The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Isn’t this what friends are for?

January 11, 2006

You know you’re in a “special relationship” when your partner feels free to offer frank criticism.

As reported in today’s Washington Post, the Bush administration has now found that out:

A senior British officer has written a scathing critique of the U.S. Army and its performance in Iraq, accusing it of cultural ignorance, moralistic self-righteousness, unproductive micromanagement and unwarranted optimism there.

British Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, former deputy commander of a program to train the Iraqi military, has penned a “candid” critique in the U.S. Army publication, Military Review (December 2005). The pdf is here.

There is some very tough critique: the cultural insensitivity “arguably amounted to institutional racism,” he writes.

And there’s much more:

…the Army’s can-do spirit, he wrote, encouraged a “damaging optimism” that interfered with realistic assessments of the situation in Iraq.

“Such an ethos is unhelpful if it discourages junior commanders from reporting unwelcome news up the chain of command,” Aylwin-Foster says. A pervasive sense of righteousness or moral outrage, he adds, further distorted military judgments, especially in the handling of fighting in Fallujah.

Read the entire Post article, which includes some context as well of criticisms of the British author’s piece, but if you’re really interested, definitely look at the original article as well.

If the Army can take this kind of heat, you would think the chef-in-chief could too…but no, he’s in Louisville today talking about the “war on terror” to a non-public audience (tickets were distributed by local Republicans and business elites).

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.