December 18, 2004

Another Rightist Anti-Rumsfeld Voice

Frederick Kagan, writing in the Weekly Standard. A must-read. Excerpts below--but do click through and read the whole thing.

The overall manpower situation of the American military, too, is grim. By increasing troop strength primarily by extending the tours of duty of American forces already in Iraq, and by steadfastly refusing to consider increasing the size of the Army in any meaningful way, the administration has committed itself to a risky policy. It effectively assumes that one of three things will happen after the Iraqi elections: (1) The violence and resistance to the establishment of secular democracy will suddenly and dramatically diminish; or (2) the American Army will be able to withstand indefinitely unprecedented strains and hardships; or (3) Iraq will somehow cease to be an American military problem once a democratically elected government has taken power in Baghdad. The first two possibilities are wishful thinking; the third is terrifying.

There is little reason to imagine that insurgent attacks will suddenly and dramatically cease with the election of a democratic Iraqi government. The insurgents are not fighting simply to drive the United States out of Iraq, but to prevent the formation of precisely such a government. For some insurgents, in fact, only a government based on a radical interpretation of Islam can be legitimate. The period after the elections may well see attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces on a par with those we've seen in recent months.

It is quite possible that the insurgents will begin to shift their attacks away from U.S. forces and onto Iraqi forces and leaders, but Americans should take no solace from such a scenario. The nascent Iraqi state will not be able to defend itself for many months, perhaps years, after the election. Until then, it will be vulnerable to insurgents who can play on difficulties in the economy and on the inevitable hiccups that attend the formation of any new democracy. It is highly probable that if U.S. forces do not continue to defend democracy in Iraq, then democracy in Iraq will perish.

The consequences may well be disastrous should democracy fail in Iraq. When the United States invaded Iraq with the intention of establishing the first Arab democracy, it placed democracy itself on trial in the Middle East. Many in the region, and outside as well, declared that Arabs could not have democracy, or, more ominously, that democracy was inappropriate for Muslims. If the United States oversees the first real elections in a modern Arab land and then sits idly by as radical insurgents destroy the government, we will have set back the cause of democracy in the Middle East immeasurably. We will also have created excellent conditions for terrorists to reestablish bases and training camps in the heart of the Muslim world. The only way forward for America now is through success in Iraq. [emphasis added]

Be sure not to miss the part about why Kagan doesn't think we need a draft. I agree. If Americans are called upon, they will subsitute putting up yellow ribbons for volunteering to serve. But what is really needed now is leadership and straight talk--including an honest facing up regarding the resources we may need to ensure we get the job of Iraqi democratization done.

John Kerry, of course, would have most likely simply organized a cut and run from Iraq within 3 or so years--in time to declare a 'successful' Iraq exit for his '08 run so as to placate the Dean-wing of the party. Throughout his campaign, he manifested, and in spades, his basic disinterest and even contempt about the stakes surrounding the Iraq project. Bush, on the other hand, and to is immense credit, is trying to see this hugely difficult endeavour through, which is far and away the main reason why I supported him. But he seems to be hoping the elections (and a too hasty train and equip program) will prove panaceas of sorts. Put differently, and even beefing up to 150,000 (albeit too many of these overstretched, underqualified reserves), he's trying to do it on the cheap, with fingers crossed, hoping things will get better after January 30th.

But as Kagan and other adult, non-chest beating, non-breezily self-congratulatory conservatives are pointing out, that may not be the case. Look, few would be happier than B.D. if we were so lucky that all went swimmingly in Iraq post-elections. But we must plan for far more negative contingencies, as Kagan rightly points out. Don Rumsfeld doesn't seem capable of honestly reckoning with those contingencies (nor, it appears, do the other pet budget-interested, transformationalist cheerleaders around him). So in my view, and it's getting increasingly important, the President (whom I believe truly cares about the Iraq project and has the conviction to match--but doesn't appear to fully appreciate the quantum of prospective dangers ahead) needs to get better advice on the Iraq war than he is currently getting from the civilian leadership of the Pentagon.

Mitch McConnell, as is his wont (stolid party man to a tee!), is playing Rumsfeld defense (along with Bill Frist). Frist appears to believe some of the griping is more 'style over substance'--aggrieved lawmakers bitching because Rummy doesn't kiss their asses like they are accustomed to. Sorry, but that's mostly bullsh*t. Risking losing the war because we don't understand what force presence we may need if things get nasty isn't style. It's, um, a substantive matter. So let McConnell do his Rummy-defense rounds. But to Hagel, Kristol, McCain, Kagan, Donnelly, Collins, Coleman, and Lott I suspect more will add their voices regarding the need to push Rumsfeld out relatively soon. On the Senate side, I'm looking to Richard Lugar, Lindsey Graham and, yes (just maybe!), John Warner next: (LATE UPDATE: Yes, I saw Meet the Press today. More on that at end of this post. Note this post was originally written Saturday the 18th).

An embattled Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cannot expect support from Sen. John Warner, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who normally supports the Bush administration on military matters.

"I've had it with him," Warner told a Senate colleague recently, referring to Rumsfeld. The 77-year-old Warner, a five-term senator and former secretary of the Navy who is a veteran of both the Navy and Marine Corps, complained about Rumsfeld's neglect of senators during a Senate Republican caucus two years ago. Nothing has changed since then, in Warner's opinion."

Robert Novak has, er, been known to inject his policy agendas into his copy here and there--it's probably not unfair to say. And he's no Rummy fan, of course. So take the above quoted piece with a grain of salt.

