Friday, March 24, 2006

Turkey, Russia, Iraq, and the 4th Infantry Division.

This Iraqi document has sparked a debate in the blogosphere. The document is a Russian intelligence report to Iraq, it was delivered the day before Turkey formally refused to allow our 4th US Infantry Division to stage out of Turkey and to attack Iraq from the north.

Wretchard at the The Belmont Club (surprise) notes this and wonders what happened that Turkey did not allow the move. It is clear Wretchard believes the fact the 4th ID was blocked from participating was a significant disruption to our plans.

Chester at the The Adventures of Chester takes up the discussion both in The Belmont Club's commentary and on his own blog. I have also participated in The Belmont Club's commentary section.

A couple of things. First off, looking at the document the information is not super top-secret material. It is information a guy on the street can gather. Also, helpful (not necessary) are highly technical methods of which Russia possess. Wretchard notes there is no mention in the document of the 4th Infantry Division whose fate was not yet sealed by the Turkish Parliament. Wretchard reads into this the Russians knew and most likely gave strong encouragement to the Turks to bar staging rights to our 4th Infantry Division.

Of course, it was not just Russia working against our Iraq policy, but France, Germany, China and others. Turkey, it has to be remembered, has a Kurdish minority and that minority wants to split from Turkey. Turkey probably didn't want Saddam toppled either for fear of encouraging the Kurds in the region (Northern Iraq, Southern Turkey) to become even more encouraged to unite and fight for a separate Kurdish homeland thereby splitting off a chunk of Turkish territory.

Also, rank anti-Americanism. Turkey is secular in its governance not in its cultural and social life. While many commentators see no contradiction between Islam and America the nonsensical do and work very hard to convince sensible Muslims there is and since the nonsensical are largely unopposed in voicing those opinions they win by default.

Now, to another question. Both Wretchard and Chester think the loss of the 4th Infantry Division in the invasion (in retrospect) was not a big deal. I beg to differ. In the beginning I wasn't worried about that loss, now in retrospect it figures to be a bigger problem than we had anticipated. Why? Because the 4th ID could have swept down to Baghdad and done a couple of things. Provided blocking preventing the dissolution of the Iraqi Republican Guards Divisions (IRGDs). Instead of allowing those soldiers to melt into the general population many proto-terrorists could have been killed.

Commentators on the Belmont Club have countered the IRGDs didn't so much as dissolve as were allowed to drop their arms and return home. Fair point, but of course, this was after a certain point. Other commentators have noted another division working Iraq could have helped provide security and found and secured many of the ammo dumps that the Saddamites set up prior to the invasion.

The lack of the Fourth Infantry Division probably delayed elections and the government that is still trying to form.

Now, Chester brings addresses who messed up in securing Turkish territory. Well, he really doesn't name any one particular individual
Was it a State function or a Defense function to convice [sic] the Turks to let us have our way? If memory serves, both Powell and Wolfowitz made trips to Turkey in the Jan/Feb/Mar timeframe. Who was ultimately responsible? Was everyone on the same page, making the same kinds of overtures to the Turks? or was it a case of an issue -- everyone who's worked in a large organization has observed this phenomenon -- where both were in charge and therefore neither took the initiative, knowing that they had the other to blame if it went south . . .
Source: The Adventures of Chester - Why didn't Turkey let us open a northern front in 2003?
Hmmmm. It pains me to say this but when two subordinates in an organization are stepping on each other's toes or pointing at the other, what is supposed to happen? The boss steps in and resolves the situation by either taking care of the matter themselves or by designating one subordinate the lead. If as Chester says is true then this confusion comes from the top of the organization, that is the President's office.

Which department should have been in charge of the operation to secure Turkish territory? The State Department should have taken the lead in that effort.