Fixing Iraq's Runway
|Jerry R. Curry
Major General, US Army Retired
A story around the camps in World War II was of a fighter pilot who got
stranded at a bomber base for a week or so and who finally persuaded the
base commander to loan him a bomber to fly himself back to his fighter
He roared down the runway on take-off, reached flying speed and
retracted the gear. But things went wrong: Instead of streaking up into
the sky as fighters do, the heavy bomber sunk down toward the earth and
its propellers chewed into the runway.
Frantically the tower radioed him, “Come back here; look at what your
propellers did to the runway!” Nonplussed, the fighter pilot radioed
back, “I’m going home. Fix your own runway.”
Sometimes the wonderful people who fly our military planes and those who
direct the flow of air traffic around airports see things differently;
they have different perceptions of the same problem and of what needs to
be done to fix it.
Conventional wisdom is that wars aren’t settled militarily but ended by
patient and thoughtful political negotiations. According to this
thinking, only by negotiating with enemy countries like Iran and Syria
can we bring peace to Iraq and the Middle East.
The facts do not bear this out. While wars—such as World War I—are
sometimes settled through negotiation, most are not. Check history. Wars
are mostly won by brute force and good strategy. Negotiation usually
comes over the terms of surrender.
In Paris in 1968 the communist Hanoi regime of North Vietnam and the
South Vietnamese government in Saigon, along with the United States,
started peace negotiations. The talks were public; there were long
pauses in the negotiations that sometimes stretched into months. Little
was accomplished. Ultimately the peace negotiations were carried
out in secret. Only then was it possible to effectively hammer out a
basic agreement in 1973.
Yes, negotiations can help ease hostilities, but often the pause gained
lasts only long enough for one side to find a way of militarily
attacking the other. That’s what happened in Vietnam. The Paris
peace talks led to two years of “no-war” on the Vietnamese peninsula
followed by North Vietnam launching a full-scale military invasion of
South Vietnam. What Hanoi could not get at the peace negotiations, it
ultimately took by conventional military force.
Neither in the European nor Japanese theaters was World War II concluded
by negotiations. Hitler was defeated by General Dwight Eisenhower’s
successful invasion of Europe. Japan was brought to its knees when
nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Yes, we can allow ourselves to be talked to death in negotiations,
acting out the part of Britain’s pacifist Prime Minister Neville
Chamberlain who said he and Hitler had agreed to “peace in our time,”
while Iran’s warmongers follow Adolph Hitler’s scenario all over again.
The result will be the same. In the so-called peace negotiations, Iran
will publicly flog and embarrass the United States while its terrorist
revolutionary guard forces infiltrate and de facto, annex Iraq.
Meanwhile the U.N. and the American versions of Neville Chamberlain will
encourage us to keep negotiating, to keep surrendering by a thousand
The conventional wisdom is that before Iraqi forces become capable of
resisting Iran’s subversion, we must train them for many years. Until
then Iraq has to rely on the U.S. military to keep the peace, enforce
their laws, and provide order and security throughout their country.
During World War II we took our young boys off the farms of the Midwest
and from small towns across America, trained them for four to six
months, and then put them up against the best SS Divisions Hitler’s NAZI
Germany could field. We are still doing that today. So why do we
have to train Iraqi military and security recruits for years while
American recruits get less than six months of training? OK, let’s be
generous and give the Iraqis nine months of training. Then they should
be able to stand up against the best soldiers and terrorists that Iran
and Al-Qaeda have to throw against them. Of course this is providing
that they and their government really want a free and democratic
After the U.S. Revolutionary War ended, the French didn’t stick around
for years to help rebuild America and provide us order, stability, and
security. The French said, “We helped you win your independence; the
rest is up to you.” And they got on their ships and left.
We can only do so much for the Iraqis. At some point, after the job is
done, they are going to have to suck it up and maintain their own