April 18, 2006
Let the Swift-Boating of the Generals Begin
We live in low, dishonest times, where spurious charges come fast and furious daily, but few can trump the cheapness of the recent attacks directed at some of the retired Generals that recently came out against Don Rumsfeld's stewardship of the war effort. Witness, for instance, Glenn Reynolds approvingly linking to this treatment from Judith Klinghoffer:
The American army in Iraq does not have a single general with enough guts to respond to the president's question with "depends on what you want us to do?" Sorry, guys, civil control of the military is not our problem. Gutless military leadership is.
To which Glenn comments: "Ouch". Ouch what? That someone sitting at the Political Science Department of Rutgers has the gall to speak of these men as "gutless"? Critics like these are not fit to shine, say, Major General Swannack's boots, let alone call him "gutless". It was the 82nd Airborne, after all, under the command of Charles Swannack, that took the lead on some of the most critical missions of the Iraq War, like establishing a training post for both Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps under very difficult conditions in Ramadi around September of 2003. In addition, the 82nd was involved in some of the most difficult battles of the Iraq war, like that of Fallujah, in case anyone is keeping score, as we scandalously go about accusing people of being cowards. From a rapporteur's note of an appearance by Swannack at the Washington Insititute for Near East Policy:
Like other coalition forces, the 82nd Airborne had to deal with insurgent attacks on a daily basis, often involving AK-47 and RPK rifle fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The insurgents also attacked coalition positions with mortar fire and rockets; U.S. troops used precision artillery strikes in retaliation. Not even aircraft were safe; several coalition helicopters were shot down in the Fallujah area by surface-to-air missiles. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) proved particularly dangerous; they are inexpensive to make, easy to conceal, and can be detonated remotely, allowing the attackers to escape. The most difficult of these devices are vehicle-borne IEDs. Even shooting the drivers before they reach their targets may not prevent them from accomplishing their objective. In addition, recurring attacks on military convoys led the 82nd Airborne to reinforce its vehicles. Steel plating was added to the doors of Humvees, and Kevlar blankets were used to line the floors. When the division was deployed out of Iraq, it left this material behind for the relieving unit. Surgical combat operations were the hallmark of the 82nd Airborne, which conducted over 600 such actions. These operations are very different in scope and technique from conventional warfare. Through them, the division was able to capture 3,800 individuals, including 37 high-value targets and 50 foreign fighters.
Indeed, Swannack personally escaped injury, when the convoy he was traveling in was attacked in Fallujah. Remember, all of you now, Judith Klinghoffer has described the man who led these men into battle, on the ground in Iraq under perilous circumstances, as being "gutless." Incroyable mais vrai, as the French say!
But there's more, much more. Let us not forget Major General Batiste, who commanded the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq from 2004-2005. The U.S. First Infantry Division is very storied indeed, the oldest continuously serving division in the U.S. Army. The 1st "successfully fought battles against Iraqi insurgents in Baquba, Najaf, and Samarra and joined the Marines in the second successful assault on Falluja" (see here). Many of these campaigns occurred under General Batiste's leadership, causing him doubtless frequently to grieve when troops under his command died. "Gutless" leadership, per Klinghoffer. Again, critics who dare to question these men's guts are not fit to shine their shoes, let alone castigate them for cowardice.
To hear two and three star generals whine that Rumsfeld is too intimidating causes one to ask who else can so easily intimidate them? Are we talking perhaps of the insurgents, Ahmadinejad, Assad Fils, the North Korean or China? Imagine being a soldier who has served under the command of so easily intimidated a general.
"Imagine being a soldier who has served under the command of so easily intimidated a general."
Stop and think about that sentence for a second of two.
To which Glenn Reynolds adds:
If things were so bad before, they should have resigned in protest instead of complaining publicly once they were safely in retirement and, in some cases, had books to promote.
How disgusting. These Generals are not "whining" because Rumsfeld is "too intimidating". That's prima facie absurd. They're up in arms because they were too often facing conditions or fighting an enemy materially different than the one that was war-gamed, and to add insult to injury, Rumsfeld has often been too stubborn to make serious adjustments that run against the grain of his utopic transformationalist nostrums.
Regardless, the reasons they didn't resign in protest before are many. Because they have been wrestling with their consciences for years now, because they believe in this mission, because they wanted and still want to see it through, because they felt duty-bound to do so at the time they were leading their men into battle. Make no mistake, these are men of real character, in stark contrast to those who would so breezily impugn their motives. Glenn might have book promotion on his mind of late, but it is very low indeed to describe men like Swannack and Batiste as waiting until they were "safely in retirement" to come out and then intimate, wink-wink, that they might cash in on their criticisms of Rumsfeld, just because Zinni or such has a book out. I mean, General Batiste passed up a third star rather than continue to serve under Don Rumsfeld's command.
Doesn't this speak volumes? As he explained on Diane Sawyer's show:
MS. SAWYER: But this raises a question, General, about speaking out now now that you're retired and not speaking out then when you were on active duty, as the historian just said to us, when you were participating in the plans. Why not speak out then if you felt so strongly?
GEN. BATISTE: Diane, for the past three years I've been commanding a division, forward deployed in Germany with soldiers in Kosovo, Turkey and Iraq. I had my plate full. I was focused on winning this operation. Now, back in the Pentagon, four or five years ago, I was a one-star general, and believe me, no one was going to listen.
MS. SAWYER: Well, but do you regret now looking back you didn't speak out? Do you think you should have done it anyway?
GEN. BATISTE: I have no regrets. I worked within the system. Within the military culture, you have a chain of command. You report to people. You can express differences. But at the point of decision, you have two options: you either salute and execute or you get out. And I chose to stay within the system and make it happen.
Batiste chose to stand and fight, to the best of his abilities where the command often didn't want to listen to his views, and now people like Glenn and Klinghoffer cheaply piss on him. If I sound angry and revolted, well, it's because I am.
There are also the varied straw-men being trotted out that these are but disgruntled Generals who are up in arms about Rummy's transformation initiatives, or that this is all about more boots on the ground that we don't have, or that they have some political agenda (Zinni some Arabist Clintonite buffoon, in this narrative), and so on. But this is hogwash. Look, there are two main issues here. Why did these Generals come out now? And why?
Why now? I believe part of the reason is the publication of Cobra II, which in painstaking detail spells out some of the collossal errors of judgment the civilian leadership of the Pentagon made in Iraq (aided by some of the senior brass like the too supine (Dick Myers), or the too dismissive of post war planning (Tommy Franks)). This detailed exposition of the massive missteps committed helped precipitate something of a bursting point, I suspect, rendering memories fresher and the continuing perils to the mission more real, and when added to Zinni's call for Rumsfeld's resignation on Meet the Press a few weeks back, and Eaton's NYT op-ed being published around the same time, four more Generals (not counting Wes Clark, lest I too easily tee up another straw man) decided they just couldn't take it any more and had to raise their concerns in public. But make no mistake, these concerns have been around for years already, and finally reached a boiling point over these past weeks. From a Washington Post article way back in May of 2004:
Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."
Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.
"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in." ..Some officers say the place to begin restructuring U.S. policy is by ousting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom they see as responsible for a series of strategic and tactical blunders over the past year. Several of those interviewed said a profound anger is building within the Army at Rumsfeld and those around him...
...Asked who was to blame, this general pointed directly at Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. "I do not believe we had a clearly defined war strategy, end state and exit strategy before we commenced our invasion," he said. "Had someone like Colin Powell been the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], he would not have agreed to send troops without a clear exit strategy. The current OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] refused to listen or adhere to military advice."
Like several other officers interviewed for this report, this general spoke only on the condition that his name not be used. One reason for this is that some of these officers deal frequently with the senior Pentagon civilian officials they are criticizing, and some remain dependent on top officials to approve their current efforts and future promotions. Also, some say they believe that Rumsfeld and other top civilians punish public dissent...
...One Pentagon consultant said that officials with whom he works on Iraq policy continue to put on a happy face publicly, but privately are grim about the situation in Baghdad. When it comes to discussions of the administration's Iraq policy, he said, "It's 'Dead Man Walking.' "
The worried generals and colonels are simply beginning to say what experts outside the military have been saying for weeks. Even if adjustments in troop presence and goals help the United States prevail, it will not happen soon, several of those interviewed said. The United States is likely to be fighting in Iraq for at least another five years, said an Army officer who served there. "We'll be taking casualties," he warned, during that entire time.
Tolerance of the situation in Iraq also appears to be declining within the U.S. military. Especially among career Army officers, an extraordinary anger is building at Rumsfeld and his top advisers. "Like a lot of senior Army guys, I'm quite angry" with Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration, the young general said. He listed two reasons. "One is, I think they are going to break the Army." But what really incites him, he said, is, "I don't think they care." Jeff Smith, a former general counsel of the CIA who has close ties to many senior officers, said, "Some of my friends in the military are exceedingly angry." In the Army, he said, "It's pretty bitter."
Retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew, a frequent Pentagon consultant, said, "The people in the military are mad as hell." He said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, should be fired. A spokesman for Myers declined to comment.
A Special Forces officer aimed higher, saying that "Rumsfeld needs to go, as does Wolfowitz." Asked about such antagonism, Wolfowitz said, "I wish they'd have the -- whatever it takes -- to come tell me to my face."
Klinghoffer and Reynolds are, in a way, channeling Wolfowitz (a man incidentally I respect, in some ways, more than many of the dimmer neo-cons) as saying the Generals are "gutless" cowards because they didn't raise their concerns more loudly or fall on their swords and resign. But these men felt a sense of duty, born of decades of service, to stand and fight and see the mission through. They also knew that Rumsfeld had surrounded himself with compliant 'team-players' (read: yes men, if well intentioned ones) like Dick Myers (and now increasingly Pete Pace), the better to block attempts to fundamentally reappraise the war strategy Rumsfeld had put together with Tommy Franks (one that involved little input from other hugely qualified brass, and thus more serious attention to post-war planning). My point? They figured that too often their efforts to register protests might prove futile regardless. Most important, I suspect, they were keenly aware of respecting civilian supremacy of the armed forces, which acted as a powerful brake to mute their airing of frustrations in the too public open, when private dissent reaped few results. And so they kept on keeping on, retaking towns like Fallujah, making the best of a very difficult situation on the ground. Can we fault them the human tendency, on the ground leading men into battle, to make the best of a horrid situation and try to make it better? I suspect if they had quit back then, as Glenn suggests today, he would hardly have been throwing laurels at their feet for their principle and courage back then, eh? No, he'd be attacking them for cowardice and failure of will, likely.
But enough about why now, what about why generally? What has these Generals so up in arms? Many things, really, but the epilogue to Cobra II puts it best, in describing "five grievous errors":
They underestimated their opponent and failed to understand the welter of ethnic groups and tribes that is Iraq. They did not bring the right tools to the fight and put too much confidence in technology. They failed to adapt to developments on the ground and remained wedded to their prewar analysis even after Iraqis showed their penchant for guerrilla tactics in the first days of the war. They presided over a system in which differing military and political perspectives were discouraged. Finally, they turned their back on the nation-building lessons from the Balkans and other crisis zones and fashioned a plan that unrealistically sought to shift much of the burden onto a defeated and ethnically diverse population and allied nations that were enormously ambivalent about the invasion. (Cobra II, p. 497)
I write all this with pain in my heart and deep sadness. I supported this war, and still believe, hoping against hope, that it can be won. But we are at a perilous juncture. We have a stubborn, spent force running the Pentagon, a man who is immensely discredited, and not only in chi-chi quarters of the 8th arrondissment, Mayfair and Manhattan, but also where it matters most--among many of the troops and officers under his own command, where they believe he has and is violating basic principles of war doctrine, and with alarming frequency. Unlike Dick Holbrooke, I disagree many other officers will now come out. Bush's real purpose in issuing rapid support of Rumsfeld from Camp David on Friday (reiterated quite vociferously today) was to issue a shot across the bow to other senior officers considering going public that the Commander in Chief was going to stand by his man. This will serve to silence many Generals that care deeply about ensuring civilian control of the military (as they, of course, should). This is particularly true as many of these Generals have been genuinely tortured by the real dangers presented, even when they are retired, of challenging the primacy of civilian authority over the military, even indirectly by simply criticizing war tactics rather than the principle itself. I cannot imagine how difficult a decision it was for people like Batiste and Swannack and Newbold to go public with their criticisms. Regardless, Bush's salvo will likely keep the mutiny from turning into a full-blown mega-revolt. This is good, at least in the context of the future of military-civilian relations, as this WaPo editorial points out.