Still: "I've had it with him." You're not alone Senator! (See more below re: Warner coyly fielding a question from Tim Russert on whether he actually said this. Bottom line: he doesn't flat out deny saying it--instead opting for the oft-used Washington 'I have no recollection of it' non-answer answer).

An aside. The Bushes are well known for their loyalty. Poppy would likely have beaten Clinton in '92 if he had dumped Quayle and put in Powell, perhaps. This loyalty is an admirable quality, in my view. But it does sometimes make needed personnel adjustments, shall we say, difficult. So the pitch influential rightist commentators and congresspersons need to make to Bush is not 'hey, Don is not serving you well. You gotta throw him overboard'. That will backfire because Bush will feel he is being asked to do something disloyal.

The angle should be, rather, "Mr. President, Iraq is the fulcrum of the war on terror as you, more than anyone, state repeatedly and well realize. And your Secretary of Defense, as admirable and talented as he is, and as noble his past service, has become overly recalcitrant regarding grappling with some of the more difficult scenarios that may await us in 2005 and 2006 in Iraq. Some of these may mean readjusting our force posture there. This most likely means a larger standing army--particularly given that we may face additional challenges in other theaters during this period. Your Secretary of Defense appears unwilling to face up to this possibility. I would suggest, therefore, that you consider replacing him not too long after the Iraq elections with someone less beholden and married to transformationalist tenets that, in current form, are often too overblown. Don't get me wrong, Mr. President. Many of these ideas are critical, smart and need to be implemented. And Rummy's damn good at pushing tough reforms through a vast and difficult bureaucracy. But he's not indispensable. And, most important, he doesn't seem to understand well enough that trained, qualified, appropriate to the task boots on the ground still matter mightily. And we simply don't have enough of them at the ready. Unfortunately, your Defense Secretary doesn't realize this or, even worse, does but is simply unwilling to change course. Thus the pressing need for new leadership at the Pentagon. Please give it all due consideration..."

Or something less long-winded than that. But you get my point.

P.S. Don't miss more on Rummy at B.D. here, here, and here. Be sure to read the comments to these posts, both pro and contra B.D., which are (mostly) polite, sincere, and intelligently argued. Thanks for the feedback.

Oh, and Tom Maguire agrees with me! I mean, what else do you need to know, really? Now, if only Glenn would reconsider his staunch support of Rumsfeld...we'd start building up some right blogosphere momentum akin to some of what's going on in print media. Glenn, it's not just about the armored humvees or that the Secretary couldn't find the time to personally sign condolence letters to families of dead serviceman (recall there wasn't enough time to read the Taguba report in its entirety either, alas). The Rummy story is much bigger than any journalistic gotcha by proxy that got the predictable MSM blowhards in a big tizzy. It's about much deeper issues besides. Like whether our current military planning and force presence is the best suited to see Iraqi democratization through--a goal Glenn has tirelessly and admirably promoted. So why does Glenn so casually throw the whole issue over to the legislative branch? Shouldn't the Defense Secretary be taking the lead on issues like the size of our armed forces? Wouldn't a Secretary of Defense loudly opining that we needed to face up to possible manpower shortages have an impact on getting the requisite bills passed through Congress? Er, yes and yes, of course.

Late Sunday Update:

Some Lugar/Warner roll-back on Tim Russert's show. But it's pretty lukewarm fare. Sounds more by way of let's keep Rumsfeld through the elections and immediate aftermath than a ringing endorsement that he serve out a full second term.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Lugar, Senator Frist and Senator McConnell, the leaders of the Republican Party, both issued statements in support of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. John McCain said he has "no confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld." Trent Lott from Mississippi, Republican, says he's not a fan of the secretary: "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officials." Should Secretary Rumsfeld be held accountable for what's going on in Iraq? Should he stay in office?

SEN. LUGAR: He should be held accountable, and he should stay in office. He needs at this point to listen, and he is listening. My own assumptions are much as Joe Biden's. We have heard in our committee, and I'm sure John and Carl have in theirs, about the deficiency of the equipment, about the difficulties. We've had 23 hearings. We've heard it all. We have made recommendations. When a sergeant stood up, however, in that public meeting and said something, he got some action, $4.1 billion more security suddenly moving ahead. I say more power to him.

The fact is that change of leadership in the Pentagon at this point might be as disruptive as trying to get somebody in homeland defense. We really cannot go through that ordeal. We have to hold accountable the secretary of defense and those who are responsible. Maybe we should be more vigilant and outspoken, and probably we all will be because this is crucial. In terms of the safety of our troops, not only their signing up, but their being effective out there now. And even more importantly for their safety, getting Iraqis able to patrol their own streets and patrol their own destiny.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Warner, Bob Novak quotes you as telling a colleague "I've had it with him," regarding Rumsfeld? Is that accurate?

SEN. WARNER: Bob's going to follow on after we leave here. I'd like to have an opportunity to see him, and I would simply say I don't have any recollection of that. Matter of fact, I get up sometimes in the morning and look at my myself in the mirror and say, "I've had it with you, Warner. Shape up." But let me say, I have served...

MR. RUSSERT: But do you have confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld?

SEN. WARNER: I'll answer that. Give me a few minutes or a second. I have served with 11 secretaries of defense, three when I was secretary of the Navy at the Pentagon, and since then, now 25 years, on the Armed Services Committee. They're all different. But I assure you that in the three-plus years that I have worked with Secretary Rumsfeld, we've had our differences. We still have some. But I have confidence in my ability and his ability to continue to work together as a team for the common goals of the men and women of the Armed Forces and to support the goals of the commander in chief.

