“Staying the course” means staying in Iraq—forever
brigadier general in Iraq says that the Coalition forces will have to stay in Iraq for from two to ten years
to maintain security after the handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government. But what, pray tell, does this general expect to happen at the end of two years, or ten years, that would allow the Coalition forces to leave
? What are we actually doing or planning to do that would make our soldiers’ departure possible? No one says.
As I discussed in my article, “Iraqi Democratization versus Iraqi Violence,”
this is simply more of the same old “staying the course” mantra—which really means staying a course that by its own inherent logic does not lead to victory but only to an endless holding action.
The same logic, stemming from the same refusal to conceptualize the actual problems at hand and to make hard choices on that basis, has been in effect in Bosnia for the last decade. International troops including thousands of American troops were stationed in Bosnia as part of the Dayton so-called peace accords in 1995, supposedly for one year. They’re still there nine years later. Why? Because, as everyone knows, a war between the respective Bosnian ethnic nationalities would break out again the moment the outside troops were no longer there to keep them apart. In other words, there is no peace in Bosnia, but we insist on calling it a peace. This problem was completely evident in 1995. (Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a relative realist on foreign matters, pointed out at the time that the one-year limit was a fraud, but then she proceeded to vote for the Dayton Accord and for the U.S. peacekeepers despite that fact.) The only thing that would produce a real peace and allow the outside troops to leave Bosnia would be a partition of Bosnia into three separate sovereignties. But this would go against America’s insistence on a “multi-ethnic” Bosnian state, a state that is a fraud in any case. The upshot is that there is no solution to the problem, there is only perpetual—and very costly—management of the problem. And that is exactly what our “stay the course” mantra in Iraq adds up to.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2004 03:25 PM | Send
One big difference between Bosnia and Iraq: It requires far more troops to keep the peace in Iraq than in Bosnia. First, we are protecting the Muslims pretty well in Bosnia, so we don’t have jihadists from all over the world streaming in to attack us there. Second, Bosnia has a much smaller population than Iraq. Third, Bosnia has a tiny land area compared to Iraq. Fourth, there is ethnic division in Bosnia, but there is no one with a vested interest in seeing Bosnia fail. There are jihadists in Iraq who will blow up oil pipelines just to sabotage the economy. Even if we left Bosnia, no one would be doing the equivalent acts there. This means we have to patrol rural oil fields and pipelines in addition to all the urban centers and the lengthy rural desert borders with Iran and Syria.
Will we have the resources, will power, endurance, and attention span to “stay the course” in Iraq?
If the goal was to capture or kill Saddam Hussein and dismantle his regime, we ought to already be leaving. If the goal was more ambitious than that, it isn’t clear we should have taken it on to begin with. “Management” is not a job for the military, ever. The job of the military is to kill our enemies and then return home. I haven’t given the Iraq situation a fraction of the thought that Mr. Auster has, but my inclination in response to the news about Poland pulling out is “OK, why aren’t we pulling out too?”
I think part of the reason we aren’t is because we haven’t yet created paradise on earth there. And the guilty Western conscience can’t abide the use of deadly force if its aftermath is not paradise on earth.
Another part of the reason is the quite reasonable concern over what will arise there when we leave, and whether it will be any better (that is, safer for us) than what was there before. I don’t have a great answer; but my inclination is that if a regime is an imminanet threat, kill them and leave. If what arises next is an immanent threat, kill them and leave again. But parking our military in a foreign land to manage it perpetually is just nuts.
In response to Matt, let’s be fair to the Bush side of the debate here. We are not there to produce paradise on earth, we are there because it is Bush’s position that the only way to have an Iraq that will not be a _dangerous_ Iraq is to modernize and democratize Iraq. The first argument for democratization is that it is necessary for our own security, not for the purpose of improving the world. However, inevitably, the latter DOES become the argument, as when Bush said the other day that his job is to lead America in making the world a better place.
On Matt’s point that we should just kill our enemies and leave, this is not a realistic or responsible position. As I’m sure Matt realizes, we cannot invade a country and destroy its government and then just pull out, leaving the country without a government. We are responsible for helping put some kind of successor government in place. The big question is, is this practically doable? The very job of helping put a successor government in place implies that we have to control that country for some period of time and also that we hand a stabilized situation over to that successor government. But that implies our total control over that country for the interim. Under Rumsfeld’s policy, we _do not_ have such control in Iraq, we _never aimed_ at having such control, and in order to gain such control, we may now have to expand vastly our military commitment there, which we may not have the means and the will to do. These contingencies were not thought through in advance. So, as I suggested above, we’re left with the muddling-through position euphemistically called “staying the course,” which, as in South Vietnam, means neither a pull-out nor a strategy aimed at victory.