But Bush's inability to relieve Rumsfeld of his duties is deeply problematic for the future prosecution of the war effort. At a time when Bosnia-style protection of Sunni and Shi'a being ethnically cleansed (there are 65,000 internally displaced in Iraq and counting) will become more and more critical, we have a Defense Secretary who doesn't care a whit about nation-building. At a time when a complex counter-insurgency needs to be waged, we have a man who still can barely let the "I" word pass his lips. At a time when a less conservative force posture is needed, and more troops need to be shifted primarily to secure the capital and Anbar (where almost 50 Americans have died this month so far, despite the nonsense you read that the Sunni insurgency is defeated), we have a Secretary who is worried about too much Iraq "dependency" on Americans (first you establish basic order Mr. Rumsfeld, then you worry about "dependency").
But, most tragic, we have a President too meek and strategically short-sighted to see the deep problems that Rumsfeld continues to present, and we have in Cheney a changed man who might have appreciated this many years back when he served the President's father, so that he could counsel the current occupant of the Oval Office to relieve Rumsfeld, but today alas appears incapable of giving the President such wise counsel. Instead it's a bunker-mentality, where the criticism of the Generals is seen as a direct challenge to POTUS, and so it's always a default posture of 'circle the wagons'. I understand this basic human instinct, and I understand too the real bonds that Bush has formed with Rumsfeld through the 9/11 attacks, and now two wars (I recall Rumsfeld, as portions of the Pentagon lay in ruins, helping the injured on the grounds of the very department he runs. Yes, these have been historic, painful, difficult years).
So I understand that there is much blame to go around, whether to war supporters like me, to the CIA, to the NSC, to State, as well as Defense, and many other precincts besides. But, amidst all this, I feel deeply that, more than any other group of policymakers, the civilian leadership at DoD has failed us, and replacing Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith didn't fix the problem. The problem is at the very top of the Pentagon, it is Don Rumsfeld, and if the President cannot replace him, he will no longer be able to count on any real support from conservatives like me who support this war still, and knew Kerry would scale us back too precipitously, but cannot countenance anymore the total lack of accountability and the lack of strategic leadership emitting from the White House. We too have reached our bursting-point. Bush must somehow realize the depth of the problem and crisis of confidence his keeping Rumsfeld on board is causing the armed forces under his command and the public.
As David Broder reports:
Several months ago, when Rep. John Murtha, the Marine Corps veteran and longtime Democratic advocate for military preparedness, spoke out on the Iraq war, I received an interesting phone call from the Pentagon. When Murtha advocated a fundamental reassessment of American strategy in the war, including an early redeployment of U.S. troops to neighboring countries, I noted that he had spent many hours visiting wounded veterans of that war at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals. A warmhearted, emotional man, Murtha was responding, I suggested, to what he had experienced in those hospital wards.
The unsolicited caller from the Pentagon identified himself by name and rank, then said, "This is a private call. I am not speaking officially. But I read your column, and I think it is important for you to know that Jack Murtha knows us very well and speaks for many of us."
I thanked him and said, "I get the message." Don't dismiss Murtha's misgivings as just sympathy for the wounded. He has allies in the uniformed military who cannot speak out themselves.
I've thought back to that conversation as a succession of retired generals have come forward in the past few weeks to express their disagreement and dismay at the conduct of the war and to call for the resignation of its architect, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Seeing these senior officers take this public stand is unprecedented; even in Vietnam, with all the misgivings among the fighting men, we saw no such open defiance...
...Rumsfeld and President Bush insist that the manpower and strategy have been exactly what the commanders in the field thought best, but now general after general is speaking out to challenge that claim. The situation cries out for serious congressional oversight and examination; hearings are needed as soon as Congress returns. These charges have to be answered convincingly -- or Rumsfeld has to go.
Our Congress is a supine and pitiable entity, in the main. Congressional oversight sounds great, but it's likely no solution, really, even if the Democrats were to retake control. What is needed is very simple. Rumsfeld has become a totally discredited figure and needs to go. We can desparately hope that deep down, despite his brave face on Rush Limbaugh last night, he is beginning to understand this. After all, it's one of the better known Rumsfeld's Rules: "Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the president and do wonders for your performance." Mr. Rumsfeld, by all accounts in person, is a decent, caring, patriotic man. I harbor no ill will to him, not that he would care if I did.
But he's helped make an abject bungle of the Iraq War. He must face this reality, and grapple with it honestly however painful it is, and draw the obvious conclusion. To preserve any semblance of accountability in this government, he must step aside and allow new blood to take over the helm of this war effort for the remainder of this President's term, for the good of the country, for the good of the war effort, and to allow desparately needed fresh-thinking into the building. The alternative is detiorating civilian-military relations, a barely concealed deep anger of his failed leadership among many of the forces under his command, and a steadying intensification of pressure on the White House to abandon Iraq (only one in four Americans think the war can still be won, according to recent polls).
As Chuck Hagel put it today: "The concern I’ve had is, at a very dangerous time, (the) secretary of defense does not command the respect and confidence of our men and women in uniform...There is a real question about his capacity to lead at this critical time..." The time has come. Rumsfeld must go. Without delay. This has become much bigger than anyone man and bureaucratic gotcha. Major national interests are directly at play, both domestically and abroad. Who can carry this message to the President, and have him listen? No one, it seems, and what a profound pity that is. But at least let us not be silent when cheap critics rush to attack the courage of the men charged with prosecuting the war on our behalf in theater these past years. It's too insulting and obnoxious to them, and we shouldn't let it pass without comment.
MORE: Glenn writes:
Greg Djerejian -- whose hostility toward Rumsfeld is intense these days -- thinks I'm unfair to the generals by linking this. Yes, they've served in combat. But as JFK noted in Profiles in Courage, physical courage is far more common than political courage, and it is their political courage that is in question here.
I keep hearing people say that Rumsfeld must go, but the argument about what, exactly, we should be doing instead is less clear, and the dump-Rumsfeld movement seems to me to be more about internal Pentagon politics, and about giving former war supporters political cover for changing their views, than about Rumsfeld himself. I'm entirely open to hearing suggestions about what we should be doing differently, but when those suggestions always seem to turn into Bush-bashing, or in this case proxy-Bush-bashing, I tend to tune out.
Glenn tends to tune a lot out these days, I'd think. Recently he linked to some 'good news' from Iraq that featured some B.S. about beauty pageants in Baghdad, whilst remaining mute about dozens of American soldiers dead in Anbar this month, tens of thousands of Iraqis internally displaced due to sectarian discord, and the failure of U.S. forces to even provide for basic order in Baghdad, which must be accomplished, or else Iraq will disintegrate. He thinks the biggest problem in Iraq is corruption, not a country careening towards civil war, or a still resilient insurgency. Corruption is lousy Glenn, and none of us like it, but anyone who thinks that's the biggest problem in Iraq now is just totally divorced from reality.
Look, if I thought it would make a difference, I'd buy Glenn Cobra II, and FedEx it to his faculty office down in Tennessee, all on my dime. But it wouldn't make one iota of difference, I fear. Glenn can claim all he wants people like me haven't explained what a new Defense Secretary would bring to the table. That's just not true, but Glenn simply doesn't want to hear it, and like the torture issue, decides to "tune out". He's made up his mind: Rummy good, and Rummy-dissent is but Kos commenter-style proxy-bashing of POTUS. It's not serious.
Meantime, read Tom Friedman today, who sounds a lot like B.D. of late:
If these are our only choices, which would you rather have: a nuclear-armed Iran or an attack on Iran's nuclear sites that is carried out and sold to the world by the Bush national security team, with Don Rumsfeld at the Pentagon's helm?
I'd rather live with a nuclear Iran.
While I know the right thing is to keep all our options open, I have zero confidence in this administration's ability to manage a complex military strike against Iran, let alone the military and diplomatic aftershocks.
As someone who believed — and still believes — in the importance of getting Iraq right, the level of incompetence that the Bush team has displayed in Iraq, and its refusal to acknowledge any mistakes or remove those who made them, make it impossible to support this administration in any offensive military action against Iran.
I look at the Bush national security officials much the way I look at drunken drivers. I just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. Sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now — or take a taxi. Dial 1-800-NATO-CHARGE-A-RIDE. You will not be driving alone. Not with my car.
If ours were a parliamentary democracy, the entire Bush team would be out of office by now, and deservedly so. In Iraq, the president was supposed to lead, manage and hold subordinates accountable, and he did not. Condoleezza Rice was supposed to coordinate, and she did not. Donald Rumsfeld was supposed to listen, and he did not. But ours is not a parliamentary system, and while some may feel as if this administration's over, it isn't. So what to do? We can't just take a foreign policy timeout.
At a minimum, a change must be made at the Pentagon. Mr. Rumsfeld paints himself as a concerned secretary, ready to give our generals in Iraq whatever troops they ask for, but they just haven't asked. This is hogwash, but even if the generals didn't ask, the relevant question, Mr. Rumsfeld, is: What did you ask them?
The main reason Mr. Rumsfeld should leave now is because we can't have a credible diplomatic or military option vis-à-vis Iran when so many people feel, as I do, that in a choice between another Rumsfeld-led confrontation and just letting Iran get nukes and living with it, we should opt for the latter...
...It may be that learning to live with a nuclear Iran is the wisest thing under any circumstances. But it would be nice to have a choice. It would be nice to have the option of a diplomatic deal to end Iran's nuclear program — but that will come only with a credible threat of force. Yet we will not have the support at home or abroad for that threat as long as Don Rumsfeld leads the Pentagon. No one in their right mind would follow this man into another confrontation — and that is a real strategic liability.
Yes, Don Rumsfeld has become a "real strategic liability" as serious foreign policy experts from Boston to Washington, from LA to San Francisco, from Houston to Chicago, well realize. Friedman (and B.D.) might feel differently if Ahmadi-Nejad were actually in a position to wield a weapon by the end of Bush's term (which I don't think is at all likely) and so bite the bullet, and consider military action, even with Rummy at the helm. But, make no mistake, having spoiled goods running the Pentagon at this critical time is a real problem, not only in Iraq, but for other looming crises too. But Glenn doesn't seem to be bothered much. That's his business, and he's entitled to his views. But he's just way wrong on this one. Friedman is absolutely correct, Rumsfeld has become a major strategic liability. Too bad the Decider-in Chief, who sounded more like a cantankerous, indignant child yesterday, than a serious Commander in Chief concerned about the strategic position of this country, doesn't get this. And too bad Glenn doesn't either.
Posted by Gregory at April 18, 2006 05:01 PM
Gah, just when graduation is around the corner, your major seems great, you have people like Klinghoffer come out and take a cheap shot. Just to claify, that is the Department of Political Science in Camden, not New Brunswick, the better of the three PoliSci departments .
I didn't support the war, and now that we're in Iraq I frankly have no idea of the best way to proceed. However, it seems unfair to lay so much blame on Rumsfeld, when the "military" part of the war actually went exceedingly well. We overthrew Saddam very quickly and with relatively minimal bloodshed. Rumsfeld, as the head of the Defense Department, has to get great credit for that accomplishment.
The post-war period, however, really isn't (or shouldn't have been, at least) a Defense Department responsibility. Where is the blame for Colin Powell, or Condi Rice, either of whom (as Secretary of State) would bear more of the role in "nation-building," it seems to me?
