I should mention with regard to ongoing discussion of the Center for American Progress’ recent Iraq report that one of the report’s main authors, Brian Katulis, had a brilliant (and shorter) piece out earlier this month specifically on the foolhardy nature of the training mission:
The United States has poured more than $20 billion into building an Iraqi national army and police force designed to defend a government that simply cannot forge the key political compromises necessary to unite their own country. The so-called “surge” of U.S. forces, alongside stepped up training of the Iraqi army and police, is supposed to create the political “space” necessary for the country’s squabbling political leaders to reach these compromises, yet that’s not happening.
Why? Most of Iraq’s violence is related to a vicious struggle for power that only has a political solution. Training and skills building are not the fundamental issue for Iraq’s security forces. In fact many of Iraqi security forces have more training than hundreds of U.S. soldiers being deployed as part of this surge. Their problems are motivation and allegiance.
Right. Politics is strictly primary in this kind of situation. If you have a political actor whose goals you support, and that actor has a bunch of people prepared to fight for those goals, then you might come in and offer weapons and training to help them achieve their goals. But the idea that US military personnel are hypnotists whose training methods are going to transform Iraqi fighters into the people it would be convenient to us for them to be is silly.