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.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John says:

    I think that bitch slapping them around when we were trumping up non-existent evidence usually has this effect. Great strategy, eh?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Uh, I thought they were going to jump in with both feet if we just gave them another three months?

  3. John says:

    Well we didn’t go that route, did we. Now they have absolutely no incentive what so ever. We could have pulled the fat out of the fire in March, but instead we just gave them the finger and roasted them while we were riding high. And we’ve been continually bitch slapping them ever since. Now we’re bitch slapping them because they don’t want to come and join the party. My suggestion is to swallow some pride and above all stop bitch slapping them.

  4. Paul says:

    You realy are quite nuts.

  5. John says:

    Yea, I’m the one who said “don’t poke a hot stick in your eye” and I’m the one who’s nuts. Thanks! We’re going to really, really enjoy this fun little party y’all threw.

  6. whatever says:

    Pull ’em out of Japan & Europe. I think those counties are stabalized by now, huh? I would add Korea, but I think we would just be sending them back soon.

  7. whatever says:

    uh, countRIES. (and yes, Europe is a continent, but you get my meaning).

  8. The major reason France and Germany have not jumped in is that there is no graft or other under-the-counter deals to be made.

  9. Barry says:

    True. Assuming that secret no-bid contracts don’t count as under-the-counter deals.