Moreover, although your post certainly doesn't whitewash Bush's fault in this, really I think that it's remarkable that the Bush Administration has set itself up so that the public and press almost assume that Bush isn't responsible for anything. If something goes wrong with the war, it's the fault of the Defense Secretary. If something goes wrong with hurricane relief, it's the fault of the Homeland Security director. But it's somehow never Bush's fault.
I realize that, to some degree, Bush can't actually be blamed for the day-to-day failures of government. However, it is his Administration, and in a somewhat analogous situation I seem to recall Jane Byrne being defeated in an election for Mayor of Chicago because of her administration's incompetent response to a snowstorm.
Ultimately, the decision to go to war is on Bush, not on anyone else -- even the neocons who advocated the war. From my perspective, it's not surprising that there have been many tactical or strategic blunders since the war began. That's what happens in war, or in any other complex undertaking. The problem isn't the way the war has been or is being fought, but rather that we chose to open up this Pandora's Box to begin with.
By 2004, it was apparent to anyone who cared to look, that Rumsfeld was making serious and stubborn mistakes.
In that election year, you supported the man who hired him, and who refused to accept his resignation after Abu Ghraib.
Many moderates warned that a vote for Bush in 2004 was a vote for "more of the same." You voted for precisely that. And Rumsfeld's continued employment is Exhibit A of what "more of the same" means.
> The post-war period, however, really isn't (or shouldn't have been, at least) a Defense Department responsibility.
The chance of us ever reaching any "post-war" period seem to be fading..
Yeah, (character) assassination has always been the Soviets´ refutation technique of choice: in that as in many others ways the Pentagon propagandists have been faithful to the traditions of their totalitarian mentors… But I’m willing to bet a big bucket of deepfried chicken hawks that this time around no amount of Stalinist “swiftboating” will help the PR gurus of the Neo-Conmintern.
Narrow-minded Marxist ideologues be they communists or “neo-conservatives” have always despised the “internal contradictions” of traditional Western rationality (rooted in Europe´s Christian and secular Classical traditions) which they believe to be “old-fashioned” and “formal” (sic). Just like their role model comrade Lenin, these sophisticated thugs prefer the joys “dialectical creativity” even when this means pursuing high policies over the dead bodies of hundreds of thousands of disposable Arab and Muslim peasants… as another Neocon Israeli idol once said: “you simply can’t cook a good omelet without cracking a few eggs”!
But, to use their own vocab of choice, the Neocons themselves are now faced with the “internal contradictions” of their misguided Mideast policy based on a blind belief in accelerated democratization at gunpoint coupled with a systematic scorn of Arab and Islamic public opinion…
Like him or not, Saddam Hussein was a truly modernist, Westernized Arab head of state who protected women’s rights and enforced affirmative action programs in favor of Iraq’s tiny Christian minority. President Reagan and “Old Europe’s” foreign policy establishment both viewed the Iraqi Baath party essentially as a strong secular bulwark against both Persian-Khomeinist fundamentalism and Wahhabi-Afghan terrorism.
The Israelis and Washington’s Neocons thought otherwise: now US marines and Israeli civilians have to deal with the rise of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) which their own governments have deliberately brought to power…
A Smear of a Different Color.
Anytime we listen to folks who like be photographed dressed up with guns surrounded by their acolytes we run the risk of butting our heads into one kind of wall or another.
So lets leave the relative merits of the arguments advanced by Pr. Reynolds aside for the moment and consider "dress-up" at a later date.
The generals do deserve to be castigated. But the shame belongs to others, not them. As Kevin Drum points out, it is the job of civilian leadership to determine policy. Generals are welcome to challenge such policies in private or in public after they retire.
Unfortunately, Belgravia Dispatch led credence to the smears propogated by lesser lights with louder voices when Shinseki and others were being denounced by President Bush proxies. The campaign against fact is not new and there is very little to be gained by attempting to dissuade the gullible from running back into the burning building. For many the end of the world is a dream come true.
Fortunately, bankers and industrialists are likely to carry the day. We should see the current conflict for what it is, a badly managed attempt to seize the oil and telecommunications marker in the ME through an act of piracy.
We do need to better understand the complexities of our dependency on Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Large amounts of cash enter their coffers. Western economies depend on getting some of that back and too often it returns as the result of armaments sales. Then we all whine about the militarization of the ME.
Folks in Rwanda were able to organize large scale massacres with little more than a few Stingers, some radio transmitters, plenty of hatchets and a deep coursing well of hate. Where there's a will to genocide, there's always a way.
I recall one fellow at work remarking on the noticeably uncut hair of a capable, young intern called the hairstyle:'The most expensive haircut he'd never seen."
We're a long way from paying a serious price for our current follies. But the short term pain, particularly for those who defend the West with their blood, has been needlessly intense.
Identity politics, labels and grinding axes is fine on sunny days. Should real clouds appear, we'll need to put aside our toys and our differences and tackle the matters at hand.
"knew Kerry would scale us back too precipitously..."
Greg, do you have a link into Kerry' head, or do you mean "think" in place of "knew"?
One reason I suspect you are so frustrated is that the parallels between Afghanistan ( Russia ) and Iraq ( US ) invasions are becoming frightening, in both cases a bogged down battle against an insurgency which rapidly becomes unwinnable.
But the fallout from such a war is massive, from a population which is less positive to a tarnished international reputation and reduced international "clout" to conflict between the military and it's governance ( not open but internal ).
These are very serious problems and I find it tough to believe that any Secretary of Defence could keep up this pace for 5+ years, let alone one is 72 and micro manages like Rumsfeld.
One of the more interesting books I've read was "Clash of Titans" about the German->Russian battles in WW2, it struck me when reading it that initially Stalin micro managed and Hitler was high level, but relatively quickly the opposite became the case, my personal take was that you could track the success of these two protaganists by the level of MicroMgmt of the respective leaderships.
I'm usually pretty derisive of your monofocus on Rumsfield- not because he hasn't failed, but because the failure is so much larger and more systematic than him or any one man - but this was an eloquent post, and you laid out some good stuff on the military's anger, and what the hell, Rumsfield going might help us leave Iraq more quickly, so go for it. This was a great and heartfelt post and I wouldn't want to argue with its substance, as far as it goes.
You know that it was the President's fault.
You know the President picked this guy because he saw all of his faults as virtues.
You know that although Rumsfield screwed it up, no one else would have done it much better. 350,000 soldiers might have helped, but 350,000 soldiers didn't exist. So the war never would have happened under Shinsheki's estimate.
Which should have been a warning sign that the war never should have happened. We weren't really prepared to pay for it under honest descriptions and honest assessments. We still aren't, and by not being prepared to pay the principal we will pay triple the interest.
I'm just hoping that you're not under the illusion that things will get better when Rumsfield goes, Greg.
BTW: it's also not just Rumsfield, but the entire DoD. Rumsfield was enabled by hundreds of chickenhawks down there with, if you can believe it, even more contempt for the rest of the government than himself. The best thing you could do for this country is save $100 billion a year on defense by leaving the troops pay the same, numbers the same, benefits the same, procurement budgets unchanged, R & D unchanged - but fire every other guy stuck behind a computer making trouble at the DoD. About one million people work in the defense bureaucracy, as I understand. How small could we get that number?
Oh please. Glenn Reynolds is hardly the worst of them. And, no, he will not retract, I will guarantee that. But you are right on the swift-boating. Just today, Rush Limbaugh told his 20 million listeners that the generals were guilty of mutiny and sedition. That's right. Here he is quoting, approvingly, the odious Tony Blankley of the Washington Times:
"Consider two hypothetical situations. In the first, an Army general officer in a theater of war decides by himself that he strongly disagrees with the orders of the secretary of defense. He resigns his commission, returns to private life and speaks out vigorously against both the policy and the secretary of defense.
"In example two, the top 100 generals in the Army military chain of command secretly agree among themselves to retire and speak out each one day after the other. In example one, above, unambiguously, the general has behaved lawfully. In example two, an arguable case could be made that something in the nature of a mutinous sedition has occurred in violation of Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military procedure. When does an expanded version of the simple honesty and legality of the first example cross over into grounds for a court martial? More specifically, can a series of lawful resignations turn into a mutiny? And if they are agreed upon in advance, have the agreeing generals formed a felonious conspiracy to make a mutiny?"
These are sick times we live in.
Your monofocus on getting rid of Rumsfeld is as always out of hand. Why you can't understand that replacing him would only cause more problems than it solves? I think John Podhoretz has a column that addresses the issue well.
If you are among those who now basically think we might as well declare defeat even before we go home, then by all means, shout "Fire Rummy" at the top of your lungs.
But if you are among those who believe the war in Iraq must be won and that we can win it, it is madness to join the "Fire Rummy" crew. Even if you think Rumsfeld doesn't deserve to keep the job, he must. There's no other way.
New York Post: RUMSFELD'S JOB SECURITY; FIRING HIM LOSES IRAQ
Marlin, do you not imagine any level of corruption or incompetence that should be punished? If you do see such a level, what would characterize it?
McQ at QandO has an take on the ex-generals' decision to criticise Rumsfeld after retiring.
Defeatists! Just you wait. Already the Decider-in-Chief has ordered Generals Steiner and Busse to link up as two arms of a vast pincer manuever that will surround the insurgents! Victory is certain, if we merely believe it so! All real Americans share the mystical vision of Mr. Reynolds and Dr. Klinghoffer!
Godwinizing? Oh fucking well. The kind of chickenhawkery that GD rightly derides deserves nothing less.
You're blustering Greg:
"These Generals are not "whining" because Rumsfeld is "too intimidating". That's prima facie absurd. They're up in arms because they were too often facing conditions or fighting an enemy materially different than the one that was war-gamed, and to add insult to injury, Rumsfeld has often been too stubborn to make serious adjustments that run against the grain of his utopic transformationalist nostrums."
Facing conditions not "wargamed?" Give me a break. Who designed the wargames? And what adjustments and transformations? It's time to stop handwaving, Greg. What are the things he did wrong. What should he have done instead. And how would that have made it all better.
Put up or shut up.
>I write all this with pain in my heart and deep sadness. I supported this >war, and still believe, hoping against hope, that it can be won.
First let me say my sympathy meter for your pain is just slightly above zero, mainly due to 2300+ US military dead, 17,000 mangled troops, and 50-100,000 dead Iraqis so far in this now doomed effort.
But, I might also point out that it's preciesly the Judith Klinghoffers and Sean Hannity's of the world many of us liberal verterans are talking about when the word Chickhawk is used.
I couldn't have come up with a better illustration.
If incompetence is exhibited, then yes it must be dealt with. And dealt with harshly. However in my opinion Rumsfeld has not been incompetent, instead he has been a benefit to the Dept. of Defense because of his style of management. The Adventures of Chester has a post that sums this up well.
A corollary to this myth of the useless nature of politicians is the "chickenhawk protest:" that those who are not professional warriors have no business in warfare. As Eliot Cohen (who literally wrote the book on civil-military command issues) has noted, the generals are sometimes wrong: were Kennedy's military advisors correct when they recommended a nuclear first-strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis? As Cohen argues, only civilian leaders who actively challenge, question, and debate with their military officers are best equipped to guide the nation through its roughest times. A Cohen states, generals are experts in how to fight, not whether to fight.
The Adventures of Chester: Dear Generals: Please Stop, Immediately
>A corollary to this myth of the useless nature of politicians is the >"chickenhawk protest:" that those who are not professional warriors >have no business in warfare.
Actually I believe the opposite. Jenna and Barbara and Sean and the rest should be right in downtown Iraq.
Then they can talk all the smack they want.
"As Cohen argues, only civilian leaders who actively challenge, question, and debate with their military officers are best equipped to guide the nation through its roughest times."
That assumes the civilian leaders are actually equipped to do those things in any meaningful fashion; i.e., that the civilian leaders make sure they have access to verifiable information and are willing to weigh it objectively.
