You Go to War With the Army You Have; Not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
That is what former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said during a town hall meeting with American soldiers at Camp Buehring in Kuwait – on Dec. 8 2004 – when it had become very apparent that the chest-thumping and jingoism by the American/British-led “Coalition of the Willing” during the invasion of Iraq was totally miscalculated.
The quote was also admission, maybe an inadvertently candid one, of a Coalition Army ill-prepared to take on a mission they were supposed to be ready for but were not as evidenced by their inability to avoid the roadside IEDs planted by the Iraqi insurgents.
Finally, the quote was reflection of a coalition government that ignored all the warnings from critics and supporters alike; that the coalition forces were not wholly prepared for the insurgency that mushroomed after the initial airstrike had degraded the Iraqi Army.
Almost 15 years after the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has yet to recover from a war that for all intents and purposes, birthed the various mutations of resistance America (and the west) continue to see in the Middle East – including the murderous ISIS.
Simply put, America is still paying for what turned out to be a huge blunder.
With Kenya’s General Elections now on the horizon, the argument by the incumbent Jubilee Coalition and its supporters harkens back to Donald Rumsfeld’s hubristic and stubborn comment:
“Kenyans have what they have in their electoral body IEBC – its incompetence and partisanship notwithstanding. The country will go to the polls with the electoral body (IEBC) it has, not the one it wants or wishes it could have.”
Obviously there is an element of hyperbole in the comparisons between America’s/UK’s invasion of Iraq and IEBC’s execution of Kenya’s up-coming elections. However, I believe that there are also startling similarities between the mindset that drove and is driving the “go/no-go” decision in either scenarios – Invasion of Iraq and 2013 Elections in Kenya (and its 2007 elections).
Like the violent aftermath of the ill-prepared Coalition Army’s ill-advised invasion of Iraq, Kenyans saw in 2007, the aftermath of an ill-prepared execution of an election. The late Simon Kivuiti and the incompetent and compromised Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) plunged the country into a post-election violence that took the lives of thousands and disrupted that of hundreds of thousands more.
Similarly, Kenyans saw in 2013, the aftermath of a corrupt and compromised execution of an election by the Issack Hassan-led IEBC.
Now the 2017 Elections are far along on their way down the well-worn path of incompetence, corruption and executive interference of yet another general election not to mention the equally forceful and relentless pushback by a dogged opposition.
Which election history will Kenyans see repeat itself?
2007 or 2013?