November 13, 2005

The State of Rumsfeld, 5 Years On

A major piece in the WaPo today. Below, a key passage excerpted:

Buoyed by early successes of Special Ops forces and satellite-guided bombs in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld turned the run-up to Iraq into a transformation workshop. The Pentagon already had a plan for the possible toppling of Saddam Hussein; it was now taken from the shelf and completely remade under Rumsfeld's steady pressure. Generals and civilians involved in the process endured Rumsfeld's favorite management technique -- a brand of relentless interrogation known as "wirebrushing." Many grew frustrated at the fact that Rumsfeld always had a million questions -- but rarely said openly what he wanted or believed.

Editing and badgering, Rumsfeld cut the troop strength in the invasion plan by more than half, and cut the deployment time by months. Instead of a bombing phase led by the Air Force and Navy, followed by a ground war phase of soldiers and Marines, the secretary pushed for a truly joint operation, all branches of the military working together on a blitz to Baghdad. The dream of America's defense secretaries for a half-century -- genuine cooperation among the military services -- came to life.

Combining the audacity of Grant at Vicksburg with a degree of speed and precision never before seen on Earth, the invasion of Iraq "was the utter vindication of Rumsfeld's transformation," an impressed European diplomat said not long ago. "And," he added, "also its downfall." For there was a crack in this machinery that would be exposed if Iraq was not wrapped up quickly.

Rumsfeld spoke of this internal flaw, briefly and elliptically, during the interview in his office. He was describing the Pentagon as an Industrial Age contraption of rattling "conveyor belts" onto which huge weapons purchases and fat plans are loaded months and even years before they will come to fruition. The belts clatter along, beyond human reach, until finally they dump their loads, whether or not America needs them anymore.

"To have affected it, you had to have affected it five or six years ago -- or at least two or three years ago," Rumsfeld said of the system. So his mission, as he described it, was to get his hands into the machinery and start hauling resources off some belts so he could load new projects onto others. "I've had to reach in and grab all those conveyor belts and try to make them rationalize, one against another." This process of moving resources from belt to belt he calls "balancing risks." As in, the risk of not having a supercannon, compared with the risk of not spending enough money on satellites.

This is where the problem of Iraq came in. Rumsfeld explained that he has had to "balance risks between a war plan -- an investment in something immediately -- and an investment in something in the future." This opened a small window into a very important section of his thinking. Bush recently compared the war in Iraq to World War II, which implies a total commitment. Without a doubt, from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day, the war effort was the only military conveyor belt worth mentioning. By contrast, Rumsfeld has conceived of Iraq on a smaller scale, as just one of many hungry conveyor belts inside his Pentagon.

He understood that as soon as the Iraq belt started rolling, it would carry resources away from his preferred investments in the future. So he speaks of his job as a matter of reaching onto that belt and pulling stuff off. "Balance" in this context is another word for "limit" -- limit the amount of money, troops, staff and materiel bound for Iraq. The war he wanted was a short one, involving a relatively small force that would start heading home as soon as Saddam was chased from his palaces. When Army generals urged him instead to load the Iraq conveyor belt with enough troops to fully occupy the country -- securing captured weapons depots, patrolling borders, ensuring order -- Rumsfeld saw the large fixed cost involved in recruiting and training thousands of new troops, a cost that would rattle down Pentagon belts for years to come. He tried to balance those risks of chaos against the conveyor belts that could otherwise be loaded with resources destined for future transformation.

It was a gamble, and one he has stuck with through round after round of raised stakes. Of course, the irony is that the Iraq effort has been the opposite of cheap and short. Despite Rumsfeld's best efforts, it is a budget-buster, and one can almost hear the conveyor belts destined for his transformed tomorrow grinding to a halt, one by one. [emphasis added]

Quite a gamble indeed.

