The New York Times lead article today “breaks” the news that the US encouraged Iraqi officers prior to the war so that they’d order their troops not to fight. Fred Kaplan wrote about this in Slate on May 21 after reading about it in Defense Times. Al-Jazeera broke this story shortly after Baghdad fell, in early May. I think it’s an important story, but the major US publications are way late on it. That said, the NYT story provides details not found in any story on the same topic thusfar.
The story strikes me as important for a number of reasons. The first is that the intimidation factor of the US military is not to be underestimated. If the Iraqi officers thought they’d prevail, they probably wouldn’t have collaborated with the US. The second is that it shows that our creativity doubtlessly saved many US lives, and many more Iraqi lives, by insuring that some brutal battles in populated areas never took place. The third is that we should weigh the effect our “diplomacy” had into the lessons we learn from this conflict. It seems like the bribery might have been just as effective as Donald Rumsfeld’s brilliant military theories in insuring a short war.