Continuing ruminations on my last comment: maybe the problem is that we are now on a quest for a scenario, any scenario, that leaves the situation definitively better than when we got started. If we had found and dismantled significant WMD programs then Bush could declare victory and leave, even if Iraq turned into an internal bloodbath for the next several years before stabilizing in the next, WMD-less Arab despotism. But now the prospect of Iraq settling into a newly minted Arab despotism, or two separate Islamic despotisms and a Kurdish despotism, is unnaceptable. The reason it is unnaceptable? Because the only remaining possible tangible, irrefutable claim that the world is a better place after Gulf War II is if the Iraqi people are clearly, tangibly better off. Which quite frankly, given the sort of people who live there, doesn’t seem particularly likely.
Without the scenario “we destroyed the tyrant and made the world a better place for Iraqis” any declaration of victory will ring hollow now. (That doesn’t mean that attacking the defiant Hussein was unjustified; just that disarming the robber who turns out to be holding a rubber gun isn’t something you want on the front page before election day). And no commander can voluntarily leave the battlefield without declaring victory.
Bush is now stuck there. If he pulls out, his enemies on the Left and the Right will beat the I-told-you-so drum as Iraq descends into exactly the sort of place that its own people have made of it. But if he stays he has no objective, no hill to conquer and then declare victory and leave. He is stuck.
I would qualify Matt’s last comment. There is a victory Bush could declare, that we rid the world of a terror-supporting rogue regime that had and was developing WMD capabilities. We could not allow such a regime to continue existing. We destroyed it. We won.
Well, OK. But I don’t think it is the sort of declaration of victory he needs, or thinks he needs. He needs the sort of declaration of victory that will leave his critics, and perhaps his own conscience, in stumped silence or (in the case of his critics) ineffectual rage. My read of Bush is that few things are more important to him than a clean conscience - a genuinely clean conscience, where he himself genuinely thinks he has done the right thing through and through.
Long ago and far away (I don’t recall if it was at VFR or elsewhere) I said that I thought Bush’s own personal reasoning went something like this:
1) Hussein is an evil tyrant. His people will be better off without him. We are *morally* justified in destroying his regime on this basis alone.
2) Hussein is in clear violation of the GW I cease-fire. We are *legally* justified in destroying his regime on this basis alone.
3) Hussein is almost certainly developing, planning to develop, and building the capability to develop WMD. If he is not, he is certainly acting like he is; and see #2. We are justified in destroying his regime to keep WMD’s out of the hands of terrorists.
4) There are other regimes that fit #3, but only Hussein’s fits 1-3. Furthermore, destroying him will have a prophylactic effect on those other regimes.
I think that without #1 - the presumptive moral justification - Bush has to argue with himself that it was worth it. With #1 the rest of it doesn’t -really- matter.
I don’t say that it is right, it is just what I think that Bush thinks, from listening to Bush; and it is an impression rather than something I have attempted to rigorously document.
Now, I am not saying that the declaration of victory that Mr. Auster is suggesting would be false-in-fact. But I am not sure it is the sort of declaration-of-victory that would leave Bush, himself, thinking that there is no possibility that he went wrong; and that will leave his critics in dumbfounded silence or ineffectual raging.
But, Matt, Bush does have justification number one: the evil tyrant has been toppled. However, I suppose that an implied correlative of that justification is that we leave the Iraqi people with something tangibly and securely better than what they had under Hussein. So, in that sense, yes. Bush must succeed in putting something in place that his conscience can live with.
What you say about Bush’s conscience reminds me of something I said recently, that Bush’s idealistic justifications for the war are aimed less at managing others (which is what he’s accused of) than at managing himself.
Mr. Auster is correct. We won. Now what do we do with out victory?
One reasonable but very unpleasant option is to pull out, hope for the best, and return to topple any future regime that supports Islamic terrorism.
Another option is to withdraw to the easily defended parts of Iraq and remain to (1) provide money, training, advice, and mostly standoff military support to any democratic or nonagressive elements, if they exist, and (2) prevent neighboring Islamic nations or militants from taking control. We could even offer to let the greasy UN go in and help pick up the pieces, for the purpose of mollifying nitwits—not that the UN has the guts.
The main question now, it seems to me, is whether we remain in Iraq permanently as a forward defense against Islam. I am not a military expert, so I would like to hear any reasons against this.