Interestingly, perhaps, I recently asked a very high level former national security player who, given that Bush has seemingly deputized the entire prosecution of the Iraq war to Rumsfeld, could be brought in in his place (just if, by some miracle, Bush was finally able to wean himself from his sad dependency on Rumsfeld). He said that was an excellent question, paused for a good while, and appeared to draw blanks at first. McCain would never take it (nor would Bush offer him the job), given his highly visible senatorial perch. And why should he come in and clean up Rummy's mess anyway? Some retired military officials would make sense, but this would cross critical red-lines given the hugely important factor of ensuring the military be seen to fully remain under civilian control. We were both left with Sam Nunn. He has unimpeachable [Update: I neglected to recall his worrisome vote against Desert Storm, see first comment below] national security credentials, there is ample precedent for choosing a Secretary of Defense from the opposition party (see Bill Cohen under Clinton), and it might even be a good stroke politically. It would signal a demarcation point away from the awful disasters Rumsfeld has helped preside over (detainee policy, high among them), and would provide a sense of bipartisan consensus regarding the critical import of seeing the conflict through successfully. Of course, Bush appears to lack Reagan's good sense to pursue a thorough house-cleaning, by replacing his Chief of Staff, so as to then orchestrate putting new people at the head of key positions like SecDef. But I can still hope, and would invite commenters to provide alternate suggestions, apart from Sam Nunn, for possible Secretaries of Defense.

P.S. Tomorrow I hope to comment on Bush's recent speech on the war on terror, as well as 'shadow President' (to use Andrew Sullivan's phrase) John McCain's.

Posted by Gregory at November 13, 2005 12:57 AM | TrackBack (3)
Comments

Gregory,

One impeachable aspect of Sam Nunn's past would be his decision to vote against George H.W. Bush's Desert Storm authorization. This decision caused many to question the soundness of his judgement at the time and surely still smarts in the Bush family--a clan with notoriously long memories. I cannot imagine Nunn being offered SecDef.

Senator Joe Lieberman would be a better choice as it would add another GOP Senate seat, given that the governor of Conn. is a Republican. This might have been possible to imagine about a year ago. However, given the rough four months the President has had, I cannot imagine Sen. Lieberman agreeing to accept this post going forward under this administration.

Posted by: Scott at November 13, 2005 04:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who other than Sam Nunn?

I can think of two Florida Governors that might have unique qualifications: Bob Graham, former head of the Senate intelligence committee and most prominant vote against the war, or, on the other end of the spectrum, Bush's Bobby Kennedy -- Jeb.

Posted by: wayne at November 13, 2005 01:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nobody should occupy that office without substantial management experience. DOD is a management nightmare. Rumsfeld is certainly open to criticism, but he has infact done some really necessary and far reaching things because he understood that a Korean War management system was obsolete. Ending service based procurement, dropping bad ideas when they are obviously bad or obsolete (Crusader) forcing the jointness, etc..
In his defense, the post invasion situation was the obvious result of the military side's failure to realize that Gulf 1 wasnt finished and that when we went back we should have some cultural skills and language skills to support the obvious mission. That wasnt something that could be fixed in 18 months. I think that more troops could have been used in country for the first 90 days but after that they would became targets and crutches to the Iraqis. Best to force them to grow their own indigeous police.

Posted by: herb at November 13, 2005 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Did we need more troops in Iraq, or just a larger percentage who speak Arabic?

In an interview with Paul Wolfowitz I read a few months ago, he said that the Clinton administration downsized the military to the numbers the first Bush administration had arrived at. What was not mentioned was who was responsible for the composition of the remaining forces. It seems to me that the need to activate so many National Guard Units for such an extended time means the force composition is seriously flawed. Comments?

Returning to my first question: Why isnít the US devoting more resources to improving language skills? A military that contained large numbers of people fluent in a second language would seem to be much more effective than our current forces. This would also seem to be something both Democrats and Republicans could support; Democrats because it would increase federal funding for education, Republicans because it would be good for both business and national defense.

Posted by: ROA at November 13, 2005 05:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As a retired Army officer and current member of one of the DoD three letter agencies, I would have to argue that Rummy should stay on the job. Has it been perfect? Absolutely not. Has it been damn good? I think yes. Rumsfeld has performed commendably when one considers that he is correcting the deficiencies brought on by the previous two administrations while simultaneously fighting Islamofascists on a global scale.

DoD can probably classify itself as the epitome of the hide-bound bureaucratic organization. The folks at the top have spent 30 years investing time and energy into making it continue to operate by the rules that they grew up with. Changing that culture is not a mission that can be performed with a snap of the fingers. The fact that he has taken it as far as he has rests largely on his extended incumbancy. If I recall, he is the longest serving SecDef in several decades.

