So, the worse-than-al-Qaida bad-guys of ISIS show their faces and, according to the Iraqi government itself, “Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers throw down their weapons and run away.”
“Houston, we have a problem!” And this one could easily reach Houston, or wherever else you live. I’d almost forgotten what the Israeli veteran of the Six-Day War told me about Israel’s War of Independence (in which the Jewish state faced a combined invasion that even included Iraqi expeditionary forces): “The Egyptians ran. So did the Jordanians, the Syrians and the Saudis. They all ran. But the Iraqis were special. They didn’t just run. They took off their boots so they could run faster!”
If the government of Iraq contacted you and invited you to come lecture their war college on what to do about battlefield cowardice that slices instantly right down to the bone, what country in recent history could you hold up as a role model Iraq should follow? I’m assuming there is something like a war college in Iraq and further assuming they haven’t all shed their uniforms and disguised themselves as felafel peddlers. Whose example would you thrust in their faces?
You’re likely to read some things here you’ve read before, but a short review is entirely in order. You’re going to need this for your finals.
The Iraqis can’t learn much from America, because Americans never threw down their arms and ran away. George Washington’s embattled units showed courage and perseverance that should still make us proud. You can’t give them Finland because Finland, smaller than California with a population half that of Chicago, repelled and ridiculized Russia’s Red Army, from a country as large as the moon with hundreds of millions of people.
The Iraqis also can’t benefit much from the example of Greece in 1940. Mussolini, “the Sawdust Caesar,” tried to copy his buddy Adolf Hitler, who was busy pasting Western Europe and Scandinavia into his scrapbook with abandon. Mussolini sent his troops into Greece. The furious and gutsy Greeks not only pushed Mussolini’s forces out of Greece, but continued the counter-attack and conquered half of Mussolini’s base of Albania.
To say it minimally, Israel’s problems, though weighty, do not include Israeli soldiers throwing down their weapons and running away!
We now know “motivation” is a solid, not a liquid or a gas, useful to bring up in military “sermons” about courage. Military science teaches that 25 soldiers who are motivated can hold a position better than a hundred, 75 of whom are not motivated. Americans, Finns, Greeks, Israelis – no motivation problems there. Conversely, the Soviets tell us they knew Hitler’s German Sixth Army attacking Stalingrad was done for even before the final battle began. How so? They learned that German Gen. von Paulus, to stretch out the effectiveness of his fighting force, brought in Germany’s Romanian allies to guard his flanks. Romania lacks any discernible military tradition. The Soviet Russian forces zipped through them like a hot knife through oleomargarine. The encirclement and surrender of the German Sixth Army was a foregone conclusion.
Is there a real country coiled up inside recognizable history that could offer genuine hope and inspiration to the Iraqis? History is happy you asked the question and answers forcefully in the affirmative.
You think America is bummed out at the moment because the Iraqis are such a poor commercial for “American military training”? You think Iraqis are the only target of gut-ripping profanity at the cowardice of Iraqis (including non-military security personnel) who jettison their rifles and run, leaving those they’re sworn and paid to defend to the mercy of the uncivilized foe? No! We’ve heard it all before.
The South Koreans were the Iraqis of 1950, entire armies melting away as the Americans from the other side of the world stood their ground to save those worthless South Koreans from being engulfed by the North Korean Communist invaders. Smarter readers, please correct me if I err. I cannot name any other nation’s army that was as wretchedly rotten as the South Koreans in 1950, who then found their mojo and became great!
You’ve heard the term “to bug out.” That’s from the early days of the Korean War when the South Koreans you depended on were just not there. They’d “bugged out.” American, British, French, Turkish, Ethiopian, Colombian troops and others rescued South Korea from their Communist cousins. American patience, training and arm-twisting to step into democracy after the passing of South Korea’s autocrat Syngman Rhee pulled off a miracle. South Korea today is prosperous and democratic and is fully capable of defending itself against the North. Can Iraq follow suit?
I once angered Raul Castro when I reproached him for the hideous number of “enemies” Cuba’s firing squads were murdering after the Castro Revolution. “Norway” I pointed out, had suffered under an even worse dictator (Hitler) and after liberation, confined its firing squads to arch-traitor Vidkun Quisling and a very few of his aides.
“All you’ve proven is that Cubans are bad Norwegians,” spat Raul.
We’ll eventually see if Iraqis are bad South Koreans.
Media wishing to interview Barry Farber, please contact email@example.com.