The Best Defense

Why the Iraqi army won’t fight: It isn’t for lack of equipment, training or doctrine

The problem with the Iraqi army isn't lack of training, or command and control structures, or insufficient counterinsurgency training. The forces they are fighting -- and losing to -- don't have any of that.

The reason the Iraqi army won't fight is that it lacks a reason to do so. This is a problem of governance. Their enemies are willing to fight and die for their cause. They advance in Toyota pickups, probably communicate via cellphone, and apparently have found little opposition from Sunni inhabitants.

The problem is that many Iraqi government soldiers are not willing to die for Maliki's version of Iraq.

HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images

The Best Defense

More on Rustin and strategic thinking

Karin Chenoweth, a friend who first mentioned the underappreceiated civil rights leader Bayard Rustin to me, wrote to me in response to the item the other day that Rustin, whom she knew, thought, "in terms of underlying principles, large goals consistent with principles, strategies to meet the goals, and tactics that served the strategies."

Read that again. That's a good summary of effective strategic thinking and even above strategy, good overall conceptual thinking. When strategy is taught, the top end is often forgotten-which is that strategies must be designed to meet goals consistent with underlying principles.

Indeed, that sentence of hers could be used as a guide to critiquing American policy in Iraq. Did we go to war for principled reasons? Were our goals there consistent with our principles? Did we have strategies to meet those goals? Were our tactics consistent with our principles, goals and strategies?

 

via Wikimedia Commons