His thought process is sound. He has begun to change the conveyor belts to the correct product mix. Now, let some stuff start spitting out the other end before you lop him off at the knees.

Posted by: Jim at November 13, 2005 09:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Some important background - background that is as damning to Rumsfeld as it is to Bush - is that the Iraq invasion could have been postponed, if not permanently put on ice, if the military wasn't ready. So the idea that Rumsfeld is doing the best he can given the military left to him after previous administrations, is an empty one; a sad attempt tp deflect blame.

Congress did not authorize Bush to go to war (as Bush claims). Congress authorized the use of force *if* Saddam did not cooperate with the inspections.

The fact is that the inspections were going well and revealing nada, zip, zilch by way of WMD.

The yellow cake from NIger had been revealed as fraud; as were the aluminum tubes, etc, etc, etc.

By the time the invasion jumped off it was clear that Saddam posed no immediate threat.

If Rumsfeld felt the military wasn't ready to undertake the invasion and occupation properly then he should have reported so. The decision could have been made to allow the inspections, the no fly zone, sanctions, etc to continue while the military built up proper strength levels.

Of course by the time proper strength levels were built up it would have been abundantly clear to even the slowest of citizens that the invasion was not necessary.

Thus, at bottom, we have a bunch of Jacobins - Rumsfeld among them - who had a hard on for implementing creative destruction in the Muslim world. They were going to get some while the gettin' was good; prepared military or not.

That is the real issue and the real reason Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz and the rest of the neocon gang should not only be replaced, but tried for high crimes.

Posted by: avedis at November 13, 2005 11:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I nominate Jamss Baker.

He did a decent job as Sec. of State and White House Chief of Staff, and anybody smart enough manage the theft of the 2000 election in Florida is smart enough to run the Pentagon.

Posted by: lukasiak at November 14, 2005 12:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To borrow part of that classic phrase about democracy, of course Rumsfields performance was horrible, unless you compare it to everything and anyone else available.

The performance of DOD and our armed forces has been excellent!

No other military in the world could have achieved what our military has achieved. No other military could have even come close.

However no one will admit this because to do so gives credit to an administration that our mainstream media and the democratic party wants to destroy.

So the big lie continues. This is faction above truth, faction above honor.

But history will tell the truth, and it will be something that will make Americans proud.

Posted by: rich at November 14, 2005 12:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

the constant complaint that we didn;t have enought troops in iraq is tiring and wrong.

greg: you are stuck on stupid - on this!

1 - do you REALLY believe that the sunnis wouldn't have rebelled if we had more troops!? or that we would havew been abtter able to put them down!!?

2 - don't you realize that to have more troos we would have needed more suplly lines and a bigger footproint ands that these LOGISTICAL FACTS would have only created MORE targets - MORE SOFT TARGETS for the enemy!?

3 - don't you realize that short of mining the borders (400 miles with Syria and 1000 miles with iran - if my memory serves me) we couldn't have stopped the infilration of terrorists!?

4 - don't you realize that the occupation has gone well BY ANY REALISTIC HISTROICAL MEASURE, and that whining about the historically low casualty rate we are suffering to achieve that is UNREALISTIC!?

5 - why place so much value on what the disgruintled old-lin generals argue!? they are NOT unbiased commenters; they have an ax to grind against rummy who is boldy reshaping the pentagon and downplaying the army - as he should! notice who the last and current CJS are? AIR FORC AND MARINES. the first time for each branch. this pisses of army generals, too.

6 - talabani and chalabi BOTH said today that US and UK troops will prbably be able to exit by the end of 2006. Early by and SANE measnure.

so, greg: get unstuck from stupid!

Posted by: reliapundit at November 14, 2005 02:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wow pundit, and I thought I needed a spell/grammar checker.