Cohen's argument falls apart when the civilian leadership has gone to great lengths to distort both the information gathering process and the analysis process; when the civilian leadership indulges in result-driven planning that means they only pay attention to the information that confirms what they already want to believe; and when the civilian leadership's premises for military action are willfully ignorant and willfully wrong.
Regarding Iraq, can you point out any example of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, or Rumsfeld "actively challenging, questioning and debating" their military officers and being factually, tactically, or strategically correct?
Were they, for example, correct to claim that Saddam Hussein posed a nuclear threat to the US?
Were they, for example, correct to state that they knew exactly where the WMDs were?
Were they, for example, correct that there was no history of ethnic or sectarian conflict in Iraq?
Were they, for example, correct to predict that the war would pay for itself?
Were they, for example, correct to predict a drawdown of US troops to 30,000 by 2004? How about 2005?
Were they, for example, correct that we would be greeted as liberators, and therefore the war would only last about 6 months?
Were they, for example, correct in their repeated statements that the insurgency was "in its last throes"?
Snark aside, the issue is a real one: what is the duty of the military caste when the civilian leadership is disastrously, obstinately, repeatedly wrong in such as way as to undermine the mission?
I was wondering (and truly, no snark is intended) what you believe the consequences should be for the administration that has screwed up everything it touched? What about the consequences for the people who enabled and voted for them.
As a thought experiment, imagine the Gore administration brought us to this exact point in history, with generals openly criticizing SecDef Lieberman's stubborn refusal to acknowledge any errors and the conflict in Iraq bogging down just this side of a civil war. Torture approved as a principle and practice. Unrepentent FISA violations and claims of unchecked, unlimited Executive power.
2377 US Soldiers dead.
almost 20,000 wounded.
how many civilians?
9 Trillion in debt? Say that slowly.
The war itself costing over 10 billion a month.
outing a CIA officer as politics?!
What would your genuine thoughts be on that administration? How would you characterize me as a supporter of the Gore administration even after it was obvious it was incompetent on almost every level. Even after it became obvious Gore had lied about the Niger yellowcake in the State of the Union Address. Even after supporters like me sat idly by while friends of Gore swiftboated poor W during the 2004 election.
How accountable would you hold President Gore? VP Hillary Clinton? SecDef Lieberman? Presidential advisor James Carville? me, democratic idolater who refuses to acknowledge any errors of this administration and attacks anyone who suggests otherwise?
Would Lieberman stepping down be enough?
Just how much has to go wrong before you would support impeaching a president?
This is a serious question, I'm asking you because you are one of the few conservatives who would at least try to answer this honestly.
If the Gedankenexperiment seems too surreal to be answered, well, welcome to my world for the last 6 years.
Pretty nice premise, that Kerry would scale back.
You think perhaps he'd expand the coalition, let other countries join, open bid rights for infrastructure and service to lower the cost and get others vested in the rebuild? Instead, the atomic porkbarrel boondoggle Cheneyburton made this into and you voted for when we knew 9 billion was missing before the election?
What's so nice about it is you're essentially a media apparatus as a blogger. You supported an illegal war.
Best hope you don't travel to/from Germany any time soon unless you check for pending arrest warrants in your name.
You drank the kool aid.
I was waiting for someone to point out that George Bush told us during the campaign that he was a uniter, not a decider.
I said some time ago that I thought Rumsfeld would leave when he wanted to leave, and that when he did the rest of us might not get much notice. I don't think it will be while his status is being batted around in the press or during a major crisis in Iraq or elsewhere, and as I wrote here a few days ago Bush is too dependent on him to consider forcing him out. But -- and I'll admit this may be completely wrong -- he could decide to retire as early as the fall of this year.
Assume he does. Who replaces him?
David Ignatius spoke for the media herd the other day when he suggested that Rumsfeld be replaced by a "centrist" like Sen. Lieberman or Sen. McCain, who might forge a bipartisan consensus about Iraq and could be counted on to return calls from Washington Post columnists. He may only have been thinking that last part. Anyway, this struck me and still does as highly improbable. Bush would seek to limit the disruption Rumsfeld's departure would cause, not take a step likely to magnify it. I think he would probably try to promote Dep. Sec. England, or maybe move Negroponte out of whatever it is he is supposed to be doing as DNI. I doubt the list is much longer than that; if Rumsfeld left, Bush would look for a caretake to replace him.
well said, merelycurious, bravo.
greg has no answer to these questions. you need useful tools like greg, men who have the intellectual capacity to sound reasonable as they allow other more powerful men to actually exercise real power.
these professional intellectuals are whores of the worst kind--whores to power. I'm sorry that Greg can't reconcile this, here in too-little-too-late land. I can't imagine how much it pains him to come to grips with nothing but reality, FACTS ON THE GROUND as the israelis like to say. while some here laud greg for facing reality (while other even more whorish powerlovers like rush fox news et al keep trying to bury their head in the sand), i only shake my head sadly at how easily the rest of you put up with such pathetic mewling. is there any amount of wrongness that makes someone NOT a font of wisdom for you all? if one tracks the writings of greg over the past five years his anguish seems to glow in a whole new velvet-painting-under-black light.
i'm not saying i was right in 2002 about what these morons who run our country would do because i was a good guesser. nor am i saying it because it feels good. it brings absolutely no one back, not one dead soldier, not one maimed soldier, not one iraqi civilian. i'm saying it because it was obvious based on the past behavior of the people who were in power. it wasn't exactly CSI. republicans, and the bush family in particular, have treated the govenment like a personal corruption farm for two generations.
does nixon ring a bell? how many of these guys grew up in that atmosphere? cheney? rumsfeld? and what about iran-contra and reagan's general contempt for the rule of law? elliot abrams, john poindexter, negroponte--all put back into jobs by bush 2.
there are no depths too low for these fuckers--trade drugs that will end up on american streets for guns that will end up in terrorists' hands? sure. hell, a pardon and later a job. slide back and forth from sabre-rattling to running military companies whose stocks improve because of the sabre-shake? sure, why not?
do you really think greg doesn't know all this stuff? do you really think it wasn't true in 2001? 2002? are you all so ahistorical?
greg is nothing--he's not worth the crap on the shoe of one soldier who has died in part because of the trappings of intellect and intelligence that he gave to the bastards who put this war into place.
and don't get me started on wolfowitz--the one greg "respects". the guy who didn't know how many soldiers...oh, what's the point? you know the rest.
>do you really think greg doesn't know all this stuff? do you really think >it wasn't true in 2001? 2002? are you all so ahistorical?
Only French speaking liberal elites dwell on the past.
Greg has seen the light as has John Cole and others and they politely ask that we don't hold the dead and the dying against them.
For the liberal hawks especially, as they overlooked the fag bashing and religious intolerance surrounding the Bush administration, it must really burn. All that mattered was the WOT(tm) and their belief that Kerry, Gore and any other Democrat would merely surrender.
So now the dead pile up like cordwood even as the proven incompetents of the current war "plan" another one. Perhaps even letting the atomic genie out of the bottle for the first time in 60+ years.
Abetted by the coawrds who cheer war but have no intention to serve (other priorities you know) like Rich Lowery, Gary Bauer they give cover for the dumb bastards who created this mess.
Rot in hell.
Just out of curiosity -- As far as I'm concerned Rumsfeld deserves his own special place in hell, as do the entire upper two or three tiers of the current regime. But suppose he does go -- why should anyone believe that his replacement will be a whit better? All we'd get would be another toady, rubberstamped by the idiots who work under the Capitol dome.
I'm 47, and I have never seen a darker time for my country. Only five or six years ago, I never imagined that we'd be so far along such a frightening path....
I'm on your side on this issue; over the last few days I've had an extensive back and forth with Dean Barnett of Soxblog and believe I acquitted our side of the argument well. That said, I have to ask you to take a deep breath and get some perspective. Glenn Reynolds is not the enemy, he just does not have your intensity of focus on this issue. I have to agree that instead of the pinpoint focus that you bring to this argument, these Generals have been all over the lot in explaining what they think the problem with Rummy really is. Take Zinni as an example. Zinni is an excellent advocate until he starts to detract from his argument by questioning Bush's credibility on the pre-war WMD claims -- me thinks he doth protest too many issues, lessening his effectiveness on the ones that are most consequential. We already have enough Richard Clarke's and Joe Wilson's. I also have to agree, in the abstract, that the appropriate way for a military man to voice his disagreement is by resigning, not kibbitzing through the media after you start drawing your pension. I know these are unique times and I'm not attacking the integrity of these individuals, but I do see some merit in a presumption of suspicion in this area.
Integrity meet the modern Republican Party. Spin has replaced accountability, shrillness silences duty. A true capital of whores financed by the K Street. On this watch anything can happen: there is no boundaries for shamelessness and cynicism. This I gather is the administration supported on these pages in 2004 - you get what you order. It is totally in the character of this presidency to reward incompetence and punish the whistleblowers and drown them in an avalanche of propaganda and spin. So, why the loud complaints now?
If the Generals believed so strongly in their position they should have resigned instead of supporting a policy they had so little faith in. Follow the example of Billy Mitchell.
BTW Zinni at one time thought Iraq was in need of a military solution.
Did he ever say why he changed his mind?
Did he ever explain why his post war plans were not implimented (assuming they were different than those actually put into practice)?
These Generals may have had courage in the face of death. It seems they lacked the courage of not living off the government teat in order to support their troops.
Some courage. Not exactly Semper Fi. Except to the paycheck.
Greg says fighting in conditions different than war gamed shows the incompetence of the planning and execution.
You forgot the first rule of war: no plan survives contact with the enemy.
I'd say you have no clue about the nature of warfare.
i.e. - if what you are doing is not working try something different. That is the rule for both sides. Read Boyd and the OODA cycle.
You win by being able to change your plans faster than the enemy can respond.
Greg - you are an amateur. I'd go with Patton on this one in his response to the armchair generals of his day - (they) don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking!"
Fortunately there is no law against ignorance. Still less one against stupidity. Darwin sorts it out in the long run. I love America.
BTW pre-war Zinni thought Iraq had WMDs. You can look it up. So why does he castigate Bush for a position he supported when it was decision time? Convenient, eh?
You know what we have in Greg is the prototypical summer soldier.
When things are going well he is all for the fight. When they go bad (and they always do in war) he is ready to pack it in.
Not a pretty picture.
Tom Paine had a thing or two to say about that kind of support:
"...These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country: but he that stands it NOW deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
The dead pile up like cordwood.
Are you refering to Omaha Beach and the rest on D-Day? 10,000 dead or the WW2 Battle of the Bulge 50,000 dead in a month and a half of fighting?
Or the whole Iraq campaign - so far less than 2,500 dead?
America used to be able to take a licking and keep on ticking back when we were a country of under 150 million. Now that we are nearing 300 million we can no longer take it.
Our Army wants to win the fight (barring some generals) despite the costs but the home front is all for packing it in. i.e the men facing death have the courage to continue (re-enlisments of combat veterans is 15% above quota), the men facing TV screens want to pack it in.
Sounds like we have a bunch of pre-op transvestites here. Balls where there should be pussys. Fortunately America has the medical skills to remedy the condition.
> bunch of pre-op transvestites here.
What a nice reasoned discussion -- or failing that, at least nice nasty ad hominems being hurled :)
I find it odd that no one has brought up that McCain, the likely GOP 2008 nominee, has been calling for Rumsfeld's undoing for a good year. Doesn't that present a significant problem for those right wing blowhards who want to act as if the rebel generals are beneath contempt?
I also find it odd that few seem to be thinking that these attacks on Rumsfeld have more to do with Iran than Iraq - Iraq is probably a fait accompli by now, but Iran far from it and possibly the voicing of concern by these generals represents a pervasive unease through the ranks about facing off with Iran with this President and this Sec of Def still in place.
And Cheney hasn't said anything because of the cabal mentioned by Wilkerson - if Rumsfled goes what does that say about Cheney? And then you risk the whole house of cards coming apart.
What exactly did Rumsfeld do wrong that he needs to resign ?
