what it has done and what its potential is and where I grieve is that we are very, very unable to come to grips with these profoundly tough choices and unless or until we can understand the basic root causes, I'm afraid we can't be successful in Afghanistan or in Iraq or indeed in Pakistan and that is going to put us at jeopardy.


...

ELEANOR HALL: However, having led the invasion what responsibility does the US Government now have to the Iraqi people?

HARLAN ULLMAN: None. We will say we have done our best and we are getting out. We've spent, pick a number $800 billion, a trillion dollars and so the Americans are not going to say that we are liable. We are going to, in essence, wash our hands of this particular situation as we did in Vietnam.

I think it is highly irresponsible but it is politically very, very understandable. We have been at war since September 11th, that is now nine years and seven-and-a-half years in Iraq and I think most Americans say enough is enough.


OUCH!!
ELEANOR HALL: However, having led the invasion what responsibility does the US Government now have to the Iraqi people?

HARLAN ULLMAN: None. We will say we have done our best and we are getting out. We've spent, pick a number $800 billion, a trillion dollars and so the Americans are not going to say that we are liable. We are going to, in essence, wash our hands of this particular situation as we did in Vietnam.

I think it is highly irresponsible but it is politically very, very understandable. We have been at war since September 11th, that is now nine years and seven-and-a-half years in Iraq and I think most Americans say enough is enough.

Now obviously if you were Shiah, if you were a Kurd, if you were somebody who was seen as an enemy of the regime with Savak and all the horrible things that the Saddam rule, yes life was terrible but you are taking a look at a country that has had a 100,000, 200,000, we don't know how many killed. You look at Baghdad it’s still looking like Berlin in 1945.

I think that the invasion has been a huge mistake on our part and if I had to make a guess, and this is just a guess at this conjecture, I think strategically, we would have been better off despite the horrors and the indignities of Saddam Hussein because that would have been a counter-balance to Iran and my guess is that we could be here for 100 years in the future and Iraq is not going to get nuclear weapons because we were able to prevent them getting the basic things that they needed to do that and we never really owned up to that.


THIS IS NOT A QUOTE BUT I DO NOT SEEM TO BE ABLE TO CLOSE THE ITALICS. Apparently edited from the transcript is a para where Ullman expresses his amazement that the Bush Admin did not realise there there was likely to be conflict between Shia and Sunni, or words to that effect.

He presents a strong argument for doing something other than use military force on Saddam. I wonder if we will ever get an accurate accounting of what the other options were and how far they were pursued. Apologies if I have the italics incorrectly placed. Once you preview, to correct an error you need to remove the compiled [.i] .. [/.i] marks and there is an extra close italics that reappears in spite of three attempts to remove it.


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