Greg is "stuck on stupid" because he has no clue and is too old to get one. He is a elitist prep-school/ Ivy league type that has no clue as to matters military or to the harsh realities of living by the sweat of one's brow and that sort of thing. He thinks war is simply letting loose the dogs (though they must be sufficient in number) retiring to the den and ringing James to bring some gin concoction to better the enjoyment of watching the dogs on CNN; a little coaching from the recliner and a perfect afternoon of entertainment. There's nothing to loose, really. It's not as if a Djerejian has his/her ass on the line. Except things aren't going so swimmingly and the entertainment isn't so pleasant. Team USA is deadlocked with teams Arabia. Fire the trainer and let's get on with things! Tally ho!

Posted by: avedis at November 14, 2005 03:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And why should Sam Nunn come in an clean up "Rummy's mess" too? Have you thought about that?

Posted by: john marzan at November 14, 2005 05:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1 - do you REALLY believe that the sunnis wouldn't have rebelled if we had more troops!? or that we would havew been abtter able to put them down!!?

I'm sure that Greg realizes that simply having "more troops" in Iraq would not have made a difference in and of itself. What Greg knows is that had there been realistic and appropriate planning that included securing all weapons caches, maintaining public order, and restoring critical infrastructure, far more troops would have been needed to implement those plans.

And although I'm skeptical that such efforts would have resulted in a "stable Democratic Iraq" today, Greg's assumptions and theories are certainly reasonable, and worthy of discussion.

Please get "unstuck on stupid" and make the effort to understand what Greg is saying. Thank you.

Posted by: lukasiak at November 14, 2005 01:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

may i defend greg, and support his critique of rummy

1. Yes the Pentagon is a huge bureaucracy, and hard to transform. I would suggest that the problems in Iraq have brought transformation into disrepute, and made it harder. In any case, I beleive, along with Greg, that they outcome in Iraq is in itself as critical as Rummys contributuion to the transformation project overall.


2. To say that the occupation is going as well as historical occupations is not relevant - the question is, is it going well enough to achieve our strategic objectives, and is it going as well as it woul have in better decisions had been made?


3. Does it seem like we stand a good chance of getting a stable democratic Iraq anyway - well im in the glass half full camp, and I would say so. But i think that only reemphasizes how having enough troops early would have made this more successful, earlier. With enough troops many more arms caches would have been secured. The power generation infrastructure could have been better secured. These could have helped us establish an upward cycle earlier.

4. I dont buy the vulnerable logistics train argument. The logistics train was largely through the relatively secure Shiite south. The disorder was in the Sunni triangle. More troops in Baghdad and the dangerous area between Baghdad and Hilla could have initiated a clear and hold strategy earlier, with their supply lines secure south of Hilla.

5. The harm caused by the early mistakes has continued to reverberate - from Shiites who dont quite trust us, to issues in the region, to weakened support at home.

6. Its not just the initial number of troops - its also issues in the CPA.

Posted by: liberalhawk at November 14, 2005 02:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

FACT: war # 1 (versus saddam) went better than expected.

FACT: war #2 goes as well as any war against an "insurgency". EVER.

FACT: no war goes ENTRIELY/PERFECTLY smoothly. hindisght is 20/20.

FACT: the usa now has the MOST battle-tested troops in the world, many of whom have seen more than one tour. these troops have won every battle - including some of the most torrid URBAN warfare of all time.

the rest of the world sees this, and it has a beneficial efffect, too.

in addition to liberating 50 million souls, these 'two wars" contributed mightily to freeing lebanon and getting kaddafy to cave in and soon getting assad to cave in too, and soon surrounding and isolating iran.

therefore: the war(s) were done/run well and were well worth it.

unless you'd prefer that saddam was in power - for "stability's" sake.

BTW: the argument that saddam was "contained" is ridiculous! he was i flagrant violation of the unscr's which constituteds the gulf war armistice, and he was firing on our troops newrly every day! in the REAL world, when a tyrant fires on our troops, that is an act of war.

from 1979 to 9/11 the usa failed to treat the attacks made on us by the islamofasists as acts of war.