The only uncacceptable option, as Mr. Auster says, is to keep getting picked off, which is what we are now doing.
Mr. Murgos writes: “The only unacceptable option … is to keep getting picked off, which is what we are now doing.”
And what we’ve been doing since last April.
Other than Matt’s 4/20 4:11 pm post ending comment: “But parking our military in a foreign land to manage it perpetually is just nuts”, there is nothing in his other comments—or Mr. Auster’s replies—that say anything about our young men and women who are being used as pawns in this deadly game called “occupation”. And it will not be our British young comrades who will be doing the fighting and dying, it will be and is our own. Spain, Portugal, Poland—the list goes on and on. All of these countries—call them cowardly if we must—are leaving what was and is essentially “Bush’s/America’s war with terrorists” to the U.S. to resolve. I believe that Britain will not be far behind those that are leaving the Coalition.
My personal likes and dislikes of Bush are not important here. Our boys, our fighting men—THOSE are the ones I’m thinking about as all this unfolds. In fact, the upcoming election doesn’t seem at all important compared to what we got ourselves into in Iraq.
I think Bush needs to show he’s “a leader” and should axe Gen. Kimmet and other current theatre commanders who are quite frankly “failing”—and bring back people like Gen. Tommy Franks. Franks got out before this mess came about. He’ll know “what to do”. If that means leveling Fallujah and Najaf, then he’ll send the planes in. IN such a case, we had better prepare for attacks on Syria and Iran, too. They’ve been diretly involved with aiding the insurgency. If Franks instead suggests we pull out of Iraq, he should be taken very seriously. Maybe it is also time for the Communists in the State Dept. to be sent packing. All I know is, heads MUST roll, and not just commanders like Kimmett. Is Bush too afraid of dumping Powell before the election? How about “cleaning house” and canning Tennet and Mueller, as well? Has Bush fired ANYONE or asked for ANY resignations in his inner circle or from any commanders? Is the term “86—you’re outta here!” in Bush’s vocabulary? I’m beginning to wonder…
Bush had the real courage to launch very risky foreign wars on the other side of the world with half the world against him; but he doesn’t have the courage to fire certified losers in his own government. Here, as in so many other areas, he’s a very difficult man to read.
(By the way, “dj” is our regular participant, David Levin.)
I question your assertion that we have losers in command in Iraq and the need to “fire certified losers.” I am looking at a positive set of results so far in Iraq on the whole, compared with any previous experience by any President, country or international organization. It is a sad fact that the news we receive does not reflect the reality in Iraq.
Below is an actual message from the front to make the point. We are the losers back here at home. We are letting the press and political spin divert our focus. We are morally responsible for calling down the lies and liers, when we know the facts. We lose when we fail at this responsibility. Our responsibility requires a diligent attention to uncovering the facts, then to call down and take to task those who are trying to deceive us.
From the front:
This is a letter from R R, a medic in the IA Army National Guard, serving in Iraq:
As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing.)
*! Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
* School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
* Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.
* The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
* The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
* Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
* The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
* 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
* Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
* Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
*! Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
* Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
* Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
* Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
* Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
* An interim constitution has been signed.
* Girls are allowed to attend school.
* Textbooks that don’t mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.
Don’t believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children wil! l. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.
R R, SFC IA Army National Guard
“I question your assertion that we have losers in command in Iraq and the need to ‘fire certified losers.’”
I was not speaking of military commanders in Iraq. I was speaking of officials in our government, e.g., Tenet, Mueller, Minetta.
As for the list of good things accomplished so far in Iraq, they are irrelevant to the concerns I’ve been raising. The Coalition and the Iraqis could do all kinds of good things, but that by itself would not prevent the violent minority from preventing the creation of a viable Iraqi government.
I am very impressed—and humbled—by SFC Bud Bromley’s superb accounting of what he has seen first-hand in Iraq, the things we are doing/have done for that country. I do not doubt there is much more than what he mentions that we’ve done positively there.
However, all this does not explain the obvious poor planning and mistakes made when we “beat Saddam’s army” in lightening fashion. And what the good Sgt. does not say is the cost of American lives this war has taken. While far less than the 58,000 who died in Vietnam (not counting another 1,000-plus that died after returning from injuries and suicide), we lost 100-plus soldiers this month, alone. I do not call that “a success”! And I am not even counting the billions of dollars already spent and being spent on this war/occupation.