We're at war. And you're right, Dick, we should not at this point in time entertain any idea of changing those responsibilities in the Pentagon. We're going to go through this election. We're going to have a tough period after that election. And we should express our confidence in the commander in chief and his principal subordinates. The president makes the choice, and we're going to back the president and support his choice and make it work. [emphasis added]

As I said, pretty lukewarm fare (Lugar: Listen up! Warner: We should not, "at this point", entertain leadership changes at Pentagon. The so routine "let's all do our part to backstop POTUS' chosen principals" verbiage). Look, I completely agree that we are facing a hugely critical juncture in Iraq right now (at least through the elections and immediate aftermath) so that yes, we should not (especially with all the underwhelming Kerik shenanigans underway) be replacing the Secretary of Defense just now. It's in mid-'05 or '06 that I hope he gets the heave-ho. Incidentally, I'm still thinking it's even money that's going to happen. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But more of us who supported the Iraq war and want it to succeed, really succeed (not some morally defunct exit strategy involving leaving behind some mediocre, vulnerable Iraqi army prematurely declared ready for prime time), are feeling that new leadership is urgently needed at the Pentagon. Recall, Rumsfeld is not an Irving Kristol style neo-con (think Wolfowitz) or, alternately, a "national greatness" conservative (think McCain). He's pretty much an American nationalist of Jacksonian stripe and, deep down I suspect, he doesn't really care whether a true democracy takes root in Iraq. Indeed, his stewardship of the Pentagon is, increasingly, manifestly showing that.

MORE: Glenn writes: "Greg thinks we need enough American troops to physically protect all the polling places in a country the size of California." As I wrote to Glenn in an E-mail, I don't think anything I've written on this blog could fairly be construed as a call to have G.I.s man each and every of the approximately 9,000 polling stations in Iraq. So Glenn makes me look a bit silly, of course, by stating that's my position. But that's O.K., as Glenn is a blog-friend, generous linker and all around good guy. And he might fairly feel his sentence captures the 'spirit' of my 'more boots on the ground' argumentation.

This little blog-fracas aside, however, what I do know, for instance, is that we didn't have enough troops to take Fallujah while keeping sizable forces in the so called 'triangle of death' south of Baghdad. So we had to rotate the Brits in--and in quite small number. And so, of course, fleeing Fallujan insurgents went to areas south of Baghdad or points Mosul--and lived to fight another day. This is just one example among many regarding how we never brought overwhelming forces to bear during the counter-insurgency campaign. Yeah, I know some of this smells like Monday quarterbacking and that some commenters will beat me up about that. But as I've repeatedly argued in this blog, and piggy-backing on a phrase employed in a CFR report chaired by the very able Tom Pickering, security is the "critical enabler" in achieving all our other goals in Iraq (democratization, economic revitalization, reconstruction). And we've simply never had the resources in theater to make a real go at providing real security on the ground (including, importantly, the capital city). So yeah, I would have been happier with about double the troop deployment, about 300,000-350,000 men, devoted to this campaign. That might not be enough to protect each and every polling station in a country the size of California--but it might have been enough to better quash a insurgency that remains quite potent today.

STILL MORE: Andrew, who generously links this post, has more on Rumsfeld in the Sunday Times (UK) today. Teaser and best line from Sully's Times piece: "Getting Rumsfeld to admit that he is wrong is a little like expecting George Bush to become pregnant." It sure is.

Posted by Gregory at December 18, 2004 06:08 PM | TrackBack (91)

You should be getting paid by the White House with ideas as useful as that. How about this: Rummy is appointed head of the new Homeland Security Department, freeing up DOD.

-Can I get a job at the White House?

Unemployed law student

Posted by: Marc at December 18, 2004 07:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kristol interviewed on NPR here:

Rumsfeld's former colleague shanks him here:

Posted by: praktike at December 18, 2004 07:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kagan has been singing the same tune for at least a year now. He appears to believe the current military reorganization and RMA is badly off-track. I found his earlier work on the subject--this piece, for example--unconvincing. He appears to have little appreciation for aviation issues, evidenced by some basic errors in weapons systems (e.g., missing the fact that the F-16 is primarily an air-to-ground asset, and claiming the A-10 had a 23mm gun). But mainly, he misses some of the obvious ramifications of the US advantage of vastly more effective air power.

With proper integration, any soldier with a GPS and a radio can call on an arsenal of supporting arms. It should be obvious that optimizing that mix leads to lighter, more deployable forces with better tactical mobility (e.g., Strykers). That force will certainly include some main battle tanks . . . but maintaining several times the number we can employ with current or projected strategic lift assets makes little sense. Similarly, Kagan's arguments to return Army troop strength to what we had in the last war, or to maintain the "virtue" of redundancy is unpersuasive. Whatever the proper level, it should be based on actual need. Rumsfeld's plan for a leaner, more effective military is more logical--and I see nothing obviously wrong with the argument that an influx of recruits at the current time would be counterproductive. If the current strain is temporary, stop-loss is the proper remedy. Authorizing higher end strengths can wait until later in reorganization.

Posted by: Cecil Turner at December 18, 2004 09:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Since you're so stridently anti-Rumsfeld, I doubt it would matter much, but for the sake of truth you should know that the recent town hall meeting that was the source of all the new-found anti-Rumsfeld voices has been distorted so out of proportion as to be a completely false representation of what took place.