A very long piece you penned and not one specific word about what Rumsfeld did wrong, that someone else might correct.
Most of the commenters opposed the whole war in Iraq.
Like this one:
"As far as I'm concerned Rumsfeld deserves his own special place in hell, as do the entire upper two or three tiers of the current regime. "
Fine. I get their point. It's not Rumsfeld specifically, it's the "current regime".
But what are the specific reasons that make you, a supporter of the war, speak out against Rumsfeld ? That the whole thing is more difficult than you thought it would be ? If so - it is you who need to resign, our at least publicly confess your errors.
>Or the whole Iraq campaign - so far less than 2,500 dead?
I know they're not really human like us red blooded Americans, but the thousands of Iraqi dead might count for just a little something in our calculations.
As for just 2500 dead, yes the armchair generals seem ready to fight to the last breath of someone else. Or they may be lucky and just end up legless and blind.
But what I didn't hear was you saying you're headed down the nearest Armed Forces Recruiting Station to sign up to replace any of the brave who have fallen.
I tried to re-enlist two years ago, but at 51 I'm a little past my prime. My balls do seem to be firmly attached though. How about yours tough guy?
Anyway, as many people have pointed out here: things are fine, no need to worry, no mistakes have been made. These cowardly, amateurish armchair generals, the facts on the ground, the reality based crowd - all can safely be ignored. The base is crucial, the spin is all. Faith based politics indeed. No worries then: things are fine and soon we can replicate the success in Iran.
"The main reason Mr. Rumsfeld should leave now is because we can't have a credible diplomatic or military option vis-à-vis Iran when so many people feel, as I do, that in a choice between another Rumsfeld-led confrontation and just letting Iran get nukes and living with it, we should opt for the latter...
...It may be that learning to live with a nuclear Iran is the wisest thing under any circumstances. But it would be nice to have a choice. It would be nice to have the option of a diplomatic deal to end Iran's nuclear program — but that will come only with a credible threat of force. Yet we will not have the support at home or abroad for that threat as long as Don Rumsfeld leads the Pentagon. No one in their right mind would follow this man into another confrontation — and that is a real strategic liability."
Dump Rummy for more of a free hand in Iran? I like that, both ways. Im with you Greg. Or at least im with Tom F - Im not sure you really agree with him though.
Oh, and Greg, since youre not mentioning Clark, to avoid strawmen, can I suggest not mentioning Zinni? he may not be a Dem, but he does open up a can of worms about his entire view of the mideast situation, and besides, he never served under Rummy. And hes probably gunning for high office himself.
I think the former division commanders in Iraq make the strongest case.
Here is why David Ignatius calls for Rumsfeld to resign in the WAPO:
"Rumsfeld should resign because the Bush administration is losing the war on the home front."
See, it's not something to do with Rumsfeld - or the war - it's the Bush administration that is to blame (on the home front), you hit it were you can, you hit everywhere, sooner or later something is going to give.
And no need to honestly call for cut and run in Iraq, just keep trumpeting how the war is unwinnable, how the whole administration is clueless - and soone or later that will happen.
Nobody is saing how dumping Rumsfeld is going to help win the war, becuase nobody wants to win the war - just to cut and run (exit strategy... ).
I am still waiting for a reporter to ask General Zinni what he means when he argues that “the sanctions were working.” That statement alone should deflate his newfound credibility.
>And no need to honestly call for cut and run in Iraq, just keep >trumpeting how the war is unwinnable, how the whole administration is >clueless - and soone or later that will happen.
The war is unwinnable with the troop levels we have and as long as our exit strategy depends in Iraqi forces ceasing to be what they are: ethnic tribesman more commited to kin than country.
We've been lied to for three years about the 100,000 Iraqi Army troops ready to shoulder the weight of battle and commit to Iraq as one nation. They are phantoms and it's foolish to keep waiting for them to appear.
Want to win? Dismiss the joke of an Iraqi government, declare martial law, and send over another 200,000 troops.
I don't know why stating the frakking truth is such a problem.
"Oh please. Glenn Reynolds is hardly the worst of them. And, no, he will not retract, I will guarantee that. But you are right on the swift-boating. Just today, Rush Limbaugh told his 20 million listeners that the generals were guilty of mutiny and sedition. That's right. Here he is quoting, approvingly, the odious Tony Blankley of the Washington Times"
I linked to the Times to read the latest wisdom from Blankley, he is worse that Jean Schmidt. Blankley is calling the retired and active officers behavior as sedition, implying almost treason. Blankley and Limbaugh are two to talk, two chickenhawk pundits calling men who have been under fire as seditios and implying cowards(Jean Schimdt). This all started when Murtha said that military officers were talking to him off the record. The Rebublicans attacked and the Democrats hid or ignored Murtha. Murtha and the retired Generals are not the seditious cowards, the pundits and Pajama Pundits hiding behind their keyboards are the cowards.
"But what are the specific reasons that make you, a supporter of the war, speak out against Rumsfeld ? That the whole thing is more difficult than you thought it would be ? If so - it is you who need to resign, our at least publicly confess your errors."
Rumsfeld is strongly implicated in the series of detainee abuse disgraces that have essentially shattered whatever moral authority we had left, after the Iraq invasion.
In addition, it is well known that a State Department working group had prepared contingency plans for an Iraq occupation, well before the invasion. It is also well known that these were deliberately ignored by Rumsfeld. Finally, to complete the dreary laundry list, the risks and hazards illuminated by the plan have pretty much all occurred.
Oh, but I know, it's way out of line to expect that a genius like Smilin' Don should deign to consult the opinions of flunkies and lesser beings.
Again, though, while ousting Rumsfeld will be satisfying (not as much as the criminal prosecution he deserves, but better than nothing), it won't change anything.
Here is why David Ignatius calls for Rumsfeld to resign in the WAPO:
"Rumsfeld should resign because the Bush administration is losing the war on the home front."
OK, I'll spell it out for you. The Bush administration is losing the war on the home front. They need some sort of delaying action on the home front.
If they say it's all Rummy's fault and dump him, then they can get somebody else in there *who'll do exactly the same things*, but he'll have a different name.
And after that, whenever anybody says "The war is not going well" the Bush cheerleaders can say "Hey, we got new leadership and it's all getting turned around. Shut up, you're just complaining about ancient history."
And this time next year, when anybody says "The war is not going well" they can say "Hey, he's only had a year. It took us 3 years to get into this mess, and you want instant results! Shut up."
And two years from now they can dump him and get jsomebody new, and say "The new guy is turning it all around, things are getting better now."
See, the strategy is to put in a sacrificial screening force on the homefront to deflect the homefront enemies, and in the meantime maybe they can win the other front in iraq. Or if not, at least they might get past the next 2 elections.
Nobody is saing how dumping Rumsfeld is going to help win the war, becuase nobody wants to win the war - just to cut and run (exit strategy... ).
I figure Bush etc would be pleased as punch if they could win the war. Or even find some way to get an outcome they could *call* winning. But they have no particular reason to suppose that might happen, so they do better to mostly ignore it and put their efforts into something that has a good chance to pay off. Illegal immigrants, iran, some issue that gives them some traction.
"The war is unwinnable with the troop levels we have and as long as our exit strategy depends in Iraqi forces ceasing to be what they are: ethnic tribesman more commited to kin than country"
actually reports from Iraq (via the MSM) indicate that Sunni Iraqis are ok with Iraqi ARMY units, its the Interior Ministry forces that are considered to close to the militias.
I would also like to applaud what merelycurious said.
Although Greg is more intellectually independent than most he still writes as if he thinks of himself as an "expert" and not a partisan. But as merelycurious says: If President Gore had done what Bush has done there is no way Greg would have waited 5 years to start critisizing him harshly.
It is now clear, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Bush has been far more detrimental to US foreign policy than Bill Clinton was. And yes, 9/11 presented far greater challenges. But for a man like Greg Djerejian to imply, time and time again, that Democrats like Al Gore and John Kerry would have made an even bigger mess of things is ridiculous.
If Greg could admit that the long-standing knee-jerk dismissal of all Democrats as foreign-policy incompetents by elite East Coast Republicans has been proven wrong then we (here in the comments section) could all get back to a constructive dialogue.
And let me just add to that: I'm not saying that Democrats are particularliy competent when it comes to foreign policy (they're not, with the possible exception of Wes Clark). But George W. Bush has been so spectacularily incompetent that he has changed the scale. Compared to Bush it is simply highly improbable that any Democrat could have done any worse. Even if a Democrat president was as much of an idiot as George W. (which is extremely unlikely, just as it's extremely unlikely that the Republicans would have presented such an idiot candidate unless he was so closely connected with a respected former president) he still would never have been allowed to commit the acts that W. has committed. Pushback from conservatives would have derailed any such efforts from a Democrat. Clinton couldn't even allow gays in the military (got pushback from military brass) or bomb Osama Bin Laden camps ("Monica distraction!" cried conservatives in Congress). Imagine if he tried illegal extra-territorial camps or outing of CIA agents! The military and/or conservative chickenhawks would have had him assassinated!
I hate to keep making this point, but, seriously Greg, if I wanted snark, insults, and invective, I'd head over to Little Green Footballs or the Democratic Underground. What happened to the serious foreign policy analysis blogger that I used to know and love? As of late, your posts have become self-important, arrogant insult-fests, where you seek to do nothing other than try to convince your audience that your target du jour is an idiot. I understand that you are deeply frustrated with the Republican establishment (you, my friend, are not the only one). Insults, however good they make you feel, do not advance the discourse.
Glenn Reynolds is a reasonable man who has in the past shown himself capable of admitting error when convinced of it. There is a reason why bloggers like him, Volokh, and Dan Drezner have remained at the top of my reading list when I've long since dropped partisans like Powerline. Instead of simply insulting him, why don't you just give him what he's asking for? You may be surprised to find him more reasonable than you think. Title your post, "What Donald Rumsfeld Isn't Doing Right Now But Should Be, a Summary." Then ask Glenn for his response. And this time, you may actually promote intelligent dialogue, rather than stifle it.
Writing current history based on limited perspective and your personal whim is a dangerous business. I have yet to see Greg comment on anything that would disagree with Richard Holbrooke, who seems to be the god of Belgravia and uniquely able to stop murderous dictators with smooth diplomacy, sort of the way Chamberlain and Frank Kellogg brought us peace in previous centuries.
This is much larger than Bush, Rumsfeld, Kerry, Cheney, or the latest messages intended to play politics with war. Professor Hanson is the only person I have seen lately to write sensibly about "WWIV". If we cannot knock off the political gamesmanship for even 5 years after ignoring the buildup of world-ending danger in our midst for at least the last 25 years, this sociaty doesn't deserve to survive, and it also will not. There wasn't one single planned battle or campaign in WWII or Korea that went according to "plan"- you have to pick from among real alternatives, you don't get to implement utopia with no opposition. Only five years after the end of WWII our world-best tanks were shredded like swiss cheese by grenades, and we lost thousands of draftees in Korea.
Anyone who has spent any time whatever around the Pentagon in its planning cycles knows the relationships of the Services, and the Army's terminal inferiority and persecution complex vis-a-vis the AF, Marines, and (to a lesser extent) Navy.
When the real history of this is written, it will detail not only the way undeniably brave fighters embarrassed themselves and tarnished their prior battle records by acting unprofessionally after retiring, it will tell how the Crusader cancellation and the Army's dogged resistance to necessary change almost killed it. There is a reason that re-enlistments among the field troops is so high while the old line Army flees. If you want to know how the world of the military is really functioning, talk to a few light colonels, not career generals.
Pardon me, but Reynolds what a unprincipled hack all along, yet, as Glenn complains regarding these generals, you didn't seem to have a problem with it. At least back when you could still get the cool aide down.
Zinni warned you well before the invasion that the plan was a pipe dream. But again, you didn't, as I recall, warn that going to war with the Rummy we had would be a nightmare.
I don't blame the generals for not speaking out while on active duty. Short of retiring first, to do so would have been incredibly unproffesional.
