Posted by: Kevin | October 2, 2006

How to Fuck up an Occupation: A Primer for non-Nazis


In the early 1940’s the Nazi party of Germany wrote the book on how to fuck an occupation up.  Their unique combination ethnic cleansing, slavery and heavy handed arrogance helped to generate numerous resistance movements throughout Europe.  These resistance movements proved extremely useful to the Allies by providing intelligence and doing their best to sabotage Germany’s war efforts.


But what if you’re too squeamish for ethnic cleansing, slavery and wholesale depopulation?  How can you completely fuck up an occupation in these more enlightened times?  Thankfully, we have the administration of George Bush to provide the answers.


First, start with a little cleansing of your own people.  Ideological inflexibility is a key component in screwing things up.  Because when things are going down the tubes, you don’t want some malcontent questioning the wisdom of senior leadership.  The Bush administration gets it right here by appointing Jim O’Beirne to screen applicants for positions in the post-war Iraq. 

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade

 .…Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people…
Washington Post

Second, past success is the enemy of future failure.  Again O’Breine demonstrates his quality. 

Many of those chosen by O’Beirne’s office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was sent to reopen Baghdad‘s stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq‘s $13 billion budget, even though they didn’t have a background in accounting.
Washington Post

Third, manage propaganda.  To truly succeed at failure, the occupier must ensure that bad news is quashed at home but gets broadcast far and wide abroad.  It’s important to keep your own people in the dark for as long as possible, so that when they finally do learn the truth it will be too late.  The Bush administration has excelled in this department.  Critics from within the administration have been removed.  Critics from outside the administration have been marginalized.  All this so that 30-40% of the US public can comfortably maintain that our president is “staying the course”.  Meanwhile, the outside world has learned about Abu Ghraib, the torture of Iraqi prisoners and the coalition’s inability to stem the rising tide of sectarian violence. 



Fouth, ignore the Your Own Traditions.  Nothing can snatch victory from the defeat better than overwhelming public support.  In order to prevent this you need to do everything possible to alienate your constituents.  By trampling on civil liberties and using Torture the Bush administration has delivered a master stroke.  Now supporting them, means supporting an attempt to return the
US to policies discredited in the 50’s. 



Fifth, never, ever, change tactics.  No matter how successful your tactics are initially, you can assure failure simply by not changing.  Eventually the insurgents will solve your tactics and use them against you.  Additionally, don’t change your senior people or generals if they’re failing.  Place all responsibility for your failures on your critics.  This prevents a serious discussion of tactics.


The beauty of this primer is that it applies to more than just occupations.  Follow these five steps and you can guarantee the failure of virtually any enterprise.  Want to fial in business, finance or government?  Just follow these steps with a few minor adjustments.  Want to fail your family?  You can with just a few more minor adjustments.  It’s impossible to undervalue this gift for the Bush administration to the world.


End snark for a moment.   In the interest of fairness I’d recommend reading the following to learn about some individuals doing their best to buck the trend of failure in Iraq.

Lieutenant General David H Petraeus  Former Commander of the 101st Airborne

Kat – a contractor working in Iraq.  See also here.

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith.  Killed in the line of duty on April 4th 2003.

It is the waste of the efforts, and in some cases the lives, of these people and others like them that fuels my bitterness with the present administration.


Hat Tips

Washington Post article link came from Donklephant.
New York Times Book Review came from Sideways Mencken

Appologies for length and issues with font.



  1. Thanks for your Kudo’s Kevin, and your acknowledgement of those I’ve been speaking out for at the end of your commentary. I’d like to say that in my own opinion, that the “trend” of failure you describe is no trend at all. My experiences in Iraq have shown me that gaining success there is a very difficult row to hoe, particularly if you are fighting with intelligent insurgents who don’t care to see you succeed, and your media is more interested in your failures than your successes. We are fighting enemies who do not have the same taste for instant gratification that is common in the US, so they don’t mind fighting and dying for a few years if they believe we will lessen our efforts or leave entirely, They have nothing to lose by allowing us to focus on our own weaknesses. They have made every effort available to themselves to do so, and have even told us this directly. They know exactly where our press will focus their efforts, and they know exactly how to manipulate their own exposure in order to maximize the effect of their handiwork..

