It’s no wonder the left is so opposed to private ownership of guns and the concept of a “well-regulated militia.” After watching what the ragtag ISIS militia has accomplished in Iraq, no doubt they fear adding American know-how to a domestic group would be a real threat to future government nannytarians.
Iraq is also giving conservatives indigestion, but for another reason. After spending nine years and $25 billion to train, equip, and presumably motivate Iraqi security forces, we are greeted with the spectacle of an Iraqi army that vastly outnumbers ISIS — which looks more like outtakes from "The Road Warrior," than an organized military unit — disappearing like Obama administration email the first time they hear an ISIS round whistle past their ear.
A Reuters reporter managed to interview an Iraqi soldier as he was feverishly changing into civvies and the soon-to-be civilian complained, “We can't beat them. We can't. They are well trained in street fighting and we're not. We need a whole army to drive them out of Mosul.” Which is exactly what U.S. taxpayers thought they were getting for their $25 billion, but evidently not.
Taxpayers would have gotten more bang for their buck if Uncle Sam had hired a biker gang and called it the Iraqi army. And speaking of bang for bucks, if you follow the news it appears the Pentagon was able to equip two armies for the price of one.
Initially the Iraqi Army was issued weapons. The Iraqis and their hardware looked smart on the parade ground and during reviews for visiting U.S. brass. Later — after learning that fighting ISIS was significantly more challenging than extorting money from businessmen and motorists — Iraqi troops threw down the weapons to improve their time in the 40 as they ran from combat. Whereupon army #2, the ISIS insurgents, picked them up. And are evidently making much better use of the gently used firepower.
And now President Obama, immune to learning from experience, wants to double down by spending $500 million to train and arm Syrian rebels, evidently forgetting Syria is where ISIS originated.
This is an outcome we’ve seen before. Uncle Sam is the Norm Van Brocklin of military trainers. We can do the fighting ourselves, and like Norm earn a spot in the Hall of Fame, but we are unable to coach anyone else to do it.
During our time in Iraq American taxpayers spent $90 billion on a variety of infrastructure and military projects. The bulk of the spending, some 75 percent, was paid for and supervised by the Pentagon after we routed Saddam’s army in a lightening campaign. (Could that have been a hint regarding the reliability of Iraqi troops that Pentagon trainers missed?)
The spending was completely out of proportion to the economy that received it. In 2003, the year we invaded, the GDP was only $29 billion. This means the approximately $10 billion-a-year the U.S. pumped into the economy added almost a third to pre-war GDP and was a recipe for inflation and waste.
And that’s pretty much what we got. With no central coordination by either the State Department or the Pentagon, spending fell prey to bright-idea-ism. Some paper-pusher had a brainstorm or fell for the pitch of a traveling aid organization and the project began.
Spending was plagued by overcharging, fraud, inefficiency, and simple incompetence. And the supremely galling fact is in many instances the supposed beneficiaries didn’t want the power plant, school, prison, factory, or Mercedes. (Well, maybe the Mercedes.)
The Army Times reported, “In too many cases . . . U.S. officials did not consult with Iraqis closely or deeply enough to determine what reconstruction projects were really needed or, in some cases, wanted. As a result, Iraqis took limited interest in the work, often walking away from half-finished programs, refusing to pay their share, or failing to maintain completed projects once they were handed over.
So if they walk away from a free power plant, why should we be surprised when they run away from a fight?
One program that was temporarily successful was Rent-an-Iraqi. According to CSMonitor.com, during the second battle of Fallujah Marines deployed “a powerful weapon – money – to drive a wedge between the insurgents and the people.”
The money went for “immediate needs and to settle disputes.” Here that’s bribing, but in Iraq it’s "winning hearts and minds." This makes the U.S. military unique in history as the only victors that pay Danegeld to the defeated.
But as bad as this news is for taxpayers, it is not the worst. Iraq is only the second most expensive nation-building project in our history. Afghanistan is the largest and President Obama is planning to leave behind a $100 billion token of our esteem when he withdraws all troops in 2016.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.
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