The Making of Old News

In our fast moving world, the news of today quickly transitions into old news status and that is dangerous. Lessons learned are quickly forgotten. Syria is Topic A today and the lessons learned in Iraq, now yesterday’s news, seem to be forgotten. And those lessons should be in the planning manual for the prospective action contemplated by President Obama. At last report the supervision of the removal of chemical weapons by U.S. Weapons Inspectors was mentioned as the reduced American involvement in the plan now being overseen by Vladimir Putin. And as anyone who knows anything about supervising anyone that requires people. And when you put people into war zones those people are usually soldiers or marines. And that is dangerous when they will be in the vicinity of their natural enemies.

In his recent book Breaking Iraq, retired U.S. Army Colonel Ted Spain who commanded the 18th Military Police Brigade in Iraq and was in the thick of the invasion, wrote that the failure to plan for post war occupation was the root cause of today’s incendiary setting in that unfortunate country. Yesterday, September 18, in Iraq, a civilian was killed and seven were wounded when a roadside bomb ripped through an area, some 40 km from Baghdad. This suffering in that unfortunate country is an ongoing situation and the root cause going back to Operation Iraqi Freedom when plans for the aftermath of the invasion were never drawn up.

In his book Breaking Iraq, Col Spain wrote of the ten mistakes the U.S. Government and the U.S. military made, that broke that unfortunate country and steered it towards the situation in which it is engulfed today. Principal among them was the failure to plan for the aftermath of the invasion.

It may be fortunate for President Obama that Vladimir Putin’s involvement prevented him from making a huge mistake. Sending in some Tomahawk missiles on August 31 was the supposed plan. Was there a big picture scenario to deal with the consequences? If not, what could have happened after that? The possibilities are frightening.

Coincidentally on the same day as that explosive incident in Iraq, Russia announced that it will present the UN Security Council with evidence that it was Syrian rebels who were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on the Syrian citizenry on August 21. Skeptics raised their eyebrows and smiled knowingly. The Russian move could reflect how Moscow officials will respond if the Syrian government fails to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. Some suspect an impasse into old news may be the result. Perhaps that is why the skeptics were smiling.

Col. Spain might smile too if someone in Washington making plans for Syria picks up Breaking Iraq.