Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | December 19, 2011

The Long Hard Won Peace

OIF Endex. Last soldiers out of Iraq.

In March 2003, in the initial attack for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), I wrote the piece below, The Long Hard Peace.  It wasn’t hard to predict how hard things were going to be.

I didn’t predict that LTG (RET) Garner would be around for only a couple of months.  Too bad.  SecDef Rumsfeld proceeded to really screw things up – beyond what he had done in messing with the invasion planning.   Until, a few years later, some Army colonels got the Sunni Awakening working for the U.S.  And, then GEN (RET) Dave Petraus figured out what was needed to surge up enough force to create some security.  Finally, President Obama set the deadline for troops out with the greatest convenience to his re-election campaign.

The troops did what they were told to do.   They gained a hard, won peace.  They did great.  Who knows how long it will last.

Consider what I wrote then: March 2003

The Long Hard Peace

The triumph of Anglo-American arms over Iraq was certain. The triumph of Anglo-American values – namely democracy – is more uncertain. Not impossible – just a long, hard maybe. Our victory was a feat of arms, not ideas. Yet, the peace will be about our Western idea of democracy. Transplanting democracy in tribal, Muslim sand will make it the long hard peace.

American Pro-Consul Jay Garner better have James Madison on his staff. It’ll take more than the genius of the U.S. Constitution to forge the Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians into a nation. Keeping the peace without oppressing the Iraqi people whobknow nothing of government but the rule of strong men, will be challenge enough. When we pull out the Occupying Army it will be a miracle if the rule of law rules.

The Iraqis may yearn for freedom, but they don’t know what democracy means.

Their religion doesn’t allow the basic ideas. Islam doesn’t allow a separation of state and mosque. Good Muslims are supposed to live under the Sharia, not secular laws. Many Shiites are already screaming about a new fundamentalist Islamic Iraq. Which means you can not have the free exchange of ideas – of speech – like religious speech.  Democracies are based on the concept of individuals exercising freedoms as inalienable rights. The Iraqis will not stand for free proselytizing Christian speech or secular humanist denying God talk. Even if the Iraqis could, their neighbors won’t put up with religious, speech, press, and assembly freedoms.

The Islamist enemies of Western Civilization, still stuck in the relative barbarism of the 12th Century, will try to kill any Iraqi democracy in its crib. Even if the Islamofascists stay at a mere 10% of the Muslim world, there are plenty enough to spawn more Bin Laden-like leaders and homicide bomber followers. Hunting and killing the Islamists infiltrators will make the peace look like war.

The dictators and kings of all Arab lands have a lot to lose if democracy works in Iraq. These tyrants saw the first object lesson of the American Imperial Republic. They know what to fear. If they pay attention, they can see the weak seams of American military power – seriously there are counters to our strength, the fragility of political will and the paucity of courageous allies. They will prevent political comity to make a hard peace.

The U.S. liberals, the appeasing assembly of 30% of America, will criticize the peace as much as the war. These self-hating Americans, socialists, prideful pagans, deluded useful fools, sissy self-righteous Christians, and self-absorbed cowards conspire as subjects of the U.N. and citizens of the world to screw up every exercise in American sovereignty. They will try to defeat the peace.

Our Allies who are too weak to serve in the Coalition of the Willing, will find the nerve to interfere every aspect of the administration of occupation. They may go so far to un-align with the U.S. and unravel NATO. Europeans and Canadians won’t promote democracy in Iraq when they walk away from it, step by step, worshiping the pagan God – Self – and in fear of their Muslim minorities.

The best America can expect – we can hope and pray for more – is for an Iraq with a federation of separate groups. The new, improved Iraq can have clean elections that balance the powers of strong men from one faction against another. A national compromise, like the ones that provide peace in Lebanon between civil wars, can create a security arrangement. But, it won’t be a democracy.

Some point to the Kurds as a democracy growing up. Yet, it is self-determination for approved ideas and groups of people only. A Kurdish taxi driver was warned about telling his fares about the Jesus he accepted as a convert from Islam to Christianity. This simple man of individual conscience and faith continued to speak freely. He was murdered for his religious free speech earlier this year.

Can LTG (Ret.) Jay Garner fix that in a year or so? I doubt it. Even though I was very impressed with his insights when I briefed him and did Q&A for about 8 hours in ’98. The long hard peace can be a peace maintained to end violence. But, it will take a triumph of new ideas for the peace to prosper a democracy.

