“Strange to contemplate”, indeed

US Army in Jeopardy in Iraq

Gary Hart, military historian and strategist. (Yes, that Gary Hart):

Recently one of Islamic Shi’ites’ most revered sites, the golden mosque at Samarra, was destroyed by sectarian enemies. By this act and the reprisals that followed, Iraq moved a substantial step closer to civil war. Though a remote, but real, possibility, an Iraqi civil war could cost the United States its army.

Hopefully, leaders are planning for this possibility….It is strange to contemplate the possibility that the greatest army in world history could be slaughtered in a Middle East conflagration. [emphasis Murdoc’s]

What sparked Mr. Hart’s concern? Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. (Really. I’m not making this up.) Well, and a bit of more-recent history, as well:

The United States lost one war not too long ago in Vietnam. Conditions are taking shape that could result in the same outcome in Iraq.

Via Kaus via Instapundit.


  1. The U.S. military won the war in Vietnam – the politicans decided to lose the war after the fact in 1975. If Hart is talking about cowardly politicians giving away another war our soldiers fought hard to win, he may be right.

  2. Gary Hart… where ya been. Per the Vietnam thing.. that may be true in re politicians (as they seem all too willing to do), but in listening to G’s speech last night, it sounds like he’s Peacing Out With Honor from Iraq sooner than we were led to believe none too long ago. I’m confused now. Principles are awesome. Until they meet poll numbers. Thank Karl for that. V

  3. Well, what we’re working at doing in Iraq is very similar to what we did in Vietnam-building up the Iraqi military so they can carry the fight on their own, just like we did with the ARVN. How long will that take, and will it ultimately succeed? Only time will tell. Personally, I think having several divisions worth of combat troops in Iraq is good for other reasons besides nation building in Iraq itself. For starters, it gives up a credible ground threat to both Iran and Syria.

  4. If that happens I think the only option is nerve gas, we know all US personell carry NBC suits. Not many people carry them in the middle east – well at least not in large enough numbers to overthrough the forces stationed in Iraq.

  5. vstress: If that happens I think the only option is nerve gas, we know all US personell carry NBC suits. An American general once said – anything you can hit with chem weapons, you can hit much harder with the same weight of high explosives. Our boys cut through an Iraqi army much better-armed than the existing one. They won’t have any problems dealing with armed mobs. Artillery shells don’t care whether they’re detonating among thousands of armed civilians or dozens of enemy soldiers.

  6. These has-been politicians like gary heart jump at the least little oportunity to cry foul and throw in the towel! an ied go’s off,oh man!we have just got to cut and run! A mob of religeously brain washed retards blow up a mosque,oh wev’e got to haul ass the hell up and out of there tommorrow!bullcrap i say.We took major league lumps on the beaches of normandy,but that didn’t stop us from liberating the rest of western europe sixty-odd years ago did it. Stay the damn course and get the job done!maintain a permanant presence there to remind the fanatic knuckleheads in tehran and damascas that if they start getting all stupid with calls to jihad and dreams of restoring the kalipha that there is an army in their niebhors back yard willing and capable of kicking their teeth back down their throats if needs be,and i’m afraid it may well come to that. Mr hart greatly underestimates our fighting capacity if he thinks that our nations army’s gonna get wiped out by a bunch of fanatics? Hello mr Hart,if in case you are basing your battle assessment on the soviet experience in afgahnistan,may i remind you that we,the apparantly ineffectual and easy to destroy u.s. military came in and rolled up the taliban and all the al qaeda sheep herders turned fanatic warriors of god and sent them packing over the border to the tribal regions of pakistan with their testocular fortitude safely tucked up inside their guts!! Mr Hart,respectfully,get your head out of the place your cake exits and smell the reality.Your political opportunism is so rank,my eyes are welling up from disgustThank god there are people who see you and the rest of the dnc for what it is,fluffy white livestock.

  7. Bram, by that reasoning the British won in North America and the French in North Africa. In all these cases there was no overall military defeat and no loss of military ability to continue. The US army is at risk in the same sense as it was in 2003 and 1991, not from its enemies but from some combination of its own mistakes and local circumstances like weather. For instance, an advance on Baghdad on either occasion could have been crippled by continuing in the face of dust storms, leaving it cut off like a British army in those parts ninety odd years ago. But the mistakes were not made, in 1991 by not proceeding unprepared and in 2003 by allowing for conditions. That wisdom does NOT mean there never was any risk, just no risk from the enemy as such, in isolation. Coming to the present, there is indeed a risk, though not from an Iraqi civil war as such. US forces are in the same predicament right now as the cream of Italian forces in 1941 or Egyptian ones in 1967: they are committed and at the end of long supply lines, now in Iraq and then in Abyssinia and North Yemen respectively. If – and only if – outside events come up that need them somewhere else in a hurry, scratch US forces will be as useful as those of those other countries then and the good ones will be picked off at leisure unless quiet returns first. With an Iraqi civil war, that wouldn’t happen. So the risk to US forces in place from an Iraqi civil war is, if something else serious comes up in the world while that is happening.