If you are thinking of becoming a leader of people some day, in any enterprise, heed this lesson from me, your local sage, Contingencies, Contingencies, Contingencies. 


If you should become a leader some day, you will be required to make some very difficult choices based upon limited available information, and the ONLY way to do so well time after time, is to stick yourself to the strictest practice of Contingency Planning.  This is a wisdom that many successful leaders have practiced in history, and yet it is seldom taught in any schools.  And this is what the Bush Administration did not do in Iraq and the primary reason why they have failed in the Iraqi mission.

Enjoy the silence for the first time





















An experienced military battlefield commander knows that even with the best possible battlefield intelligence, he should never send in his troops without the necessary reserves or backup, to cover a retreat or to be able to provide reinforcements.  In the battlefield, as well as in management in general, this is called contingency planning.


Why does the space shuttle have triple redundancy on every one of its critical systems?  Contingency!  Because when that big monster of a ship is coming down to earth, its descent angle cannot deviate more than a few degrees.  If a navigation system fails, there is no time for repairs.


Similarly, in the heat of a battle during a war, there is very little time to rethink plans if the primary plan fails or simply does not go as initially expected.  And as a rule of thumb, nothing in war ever goes according to plan, and  sometimes even the backup plans fail.  There are simply too many variables to predict.


Even something as simple as the weather can change a lot about a battlefield and conflict.  Obviously, the initial thrust of US military into Iraq was blunted by the harsh Iraqi sandstorms.  Fortunately for the US, the military had GPS systems, so it was largely unaffected by the storms, but still quite a few US convoys became lost in the desert.


Logistics, also did not go according to plan for the US.  Early on in the war, although US military spearhead troops encountered little resistance in pushing toward Baghdad, the supply convoys were being stretched long and thin, coming under occasional ambush from Iraqi forces.  This, by all standards, was a lightning war.  The US military was pushing hard and fast, to maneuver Saddams most loyal forces near Baghdad and Fallujah and to capture or kill Saddam and his command personnel.  But this showed the weakness of the US forces early on;  that though it is capable of massive damage against any target, it is not necessarily better at ground control.


Then, the Blitzkrieg created another problem.  The Iraqi military began to melt away into the population, as the US military began to cripple the Iraqi military command structure.  One by one, Saddams henchmen and generals and commanders deserted their posts and were killed or captured.  So group by group, the Iraqi military forces either went home with their weapons or donned civilian clothes and became guerrilla fighters.  Though the situation was similar to WWII France when the German Blitzkrieg bypassed the main French forces and captured Paris, Iraq had no Vichy Regime to disarm the defeated military in an organized fashion.  The problem was compounded by the US itself, which promptly announced its plan to completely disband the Iraqi military and to imprison all Iraqi military commanders and Baathist party members.  Even the Germans needed the Vichy French regime to help them disarm the rest of the French.  In Iraq, the US basically created a situation where very few Iraqis would help the US disarm other Iraqis.


Though victory seemed to be secure in Baghdad, the problem simply went underground, and the plan was already turning sour.  After the end of the heavy fighting, US quickly realized that there were still mountains of AK-47s and RPGs in Iraq, which had NOT been on the initial plan of things to do in Iraq.  An edict was sent out by the US CPA, practically pleading for Iraqis to turn in their weapons.


Very few responded.  That edict remains in place, even to today.


Another thing missing from the things to do in Iraq was the securing of WMD sites.  Once the looting of Iraq started, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that no WMDs, even if they existed in the beginning of the War, were going to be found.  After the first few weeks of looting, anything of value from those sites would be torn down and sold out on the black-market in Iraq.  Even if the US should find something today in Iraq, it would be very difficult for them to prove that such WMDs came from Iraq interior, and NOT smuggled from Iran, Syria, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia.


The biggest problem of the initial plan was that there was no plan for occupation.  The US itself has not done a successful large scale occupation since post WWII Japan and Europe.  Kosovo was hardly an occupation.  That was simple bomb and leave, much like Gulf War I.  Going back farther, Panama was a small scale operation.  Vietnam was pretty much a failure of occupation policies.


Why was the WWII occupation of Japan and Germany successful?  One simple reason was that Japan and Germany were more than happy to have US occupation as protection.  Think of it, after the atrocities committed by Japan and Germany, US occupation forces were there to PROTECT the Japanese and the Germans from their angry neighbors more than anything else.  If US occupation forces were not there, China and Russia were more than willing to occupy Japan and mete out revenge, and France, the new Soviet Russia, others might have been tempted to carve up Germany for themselves, as they did on a small scale after WWI.


Honestly, if you were a German or a Japanese after WWII, who would you trust to occupy your country?  China?  Russia?  France?  The Germans in WWII seemed more willing to surrender to the American troops than to the Russians.