9/11 changed that.

this war will not be over until the islamofasicts are defeated. that measn not until democrtaices take hold IN EVERY ismaic nation.

that will take two decades.

until then we need RESOLVE, and not silly stupid worthless bickering about torture/abuse of non-uniformed enemy combatants or whether we had enough troops a couple of years ago or not.

sheesh. that stuff just diminishes our resolve and gives succor to the enemy.

the dem/left doesn't care about that - they never did: not when they abandoned the south vietnamese, not when they abandoned the contras and not now. they will certainly abandon the afghanis and the iraqis and the lebabnese and the syrians if they get into power.

and that is the greatest risk of all - AND THE LIKELIHOOD OF THE DEM/LEFT (McGovernites) TAKING OVER IS ONLY ENHANCED BY ALL THIS STUPID CRITICISM ABOUT GITMO/ABUGRHAIB/TROOP LEVELS.

so please stop it.

MOVE ON!

Posted by: reliapundit at November 14, 2005 05:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

reliapundit -- it was Nixon, supported by an overwhelming majority in Congress and the American people who decided that Vietnam was no longer worth more American lives and treasure,
not some dem/leftist cabal.

When you start getting your history right maybe your current analysis might be worth paying attention to.

Posted by: spencer at November 14, 2005 06:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

war #2 goes as well as any war against an "insurgency". EVER.


LH - its far too early to make this call.

FACT: no war goes ENTRIELY/PERFECTLY smoothly. hindisght is 20/20.

LH - - not going perfectly smoothly is an odd way to charecterize this. And the hindsight that more troops were needed was expressed by a number of people inside the Pentagon before the war began


FACT: the usa now has the MOST battle-tested troops in the world, many of whom have seen more than one tour.

LH - are you suggesting wed be worse off if we had beaten the terrorists in Iraq earlier? Or if there had been no significant insurgency?


I think that in terms of say, using Iraq as a model for democratization, wed have been far better off if the insurgency had been beaten earlier, and in many other ways as well.


Posted by: liberalhawk at November 14, 2005 07:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Interesting late entries to the thread -- I'd like to add a few comments that should be factored in as well.

1) Long time readers of my 2 cent contributions have know that I think the most underrated error we made is not adjusting to the last-minute betrayal by the Turks. By a 2 vote margin we were denied the opportunity to bring a division down on the Sunni triangle from the north, an action that would have brought shock and awe to the strutting townsmen/supporters of the "insurgents." It took two further years of pain to convince them of our seriousness.

2) I agree Rummy should be sacked for the looting and disorganization of the immediate postwar -- but in his defense I think he would argue that any large scale deployment of American troops for occupation duty would have had a corresponding effect of letting our NATO "allies" off the hook. It's hard to remember how naive we were back then, but many people in the administration and out actually thought that the Europeans would stand with us when the chips were down, in gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that have given their lives for them.

Posted by: wayne at November 14, 2005 09:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Interesting late entries to the thread -- I'd like to add a few comments that should be factored in as well.

1) Long time readers of my 2 cent contributions have know that I think the most underrated error we made is not adjusting to the last-minute betrayal by the Turks. By a 2 vote margin we were denied the opportunity to bring a division down on the Sunni triangle from the north, an action that would have brought shock and awe to the strutting townsmen/supporters of the "insurgents." It took two further years of pain to convince them of our seriousness.

2) I agree Rummy should be sacked for the looting and disorganization of the immediate postwar -- but in his defense I think he would argue that any large scale deployment of American troops for occupation duty would have had a corresponding effect of letting our NATO "allies" off the hook. It's hard to remember how naive we were back then, but many people in the administration and out actually thought that the Europeans would stand with us when the chips were down, in gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that have given their lives for them.

Posted by: wayne at November 14, 2005 09:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

FACT: war # 1 (versus saddam) went better than expected.
FACT: war #2 goes as well as any war against an "insurgency". EVER.

I guess he still hasn't figured out that there aren't two wars --- that Saddam's plan was to allow the US to "win" the invasion, but persue a guerilla warfare strategy against the occupation.

I mean, there was only token resistance at the main airport in Baghad, and the next day we sent a force downtown (via that Airport Highway that is now considered the most dangerous stretch of paved highway in the world) that met no resistance.

Saddam had his forces execute a classic tactical guerilla warfare retreat -- we never really won the first war, and we're still fighting.

Posted by: lukasiak at November 14, 2005 10:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On Veterans Day we gather (mentally, at least) to honor those among us who served in defense of our country. But in a larger sense, our thoughts and words provide faint honor; the brave men, living and dead, who fought on behalf of our country have honored themselves far beyond our poor power to add or detract.

