Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lessons to Learn from Irak.

The war in Afghanistan has been the subject of many articles, posts and editorials lately but very few seem to see that there are lessons to learn from the war in Iraq.
One aspect hardly ever mentioned is the failure of relationship between the American military and its allies. In fact, it has gone so sour in Iraq that even the British have become vocally critical of the U.S. leadership. What is particularly pointing about the following comment is not only that it underlines the hubris of the US command but also that it underlines a more important problem - the divide between how the Europeans and the Americans handle conflicts.

According to the British chief of staff in Iraq, Colonel J.K.Tanner:

“We experienced real difficulty in dealing with American military and civilian organisations who, partly through arrogance and partly through bureaucracy, dictate that there is only one way: the American way.
“I now realise that I am a European, not an American. We managed to get on better…with our European partners and at times with the Arabs than with the Americans. Europeans chat to each other, whereas dialogue is alien to the US military… dealing with them corporately is akin to dealing with a group of Martians."
“If it isn’t on the PowerPoint slide, then it doesn’t happen.”
(The Telegraph)

War is certainly the greatest test of friendship between allied countries, and it seems that the so-called « Special Relationship » between the UK and the U.S. has failed the test of the war in Iraq. (I personally think it has been a myth for many years, and so it is about time that Brits finally acknowledge it.)
More importantly there is a useful lesson to learn for the war in Afghanistan whose success may precisely depend even more on cohesion and communication. If president Obama wants more troops from his allies, he needs to set clear goals and strategy not to them but with them. It is the only way European leaders, including the British and the Feench, can justify sending more troops to their public opinion.

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