David Ignatius offers some advice to Don Rumsfeld in today’s WaPo:

  • To prevent more foreign fighters from entering Iraq, the coalition needs better control of the country’s borders — especially with Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
  • To dry up the insurgents’ flow of weapons, the coalition needs to find and destroy more of the estimated 800,000 tons of ammunition littered throughout the country.
  • To draw support from as many Iraqis as possible, the United States needs to ease its de-Baathification policy so that it bans only those with blood on their hands. (U.S. officials claim they have already loosened the rules, but that message hasn’t gotten through to most Iraqis.)
  • To build stronger Iraqi security forces, the United States needs to call back officers and soldiers of the old Iraqi army. (Again, U.S. officials say they realize they must use the army they disbanded last May.)
  • To gain better intelligence from senior Iraqis, the coalition needs to make clear that most of them won’t face war crimes prosecution for actions they describe during interrogation. That fear has limited the intelligence harvest so far, the officials said.
  • The last three of these are really one thing, and arguably the biggest mistake we’ve made in the reconstruction. While it’s great in theory to refuse to deal with Baathists and others tied to Saddam’s regime, it’s impractical. In a totalitarian state, profession of loyalty to the leader is simply required to hold any position of responsibility; sometimes, just to survive. We instituted the same policy after WWII in both Germany and Japan. Rather quickly, we reversed ourselves.

    FILED UNDER: Iraq War, , , , , , , , ,
    James Joyner
    About James Joyner
    James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


    1. Paul says:

      So… David’s advice is, Secure the place better, take weapons away from bad guys and get Iraqis to help.

      DAMN! Why didn’t he give us all these great ideas before? I bet Rummy never would have thought of any of these by himself.

      His advice reminds me of a coach I once had. He told me he could give the one piece of advice that would make me win every game. As a 9th grader I bit..

      He said simply, “Score more points than the other guy.”

    2. James Joyner says:

      Except that we’re not actually doing these things now.

    3. melvin toast says:

      You may be right James but it’s probably easier to write for the washington post than it is to build a US friendly Iraqi security force. Remember, most coups are implemented
      by domestic security forces.

    4. James Joyner says:


      True enough. The thing is, we’re going to have to rely on the Iraqis, anyway. And, unlike building a police force and/or military at home, we don’t have any reliable a priori way to screen them for security risks. So, we’re reliant on the word of Iraqis anyway. So, why not use as many rank-and-file guys from the existing forces (not the top leaders, obviously, unless they are seriously screened) and keep an eye on them?

    5. JC says:

      Yea, I wonder why the Administration believes that this will not be the case. But elections are elections and we need to get the troops home in time for them.

    6. Anonymous says:

      James everyday there is someone somewhere saying they are doing more to secure the borders and more to build an Iraqi force blah blah blah.

      These ideas are hardle new.

      The first report I rememberf of them securng the borders were back in April.

      This is just silly.