History shows that some wars are more noble than others. This fact is generally lost upon those fighting; their job is not to question the nobility of the cause but rather to do their duty. The fundamental nobility of the cause does nothing to add or detract from the nobility of the duty done and the sacrifices made by our soldiers. It is that duty and those sacrifices we honor today.

Rather it is for the rest of us and for the historians to question the nobility of the cause for which we have sent our young people off to fight and die. After all, they are fighting for us, in our name, for our country. In that sense we, all of us, have sent them off to fight and die.
The fact that our involvement in Viet Nam was immoral and in retrospect a colossal blunder both politically and militarily in no way devalues the service of those who fought and died there. Those soldiers were simply doing their job. The fundamental immorality of the cause however puts their deaths on the conscience of all of us (or at least those of us with a conscience).

In like manner, history will show that our involvement in Iraq was based a preconceived plot hatched among the neocons in the White House, none of whom had actually served in the military themselves. It was a preconceived war looking for a cause, and though 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq, it provided the people in the White House with the cause they needed. Through trumped up "intelligence" the Bush team justified going to war; who cares who else believed the incorrect justification for going into Iraq, the blood is on their hands too. The bottom line is that the plot was hatched inside the White House.

Now 2065 of our young men and women have died over there, more die each week. Over 15,000 have been permanently disabled in the war. The result of the war thus far leads to the inevitable conclusion that the world is far less safe as a result of the operation.

This is in no way to devalue the duty and sacrifice of our young people fighting in Iraq, we should honor them, and we must.

But by simply mouthing empty words in praise of those fighting for us and waving our flags harder without understanding for whom they are fighting and why, we don't honor them, we dishonor them. They fight for us, they fight in our name, and they fight for our country.

The light of history will show that the war in Iraq was begun on false pretenses and was therefore fundamentally immoral. We will be forced to acknowledge that the blood of the dead is on the hands of those in the White House who hatched the plan and who sold it to their countrymen as a response to 9/11.

By denying ourselves this fundamental truth we must acknowledge that we're at fault too. Our freedoms extend...they MUST extend...to the right, duty and obligation of the citizens to hold accountable those who wage an immoral war in our names.

These are our soldiers, living and dead. They fought for us. As our soldiers their blood is on our hands, their deaths and injuries on our conscience, all of us. Can you look yourself in the mirror and be certain that you have done right by them? Should they expect any less?

Posted by: phil at November 14, 2005 10:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Factual error or intentionally misleading? I beleive the author is fudging the facts to stretch a point here:

"Which may be why Rumsfeld's military, as of late September, had assigned just 1,000 Marines to cover the western half of the 376-mile border with Syria. Picture five major college marching bands stretched over the distance between Washington and Trenton, N.J."

Aside from the fact that 1000 Marines are a considerably tougher force than "5 marching bands", the author fails to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, & the Desert Protection Force, and US infantry assigned to protect this border. Furthermore, the "western half" of the border he is refering to is the flank of Iraq that projects westward towards Jordan. This is a large and empty territory & all roads and trails leading into Iraq proper pass through a handful of choke points further to the east. The US/Iraqi forces control these points. The northern half of the Iraqi/Syrian border has many more Marines & Iraqi forces.

See this link about the construction of a series of border forts: http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/10/securing_the_sy.php

Posted by: Kenneth at November 14, 2005 10:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

lukasiak,

Your facts are stale-dated. Route Irish (Baghdad airport to Baghdad city) is now clear, safe & under coalition control. The "thunder run" entered Baghdad from the south, then turned west and left Baghdad on Route Irish. And you are wrong in stating they met no resistance. They met quite alot of resistance from Iraqi forces, but they shoot them up & kept driving.

You are however correct, Saddam planned to fall back into an insurgency.

Posted by: Kenneth at November 14, 2005 11:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Spenser has it wrong on Nixon abandoning Viet Nam.

Nixon did get our ground forces out of Viet Nam in 1973, but promised to continue to support the South Vietnamese government.

Nixon resigned August 9, 1974.

