Keegan's alternate reality

When a distinguished historian gets basic facts wrong about adversaries in a global war, the rest of his analysis deserves closer scrutiny.  In an article today in the New York Sun, John Keegan, a leading military historian, attempts to re-cast the failure to defeat the enemy in Iraq with a new twist: we confused an "insurgency" with terrorism.

From Keegan's point of view, it's no good killing the so-called insurgents because it just made Iraqi citizens angrier at the Coalition for killing off - are you ready - Sunni Baathists of Saddam's regime who oppressed them in the first place. 

Discussion of the practice and theories of warfare certainly has its place, but rehashing deliberately vague and factually incorrect musings from the "who is really our enemy?" crowd serves only to divert attention from the miscues of those responsible for outcomes in war.

What is a particularly disturbing error is that he cites General John Keane talking about the subject of the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq during a speech in London, and refers to him as,
"The commander of American reinforcements to Iraq"
The last I heard, Gen. Keane had retired, and wasn't commanding anything, except maybe a desk as a member of FedBid's Board of Directors.

Keegan repeats Keane's argument about the need for counter-insurgency operations against a revitalized force of Saddam's Special Republican Guard and intelligence operatives.  This is a false construct as I noted last year.  Also, the layering of terrorist forces upon the resurgent Baathist regime was way overplayed, and was evident when the death of Al-Qaeda's commander in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ultimately did little to squelch the violence against Coalition forces and Iraqis alike.

And finally, Keegan says that it is important to crush the sectarian militias including the,
...the Mahdi army of the Sunni leader Moqtada al-Sadr in eastern Baghdad.

To mistake Tehran's man in Iraq as being a Sunni rather than the Shiite thug that he is, is either the result of poor fact checking or shows a basic misunderstanding of Middle Eastern Muslim sects, which for a man of Keegan's stature, seems highly unlikely.  Perhaps it was an honest editorial mistake.

Nevertheless, interested readers of the Global War on Terror and the Campaign in Iraq expect far more from one of our emminent historians.

Unfortunately, they will not only find errors in this article, but will also be subjected to assertions that simply reinforce popular myth and legend about our enemies.
When a distinguished historian gets basic facts wrong about adversaries in a global war, the rest of his analysis deserves closer scrutiny.  In an article today in the New York Sun, John Keegan, a leading military historian, attempts to re-cast the failure to defeat the enemy in Iraq with a new twist: we confused an "insurgency" with terrorism.

From Keegan's point of view, it's no good killing the so-called insurgents because it just made Iraqi citizens angrier at the Coalition for killing off - are you ready - Sunni Baathists of Saddam's regime who oppressed them in the first place. 

Discussion of the practice and theories of warfare certainly has its place, but rehashing deliberately vague and factually incorrect musings from the "who is really our enemy?" crowd serves only to divert attention from the miscues of those responsible for outcomes in war.

What is a particularly disturbing error is that he cites General John Keane talking about the subject of the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq during a speech in London, and refers to him as,
"The commander of American reinforcements to Iraq"
The last I heard, Gen. Keane had retired, and wasn't commanding anything, except maybe a desk as a member of FedBid's Board of Directors.

Keegan repeats Keane's argument about the need for counter-insurgency operations against a revitalized force of Saddam's Special Republican Guard and intelligence operatives.  This is a false construct as I noted last year.  Also, the layering of terrorist forces upon the resurgent Baathist regime was way overplayed, and was evident when the death of Al-Qaeda's commander in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ultimately did little to squelch the violence against Coalition forces and Iraqis alike.

And finally, Keegan says that it is important to crush the sectarian militias including the,
...the Mahdi army of the Sunni leader Moqtada al-Sadr in eastern Baghdad.

To mistake Tehran's man in Iraq as being a Sunni rather than the Shiite thug that he is, is either the result of poor fact checking or shows a basic misunderstanding of Middle Eastern Muslim sects, which for a man of Keegan's stature, seems highly unlikely.  Perhaps it was an honest editorial mistake.

Nevertheless, interested readers of the Global War on Terror and the Campaign in Iraq expect far more from one of our emminent historians.

Unfortunately, they will not only find errors in this article, but will also be subjected to assertions that simply reinforce popular myth and legend about our enemies.