You however, have no such excuse. Including the excuse of not having been warned by professionals.
Thanks, I couldn't have said that better myself. If it comes up, I'll point people to this.
>actually reports from Iraq (via the MSM) indicate that Sunni Iraqis are >ok with Iraqi ARMY units, its the Interior Ministry forces that are >considered to close to the militias.
I see. So it's only a problem of Interior Ministry assasination squads killing the populace as opposed to them and Iraqi Army slaughtering the defenseless too.
Only five years after the end of WWII our world-best tanks were shredded like swiss cheese by grenades
American WWII tanks world-best? Somebody has been disinforming you.
There wasn't one single planned battle or campaign in WWII or Korea that went according to "plan"-
I keep seeing this talking point, people are repeating it all over. I just don't understand the point. We had a lot of campaigns in WWII that were victories. We had victories that meant something.
You can call Fallujah a victory if you want to, but it doesn't mean much. Likewise Najaf. Tal Afar? Ramadi?
If only we had clear victory conditions. If it was a matter of taking the enemy's capital, say. But we did that already. Now we can retake Baghdad as often as we want to, but it isn't victory any more.
So, like, when we took Rome it didn't go according to plan. But we adapted the plans and we won. The italians welcomed us. Italy was no longer an axis power. The little details didn't go as planned but we won.
Nowadays, if there's a way to tell whether we're winning it's a military secret. How does that compare to WWII?
> Nowadays, if there's a way to tell whether we're winning it's a military secret.
Surely there could be some good measuring points of victory, such as the following, no?
Have we put in place a stable government, reasonably acceptable to most of the major players?
Have we ensured security so that inter-tribal killings are reduced to a minimum, and stood up at least a minimally trained military which can control the cities and most of the countryside, so that there are no (or only sporadic) reports of troops slaughtering and torturing?
Have we recreated basic infrastructure, so that it is at least nearly as good as it was under Saddam? (Electricity, water, access to hospitals, fuel availability and pricing -- this last is more critical in dead winter & high summer)
Have we started to respect (& therefore ourselves submit to) a new government's force of law -- eg, if our soldiers kill or torture children, do we allow them to be tried by local courts?
I suspect that these are "not good measures", mostly only because we have failed to accomplish any of them :(
But failing any successes in any of these major endeavors, we could claim at least some partial successes if we could accomplish some smaller but necessary tasks, such as stabilizing Baghdad so that people* could walk in the streets (at least at high noon) without being kidnapped (for bonus points, so that westerners could do so as well).
Or at least stabilizing the roads so that soldiers would not be frightened to drive on them without heavy under-plating.
Professor Hanson is the only person I have seen lately to write sensibly about "WWIV".
Hanson has been wrong so spectacularly on just about everything related to Iraq that is amazing that anyone can even consider him credible, let alone sensible. His record as a pundit is also appalling.
IN his book Carnage and Culture (the hardcover version published before 911), he pontificated that the greatest threat to the West was another democratic society. He expresses no particular concern about terrorists and the like. [ That book mind you, is riddled with errors and exaggerations]
After 911, why he completely changes his tune -- now democratization of IRaq is the way to win the WoT. Ignoring the massive contradictions with his earlier statements. He even makes imbecilic statements like "Muslims in democratic India are not a threat to us, Muslims in non-democratic Pakistan are". But when Hamas comes to power, he changes his tune again.
He makes weird statements suggesting that the 100,000 criminals released by Saddam were responsible for the insurgency. He also makes some comparisons between California and Iraq, suggesting that daily accidents and murders in California are as serious as those in Iraq. It does not seem to be apparent to his miniscule intellect that California is singularly free of IEDs, mortar attacks, car bombs and the last major outburst of sectarian violence here was in 1992 (at which time most papers seemed to think it was a serious matter).
And surely someone who admires the military so much would have put his precious skin on the line in Vietnam.
Where did we ever reach the situation that profoundly ignorant pople like Juan Cole and VDH should become icons for the left and the right ? Is it because one knows a little Arabic, and the other knows a little about Greek history ?
America used to be able to take a licking and keep on ticking back when we were a country of under 150 million. Now that we are nearing 300 million we can no longer take it.
The Soviet Union lost more people in some days in Stalingrad than it lost in its 10 years in Afghanistan. Yet Afghanistan drained the Soviet Union.
The active duty British army is probably only slightly larger than the total number of casualties the British incurred in the first day on the Somme in 1914.
So yes, the world (and that includes the undemocratic Soviet Union as much as it includes Britain and America) is a lot less willing to take meaningless casualties because of the stupidity or callousness of leaders, either military or civilian.
The "Rumsfeld" fixation is merely scapegoating. IIRC, people like Greg were quite recently proclaiming that the US has finally adopted an appropriate and effective military strategy in Iraq. The problem in Iraq is not a "bad" military strategy, its a disasterous political strategy --- and that strategy is coming directly from the White House, the State Department, and the NSC.
Certainly, placing the DoD in charge of the "post-war" period was a mistake --- but that was not a decision made by Donald Rumsfeld, it was one made by Bush. And it was a decision that we have to assume was made after Rumsfeld explained his assumptions and approach, and Powell explained how/what the State Department would do --- in other words, Bush made an "informed" decision to go with the vision of "post-invasion" Iraq advanced by Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld doubtless did what he said he'd do, and did it in the way that he said he'd do it. The "villian" here isn't Rumsfeld, its Bush --- he's the guy who made the wrong choice.
As for "gutless" generals --- well, I gotta agree to some extent. These generals had the option of resigning their commissions and going public with their concerns --- or continuing to sent American military personnel to their deaths. They chose their careers -- and sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans (and countless Iraqis) in pursuit of their career goals. That's not just gutless, its craven.
I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/04/re-let-swift-boating-of-generals-begin.html
Although I too agree that Rummy should go. I have to agree with Glenn. For months years we have heard Bush claim that the Generals will get what the Generals want. That would have been the perfect time for these generals to campaign for more troops. What media outlet would not have given these Generals wall-to-wall coverage. If they did we might not be in the position we are in now.
Wow...that's the first post I've wanted to stand up and applaud.
Yes, the Iraq mess is the General's fault!
These generals had the option of resigning their commissions and going public with their concerns --- or continuing to sent American military personnel to their deaths. They chose their careers -- and sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans (and countless Iraqis) in pursuit of their career goals. That's not just gutless, its craven.
Let's imagine that. A one-star general has the chance for a major command in iraq, the culmination of his career. But he looks at all the data available to him, including all the classified data he has a legitimate need-to-know. And he decides that the job he's supposed to do can't be done. So he resigns. He tells the media it can't be done. Who listens? Nobody. It's illegal for him to tell the media that anyway. Look at the list of generals who resigned around then, and some fraction of them may be the people who followed that course. They didn't make a ripple.
OK, how about this one. A general sees he can do the job he's been given, but he believes the grand strategy is bad and won't work. He resigns his commission rather than be part of a failing war. This is a bit less defensible, even if he thinks the war is a bad idea and will fail, still he'll want to do his part and do what he can to save his friends and the troops he leads. He resigns and a less-competent man takes his place. But the end result is the same. No ripple.
OK, try this one. This general thinks he can do the job he's assigned, and he thinks the bigger strategy has a chance or at least he's willing to give it his best try. He does that. He sees that it isn't working. Feedback from higher officers to Rummy is ignored. Finally he resigns with a private explanation, which gets ignored like everything else. No ripple.
So finally he goes public. He knows all the stuff you don't know because you lack the need-to-know. He's been doing the work. He's been suggesting tactics and asking for equipment etc, and what they tell him is "Save your breath, Rummy doesn't listen.". So he tells the american people that it isn't working and that Rummy doesn't accept feedback. And you say he's craven. Because he did his job the best he knew how and he wasn't allowed to do it successfully, and he finally spoke up.
Tell me how a general who wasn't craven could tell you this stuff you don't want to hear. Is there any possible way they could take a principled stand that you'd hear about?
"If we cannot knock off the political gamesmanship for even 5 years after ignoring the buildup of world-ending danger in our midst for at least the last 25 years ..."
What is this danger that you are talking about? I'm certainly more aware of certain dangers than I was 5 years ago, but I'm not aware of any world-ending dangers.
Greg said of these generals:
(aided by some of the senior brass like the too supine (Dick Myers), or the too dismissive of post war planning (Tommy Franks)
They also knew that Rumsfeld had surrounded himself with compliant 'team-players' (read: yes men, if well intentioned ones) like Dick Myers (and now increasingly Pete Pace), the better to block attempts to fundamentally reappraise the war strategy Rumsfeld had put together with Tommy Franks (one that involved little input from other hugely qualified brass, and thus more serious attention to post-war planning)
So perhaps he also is participating in some stone-throwing.
Chickenhawk exhibit #1= Richard Bottoms
I gar-un-tee if this complete waste of spermoza ever served, it was as a REMF stealing cookies out of care packages while the real grunts were in the field.
Your day is coming chickenhawk, when children and small dogs scorn you and laugh at the crazy man
Because anyone that hasn't seen the light by now is raving moonbat insane.
Listen very carefully.....the only time these generals can speak up is after they retire. They are honerable men.
People like you who question their integrety are the worse kind of dishonarable scum.
Enlist or STFU!
The post-war period, however, really isn't (or shouldn't have been, at least) a Defense Department responsibility. Where is the blame for Colin Powell, or Condi Rice, either of whom (as Secretary of State) would bear more of the role in "nation-building," it seems to me?
Because, no matter what, there was going to be a period of transition that required military deployment. And as a technocrat who believes in Expensive Gizmos That Win Wars, Rumsfeld's executive approach was totally unsuited to that transition. His approach to military reform dovetailed perfectly with that of the economic technocrats brought into Iraq under Jerry Bremer, who decided to treat Iraq as a Heritage Foundation thought-experiment.
Glenn Reynolds is not the enemy, he just does not have your intensity of focus on this issue.
Indeed. Funny how he develops selective myopia so often these days. But heck, there are college students to bash, and windmills for Glenn Quixote to tilt at.
"Want to win? Dismiss the joke of an Iraqi government, declare martial law, and send over another 200,000 troops.
I don't know why stating the frakking truth is such a problem."
It's not our frakking country. How long would conquest work?
Did you ever think about not writing like your reader is between 13-17 years old, and has never been out of the house?
The debacle which is the Iraq invasion is coming apart. All the players are scurrying for cover, and blaming each other in the process.
And just because Rumsfeld is insane and incompetent doesn't mean those generals aren't craven. I'm sure both are equally true.
And you just go on hoping our "mission" will be a sucess. I'd be happy to hear just one clear explication of what it is.
I cannot accept the idea that there are any heroes in the Iraq story. And more than enough blame and criminality to go around.
As saintsimon comments above, I believe the motivation for public dissent by these Generals may be to head off an attack on Iran. Iraq is done. It's what comes next they are worried about.
Consider: two hours after two planes struck the WTC, our vaunted military still was unable to scramble fighter jets to intercept Flight 93 on its way to strike the White House (according to Moussaoui), even though flight control knew it had been hijacked.
This is what Americans pay nearly half their taxes for?
Reading about how the criminals running this imperialist empire are on the verge of "breaking the Army" fills me with delight, because from where I sit, the US military exists not to defend American against external threats but to serve the cretins who put this frat-boy fuckup in the White House. If they'd succeeded in Iraq--defined here as installing a pliant regime in power under "democratic" cover that will sell Americans oil cheap--you can bet we'd be in Iran already, and Syria too. Oh, and everyone would bow down before their genius no matter how many people died, because gas would be below $2/gal, which is the only thing that matters to about half the damn country.
The sooner the US loses that big swinging dick of its military, the sooner it can join the rest of the civilized world and work out its differences without trampling international law and innocent people underfoot.
erg: Calling Juan Cole profoundly ignorant is -- profoundly ignorant. "Knows a little Arabic"?? You are a jerk-off, sir.