It was an overwhelmingly democratic congress, in spite of President Ford, that broke this promise and did not provide airpower and material support in 1975 when Viet Nam fell. This betrayal had predictably tragic consequences for Viet Nam and Cambodia.

The democrats who made the decision have blood on their hands.

Posted by: rich at November 14, 2005 11:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wasn't Rumsfeld's plan (aside from smashing the Sunni Triangle with the 4th ID, which Turkey didn't allow) to bring in Chalabi and the INC to develop Iraqi forces and work things out with the Kurds and Shiites? And might not the basic problem have been letting wets at State and the CIA take over and put in Paul Bremer et al? Looks like we'll wind up in about the same place but two-three years later.

Posted by: Mahon at November 14, 2005 11:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wasn't Rumsfeld's plan (aside from smashing the Sunni Triangle with the 4th ID, which Turkey didn't allow) to bring in Chalabi and the INC to develop Iraqi forces and work things out with the Kurds and Shiites? And might not the basic problem have been letting wets at State and the CIA take over and put in Paul Bremer et al? Looks like we'll wind up in about the same place but two-three years later.

Posted by: Mahon at November 14, 2005 11:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

mahon: rumsfeld picked jerry bremer and jerry bremer reported to rumsfeld.
scott: your point about nunn's vote on Desert Storm is quite important. thanks for reminding us of this data point.

Posted by: greg at November 15, 2005 01:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thank you, Rich, for getting the facts straight on what caused South Vietnam to collapse. President Ford begged Congress to continue funding the South (with monies already earmarked for the South, no less) and our Democrat-controlled Congress cut the strings. It was SecDef Laird that proposed and implemented 'Vietnamization' which Congress refused to continue under President Ford.

While I acknowledge that there was and is room for improvement in Iraq, I must point out that things have nevertheless gone much better than expected. Our magnificent forces crushed Saddam's regime quickly and efficiently. Coalition forces helped secure the country enough for both the January and October votes; ratification of the new Iraqi constitution occurred in a time frame that was nothing short of miraculous. Consider that the Thirteen original American states did not ratify our constitution until 1787, some five years after an eight year-long conflict with Great Britain. That the Iraqis were able to hammer out their document in much less time is, frankly, incredible. I tip my hat to them. Under threat of great violence, they not only went to the polls in great numbers, but also participated in the democratic process to mold a new nation. We should be proud of their accomplishment as well as those who helped make those accomplishments possible: our armed forces, those of our allies and our political leadership.

Did that leadership miscast information to lead us into the conflict? No. Saddam's regime did, in fact, possess WMDs and used them against the Kurds after Gulf War I and against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. What happened to those weapons? Where did they go? Where is the accounting for them? The fact that they existed at one time but could not subsequently found does not mean that they never did exist. This is a fallacious argument and one that I find insulting. If the police raid a known drug dealer's house but find no drugs, does it follow that the drugs never existed, or more to the point, that the drug dealer is not capable of dealing them in the future? Of course not. I think it particularly salient that Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, then-President Clinton and then-Vice President Gore, as well as European leaders knew (not merely thought) that Saddam's regime had such weapons. Are we to believe that EVERYONE was wrong about Saddam possessing WMD, even after he actually used such weapons? For my part, I never expected U.N. nor U.S. inspectors to uncover warehouses full of 55-gallon drums of nefarious chemicals, not when Saddam had ample opportunity to spirit the stuff away to willing surrogates in Syria or even Iran. Further, what are we to make of the plethora of suspicious pesticide-generating facilities throughout Iraq? That Saddam was worried about making sure his artillery tubes were insect-free? Please.

When all of this is said and done--a year or two hence--Iraq will be able to (more or less) look after herself. She will be democratic, not perhaps like us (we've got two hundred-plus years' experience on them), but the rape rooms, torture chambers, secret police, mass graves and other implements of Saddam will be gone. Saddam himself will be hanged--by Iraqis--after a public trial and, like Milosevic, will serve as an example to other strongmen not to threaten the United States or our interests (I believe Colonel Gaddahfi has already taken note, as have others, perhaps not as publicly). Israel will have one less hostile Arab neighbor to worry about, too. The bottom line is that Iraq will then be a partner to the West, not an adversary.