Furthermore, the Tennesse Guardsman whose question about armor sparked the entire uproar entered Iraq without incident - not a single bullet fired according to his SGT. Furthermore, the Pentagon held a news conference and reported that the Guardsman's unit had 800 vehicles and all 800 were armored before they entered Iraq. In fact, at the time he asked the question planted by the reporter, 784 of the 800 were already uparmored.

As you know, I believe Rumsfeld is doing a fine job, and his thoughts and comments are being taken out of context, distorted for partisan purposes and used to lessen his influence.

I'm disappointed that you refuse to see the facts and continue to call for his resignation.

Posted by: antimedia at December 18, 2004 11:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am interested in a citation or some authority for the facts about uparmoring. If your argument is that the criticism has no basis in fact, I'd be interested in where you can show that to be the case. Post a link or something, I've got an open mind.

Posted by: Marc at December 19, 2004 12:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marc - Army Times just did an InfoGraphic as part of their 'expose". Essentially confirms what antimedia has just told us.

You can google the link, but it's subscription only. Perhaps someone here w/o a .mil address can post a link.

Posted by: Tommy G at December 19, 2004 02:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"[Warner] complained about Rumsfeld's neglect of senators..."

More proof that a lot of the Senators' problems with Rumsfeld have nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with the fact the Rumsfeld doesn't kiss their asses like they are used to.

Too bad. Anybody who refuses to kiss Senators' asses has got a big plus in my book.

Posted by: Al at December 19, 2004 02:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BTW - I'm still wondering why not a single one of the commanders on the ground have called for the 100,000+ more troops that Greg thinks are so obviously needed. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM.

I'm wondering - are ALL of our military commanders who've been in Iraq such simpering cowards that they are afraid to go public withwhat Greg thinks is blindingly obvious? Why is it that we have such brave soldiers and such cowardly commanders, eh, Greg?

Posted by: Al at December 19, 2004 02:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here's the citation mark -

I quote the relevant parts of the article, but you can read the transcript here -

I do have to make one correction. The total number of vehicles that the 278th had was 804, not 800. There were 20 vehicles left to uparmor when Spec. Wilson asked his question, and all 20 were completed within 24 hours. The digging through wrecks to get armor line was a complete falsehood.

Posted by: antimedia at December 19, 2004 02:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

so who should replace rumsfeld? would mccain take the honor?

Posted by: john marzan at December 19, 2004 10:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Antimedia, you see a general covering his ass and you believe he never left a big red target painted on it in the first place?

Why are you so trusting?

Posted by: J Thomas at December 19, 2004 03:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas, you believe that generals will lie to reporters who can easily fact check what he says?

All any reporter would have to do is ask anyone from the 278th whether or not their vehicles were uparmored when they entered Iraq, and the general would be exposed as a bald-faced liar.

Why are you so dis-trusting?

When someone gives you bs and general platitudes in an interview, then you should question them. But when someone gives you specific information that can be easily fact checked, the likelihood of them lying about it is somewhere near nil.

Did you notice that the reporter repeated the question twice? Do you think it's unlikely that he will try to verify those numbers? And if he does, don't you think it will be front page news if the general lied?

John Marzan, IMO McCain would be a terrible SecDef. He's mired in the military of the past - throw huge numbers at the enemy, sacrifice lots of young men, but overwhelm the enemy with numbers. Not the kind of military that will win against al Qaeda.

Posted by: antimedia at December 19, 2004 06:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is deeply committed to staying the course in Iraq. The Democrats' presidential candidate said plainly how badly things were going there, while the incumbent made light of them. Had Kerry been elected, he would have had to fear devastating attacks in 2008 had he "lost" Iraq. Kerry also advocated increasing the size of the army by two divisions.
Going back to the judgment calls made in 2002: let's say BD's estimation of the situation now adds up to "a 40% chance of outright disaster." How sure is he that not invading and occupying Iraq entailed risks of greater magnitiude?

Posted by: Kerryier at December 19, 2004 07:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

J Thomas, I think you have a problem with whatever tool you are using to post links. Obviously, you'd want to cite some - any - evidence that the General was lying. If not, you'd be perceived as being dishonest. So, trusting that you are not dishonest, I have to assume your link posting abilites have been comprimised.

I should trust you, right?

Posted by: Scaramonga at December 20, 2004 02:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Scaramonga, I think you have a problem with logic.

I said the general was doing CYA. Is there any doubt about that?

Of course I have no evidence that he's lying, he's probably in fact telling the truth. After it turned into a giant scandal, they would have done *whatever it took* to make sure that particular unit had all its vehicles up to class 3.

And as several people have pointed out already, it's already policy that no vehicle goes into iraq that doesn't meet class 3. So if the 278th had not managed to get all their vehicles at least nominally up to standard they would have had to leave some behind, or arrange to carry them on flatbeds, or be in violation of policy.

So if it did turn out that they left without sufficient armor, and if a reporter somehow found one of the soldiers of that unit and asked him and he told them that, the soldier would be disloyal to his own unit commander. It would make the general look bad. It would make the army look bad. The soldier who asked Rumsfeld about it in front of newsmen has already made the army look bad and they said he wouldn't be punished for it. But if word got out that the 278th commander went into iraq without sufficient armor, against orders, is there any reason not to punish *him*?

It looks like you guys ere pretending you think our troops have more of a commitment to telling absolute truth to the media than they have loyalty to their unit.

