Wolfowitz: Iraq Debacle Like Korean War

I kid you not:

The aftermath of another American war is instructive. Fifty-seven years ago, an armistice ended the fighting in Korea — another unpopular conflict, far bloodier than the Iraq war, although shorter. [. . .] Some similar considerations apply to Iraq today. First, Iraq occupies a key position in the Persian Gulf, a strategically important region of the world — a position that is all the more important because of the dangerous ambitions of Iran’s rulers.

[. . .]It is well worth celebrating the end of combat operations after seven years, and the homecoming of so many troops. But fully abandoning Iraq would damage the interests of the United States in the region and beyond. Maintaining a long-term commitment, albeit at greatly reduced cost and risk, is the best way to secure the gains that have been achieved with so much sacrifice.

Being one of the principal architects of the greatest strategic error in recent American history does not lead to humility. The Iraq Debacle and the Korean War have nothing in common. Moreover, there is nothing the US can really do for Iraq. Iraq will sort out Iraq. And a Wolfowitz Op-Ed won't change that. But coming from the guy who said the Iraq War would pay for itself, who had Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki cashiered because he told the truth about the Iraq Debacle, talk about the "gains" we made in the trillion dollar Debacle is really galling. He seems anxious to gain "credit" for the Iraq Debacle. I'm all for that. All credit to the Neocons for the disaster that is the Iraq Debacle.

Speaking for me only

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    We were not invited (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 08:42:44 AM EST
    We are not wanted.  I don't see how anyone can compare Iraq to South Korea, but I've been to the Korean War memorial while holding my husband's hand and seen where every single soldier from all over the world who died for South Korea's fight has their name inscribed in the granite.  Every country who showed up to fight beside them has their own wall.

    Paul Wolfowitz, a chickenhawk on steriods.

    And you thought there was no hope for the Dems (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by vicndabx on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 08:56:51 AM EST
    this coming election!

    Iraq -South Korea, compare/contrast (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:33:39 AM EST
    South Korea-- invaded by beliggerent north. Iraq? not so much.

    South Korea-- UN mandate (admittedly the Soviet boycot helped)  Iraq? not so much.

    South Korea-- Supported legitimate, although autocratic, South Korean government. Iraq? Overthrew legitimate, although autocratic government (Not a defense of Saddam Hussein't regime, by the way).

    South Korea-- used the best general in the 20th Century to oversee operations. Fewer casualties during WWII based on strategic moves, admired and beloved in Asia. Respected worldwide for his generalship, even if he was a prima donna. Fired for overstepping authority. Iraq? Used the general who played the best golf game in the Pentagon after a minimum of 20 other generals turned down command (according to what I've heard-- yes, anecdotal, but I believe it). Went in using blitzkrieg tactics, I mean "Shock and Awe--" against an inferior, if numerically superior force. Didn't have enough follow-on forces to secure key areas, such as weapons depots.

    Korea-- the populace wanted us there. Iraq? not so much, unless Chalabi is synonymous for populace.

    Korea-- stabilized after three long tough years, the entrance of Red China, armistice. Troops maintained as a 'trip wire' for more than 50 years based on possibility of hostilities with the north. Iraq? stabilized is a matter of conjecture. Troops stationed there as a tripwire because of possibility of internal collapse AND incursions from the east, Iran.

    Some similarities, yes. But the differences far outweigh the similarities in my opinion. It boils down to this one:

    Korea, a war of liberation. Iraq, a war of conquest. Just my analysis.

    Some of these bright minds (none / 0) (#19)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 10:34:04 AM EST
    and savvy businessmen seem to be totally whacked out in the analogy department these days.  Wolfie's reminded me of Stephen A. Schwartzman, CEO and Chair of Blackstone Group, likening Obama's proposal to raise taxes on private equity to.."when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939."

    Does he even realize (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 08:41:38 AM EST
    that Korea has one of the most homogenous populations in the world?

    That's just one issue. . .

    And (none / 0) (#15)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:53:46 AM EST
    Korea doesn't occupy a strategic position in the Persian Gulf. It doesn't really occupy a strategic position anywhere.

    Iraq you mean? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:59:20 AM EST
    I disagree with you on both Korea and Iraq. Both occupy strategic positions.

    But that is why  the Iraq Debacle was such a catastrophe.


    I meant (none / 0) (#17)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 10:06:52 AM EST
    Korea. I don't dispute that Iraq occupies a strategic position, or that the invasion damaged its ability to play that role.

    And now that I think about it Korea's strategic position is its nearness to Japan. So ignore my comment.


    In 1950 however (none / 0) (#18)
    by brodie on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 10:33:16 AM EST
    the SoS didn't consider Korea to be w/n the US "defense perimeter."  And when war broke out, the Pentagon chiefs and the SecDef didn't think it important enough for the US to get involved.

    Not sure myself that they weren't correct back then.