We stood by and did nothing as Mao and Pol Pot murdered millions of their own people. We stood by and said 'it's not our problem' while Hitler rearmed Germany, standing on the sidelines as he raped Belgium, eviscerated France, pummelled Great Britain, and oversaw the near-extermination of the Jews. We looked the other way when 'Uncle Joe' Stalin turned his country and half of Europe into a totalitarian nightmare that killed millions and threatened the West with nuclear annihiliation.

To do nothing while Saddam and his insane progeny repeated history would have been worse. True, there are plenty of other problem areas in the world that will require our attention at some point--Darfur, North Korea, Iran, among others--but let history say that on Iraq, we did the Right Thing.

I think about eight million people with purple-stained fingers will agree.

Posted by: Joe at November 15, 2005 01:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, Avedis, it was my cunning plan to have my sons murdered, power scattered to jihadi foreigners and have myself incarcerated.

That's right, you nasty, foul good-doers - I'm winning.

Posted by: Saddam H. at November 15, 2005 03:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ooops - mea culpa. It was Paul who found me out. Avedis is the sane one. A thousand pardons. I don't get out a whole lot anymore.


Yes, Paul, it was my cunning plan to have my sons murdered, power scattered to jihadi foreigners and have myself incarcerated.

That's right, you nasty, foul good-doers - I'm winning.

Posted by: Saddam H. at November 15, 2005 03:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Saddam"....

Don't get snippy, just because you've been proven to be almost as much of a military "genius" as George W. Bush.

After all, nobody expected you to win.... Bush, on the other hand, had an overwhelming military advantage... and he isn't winning either. Indeed, the odds that Bush will get what he wanted from this war are probably no better than your surviving another year.

Posted by: lukasiak at November 15, 2005 07:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The vote on the Case-Church Admendement ending aid to Vietnam was:

278-124 in the House
62-26 in the Senate

I do not know where you are learning your history.

But that looks like an overwhelming, bipartisan vote to me.

I repeat. the US decision to get out of Vietnam was a bipartisan
policy strongly supported by the overwhelming majority of the american people.

Anyone going around trying to spread the meme that it was a leftist minority that got us out of vietnam is lying.

Whether they are doing it on purpose, or just plain ignorance is up to them to decide.

Posted by: spencer at November 15, 2005 09:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Spenser,

You got it wrong again.

And you did it without even acknowledging your blatently outrageous error on Nixon refusing support for VietNam. Then you brazenly continue the deception.

This time you cite the vote on the Case Church amendment.

Case Church was in 1973.

In 1974 the elections returned 291 democrats to the house and 59 democrats to the Senate.

This is the Congress that refused to act in 1975 when VietNam fell.

This overwhelmingly democratic congress has the responsibility for the tragedy that occurred in VietNam in 1975.

Get your facts straight next time.

Posted by: rich at November 15, 2005 10:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


This is all part of the same story.

You are trying to claim that a small minority of leftist caused the US to leave Vietnam and that is just wrong.

Your own data shows that you were wrong.

The major reason the Senate in 1974 was so Democratic was the US public sending a message to the governemnt to get out of Vietnam.

Posted by: spencer at November 16, 2005 03:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tony Blankly sums it up:

It was 30 years ago when Congress last took the reins of national war fighting. In August 1974, Nixon had been scandalized and left office. The November 1974 election brought forth the "Watergate babies" congress filled with young anti-war Democrats. One of the first actions of the Watergate Congress was to vote to deny an appropriation of $800 million to pay for South Vietnamese military aid, including ammunition and spare parts. Historical records now are known that reveal that five weeks after that vote, the North Vietnamese started planning their final offensive. The morale of the South Vietnamese was broken by that symbolic Congressional act of betrayal. The actual dollar cuts forced South Vietnamese President Thieu to abandon the Central Highland in March of 1975, leading to the collapse of our ally and the onset of genocide and police state brutalities that killed more Asians than all the thousand days of the war did.

Read it all.

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/tonyblankley/2005/11/16/175730.html

Posted by: rich at November 17, 2005 02:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is anybody actually reading the WaPo article Greg linked?

Posted by: fling93 at November 17, 2005 02:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Posted by: Netpowersoft at November 29, 2005 04:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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