    On any given day in Iraqi, anywhere from between 5-15 people on average will be killed in insurgent related violence. Perhaps more if basic robbery and murders weren’t mixed into insurgent plans and could more easily be counted as insurgency related. Yet on any given day there are literally thousands of US, foreign, and Iraqi national contractors and their workers making progress in rebuilding or completing projects. While our work isn’t as quick and easy as blowing up a car and killing some people, it accomplishes more than is easily seen by the eye. While the press scrambles to focus their cameras on a pool of blood, thousands of others are going about their day’s work, creating the infrastructure that is allowing new businesses to open, and new jobs to be created. It is slow, dull, tedious work. Not the kind of thing that makes people take a second glance, turn on their TVs, or open up their newspapers. So you’re not going to find coverage on it, even though, in my opinion, it is our most valuable tool in fighting those who are daily killing Iraqis and Americans. And Kevin, over there, we’re not on the moon. We can get news, so we can see what you see, and we know you don’t see much of anything.

    It is quite necessary for people in the US to see the whole picture back in Iraq, and not just the bloody details of our failures, aka our enemies successes. That is because the people directly involved in Iraq are able to do so, in physical and psychological terms, largely because of their own perceived support they find back here in the States. During the past two years we have been able to watch that support fade considerably, even thought the direct consequences of the negative news you have seen here in the US have effected us far more in real terms than it has any of you remaining here.

    Whether you like it or not, the endless stream of negativity, combined with a total lack of positive coverage on accomplishments being made has really been a nasty meal for us to swallow. And there’s little excuse for it. It’s been a political pile of garbage, and there are actual lives at stake, which people just don’t seem to grasp.

    I lost most of the German side of my family as a result of Nazism. They fought and died with Germany. I’m a different animal, and I’ve put myself into this war with the intention of rebuilding what the politics of an animal has done to some mostly good people. We’re not simply putting up new buildings or rebuilding roads. We’re having to train people to do the work of running a country that hasn’t really existed for almost two decades.

    You’re welcome to your opinion, and I’m please you’ve expressed it so well and have been generous enough to point out me and my side of the story. But I do hope you will consider the possibility that there is more to this matter than the President or even Congress. This isn’t simply a political issue. And there is much more to be considered than what is written in the NYC or the Drudge report or Fox News. For my part of the story, which happens to be one of the biggest parts, you’ll have to dig far deeper than the mainstream media if you expect to learn the truth.

    In the end, it is what people here decide they are interested enough to learn about, or what their own common sense tells them they should look for beyond the mainstream media. That is the only way you will understand the complexities of the problems being faced in Iraq or the depths of the efforts being made to deal with them. Without knowledgeable people here in the US we simply cannot do our jobs there, no matter how successfully we complete our individual tasks.

    Thanks for your consideration and time.

  2. Kat,

    Thank you for stopping in at my humble blog and thank you for your comment. I guess I should clarify because this post probably came accross as a “let’s get the hell out of Iraq” type post. That’s not how I feel. I don’t support our leaders in part because I don’t htink they’re doing enough to support you. While I didn’t want us to go into Iraq, now that we’re there, I want us to do it right.

    To me that means getting enough boots on the ground in Iraq to better contain the sectarian violence. 5 – 15 a day doesn’t seem like a huge number but it adds up. If you add in the kidnappings/murders commited by Shia against Sunni or Sunni against Shia, that might not make it into the official statistics, it adds up quickly. If we can’t make Baghdad a safe city for all Iraqi’s then I don’t think we can win the peace. Which means Iraq gets split in three and any efforts we have made in the Shia and Sunni parts are for not.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that we aren’t getting the complete picture from the US news media. They are lazy and it’s much easier to report the top down picture than the bottoms up. But it’s wrong to downplay the political side of this issue. For three years Bush supporters have been equating loyal dissent with a lack of patriotism, criticism with treason. Iraq has been turned into a political tool by politicians, not news reporters. Now the Democrats are trying to use it as a tool in their arsenal. Both sides are wrong to do this and I would gladly support anyone who wants to look at this objectively (I’ve got my fingers crossed that McCain will be the guy).

    There is more to this than politics, as you point to. So I’d like to make a request, if you happen to check back here. Where can I go to find out more information about people like yourself? What information sources are available? What projects or individuals can I research in order to learn more about the good things going on over there? I don’t reach many people with this blog, but I’d be happy to highlight these stories.

    Thank you,

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