Back to 2011.  I never understood why President Bush didn’t give a speech BEFORE the invasion about how the US would be in Iraq with an occupying Army for 10 to 30 years.  The length of stay would depend on how high the bar would be set for stability and security.  Ten years is the low end for just a modicum of peace.

I had to conclude that Bush didn’t know invasion, occupation, and nation-building meant.  Just like Johnson never understood what was happening in Vietnam.  Ugh.

The soldiers triumphed tactically.  Operationally, the intervention of jihad martyrs provided them the opportunity to die with little effect.  Strategically, the invasion sent a signal for effective deterrence – for awhile.  The occupation sent a signal on how to stalemate American power with asymmetric tactics.  The whole war should have instructed politicians about the nature of war and the size of the Army needed for a single long campaign in Land Warfare, but I doubt it did.



  1. Actually not OIF ENDEX but OIF ENDOP as this wasn’t an exercise.

    YOu are right. They didn’t understand what was required, failed to provide the overwhelming ground troops necessary and let it drag out too long. If we had done that in the 1940’s, the Nazis would still rule Germany.
    The soldiers did well with what they were tasked to do. Unfortunately, the extravagant MWR support provided and constant rotation of troops made the war like VN where little disruption was provided to our lives except for the few of us involved. Our troops now have an expectation for war that is unreasonable and other than our infantry troops they had a comfortable tour. Women in combat and homosexuals will continue to erode our fighting prowess for the future. And now the push is on to allow women into the infantry. . .a favorably editorial on that in our own Virginian-Pilot. Poor leadership by far too many GO/FO’s will now lead to another hollow army.
    I fear the next war will be like the Army-Navy game. Lots of passion and good intentions but the Black Knights will not prevail.
    But this will be caused by our own leadership.

    This does not bode well for the future.

    • Rog on the ENDOP. End of campaign – often called a war. Just one campaign in many to come.

      Thanks for your comments. The moral aspect of a strong military is lost on an amoral civilian political leadership. And their amoral and immoral supporters in the elites, ministries of propaganda, entertainment and academia, etc.

  2. True Jim. Which then leads us to the question we are so reluctant to ask, never mind answer; the question that all German officers had to ask themselves in the 1930’s: “When do I say enough is enough and refuse to serve the new regime which has deviated from our historical Christian based righteousness despite that I would need to leave my beloved Army or do I now swear allegiance to the Fuhrer and the new order which despite its claims to patriotism, is fundamentally not the same as the old order and is leading our Army and society to Hell?”

  3. DV: I thnk I did a post about the Tom Cruise movie on the attempt to assasinate Hitler. GEN Beck was one of the characters in the movie.

    He was the Army Chief of Staff canned by Hilter to clear the way for the Army to stop swearing allegiance (which meant much to Germans then) to the Fatherland – and instead swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler. There is a big rock monument for GEN Beck at the Bergen-Hohne Training area near Munster. The German Army engraved that they would never make that mistake again.

    You and I swore to uphold the Consitution and defend it against foreign and domestic enemies. Period. It is incumbent, then, on officers to know about the Constitution they swear to defend.

    We will see what profiles in courage and cowardice emerge about promoting homosexuality in the Armed Services. The chaplains will get the first opportunity to excel.

    In my work on Army Futures when I mention the use of the Army in domestic disturbances – to enforce Federal authority over the states who resist or when the states can’t control disobedience to ther authority (regardless of the Constitutionality – the fact is it could happen) you would be amazed at the stares of wonder and confusion I get – for the most part.

  4. I see the same here in the Navy. When “public enemy No 1” becomes the public, it will be too late. The youngsters approach is that real life is just like a video game. Just shoot the “bad guys” don’t think about the morality of it. They will be good Waffen SS style tools of a bad govenment should it decide to use force. We haven’t seen the public as the bad guys since 1861.
    I hope there will still be men of character like RE Lee who told them no, he wouldn’t invade his own country. Unfortunately, there will be many who will say “hell yeah, lock and load”.

    At any rate this is depressing. Look, let us now focus elsewhere on the great good news of the Incarnation. May God bless you and your family this Yuletide. Sola Deo Gloria!

  5. I hope that enough officers will know the Constitution and the Lord to matter.

    Yes, Merry CHRISTmas!

  6. […] Unfortunately, they weren’t in charge.  I wrote “The Long Hard Peace”   Obviously, I wasn’t in charge or […]

  7. […] And, there were many officers in the Army who knew the Occupation would be long and complicated. Unfortunately, they weren’t in charge. I wrote “The Long Hard Peace” […]

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