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Iraqi Armed Forces near 300,000 November 3, 2006

Posted by chuckwh in Al Gore, Bits from the New York Times, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Iraq army, Iraq War, News and politics.
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In an article for the journal, Military Review, U.S. Lt. Col. Karl D. Grunowoski writes that the Iraqi Army is now the largest and most professional service outside of Israel.

Grunowoski, who served as a military adviser in Iraq for three years, says that under Saddam, the Iraqi military was already “reasonably disciplined”, but that the force is now capable of invading and conquering another nation with “a well maintained, modern force of its own.”

President Gore has come under fire for helping Iraq transition from a dictatorship to a democracy from both the left and the right. The left is unhappy that Gore is helping the military infrastructure, and the right is unhappy that the military infrastructure Gore is helping is an Arab one. Somehow, conservatives see a threat to Israel.

However, Gore rightly promotes the notion of a strong Iraqi army as nothing more than a “national defense force”, because it has, basically, no air force.

In other words, Grunowoski is wrong. The reason, from a military standpoint, is fairly simple to grasp. You can’t invade anyone these days, without a pretty decent air force.

If the Iraqis need air power, under a treaty signed by the Iraqis and the U.S., America will provide it, which pretty much leaves Israel out of the equation. Israel, obviously, is not going to attack Iraq for any reason, and the treaty specifically stipulates that an Iraqi “invasion against any sovereign state” will not be supported with American air power.

With Saddam out of the picture, the list of candidate nations for an Iraqi invasion have dwindled to about zero. The booming oil fields near Basra and Mosul (1) have made most Iraqis rich, and Saddam’s claims that Kuwait is a province of Iraq is now just a small footnote in the type of history only PhD candidates have enough staying power for.

Iraqi motivation for a large “internal” army is centered on internal politics, specifically, as a counterforce to the extreme fanatics who still cling to the hope their voice will be heard, and who tend to pick on Iraq because of its recent close association with America.

Let’s face it, the transition of Muslim fanaticism to the fringes has not been a delicate one. Recent reports suggest that Baghdad has become another Ulster, except for one key difference: Ulster was about a population that felt subjugated, whereas in Baghdad, most people just aren’t that interested in the extreme politics of the Fedayeen, and actually, simply feel victimized by them.

The recent spate of suicide bombings don’t, if you read Iraqi blogs, reveal the will of the people. A defense force capable of doing simple things, such as enforcing curfews, when needed, is not a bad thing. Given the behavior of the Fedayeen, another 200,000 would not be a bad thing either.

1. For a real look at just how deeply buried in oil fields Iraq is, and how silly it would be for a country to be dumb enough to conquer Iraq and not find a way to make the people that nation conquered  REALLY happy (not that such an event is a likely scenario, of course), see this map.

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