Nothing makes sense. I would like to hear from retired generals explaining why seemingly permanent bases are being installed in Iraq. Anyone have any authoratative contributions regarding this issue?
Right-Wing nationalists trash talking and blaming generals for losing a war?
The fascists are coming.
I agree it is nasty to call a person serving in combat command a "coward" merely for not criticizing policy. When you are serving in the military, you are not supposed to criticize policy. A few have done so -- Hackworth and MacArthur -- but it is not the norm. Most have families, and perhaps a loyalty to their comrades in arms.
Some brave men have come out and spoken publically after they have retired -- Butler is a famous or notorious example, depending on how you look at it. He served honorably (courageously and honorably beyond any possible reproach), and after he retired, he spoke out scathingly against the military-industrial complex. It has been argued that his honor, after he retired, saved US democracy.
re: no jets scrambled to save the Pentagon
I too, never understood this. Surely we maintain a fast response squadron of some kind at Andrews AFB? I would have thought they'd put up F-15s. Now, surely, its vaunted power to engage an enemy fighter jet over the horizon is sufficient to engage a simple commercial airliner -- with almost no evasive ability, no chaff, no radar jamming ability, ... It's not something I think about much, but occasionally I do wonder.
> The Soviet Union lost more people in some days in Stalingrad than it lost in its 10 years in Afghanistan. Yet Afghanistan drained the Soviet Union.
But, if the Soviets had those thousands upon thousands upon thousands of troops that were slaughtered at Stalingrad back, the face of Europe at the end of the war might have been different? I don't know, but I only ask. It is often said that it is incalculable what Hitler could have done with the Sixth Army available to him, had he not cast it away at Stalingrad -- turn it around, and ask what Stalin (or Zhukov) could have done if he those divisions available?
> I cannot accept the idea that there are any heroes in the Iraq story.
Surely there must be a few men & women in the US military striving hard to do their duty, no matter how misguided or incompetent their leaders. It has always been thus.
> Juan Cole knows a little Arabic
Heh, funny (even if unintended).
re: permanent bases in Iraq
Surely they're for oil? I mean, isn't that fairly obvious? The US is heavily dependent on oil, so it is only sensible strategy and policy for the US to try to ensure a continuing oil supply -- same policy as China. I think the US President should be concerned with safeguarding the oil supply. (I don't necessarily think the one we have now is going about it very intelligently, but I think the goal of safeguarding US access to oil is a sensible goal.) Why do we prop up the Saudi monarcy? For the clear and sensible reason that they have such important oil reserves, and that they've been so willing to play a stabilizing and moderating role in reducing the shocks of oil supply problems.
the US military exists not to defend American against external threats but to serve the cretins who put this frat-boy fuckup in the White House.
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. Google United Fruit Company + Marines, for example. Our military exists to protect our commercial interests, and as one commentator somewhere wrote recently (sorry, I read so many blogs they tend to blur together anymore, I can't remember the specifics), the military's function in the next 50 or so years as the oil supply dwindles will be to protect our procurement of oil. Fine, that's a good thing, especially for someone who lives in Los Angeles :-) but spare me the "spreading democracy" and "stopping those nasty [insert latest bogeyman here] from taking downtown Witchita" bullshit.
This is a story that will not end.
It will not end if Rummy resigns. It will not end if Bush resigns.
There are powerful forces aligned to attack Iran. It has always been about Iran. It is a hard pill to swallow, but Iran is the lynchpin of our war against terror. The Arab states would love to see the Shitte mullahs go bye bye.
We have had this forced upon us by militant islamists, or terrorists, or whatever label you care to affix. Much as the appeasement of Hitler by Chamberlain, the non-resolution of the hostage crisis has come at a huge cost to our nation. Hamas....Lebanon 1983...the Iran-Iraq war. These things were all about Iran. When did the Saudis get the most nervous? When Iran started kicking the hell out of the Iraqis. When did the U.S. help Saddam against Iran? When the Saudis got nervous. Iran, rightly, was always seen by the west as a greater threat than Saddam.
The neo-cons believed that Iraq would be quick, and relatively painless. They would then point the Army east toward Iran, who have been amassing a wealth of military power. By toppling the Iranian religious state, the neo-cons would secure political stability, as well as untold riches for their political benefactors, who will rebuild the Iranian and Iraqi oil infrastructure. This is not my scenario, this is the neo-con fantasy which may still be partially successful. The point is that the neo-cons are committed to taking out Iran before Bush leaves office. That has always been the end game for them.
So what a few generals say is superflous. It is arguing about who wanted to rearrange which chairs on the Titanic. The ship continues on its path toward disaster. We have the same choice today as we did yesterday. Do we call a draft, no matter the political consequences, or do we wait for a new president to lose the war?
Or, do we attack Iran with the forces we have, in hopes of creating a democracy there, and ending the Bush presidency on a "positive" note? The tone of Bushs' presidency has been that he governs like there is no tomorrow. Just look at the way he borrows money.
For the Republicans, it is about finding a scapegoat in order to escape the trap they built for themselves. For the Democrats, it is about winning elections by Republican attrition.
Never has there been a stronger argument for a third political party.
Greg, you bristle when it is pointed out that you are long on criticism and short on recommendations, but it is true. You wring your hands about the Bush administration's failures, but you don't have any concrete answers as to how it should have been done and neither do the six generals.
We are in the middle of a long hard fight and it certainly isn't "won", but it's not over yet either. Yet, your illogical, Bush hating commenters have declared Iraq a failure in between their "chickenhawk" accusations. However, unless they or you are clairvoyant, how the f**k do you now how it's going to turn out. I have two good friends who have been in Iraq and they have told me that outside of Baghdad and the former Sunni provinces, there is civil order, the economy is growing, rebuilding is proceeding etc. As for the four provinces where the problems exist, the struggle continues.
However, for those who have already declared Iraq a failure, compared to what? The Balkans? You even quote from Cobra II where it says Rumsfeld and the neo-cons "turned their back on the nation-building lessons from the Balkans and other crisis zones..." What? Are you kidding? We still have troops in Bosnia and Kosovo and the UN is just now, seven years later, appointing a commission to decide if Kosovo should remain part of Serbia or become a separate country. It has no government and the ethnic factions are still killing each other. Almost seven years after the bombing campaign had ended in Kosovo, the BBC reported that it "...left an embittered population and a number of unresolved, and potentially dangerous problems..."
And yes, Kosovo is directly relevant to this debate. The same idiots who are so certain that Rumsfeld has screwed up in Iraq are the same people who think Kosovo was a success. In their world up is down.
In reality, Rumsfeld and Bush decided to actually do something about the problem in Iraq as difficult as it might be with the too small military Clinton bequeathed them. Their efforts stand in stark contrast to Clinton and the Democrats who refused to send ground troops into Kosovo despite being advised by their generals that ethnic cleansing couldn't be stopped without them. It hasn't been close to perfect, but until you provide concrete suggestions for improvement and proof that those suggestions will work better than our current tactics, you're just whistling out of your a**.
Finally, you chastise people for having the audacity to challenge these dissenting generals and idiots like Casey L. ask
"Regarding Iraq, can you point out any example of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, or Rumsfeld "actively challenging, questioning and debating" their military officers and being factually, tactically, or strategically correct? Were they, for example, correct to claim that Saddam Hussein posed a nuclear threat to the US? Were they, for example, correct to state that they knew exactly where the WMDs were?"
Yet Gen. Zinni, the most prominent of these dissenting generals, is an obvious political hack who has done a 180 degree turn on the danger presented by Iraq. In his recent criticism, he said "What bothered me ... [was that] I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn't fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD."
even though, in 2000, he said
"Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region....Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions ... Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months."
This is the most politicized bunch of cr**p I have ever seen. Do you really think any of these principalled defenders of these unassailable generals' right to criticize the administration will say the same thing when a Democrats (God forbis) regain the Presidency and start really f**king everything up again? I am saving this post and these comments for that day.
Hackworth was a Colonel and could speak out because he avoided the politics required to be a general. I loved Hackkwoth, but he supported the Iraq buildup before someone told him about the crazy neocons. After Karen Kwiatkowski leaked him the story of the neocons he changed his views on Iraq. He also was critical of Clark and Shinnseki, he shot from the hip. We need more Hackworths and fewer political Generals. In this post he sounded like a Bush- neocon "It's Time To Chop Off The Main Snake's Head", after Karen K told him how it really was he changed his tune. MacArthur had an ego bigger than Rumsfeld.
Morality, ethics, the future of the Western Alliance aside, there is a kind of a horrified fascination at watching this car wreck of an administration in action. In this, hmm, unique constellation an attack to Iran is not impossible at all (as empirical reason will not be any significant test). The military must be worried to death that the circus is planning a new escalation... Iraq alone is slowly wrecking the Army but to think of the debacle when the happy crew decides to cross the border (or send brave men and women to do it for themselves: if there ever were lions led by donkeys...). No wonder we have this unprecedented and unpresedentedly shrill military chorus attacking this disgusting cabal in charge of the Republic.
Tell me how a general who wasn't craven could tell you this stuff you don't want to hear. Is there any possible way they could take a principled stand that you'd hear about?
actually, JT, any general who resigned his commission because of Rummy/Bush's policies with regard to Iraq would have become an instant celebrity among the left....
The bottom line here is that these generals had two choices --- resign and speak out, or be complicit in sending thousands of young americans and countless iraqis to their deaths. I want to see these generals acknowledge their own failures --- their own character flaws --- and not just blame Rummy for this mess.
THEN I will forgive them....
Because of how evil the amerinazis have made America, Jesus Christ has removed His blessing. Can't you tell? http://www.deanberryministries.org/index3.html
Sure, pin this on Rumsfeld...
He has more than his share of blame, but with or without Rummy, the strategic liability is and always has been, BUSH.
Like you I hope a Rummy replacement can fix things, but I fear that is wishful thinking.
Maybe that is all we have...hope.
Our biggest problem is having a petulant 5 year old as President.
Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen, please!
We simply MUST take Gregory Djerejian seriously.
Firstly, his father, Edward P. Djerejian, was a VERY distinguished, Republican-leaning diplomat.
Greg, like his father, is a graduate of the Georgetown Foreign Service School, and he has a degree from Georgetown Law. Moreover, he has done important volunteer work in Armenia. He speaks several languages.
He can toss off—in perfect context--a cool phrase like “Incroyable mais vrai, as the French say!” How many of us can do THAT?
And he’s sensitive, too. Speaking of his turnaround on the war, he says, “I write all this with pain in my heart and deep sadness.”
In his bio on this Web site, Greg seems too modest to mention it, but doubtless he has loads of combat experience.
Check out that bio! NOT ONLY is he a candidate member of the Council on Foreign Relations, but he runs a global macro hedge fund on Wall Street! What could possibly be cooler? Can there be any doubt that he plays a mean game of squash and spends his weekends on Cape Cod? The clincher, though, is that he actually lived in Belgravia! What more do you want!?
Be fair, gentlemen, be fair. These are all good reasons to trust Greg’s impeccable judgment on foreign affairs.
Really, I am ashamed of you guys who have been criticizing Greg in this comments section. We live in low dishonest times.
Glenn Reynolds is an ignorant, inbred legacy hire who would smother in his own shit if he got within 2,000 miles of combat.
When he says "ouch," it's from the pressure of Bush's scrotum on the back of his throat.
We will lose Iraq, beacuase our right-wing nationalists have always been obsessed with Iran.
Bin-Laden is free because he helped the Saudi aristocracy and the American right-wing elite.
What follows is an accurate chronology of United States involvement in the arming of Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war 1980-88. It is a powerful indictment of the president Bush administration attempt to sell war as a component of his war on terrorism. It reveals US ambitions in Iraq to be just another chapter in the attempt to regain a foothold in the Mideast following the fall of the Shah of Iran.