Why do you pretend you think that?

At any rate, I don't see what lie you think I told. There was a great big scandal and General Speakes had the job of doing CYA and showing that there was no actual scandal at all, nothing to see here, move along, move along. Clearly it would be better if he could do that without telling any specific lies. And it was his duty to get that result whether or not he had to lie to do it.

Do you believe the digging through junkpiles line was a complete lie? Why do you believe that US soldier would lie like that in front of the media? It's clear why the general would lie (if necessary) to protect the Army. Why would the soldier lie?

Posted by: J Thomas at December 20, 2004 03:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think that J Thomas understands what the phrase "CYA" means. There are exactly two possibilities here:

1. Speakes is telling the truth. In that case, the entire armor "scandal" is made-up bullsh*t. Speakes is not "doing CYA", but rather he is calling the MSM on its made-up bullsh*t. When you tell the MSM that everything they are writing is bullsh*t, that ain't "CYA", J Thomas... it's speaking truth to power - something the MSM doesn't know the first thing about.

2. Speakes is lying. I have seen absolutely no evidence of this.

So which is it, J Thomas? Speakes is telling the truth, and the entire "scandal" is made-up bullsh*t, and it would therefore be impossible for this to be "CYA"? Or is he lying?

Posted by: Al at December 20, 2004 05:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One other point on this: "So yeah, I would have been happier with about double the troop deployment, about 300,000-350,000 men, devoted to this campaign."

I'm curious where Greg thinks all of these troops would come from? Frankly, I think it is high time we withdrew our troops from SKorea, Germany and Japan. But other than those troops, where else would another 150,000 - 200,000 troops come from?

(And don't say that we should have been recruiting them all along: even if Bush DID think we might need them, new troops would hardly be ready by now. And we certainly coun't ramp up the size of the army that quickly - heck, it's only been a bit over 2 years since we began this project. Let's face it, by the time we could have recruited an increase in the size of the military necessary for the troops Greg says we've needed all along, it would EASILY be 2007+. The only other option would have been to postpone the invasion until 2007 - no, Greg?)

Posted by: Al at December 20, 2004 05:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If our Congress critters are so sure we need more troops why haven't they authorized them?

Congress can force this on the military if they believe the military is doing badly.

Troop strength is not Rummy's job. He can advise on the matter.

Troop strength is the job of Congress.

Why doesn't Saint McCain introduce a bill? Either he lacks courage or he is just dancing on stage,

Posted by: M. Simon at December 20, 2004 07:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


OK. Kerry says we need two more divisions. Fine by me.

As I understand it he was a Senator all during the election campaign.

Why didn't he introduce a bill?

As I understand it he has been a Senator for 20 years. As I understand it he has been a Senator every day since 9/11. Where is the Bill?

OK suppose for political positioning he didn't want to introduce it. As I understand it there are 40+ Dem Senators. Couldn't he have induced at least one to start cranking the sausage machine?

OK. So military matters are the province of the House generally. Master pol Kerry couldn't induce even one of them to introduce a bill?

Posted by: M. Simon at December 20, 2004 08:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I know this may be hard to believe in America, but the military fights with what Congress gives it.

No doubt the military can ask. It does.

Congress has the final say. If they believe the mil boys are asking for too little they can force more on the mil guys. They often do. Many times for reasons that are not strictly military.

Posted by: M. Simon at December 20, 2004 08:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BTW this is not the first "not enough" whine heard here.

This bit came out in June.

So why hasn't Congress come to the rescue?

Posted by: M. Simon at December 20, 2004 08:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"If Americans are called upon, they will subsitute putting up yellow ribbons for volunteering to serve."

I don't get this statement -- it doesn't seem to fit your context. So I'll assume you mean roughly the opposite -- that if called upon, Americans will substitute volunteering to serve for putting up yellow ribbons, thereby easing the personnel problem in Iraq. If so, and you really believe it, then you are a lunatic. What person in their right mind would go to that hellhole we created?

So now it's all about "democratization" then, is it? I thought it was Weapons of Mass Destruction and terrorists -- the threat Iraq posed to the US. Now it's about what we want to do for them -- 'democratize' them. What's left of the civilian population, anyway, the dead amongst whom we cannot seem to count. I guess they'll have to fix that counting problem before any election.

It seems to me there are plenty of non-democracies that pose no threat whatsoever to the US, which also pretty much describes Iraq before this ghastly war. And what kind of government another country has is really none of the US's business. It's certainly none of mine, and I don't plan on risking my neck doing "democratization" work anywhere. (But I bet it looks great on a resume.)

Watch your son go over there, and then get him -- or what's left of him -- back in a box. Along with a condolence letter personally signed by Rumsfeld, of course. And knowing there's Democracy in Iraq will make that sacrifice ever so more worthwhile, won't it? Yeah, that's the ticket.

Posted by: x at December 20, 2004 11:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Al, maybe I don't understand what CYA means. Why don't you tell me what it means?

The way I use it, it means you're in an exposed position and you act to cover your ass. Speakes did that.

It's possible for Speakes to be telling the literal truth and the serviceman who started the scandal also told the truth. Note that they have 3 classes of HumVee armor. The first class goes on new armored HumVees, that were designed to take it. They say that's very good armor. The second class is the kits that retrofit some of the existing HumVees. That isn't nearly as good as the first class but they can't put that much armor on older HumVees because they don't have the engines, suspensions, etc to take it. The third class is armor that's improvised locally. I'm guessing it's for older lighter HumVees but I don't right now remember seeing how they decide which ones don't get 2nd-class armor. They could very well have had guys sorting through scrapheaps for stuff to turn into class 3 armor.