I suppose the best way to judge how a war is going is to pit the good against the bad, the successes vs the tragic losses. However, it really depends “where” you’re coming from. I am a huge supporter of our military and am certainly no “pacifist”. My reasons for being for the war and against the occupation are clear. We won the war but are losing the occupation. Our “coalition” is breaking apart. After the British leave, we will be alone. We obviously will need 500,000 men or more to really protect a large and difficult-to-protect country with mountainous borders with enemy countries, but our military doesn’t have 500,000 trained soldiers men for Iraq. Many of the Iraqi Army or Police that we have hastily trained are mutinying and some are falling in with the enemy insurgents. Many of the Governing Council (that we set up and that is mistrusted by many Iraqis) have quit and pro-West religious leaders have been assassinated. Even our “friend” Chalabi wants us to leave.
I do not consider the political or military part of the occupation “won”. I see us losing that part of the War, which is everything. We can build their bridges and open their schools, but if what we are doing with a propped up Governing Council is not what Iraqis want, and if the bulk of the Iraqi people are too afraid to stand up to the fundamentalists like Sadr, then we are doomed to failure. We CANNOT keep fighting their war—that’s right, THEIR war! Saddam was THEIR enemy more than he was ever ours. They HAVE to fend for themselves. We cannot be there to hold their hands.
I do not read CNN or MSNBC, not do I even have a television hooked up to cable or an antenna. I get my news from Debka, WND and other more trusted sites. I am not fazed by “the media”. Also, I do not want John Kerry to win and I do not believe he will. He has too many “negatives” going for him.
I will say it again, to non-military AND military citizens of the U.S. Our Army and Marines are not “nation builders”, that is not what their job is. In my opinion, our role was finished when we “liberated” Iraq from Saddam and later when we found him. I want our military back home, rested and ready for any other situation (defending Taiwan? how about our southern border?) that may arise shortly. NATO and the UN have not shown an interest in taking the reigns that we are holding. They seem to value their soldiers’ lives more than our leaders do ours. We have to give Iraq back to the Iraqis in late June. They deserve to have their country back!
There is one other impending problem besides the insurgents/terrorists—the summer is coming, and with it, unbelieveable heat which is not to our advantage.
I want us to “win the peace”, but I do not want this action becoming another Vietnam. It is becoming another Vietnam. How much longer and how many troops will have to die before that country is “secure” and an army and police force we can trust trained and ready? When the leftists in the streets here at home get revved up with the Draft about to be called, it will look eerily like Vietnam, only instead of the War being run by Democrats like LBJ, it will be run by Republicans, assuming Bush wins in November. Nobody in his/her right mind wants another Vietnam.
There is one other angle that is rarely mentioned in the pros and cons of a long stay in Iraq—our economy. The reason is, in pushing it, one comes off appearing to be less concerned about the U.S. casualities from such a protracted action and more concerned with our businesses here. How much have we already spent in Iraq? How much more will we spend? Here at home, the country is trying to make an economic comeback. The thing that is stopping it? The war in Iraq, or “the occupation”. We have just been through three years of a terrible recession. Another year of this will ruin many thousands more businesses and with them, lives. I am a small businessman, and I do not want the occupation to ruin an economic comeback.
There are a lot of angles, here, and I see them differently than Sgt. Bromley does.
I ask our participants to keep their comments within reasonable limits of length. The last comment was almost 900 words, the size of a longish op-ed article. Few people are going to want to read something that long. The purpose of a comment is to add one or two cogent points to an ongoing discussion, not to say everything that one has to say about a subject. Of course there are exceptions when a longer comment is called for. But generally we should try to keep comments to a maximum of two or three hundred words.
My apologies, Mr. Auster.
You said, “I think Bush needs to show he’s “a leader” and should axe Gen. Kimmet and other current theatre commanders who are quite frankly “failing”—and bring back people like Gen. Tommy Franks. Franks got out before this mess came about. He’ll know “what to do”.
Then you responded to my questioning of your assertion, “I was not speaking of military commanders in Iraq. I was speaking of officials in our government, e.g., Tenet, Mueller, Minetta.”
You are welcome to your opinions of course. My opinions are, (1) based on input from the front lines, that things are going better than is being reported in the news…which is afterall selling media (Yes, even Debka) and (2) the intelligence problems were structural defects, the political consensus was not in place to fix them, and blaming these individuals is not justified.
Before 9-11-2001, it was the policy of the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations and the US Congress to remove Saddam Hussein, and for good reasons. Substantial evidence connects Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to the terrorist activities of al Qaeda and to the events of 9-11-2001. (Yet rhetoric from the left denies this evidence even as it has been admitted as court’s evidence in New York.) Evidence also connects Saddam to massive corruption in the UN, France, Russia and elsewhere to buy their votes. (Yet rhetoric from the left says we should have waited longer on the UN.)