Arming Iraq: A Chronology of U.S. Involvement
Whatever his complexes, Khomeini had no qualms about sending his followers, including young boys, off to their deaths for his greater glory. This callous disregard for human life was no less characteristic of Saddam Hussein. And, for that matter, it was also no less characteristic of much of the world community, which not only couldn't be bothered by a few hundred thousand Third World corpses, but tried to profit from the conflict.
The United States and Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988
Which of those generals look like they want to be celebrities on the left?
I recently watched as young men and women from my hometown here on the Canadian prairie mrached off to fight the Taliban in Kandahar province. Four have them have died and a dozen or more been wounded in the last few weeks, and while they appear to be making a difference there I have to wonder why they have to be there, and how different the world would look right now if the Bush administration had done the job right in Afghanistan four years ago.
That my young friends should have to be shedding their blood halfway around the world today for the sake of an ally who has treated us with contempt and because of the incompetence and hubris of men like Bush and Rumsfeld enrages me. And the smug indifference of people like Glenn Reynolds just sickens me.
Thank you for an excellent post Mr. Djerejian.
Nha Bao, nobody forces you to read this blog, and you can surely exit stage left, any time, if you like. You wouldn't be missed. Obviously, if Greg's judgment seems to inspire such base ridicule and contempt that you saw fit to embellish his bio with you own little fantasies, one must ask the question: why are you still here?
But if you decide to stick around, why don't you back off from the childish personal attacks, huh?
Do you think you're being clever, or refuting any of his arguments by making such a spectacle of yourself?
Regardless, the reasons they didn't resign in protest before are many.
Perhaps if they add enough of 'em together, it'll add up to one good reason. But I doubt it.
>I gar-un-tee if this complete waste of spermoza ever served, it was as >a REMF stealing cookies out of care packages while the real grunts >were in the field.
See, I am so looking forward to November because this time around the slime and denigration just won't work the way it used to.
Not calling legless vets cowards to win an election (Max Cleland). Not fag bashing, or bleating over the Terri Schiavo. Katrina revealed the utter unpreparedness of the Federal Government, that is the Republican controlled Federal Government to protect its people.
George Bush is worse than lair (I'm a uniter, not a divider), he is a stubborn, in-curious, incompetent leader of a party about to have any number of its leaders head off to jail.
This debate over Iraq/Iran here at Greg's blog takes place in a vacuum that ignores the fact that the American pulbic has seen Bush, Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz, Libby, Frist, Lott, Rumsfeld and the rest revealed as just plain dumb policy-wise in every area of government.
When a true crisis hit, our fearless leader could not bring the resources of our military might to bear to help 1200 people stranded in the middle of an American city, while all of it played out live on national television.
The 82nd Airbone could have been there in 18 hours if the smirking chimp had willed it so. Yet no one dared show in-curious Groge the facts until days into the event. What unreality field keep these clowns from just turning on CNN to see dead grandmothers in wheelchairs rotting in the sun?
Americans have seen senators jumping into a debate of the death of a woman who vegatated away for 14 years, all but calling her husband a murderer while making remote diagnosis from the floor of the Senate. You think the so-called independent voter missed all this?
Or futher that women all across the country, the soccer moms who help GW win, who always figured the anti-abortion talk from the GOP was just rehtoric that would never REALLY be applied aren't now horrified at the legislation in South Dakota. Or similar anti-abortion legislation proposed elsewhere? How can this not affect the debate over Iraq as people weight just how much and how far to trust George Bush.
So we come to today. Why in Christ's name should Americans believe this group will be any more effective in dealing with Iran? What reason is there to believe that the 100,000 ghost Iraqi professional Army will ever appear, or the 300,000 policemen. Ones who won't torture there ethnic enimies or rat us out the the insurgency?
This is why we are losing. Why it was lost from the day president potato head said go. Incompetence. Ineffectiveness. Torture. Dogma.
People are no longer so scared of the all-powerful terrorist that they are willing to give free reign to a fag bashing, religiously intolerant, incompetent, money grubbing bunch of fools just because they claim they can protect us better than the other guy.
The GOP is going to get it's ass royaly kicked in just a few months.
Thank you for the compliment.
Actually, you misunderstand me. If I do exit Mr. Djerejian's blog, it will be to the right. If you knew the meaning of "Nha Bao," you might get it. Look it up in a Vietnamese-English dictionary.
However, I shan't be exiting just to satisfy you, because I enjoy ridiculing Gregory.
Have a pleasant day.
Nha Bao Noi Lao, An Tien
Thank you for the kind words.
Actually, you misundertand me. I don't have a problem with anyone ridiculing Greg. I only ask that you do so with a bit more insight, style, humor and class. Try not to be so "jejune." If you knew the meaning of "jejune," you might get it. Look it up in a dictionary.
Insurers have notified tens of thousands of people in Medicare's new drug benefit plan that they might be kicked out because their premiums have not been paid.
But many who received the letters in the past few days insist they have already paid, have signed up for automatic Social Security deductions or qualify for free coverage, according to insurance counseling programs in California, New York, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
Voted into office because they were supposedly more experienced, level headed and competent, the Bush administration continues to demonstrate they can't effectively run a governemnt, much less fight two wars while planning for a third.
Is it November yet?
Professor Hanson is the only person I have seen lately to write sensibly about "WWIV".
Posted by: Duane at April 19, 2006 08:40 PM | Permalink to this comment
With all due respect Duane, part of your problem is that you respect the wrong people or rather fail to see them critically with all their limitations, flaws and errors. Victor David Hanson may be the best academic writer on the tactical aspects of ancient warefare, but when it comes to historical analysis and interpretation... well le'ts just say he doesn't get it.
Asia Times commentotor Spengler summed it up better than I ever could.
You are correct. Already Zinni is being "Swift Boated". Apparently his views have changed drastically from his Clinton years. I predict you , your father, and his friends in the State Department will also be "Swift Boated" for this anti Rumsfeld caper. Your father's cronies in the state Department may take another hit in the Wilson affair. Isn't DC politics fun?
And yes, Kosovo is directly relevant to this debate. The same idiots who are so certain that Rumsfeld has screwed up in Iraq are the same people who think Kosovo was a success.
jt007, you are being even more illogical than you say they are.
I agree with you that Kosovo has not been at all successful. And the lesson we should have learned from that was...?
Well, we should have figured that iraq would not be any more successful, or else we might have come up with very careful plans to make it go better than kosovo.
But we did neither. Before the war the warmongers said it would all be cheap, easy, and the troops would mostly be out in 6 months. And 3 years later you're bothered that people complain that we're losing.
Never mind anybody who thinks kosovo was a big success. Kosovo should have showed us: Iraq was going to be fifty times harder. But you guys didn't pay any attention to that lesson. And now you want *me* to suck it up and support the stupidest war we've ever aggressed our way into -- So far.
Look, people talked about genocide in iraq, but it mostly wasn't happening. Saddam's secret police went after anybody who spoke out against the government, which was usually not many people. A bad situation, but not exactly ethnic cleansing.
Now it's happening. Under our guidance. I bet you didn't notice that, did you?
A U.S. military source told Newsweek, “The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists. From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation.” January 2005. The civil war they've got now? We intended it. Part of our strategy. Maybe it would have happened anyway without us.... But we intended to make iraq more like kosovo. There was a little wink-wink nudge-nudge where we didn't completely admit that's what we were doing. But can you doubt it?
In reality, Rumsfeld and Bush decided to actually do something about the problem in Iraq as difficult as it might be with the too small military Clinton bequeathed them.
They've had 5 years to build the military back up. Blaming Clinton now is getting thin. They chose not to increase the size of the military. They could have started in 2000 and build up pretty far by 2003. But they didn't. They could have started in 2003 and built up OK by now. But they didn't try.
Finally, you chastise people for having the audacity to challenge these dissenting generals
Hey, when civilians criticise the war the standard rejoinder is "You're a civilian, you don't really know anything. Shut up and pay your taxes."
And when low-ranking ex-soldiers criticise the war from their experience, the standard rejoiner is "You don't see the big picture. The guys who understand the strategy know everything is working out just like it's supposed to."
Now we get the generals who saw the big picture, who went in optimistic and did their best to get the job done, and they saw the results. And you want to assume they're lying for -- fame? Monetary gain? Political advantage? Treasonous intent? Sheesh.
Never mind, so many facts flying around in this thread. So passé. Facts don't matter, attitude, image, whatever that can be spun matters. The base matters. So, grand strategy, whatever, fine and dandy, the USA this, Iran that, what silliness: it is the midterms that matter. How slow are you? Will the Republican Party retain its majority or will it not? Teheran is a tool for this goal, it will be used to further this goal, maybe successfully, maybe unsuccesfully. We are talking politics here, not your Belgravian grand strategy. This I gather is the administration that was strongly supported in this pages in 2004. Now there's a clue.
Have you read the book "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq" by John Crawford? He writes in the book that the Generals and other high level officers were never around (in Kuwait, maybe?) unless there was a higher up visiting or a photo shoot for some reason. So, I guess it is pretty amazing that the Generals are even taking time to speak up for the benefit of the military men who are really in danger and fighting the insurgents from the front lines.
>It's not our frakking country. How long would conquest work?
Now that's another question entirely. I didn't tell president potato head to invade the place. But he did and now we're there for good or ill.
Assuming the smirking chimp has no plans to leave anytime soon and seeing how the Iraqi Army (so-called) is useless, to keep our troops from sitting in the middle of a civil war a reboot of the government is the way to go. Otherwise we pack up our toys and go home.
> they have told me that outside of Baghdad
Achieving stability outside Baghdad is like achieving stability outside Beirut in Lebanon; it's a nice talking point, but it certainly omits the vital center of government and of the country, and of all sectarian strife.
> people talked about genocide in iraq, but it mostly wasn't happening.
Saddam commited genocide twice, but not recently. The first time was under Reagan, and Reagan was his friend, and Reagan and Schultz worked had to prevent newspapers or Congress from speaking against genocide. (Note: Not only Republicans were pro-Saddam/genocide -- Dem. Rep Dan Rostenkowski controlled the House Ways & Means, and he was with the pro-Saddam/genocide faction.) They were concerned with US farm sales to Saddam, and US chemical company sales (the US chemical companies were against condemning the use of chemical weapons, perhaps unsurprisingly).
The second time Saddam committed genocide was under Bush I, and the US military watched it happen, having pulled back to Kuwait borders, and the Bush I administration resisted calls for condemnation of genocide.
So, it does smack of opportunism for the US, having watched Saddam's genocidal attempts and having tried to hard not to speak against them at the time, to claim moral high ground for invoking them years afterwards as justification when the other claims for justification have foundered on a sea of untruths.
frank wallace, out of curiosity, where did you get that information?
Gregory, great post!
If the Generals wanted Bush to fire Rummy, they sure as hell went about it the wrong way.
I'm surprised so few have commented on what POOR PLANNING this was on the generals' part. Is this an example of their planning expertise?
By doing what they did, int he way they did it, they made it impossible for Bush to now fire Rummy.
So what purpose did it serve?
Please tell me, what GOOD came from all of this? I can't see any.
By doing what they did, int he way they did it, they made it impossible for Bush to now fire Rummy.
That's silly. Bush can fire Rummy whenever he gets the balls to fire Rummy.
"You're doing a heck of a job, Rummy!" And then wait a decent interval, like 3 days, and fire him.
The political damage Bush gets from keeping Rummy is far more than the damage Bush would get from waffling on Rummy.
If Bush can't fire Rummy it isn't because of anything any generals did. It's because Rummy can dig up too many skeletons that Bush needs to keep buried. Maybe Rummy can blackmail Bush into keeping him.
Cheap shots by Klinghoffer to be sure, but take a look at what you wrote Greg. Anyone who supports the president/Rumsfeld (Pace, Myers, Franks) are simply "yes men." The other generals are obviously the Knowers of All because they have the same opinion as yours. Franks' Pace's, et al qualifications to speak out on this matter are just as good as those of the anti-Rumsfeld generals. You think they're just toeing the party line? How about the retired generals that have also come out in support of Rumsfeld?
You get far too emotional in your arguments these days.
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