Of course the schedule called for every vehicle to get at least class 3 armor before they went into iraq. Why would they post a schedule that didn't? And of course they crossed the iraqi border without firing a shot. Is it usual for US units to get fired on as soon as they cross the border?

They'll probably be ordering those extra 100-a-month first-class-armored HumVees right away. Why not, now that the media has pointed it out? But they need stuff now and a hundred a month is barely enough to make up losses, if that. So of course our troops will be using HumVees with third-class armor, whatever can be patched together, and we'll replace the vehicles as they get destroyed or maybe even sooner.

So OK, have you heard whether the reporter who helped that guy practice his delivery of his question, is still with the 278th? I'd right off guess that he wouldn't feel very welcome just now. I haven't seen anything one way or another, but I'd guess that it won't be that easy for the media to interview the 278th guys for awhile, except under carefully-controlled conditions. Those guys won't want to be interviewed, either. They made the army look bad, and they're going to be careful not to do it again.

Did Speakes's careful damage-control presentation include any significant lies? I'm sure the policies he presented are real policies. I'm sure they aren't universally followed. In wartime, how could they be? Were there any lies that mattered? I don't know and I doubt you know either.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 20, 2004 03:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Saddam was firing missiles at US planes on a UN mission. Clearly an act of war.

We don't need no stinkin' WMDs.

OTOH Saddam had his hand in the first attacks on the twin towers. An act of war.

Who knows what he might have done next?

We can be pretty sure these days: try to defend himself in court. Better than robbing his people of food and using the proceedes to build his armed forces. Or his WMD capabilities. Since he would not allow full inspections there was no way to be sure what he was up to.

Now we know. He is up to spending time in jail, prepratory to being tried by the Iraqi people.

I know putting Saddam out of business and giving the Iraqi people a chance at democracy are horrible outcomes. I guess we will just have to learn to live with them.

BTW the military is having no trouble meeting its recruiting quotas. I think currently they are at around 106%. i.e. they are turning away volunteers.

The one place they are coming up 10% short is the reserves. The reason for this is that our men and women are re-upping at unprecidented rates.

But you are probably just as correct as the pundits of 1946 and '47. There is no way things can work out, the oncoming disaster is obvious and unprepared for.

BTW the chances of dying in Iraq in the US military is less than 1% in a year long tour. For a military at war those are very good odds.

I think your pessimism is quite helpful though. It makes our enemies overconfident. Over confidence causes them to make mistakes.

Take Fallujah. We did! Seriously out of an estimated 5,000 fighters 20% died and another 20% were captured. This has got to be hard on morale. Even the most fanatical eventually give up under those odds.

In guerilla wars you don't usually get a surrender. What happens is that over time the fighters stop showing up. Given past experience with these sorts of things it usually takes about 5 to 10 years.

The question then is: having taken Iraq for the right or wrong reasons do we abandon the Iraqi people to the bombers and the head choppers? Do we give the Baathists free reign to re-open the torture chambers and shoot little girls clutching teddy bears in the back of the head?

Personally I'm against abandoning the Iraqi people. You may have a different opinion.

Posted by: M. Simon at December 20, 2004 04:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The disinterest you see in Iraq vis-a-vis Rumsfield is not a matter of loyalty on the President's part. It is the fact the President is using the Iraq situation to cover his tracks for the looting of America. The loss of prestige alone for the cause of bringing Law and Order to Iraq after Abu Gharib and the torture memorandum sh
ould have been enough for Bush. He didn't act and hasn't.

I was not for the invasion of Iraq. I thought it was bad policy. I still think it is cover for Bush's poor econoomic policies(that's another comment But now we are there, this is not Vietnam and if we fuck this up we will never win the political war for the hearts and minds of the people of the Middle East. As long as Rumsfield is at theDOD the military war is at risk

Posted by: Robert M at December 20, 2004 05:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


As someone who wishes we had gone in heavier in the aftermath of the invasion I get a little tired of defending the planning, but here goes. First, lighter might be better. I won't go into why since others have, but I am willing to admit that they may be right, so I have trouble getting too high on my horse.

Matt though has beaten me to my real point. Maybe it would be nice if Rumsfeld were out arguing for a larger force, and had argued for that force in late 2001, before the Iraq invasion. However, that hardly means he should lose his job (though it doesn't mean he should keep it either.) The primary responsibility for that belongs to Bush within the administration. He is supposed to be the leader. The other locus of blame should be the house and senate. Neither the administration nor our congress has come forward and campaigned for exactly what everyone seems to want to fire Rumsfeld for. If it was so apparent we needed a larger force where have they been? McCain, Hagel, Biden and others are quick to blame a man who has no power to raise the size of the army and limited ability to influence public opinion. He is being made a scapegoat for Bush and the legislatureís failings. If all the hawks in our legislature (especially media magnet McCain) had spent the last four years campaigning for a larger military I suggest Bush and Rumsfeld would be on board. Rumsfeld might still want it transformed, but the actual total size he seems to be willing to see grow. If he stood in the way, then letís toss him aside. Right now we are crucifying him for things his critics in the government have never attempted to do themselves. Without a larger army my fantasies of an exetnded deployment of 250,000+ troops are just that, fantasies.

Posted by: Lance at December 20, 2004 06:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Robert, what do you think our strategy is to win hearts and minds in iraq?