    Interesting n/t (none / 0) (#20)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 10:36:48 AM EST
    It was considered in, but was considered (none / 0) (#21)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 10:48:53 AM EST
    minor...as such it wasn't mentioned in a speech, and was interpreted as being cut loose or cast off. The Soviets and the US had removed occupation forces but with the US in Korea and the USSR in Siberia, both were close. US Occupation forces in Japan were not combat-ready--occupation duty in Japan was not arduous, and units, from division-level down, were doing more policing than soldiering... skills erode after time.

    Not time for a long post here-- it was in, but not mentioned. There were no occupation forces left in Korea, and the NK army rolled through to Pusan. After Pusan, and after reserve callups and shipment, the war was prosecuted differently.

    In hindsight, it's easy to understand Kim Il Sung's rationale-- no occupation forces, support for a communist re-unification at least with supplies and diplomacy from the USSR and China, lack of mention of the peninsula, and joint expansionist policies before the Sino-Soviet split.



    Yes, by all means bring the neocons (none / 0) (#3)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 08:50:55 AM EST
    out of the woodwork pre-mid-terms. The more the better. Where have Rummy and  Cheney been hiding out?

    I read that Cheney officially doesn't (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 08:57:41 AM EST
    even have a pulse now.  I don't know how healthy he is overall at this time.

    Surely they can roll him out to a Pat Toomey (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:05:37 AM EST
    rally or something.

    they'll (none / 0) (#9)
    by CST on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:22:53 AM EST
    just send in his lovely offspring.  There are always more Cheneys in the world.

    Has anyone seen Rummy in the last four years? If only the Cheneys had followed in his footsteps to political oblivion.


    The SK -iraq comparison is so far off (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:08:16 AM EST
    But the only thing they will have in common is a permanent US presence. I don't think we're ever going to leave. There will always be an excuse given to stay, when the reality will be to protect corporate financial interests.

    I don't think we will be able to be there (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:23:17 AM EST
    permanently as things stand right now.  Even Reagan had to pull us out of Lebanon, though it took a large loss of life.  I don't see us ever experiencing a level of comfort and acceptance there that would lend us to a permanent presence.  We always try, but we can only take so many attacks and then our leaders can't deal with the bad press and loss of life for no clear goal or reasoning and we leave.

    I hope it happens without the loss of life (none / 0) (#11)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:27:19 AM EST
    I guess I am not optimistic this morning. I think if Lebanon had oil we would still be there.

    Wolfwowitz was there for Israel (none / 0) (#12)
    by Saul on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:27:35 AM EST
    and only for her.  He was the first person to suggest that we attack Iraq.  He's the one that started to suggest the use of preemptive strike philosophy which has never been used before.  The defense department had high ranking Jews at this time and their presences in the Pentagon was by design not accident by Israel. Guys like Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams and Lewis Libby and many more helped push the preemptive strike philosophy with the help of Cheney.

    This same group tried to sell it to Clinton but he never bought it.  So when 911 hit this was like mana from heaven to push it since the country was in a lynch mob mentality along with the fact that there was a mid term election they used this to their advantage to convince Bush to do it.  The resolution was signed not because Congress wanted it but they were afraid for their political life had they refused to sign it.  Only a hand full of Senators did not sign it.

    Just see the PBS Frontline Special  The Dark Side.  

    When I saw that by line, (none / 0) (#14)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 09:49:35 AM EST
    my stomach turned-- churned up by Wolfowitz's professional legacy and  personal imagery of his slicking down his hair with his own saliva.  It even took a while before I was ready to read his opus, not only with those above mentioned sickening thoughts in mind, but also, with disappointment with the NYT for giving him  op-ed space.

    But, it is clear that he is again at the neocon vanguard to make sure that, whatever else, US troops do not leave next year.  It was not coincidence, in my view, that his colleague-in-arms, David Brooks, on the same page, presents his case of the same "nation building", ending his column with cautioning Obama  to heed the advice of serious Iraq hands like ..Michael O'Hanlon.. and shelve plans to withdraw completely."

    Wolfie may well be right about at least one thing, Obama taking too much credit for the end of combat troops, for it would be wise for Obama to give George Bush credit for plans for total withdrawal, since it was his administration that negotiated the US/Iraq State of Forces Agreement, for withdrawal in 2011.

    'far bloodier than the Iraq war'? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Demi Moaned on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 11:21:43 AM EST
    Is this even remotely true? I mean I know our fatalities were very few. But when you count the carnage inflicted on the Iraqi people?

    perhaps not far bloodier (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by CST on Tue Aug 31, 2010 at 01:03:08 PM EST
    but certainly bloodier.  The highest estimate I've seen for Iraqi deaths is around 1 million, with most estimates in the hundreds of thousands.

    Wiki puts the Korean War higher than that, with an estimated 2 million civilian deaths plus hundreds of thousands of soldiers.