NATION BUILDING REDUX
Matthew Yglesias has an interesting post about some rather idiotic things that are being said about the UN bombing this morning.
One of the smarter things being said comes from John Chafetz:
LOOK, IT’S GREAT THAT things are going well outside the Sunni triangle and all, but about 20% of Iraq’s population lives in Baghdad alone, and that means we really, really, really need to stop things like this from happening. I know that’s easier said than done, but how about starting by sending a lot more military police officers to Iraq?
The answer is pretty simple, as Matt notes:
The trouble with sending “a lot” more MPs is, as I understand it, that we don’t really have a lot more to send, especially because the Reserves and the National Guard have been placed under enormous strain pretty continuously since the Kosovo War.
Indeed, much longer than that.
This has been a longstanding structural problem that many of us identified over a decade ago now. The trend first occured to me during the Somalia mess (pre-Blackhawk Down) at which time I wrote a paper on it. I’m sure others thought of it well before then.
It’s not just MP’s but linguists, Civil Affairs folks, and others with the skill sets needed for constabulary duty and/or “nation building.” Our combat arms folks are adaptable and can do a lot, but there’s a hella learning curve.
Matt’s alternative solution is more help from the UN, which I would of course welcome. But since France and Company wouldn’t support us when the war was inevitable, I can’t imagine they’ll be eager to pitch in for the really hard part. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong on this point, but shan’t hold my breath.