Clearly it isn't by rebuilding the infrastructure. Less than 2% of the US money we've spent so far has gone to reconstruction, and surely less than 2% of the boots on the ground are devoted to that.

Clearly it isn't by holding elections. We *prevented* elections under Bremer. We aren't the ones who're holding elections now.

It isn't -- well, it isn't anything nonmilitary. Which of our military activities work to win hearts and minds? Bombing Najaf and Fallujah? Abu Ghraib? Checkpoints where we kill anybody who doesn't slow down and stop quick enough?

We've known all along that we couldn't win this as a military campaign. The military actions are only to give us the chance to do something else. And we mostly aren't doing the other stuff, whatever it would be.

It isn't particularly Rumsfeld who's messing this up. If we were actually winning hearts and minds we could scale down the occupation. Military action would get progressively less important. But that isn't happening yet.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 20, 2004 06:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A bit of trivia: it's forgotten now, but the CW just before 9/11 was that Rumsfeld's days were numbered. Here's a snapshot of that time:

From August 2001.

Posted by: Kim Scarborough at December 20, 2004 06:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Your characterization of Kerrys plan betrays your motives. If we (U.S.) were serious about this war Kerry would have had more support and would have won. You make a ridiculous assertion when you say that Kerry would have handled this war in a worse manner than Bushco. Incompetence doesn't find its hubris alone apparently.

Posted by: tb at December 20, 2004 06:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Simon, what examples do you have of guerrilla wars where the foreign occupiers beat the guerrillas in 5 to 10 years?

I can think of some. There were the indian wars in the USA. We couldn't find their war parties except when they wanted to find us. So we massacred their women and children and after awhile the men surrendered.

There was the philippines. We couldn't stop the guerrillas but we punished the civilian population until the guerrillas mostly gave up. They kept coming back over the next 40 years, then they fought the japanese, and they kept fighting after the war. We eventually reached the point that they mostly fought the tame filipinos and mostly in the mountains, and they kept trying to negotiate land reform but the local government would repeatedly agree and then back out.

Then there were the british in indonesia. Accounts of this war by the two different sides are utterly divergent. From the british side it appears the guerrillas were largely ethnic-chinese communists infiltrated from indonesia, who had so little support that small spread-thin british units eventually overcame them with the help of the local people.

From the guerrilla point of view, the british were present in large numbers with vastly superior arms and funding. They were far more brutal than the communists. And the same malayan villagers who hadn't fought against the colonialists or the against the communist ethnic-chinese insurgents, and hadn't fought the japanese or the insurgents, again didn't fight the colonialists or the insurgents. After 8 years malaya got independence but did not negotiate any end to the insurgency. After 12 years the insurgents were ready to quit but the chinese government told them they had to keep fighting. After 20 *more* years they arranged an official end to the insurgency with both the malaysian and thai governments. In short, the malayan guerrillas were dedicated fighters but they were rather bad at getting popular support.

Is there another example of a foreign army beating local guerrillas in 5-10 years? The sandanistas beat the contras handily, but they lived there. Oh, there was tibet. The tibetans were officially pacifists. The chinese apparently have killed half the tibetan population and moved in a whole lot of chinese settlers along with a great big chinese army. Kissinger suppplied tibetan insurgents with weapons long enough to get concessions from the chinese so he'd quit, and he did quit.

The indonesians beat the indonesian communists by killing somewhere between half a million and two million of them. That was locals against locals.

Saddam stopped shia and kurdish rebellions, something to do with mass graves. Local against local, and it wasn't exactly over, more the survivors were quietly sharpening their knives.

Examples of foreign armies beating local guerrillas after there once got to be enough guerrillas to matter, are few. There was the USA in greece. We killed a lot of people but we stopped the communists. The russians in hungary but I didn't hear it was exactly a guerrilla war. The vietnamese didn't manage it in cambodia even when most of the cambodians despised the khmer rouge.

Most of the examples come from before automatic weapons got cheap. Most of them involve massive reprisals against noncombatants. And there are examples where even that didn't work. 10% of algeria died and it didn't stop the rebellion against the french. Vietnam lost somewhere around 10% of their population without a surrender. Chechnya has lost some 20% and hasn't stopped fighting.

I can't think of any recent success stories, but I'm sure that what they would involve would be to somehow get the military side of things to get less and less important while some other action worked.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 20, 2004 07:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lance, Rumsfeld was the guy who should have known how many troops we needed if anybody did. He loudly and repeatedly said we didn't need any more troops.

If it's true he was wrong about that, legislators have a legitimate reason to get rid of him even if they weren't earlier sure enough about it to override him.

However, they don't get to decide, do they? All they can do about Rumsfeld is to tell the press they don't want him. It's entirely Bush's choice whether he stays -- assuming he's willing to stay. It was entirely Bush's choice to trust Rumsfeld's judgement about the war etc. It's possible they will decide -- now -- that Rumfeld's judgement is so bad that they have to fund a few extra divisions he doesn't want, to serve under his orders.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 20, 2004 08:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"...your Secretary of Defense, as admirable and talented as he is, and as noble his past service, has become overly recalcitrant regarding grappling with some of the more difficult scenarios that may await us in 2005 and 2006 in Iraq. Some of these may mean readjusting our force posture there." Please! Do you think Bush even has the vocabulary to follow the above suggested conversation!?

Posted by: steve duncan at December 20, 2004 09:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Clearly it isn't by rebuilding the infrastructure. Less than 2% of the US money we've spent so far has gone to reconstruction, and surely less than 2% of the boots on the ground are devoted to that."

