RAND institute's take on Iraq

Discussion in 'Education' started by editec, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. editec

    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

    Jun 5, 2008
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    No doubt many of us have heard that the RAND institute, the government financed think tank which is used to evaluate, among other things, American foreign policies, has come down hard on the current regime's lack of foresight and planning in Iraq.

    I will note the above and suggest that the problem might partially be the fact that we rely on technology and dismiss the social sciences in the planning process.

    Any expert in the society of Iraq (indeed anyone slightly interesting in that land) could have told the US that problems would occur if we eminiated the repressive Ba 'ath regime, which kept the lid on sunni/Shia violence and replaced it with NOTHING, and failed to immediately begin restoring the nation's infrastructure, too.

    And oh, by the way, as a social scientist I particularly love this quote:

    and this:

    Somewhere on another thread I have been taken to task for complaining about how college grads in field other than technology and science can't find jobs? I am a whiner, or something like that?

    See the above, quote? Do you understand what it means?

    The Iraq war is a god damned good example of why rewarding only the sciences and technolgies and ignoring those softer sciences and humanities is a tragic mistake for an EMPIRE BUILDING NATION.

    The world is more than the sum of it techno toys, and the failure to reward those whose mastery of those social sciences and humanities is simply foolish to the extreme!

    But let me continue with the RAND's take Iraq.

    They note that not everyone in the military misses the obvious. That many military Generals and line officers understand that the SOLUTION IS NOT ONLY a MILITARY ONE, but a combination of social solutions supported by a military.

    Rand Also outlines the mistakes and failings of our intelligence agency CIA, thusly:


    One of the elemental imperatives of intelligence in counterinsurgency, according to Julian Paget—who served as a lieutenant-colonel in the British Army and, together with Kitson, is considered one of Britain’s foremost experts on the subject—is that “every effort must be made to know the Enemy before the insurgency begins.”59 But intelligence was wanting because every such effort was in fact not made, resulting in the failure to anticipate the violence and resistance that gradually escalated throughout last spring and summer.

    Even though, according to the Washington Post, the CIA station in Iraq now has more than 300 full-time case officers and nearly 500 persons in total (including contractors) compared with its originally planned complement of just 85 officers, problems in intelligence collection reportedly remain. According to the Post, the CIA mission there is thus the “largest . . . in the world, and the biggest since Saigon during Vietnam 30 years ago.”

    Nonetheless, despite both this significant expansion and redirection of effort to the insurgency, senior intelligence officials and others claim that “it has had little success penetrating the resistance and identifying foreign terrorists involved in the insurgency.”60

    The inadequacies in intelligence on the insurgents can also be attributed to the focus on the search for Iraqi stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Indeed, it was not until late November—when the daily pace of guerrilla attacks on American troops rose to some 40 per day—that intelligence officers and analysts were reassigned to focus on the insurgency.


    Ah yes...that old WMD problem. Something...ANYTHING to prove that Bush and Co. had some reasonable justification for invading to begin with.

    A totally wasted effort for intel, when their efforts should have been what?

    Understanding the poltical/social/economic situation on the ground.

    More propellerheaded thinkings, folks. More techophiliacs in charge ignoring the fact that MANKIND is more that the sum total of his technologies. More failure to understand that sociology is as important to a government and a military as computer technology or aerodynamics.

    I won't continue with this analysis because I know I've already lost most of you.

    Those of you with the ability to wade though this sort of study, and who have an interest in understanding how we turned this military victory into a political disaster might find it an interesting read.

    Most of us who will read this, will, I suspect, have already intuited the problem.

    But this study notes the mistakes we made, and the roads we didn't take which might have made the Iraq situation a REAL VICTORY for DEMOCRACY.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2008
  2. Voltaire

    Voltaire Libertarian Party

    Jul 14, 2008
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    Yes, as somebody who just graduated in May of this year from an Anthropology program, it was pretty funny to see a lot of my colleagues head for the State Department. It's sort of a running (bad) joke that "The government always needs Anthropology majors," but perhaps if the social sciences were a little better integrated with the policy making process, some things that should be "obvious" would be noticed by the higher-ups.

    Me personally, I didn't want to get swallowed up in the D.C. shitstorm, so I've moved here to a smaller city across the state where it may be harder for me to find fulfilling work, but then again, all my classmates who are up in D.C. doing "consulting" (or still job-hunting) aren't really having a ball either.

    Yes, editech...I'm starting to wonder if the social sciences won't ultimately be totally phased out as an option in higher education. The extent of "social studies" taught to most Americans will probably be high school level civics and history.

    Note: This was just sort of a spur of the moment musing, but I intend to read the report when I've got a bit of spare time.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2008
  3. Doug

    Doug Active Member

    May 23, 2005
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    Our problem is this: it has been over 200 years since our own Revolution. We have not, as a nation, had to worry about being dominated by another power. When we were young and weak, the strong nations of Europe were a long way away, and later we became stronger than they were.

    So our rulers have great difficulty seeing the world through the eyes of, say, an Iraqi, much less an Iraqi manual laborer. And this attitude is reflected in a large part of the American population.

    It is the natural attitude -- we could even say "arrogance" -- of people who have grown up with flush toilets and policemen who do not take bribes.

    We are going to, as a nation, have to develop the expertise to deal with nationalistic poor people who do not take it for granted that America is uniquely virtuous in the world and only interested in the good of others.

    We need a lot more men like General Petreus. We need to learn how to deploy "soft power" in tandem with kinetic power. A school for girls in Afghanistan is a necessary complement to a cluster bomb, as weapons against the Taleban.

    Our military needs to go to school with Trotsky and Mao Tse Tung, who fashioned armies that depended on winning the support, or at least the neutrality, of lots of poor people. If we cannot make the mass of people in the Third World stakeholders in a new world order, so that the spread of the rule of law and democracy and the market benefits them in tangible, material ways, we are going to be fighting endless wars on unfavorable terms.

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