Now back to Iraq.  This time, there was no such comparison, no angry neighboring nations who would gladly go into Iraq and put the Iraqis under more severe penalties of barbaric occupations.


The most emotional and the most angry one on the block screaming for the occupation/transformation/democratization of Iraq, seemed to be US itself.  Most of Iraqs large neighboring nations, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, all seemed reluctant to support the invasion of Iraq or regime change in Iraq.  They certainly had no intentions of wanting to occupy Iraq.


So once Saddam was captured, most Iraqis would naturally see no need for a US occupation force in Iraq.  To protect them from WHOM?  Occupation?  What for?  To many Iraqis, the pretext of the CPA to protect the Iraqi people from insurgents and terrorists seemed fictitious and self-serving.  It seemed far more LIKELY to most rational people that this time, the US was the angry neighbor, with a nationalistic bent for revenge for 9/11.  Indeed, many US soldiers in Iraq believed, as did the American public, that Iraq and Saddam had something to do with 9/11.  One US soldier on a tank moving into Baghdad was shown on TV angrily shouting at a female anti-war protester blocking the road, WERE YOU THERE ON 9/11?! repeatedly.  A snapshot of an angry neighbor, coming to help the Iraqis.  This perception was reinforced by multiple instances of the US military detaining Iraqis with little or no cause, sometimes upon a questionable source of local intelligence info.  Then the Abu Ghraib prison abuses came to light.


Some Americans compare these barbaric behaviors to what Saddam had done.  However, if one simply compared these abuses to the US occupation in post WWII Germany and Japan, one can easily see the difference between civility and barbarism.  Such prison abuses in this War of Iraq is indicative of the kind of break down in basic military command and discipline that usually occurs when there is a confusion over plans.  Of course, there were known instances of violation of Geneva Convention during WWII as well by US forces.  However, again the Germans and the Japanese were far more receptive of the US occupation, for fear of far worse abuse at the hands of other neighbors.


Then the occupation itself.  Where to occupy?  How many troops?  What are they guarding?  About as clear as mud overall.


Saddam had 400,000 troops plus his elite Republican Guards, and he could barely contain the rebellious factions of his country from killing him and each other.  Neither could Saddam stop Iran from funneling men, money, and weapons through the border regions for many years.


And Rumsfeld thought he could occupy Iraq with only 130,000 troops?  Now with radical Muslims from all neighboring countries eagerly crossing the borders to join the great Jihad against the US?  Is Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran going to help the US stop these crossings?


Plans?  What plans?  It looks like a military crap shoot to me.  So it should not be any surprise to any sane person that the US military absolutely FAILED to secure the borders.  Hence, the insurgents received enforcement of men and weapons from outside.  Then the US military is forced to guard the fewer and fewer critical locations, the green zones, power and water supply facilities, oil pipelines, city centers, etc., turning Iraq into a massive Soviet-Afghanistan type quagmire for the US.


A non-existent plan of occupation for Iraq backed up by a lack of military discipline and worse yet, self-serving vengeful anger.


What good can possibly come of this?  Why be surprised when Iraqis start to join insurgent groups of every nature and creed and political stands?  Any rational man could predict that anything can happen in the event of no plan.


Was the Bush administration prepared for this possibility?  No, of course not.  To even suggest that the War on Iraq would be lost on account of a failure of occupation would be just party pooping on Bushs barbeque.  There was no discussion of any contingency plans in case the war on Iraq started to go badly.  Everything was hinged on the primary plan, which by itself was incomplete.


To the Bush administration, talks of contingency plans are defeatist, and consequently virtually treasonous, because contingency plans would require considerations and speculations about the best known intelligence data being WRONG, or second guessing oneself.  Its the simple what-if scenario.  What if our best known intelligence about Iraq was WRONG, and we start to lose the war or occupation?  What if the Iraqis dont welcome us with flowers and parades?  What if the traditional Iraqi tribal majority actually want a religious dictator?  What if we cant find and detain all the anti-US elements in Iraq?  What if Iraqis wont disarm?  What if our policies of holding prisoners indefinitely create some kind of abuse scandal?


Afterall, no one is perfect;  even Rumsfeld would agree with that. Indeed, on many occasions, Rumsfeld has used that one as an excuse on why things have gone wrong in Iraq.


And yet, it seems that NO ONE in the Bush administration wanted to confront with the possibility of an imperfect human nature and imperfect human intelligence while they were still planning for the War on Iraq.


So like General George Armstrong Custer, without backup plans, the Bush Sunshine Scenario Warriors charged into the Iraqi desert, in a re-enactment of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  They kept on killing, but the natives just kept on coming.


