Nov 20, 2005

US Occupations: Success or Failure

  • 1945 Germany
    Ordered by Roosevelt
    Status = Still there. Successful democracy, good economy, trusted ally
    Years total = 60
  • 1945 Japan
    Ordered by Roosevelt
    Status = Still there. Successful democracy, good economy, trusted ally
    Years total = 60
  • 1954 South Korea
    Ordered by Truman
    Status = Still there. Successful democracy, good economy, trusted ally
    Years total = 51
  • 1962 Vietnam
    Ordered by Kennedy
    Status = Lost. Socialist state, failing economy until US trade pact, 1996
    Years total = 12
  • 1983 Granada
    Ordered by Reagan
    Status = Won. Removed Marxist regime and Cuban troops.
    Years total = <1
  • 1989 Panama
    Ordered by Bush I
    Status = Won. Removed Noriega and his Communist supporters, and drug trafficking.
    Years total = <1
  • 1991 Iraq (Desert Storm)
    Ordered by Bush I
    Status = Won. Dictatorship, Oil for Food kleptocracy, WMD killed thousands, ethnic cleansing of Kurds
    Years total = less than 1
  • 1993 Somalia
    Ordered by Clinton
    Status = Lost. 19 US soldiers killed. UN took over again after failing to disarm combatants and deny civil rights.
    Years total = less than 1
  • 1995 Bosnia
    Ordered by Cinton
    Status = Still there. Pacified region, stopped ethnic cleansing, arrested and put on trial A FEW of the major offenders.
    Years total = 10 so far
  • 2001 Afghanistan
    Ordered by = Bush II
    Status = Still there, democratic election, freedom for women, ejected Al Qaeda, revival of heroin economy.
    Years total = 4, so far
  • 2003 Iraq (Iraqi Freedom)
    Ordered by = Bush II
    Status = Still There, interim democratically elected government, rebuild infrastructure.
    Years total = 3, so far

What's the correlation between how long US forces stayed and the result? Does 'correlation' mean the same as 'causative?'

It seems the long occupations that the US armed forces have done involve 4 phases:

  1. Set up logistics and supply lines in preparation for war. Back in WWII, this took years to get ready, but we were starting from no standing army. Even Desert Storm took 6 months to set-up, for both sides, for us and for the Republican Guards. Tommy Franks' autobiography, "American Soldier," talks about how he (and the rest of the armed services, White House, State Department, etc.) managed to shorten the set-up time to MONTHS, invading Afghanistan barely 3 months after the attack on the US of September 11, 2001.
  2. What Tommy Franks calls "kinetics" -- bombs, bullets, killing, maiming
  3. Pacification -- root out, capture and imprison enemy combatants who won't give up
  4. Reconstruction -- the purpose is to give the locals a relatively secure period in which to set up a government that we like.

The US forces' mission for the last phase, Reconstruction, is a police function. Legal scholars have good arguments for both sides of whether it was the original intent to use our armed forces as policmen. Posse Comitatas says we cannot use the armed services for police functions inside the US, but I don't know the legal issues for foreign lands. And is the National Guard governed differently?

Most countries that we've occupied don't have an effective police force, or the existing police is not 'right thinking' after "kinetics" so US forces stayed to police the conquered. Our continued engagement in Bosnia is a police function. Bush Pere tried to defer that function to Saddam in 1991! That's what we're doing in Afghanistan now, and when we get through Phase 3, we will have to police Iraq for years.

So, my opinion is except in the cases of unworthy adversaries such as Noriega (Panama) and Grenada where we executed all phases within weeks, the length of the Reconstruction phase depends on the local people.

Everyone would agree that by 1960, Germany and Japan were stable and self-sufficient. They didn't need US forces to keep the peace while they build the government and economy. So why did we stay? US forces stayed because Germany wanted continued US spending on bases and to defray their cost to hold the line against Soviet tanks. The Japanese spent 2% of the GDP on defense because the US is paying for it. Why should they want us to leave when our occupation is worth so much money? Ditto South Korea, although there are bad sentiments against US occupation. Now that Kim Jong-il has nuclear weapons, I wonder whether the S. Koreans have revised their opinion of US forces' continued tenure there?

Our occupation of Afghanistan and of Iraq might follow the same pattern. Conspiracy theorists and even some serious policy analysts believe that the our presence in Iraq is the spearhead for US military bases, to set-up (Phase I) in the heart of that Moslem dominated region. I believe that the occupation of Iraq is indeed the Phase 1 for eventual 'kinetics' against Iran, and to send a wake-up call to the militant Islamists of Indonesia.

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