Gosh 'J Thomas' - apparently "clearly" doesn't mean what you think it means - clearly.

Clearly, $16.54 Bil of the 18.4 bil dedicated to reconstruction has been spent, with work at over 1100 different (and clearly labeled, in arabic) construction sites underway as of the writing of your post. Does this constitute irony?


Posted by: Tommy G at December 21, 2004 01:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Incidentally, 103,024 workers fill 206,048 boots. Clearly, though, sizes vary.

Posted by: Tommy G at December 21, 2004 01:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tommy, if you'll look again at the link you posted, it claims that two billion dollars in reconstruction money have been spent. Well over a hundred billion dollars in military funding has been spent.

Your clarity is a bit smudged.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 21, 2004 05:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

$18b has been obligated. First your math, and now you want to play at semantics?

As to your $100b - the military costs what it cost to operate. What were you expecting? We have obligated over 80% of the money that the congress authorized. That's quite a % increase over the ZERO that we could have spent.
Could you not stand to read the whole thing? All that progress and goodwill simply to much for you to bear?

They're currently building at over 1100 sites. How does it feel to cheer-lead against a people who simply want to be free, I wonder? Sickening, I should hope.

Posted by: Art Wellesley at December 21, 2004 04:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"We don't need no stinkin' WMDs."

The invasion of Iraq, supposedly necessary because Saddam possessed and was developing WMDs, along with ties to terrorists who would make use of them, and therefore Iraq posed a direct threat to the US, has now cost, by any estimate, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians their lives (as well as perhaps an equal number of US casualties), not to mention the ongoing chaos and violence that must make life there hellish.

In the face of this, your flippant remark shows why the US is increasingly hated around the world: too many modern-day versions ("collateral damage") of the Ugly American.

At the end of September, a report by our own hand-picked Iraqi interim government showed that despite all the horrible bombings, coalition forces were still killing twice as many civilians as the insurgents:

Think Fallujah changed that?


So there's 1.06 born every minute then?

"Who knows what he might have done next?"


"a chance at democracy"

Yeah, maybe soon they'll have a swell democracy like we do, with a cretin for head of state and an electorate that refuses to hold him or his incompetent government accountable.

Posted by: x at December 21, 2004 04:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Art, I answered your pathetic attempt to cloud the issue on a thread at Belgravid Dispatch. Let's keep it there.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 21, 2004 04:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But, Mr Thomas - my delusional friend - this *is* the Belgravia Dispatch. Where do you think you are?

Posted by: Art Wellesley at December 21, 2004 06:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'll use the other thread for that issue.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 21, 2004 07:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Posted by: Ronald Proby at December 22, 2004 09:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The idea that the US can just barge in to a fractious Islamic society and create a democracy by arranging elections is patently absurd.

Let's face it, Bush's adolescent bravado has gotten us into a real mess and there are no good options--least of all blowing out the budget and wasting the lives of Americans in uniform.

Posted by: Benny at December 23, 2004 02:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Benny, it may not have been adolescent bravado. That's what it *looks* like, partly because it's hard to find a plausible adult justification that also looks moral.

But remember that the administration was predicting that iraq would provide so much oil that it would more than pay for the war and the reconstruction. And they suddenly changed their tune after the victory. While it makes sense they were just lying about that, suppose they really meant it. Suppose they really believed they were getting control of the world's second-largest oil reserves. And they didn't find out that Saddam was lying about that too until after the war. So all of a sudden they were left trying to run the occupation on the cheap.

Doesn't it make sense? The only weak point is that the story requires that Bush et al believe Saddam's estimates about his oil reserves. They didn't believe him about anything else, surely they wouldn't fall for that one.

Would they?

Posted by: J Thomas at December 23, 2004 10:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bust the moral of the military foundation- their families for the holidays -you're the man! Hope you feel better about showing off your bloviating style/intellect.

Posted by: croat at December 23, 2004 06:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey, Croat! You talking to me? You talking to me man?

Hey, this ain't no santa claus wishlist and I ain't no Santa. I'd give the troops a war that's worth winning if I could. I wouldn't send them to no iraq. But hey, I didn't do it. It's Bush who made them kiss this pig. And you want me to put a little lipstick on it so they'll feel better.

Hey man. Your guy won the election. He said he was going to stick it out. And now there ain't anything any of us can do except just let him stick it right out there.

Merry Christmas. Sucka.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 23, 2004 08:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Back to the issue of proper force size, I want to quote Ahmed Hashim, of the Naval War College.

PILGRIM: Do you think, very quickly, that we need more troops in Iraq at this point to maintain control?

HASHIM: Troops will help. The security situation will -- will be the United States' burden to bear for quite a while, but we mustn't fall into the trap and believe that the answer to the problem is troops and yet more troops.

We need a plan for the reconstruction as well as the restoration of security, law and order in Iraq, and we need to get the Iraqi people on board as well as rebuild the Iraqi security forces. More American troops would, I think, help, but it really isn't the panacea that a lot of people think it is.

Insurgencies are defeated by a coordinated political socioeconomic information operations and psychological campaign, as well as military operations. It cannot be one or the other. All of them have to proceed in parallel with one another, not in sequence.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 23, 2004 10:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, I don't know why that link didn't go through.

Posted by: J Thomas at December 23, 2004 10:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Playing texas holdem at right now is a great idea, i thing!

Posted by: texas holdem at December 24, 2004 11:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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