Some called Custer brave, but I think the more accurate word is foolish.  The same adjective is reserved for all other leaders who think one scenario in a decision is sufficient, and in this case, the Bush administration, whose leaders apparently cannot think beyond two moves in a chess game.


A wise general can be cautious and brave at the same time.  Or as Sun Tzu once said, The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.  Thus, the requirement for contingency planning, to minimize the possible impacts of mistakes.


Though a contingency planning leader may seem worrying, I have known very few, if any, leaders who have succeeded in history without doing so.


It can be said that a leaders sense of responsibility is tested by his wisdom, prudence, and careful considerations.  We would never think of sending people into space on a space shuttle duct taped together with patriotic confidence or systems without backups, because these missions are important, costs are high, and lives are at stake.  And yet with such a monumental effort to try to change Iraq and its people for the better, how can one be so irresponsible as to NOT think of contingencies?  Is this not more important than a space mission?  Are there not cost as high or lives at stake as many if not vastly more?


And isnt this sort of wishful thinking exactly whats wrong with unilateralism? 


Was this pride or imperial hubris?  I would not resort to such explosive packed political rhetoric.  It is pointless to try to change people against their formed nature.  People will only change when they want to change.  But I do hope that some have at least learned something from this latest thought of mine.




In the latest news, the Bush administration is eagerly grasping for contingency plans, pleading and begging for help from outside, from such irrelevant sources as the United Nations, who had largely advised caution from the beginning, along with France, Germany, etc.


Strangely, Bush has turned largely toward Colin Powell for advice, as the only likable negotiator in the administration who will not get an instant look of disdain from many ally nations.  Suddenly, the Secretary of State, who is largely known for his cautious nature as a military commander, and who was also largely kept out of the War planning for Iraq, has become the proverbial straw, or the Dove that Noah sent out in search of land, who may or may not return with an olive branch.


Its all up to Powell now, to salvage the situation with our allies, and to muster whatever support or help for US in Iraq can be found.  Unfortunately, Powells contingency plans have been largely sidelined by Bush, unheeded and unprepared for, until the occupation pushed nowhere.


How about that handover of Iraqi sovereignty?  What sort of handover and what sort of sovereignty?  A handover that resembled more to a passing of hand written notes between girls in a high school classroom, devoid of any Security and Symbolism of any stable government.  Paul Bremer did his exit strategy alright, but frankly, if I was in his place, I would have handed over long time ago.  But Bremer left behind a long list of US edicts, more than 100 or so of these new Commandments, everything from traffic laws to giving US contractors immunity to Iraqi laws.  Bremers quick exit from Iraq was only preceded by this flurry of new edicts that he signed into force.  All these edicts can be overturned by the new Iraqi Interim government, but the required process is difficult, especially for a new government thats so fractionalized.  So the new sovereign people of Iraq are already shackled to chains of bureaucracy imposed upon them that they have virtually no effective ways of removing.  It has already undermined the authority of the new government.  Here we see the effectiveness of this new religion of democracy installed in Iraq.  Jesus Christ only needed one rule, Love thy enemy, which sounded more like a suggestion, but caused a religious revolution.  Moses had only ten big ones handed down from God to lead his people into the promise land.  Paul Bremer left over 100.  As the old saying goes, Quantity is not equal to Quality.


Furthermore, the US military is going to expand its presence in Iraq, already calling up about 5000 additional individual ready reservists, who will be largely trained for military police duties.  Too few, too late.  Besides that, they will be operating independently of the new Iraqi security forces.  Not a good idea to have two military forces like that in the same country.


Also, Saddam had his first day in court.  Just him talking to a judge, with reporters and cameramen in the room.  Needless to say, everyone understands that there is no possible way for Saddam to get free.  Yet to the Iraqis, it must seem pretty strange that a mass murderer like that gets a clean suit and a day (or up to two years) in court, all the while protected by a US military convoy, but more innocent Iraqi citizens were branded as terrorists and hauled away to Abu Ghraib without so much as a telephone call to a lawyer.  They had fully expected Saddam to be hanged or shot upon capture.  Strange justice, even in a violent land.


And simultaneously, Rumsfeld is trying to look busy at the NATO summit, trying to convince the small Eastern European New Europe member nations to send help, but I think they are also wise enough to see a road kill and lost cause for what it is and to avoid it, or at the very least give no more than symbolic support.  Meanwhile, Cheney sends graceful F Yourself to a US senator in a private conversation in Washington.


Though the hawks will not admit defeat, they are certainly more frustrated and less joyful about their patriotic optimism.


Or in a similar euphemism, as one historical hawk once said, We do not retreat.  We are only fighting while moving backwards.


Or the New American euphemism on the opposite, which says, We are not an Empire seeking world domination.  We are only defending while moving EVERYWHERE.


Just some last minute humor before July 4th, soon to be renamed Patriot Day.  Good day to all.