We are currently getting a hard press by democrats and others to convince American voters that invading Iraq was a mistake and a diversion to the war on terror and al Qaeda. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have a choice: fight or wait to be killed. It is time to unify this country against radical islam and refute its brainwash, and also encourage peaceful muslims here to speak out here against terror committed in their name. We have an internal battle for minds at the same time we fight a hot war.
Be sure to read Stephen Swartz piece in Front Page today.
It’s a minor point, but I did not call for the firing of Gen. Kimmet or any other military officer. Someone else said that Bush should fire Kimmet and then I made a general statement that Bush “doesn’t have the courage to fire certified losers in his own government.” “Government” does not refer to the armed forces. The armed forces are not part of the government. Government here refers to the executive branch, namely the cabinet departments and other agencies serving under the president.
Also, Mr. Bromley should understand that I have been a consistent supporter of toppling Hussein. I have had enormous doubts about the aftermath of the war and what our ultimate objective should be concerning occupied Iraq. I consistently challenged the notion that our goal should be “democracy” in Iraq, and, even more, “democracy” for the whole Moslem world. These doubts and objections were not cleared up prior to the invasion last year. Other than the generality of “democratization,” there simply was no serious public debate on what our post-war objectives and strategies would be. This bothered me a lot before the war, and still does, yet I continued to support the invasion and I still do.
With all due respect, I do not consider Stephen Schwartz a very reliable source. He very much supported the action in Bosnia that has helped the Muslims to ethnically cleanse Serbs out of Kosovo. Schwartz is, as I recall, a Sufi (mystical) Muslim who tends to think that his brand of Islam is representative of most Muslims.
Also, I question the reliability of these “letters from soldiers.”
Some of them, at least, are not actually written by soldiers but are actually form letters.
And there is some concern as to whether or not every soldier who signed actaully wanted to do so.
Recently, Fred Barnes (a very pro-war columnist) came back from Iraq and said that things there are looking a lot more difficult than he had thought they would.
I’m not saying that the doomsayers aren’t biased. But I don’t think that the “things are going so wonderful, Iraqis love us and want democracy” crowd is any less so.
Also, I think that the issue that Mr. Auster brings up is where the parallels to Vietnam crop up, rather than from the Fallujan uprising and the al-Sadr militia. There is concern by many that Bush is setting unrealistic goals under the presumption that determination will make anything possible, and that we are going to be slogging our way into a position where we can’t win, but also can’t admit defeat. Hence, the concern about a quagmire.
Certainly, over the long term, the possibility that we may have set unrealistic goals that we cannot achieve is a far bigger obstacle to “defanging” Iraq than a small uptick in soldiers’ deaths that may not last more than this month (small compared to > 500 deaths a month at the peak of the Vietnam War).
Yes, the parallel to South Vietnam is that in order to win, i.e., in order to secure the freedom and safety of South Vietnam from Communist aggression, required that we destroy the ability and will of North Vietnam to wage war against the South. That was too large a goal and we never committed ourselves to that.
The parallel is not exact, since South Vietnam could have survived if the Congress had not shamefully ceased supporting it. Vietnamization had largely worked, and could have kept working with help. It seems worse in Iraq, because there we’re facing Moslem fanatics who are willing to blow themselves up and mass murder police and schoolchildren; and as long as such people are free to operate, it’s hard to see how any free government can get started there.
Mr. Levin wrote:
“Other than Matt’s 4/20 4:11 pm post ending comment: ‘But parking our military in a foreign land to manage it perpetually is just nuts’, there is nothing in his other comments—or Mr. Auster’s replies—that say anything about our young men and women who are being used as pawns in this deadly game called “occupation”.”
For the record, I didn’t avoid talking about our soldiers themselves as a way of making or avoiding some deliberate point. I share Mr. Levin’s concern for them, and appreciate the reminder of that concern. They just weren’t the specific topic of my comments, which were more abstract ruminations about lights at the end of the tunnel and advancing trains (plus a dose of Bush pop-psychoanalysis too, I suppose).
I was quoting you exactly You said, quote “I think Bush needs to show he’s “a leader” and should axe Gen. Kimmet and other current theatre commanders who are quite frankly “failing”—and bring back people like Gen. Tommy Franks. Franks got out before this mess came about. He’ll know “what to do”. unquote
My point is that many of us are trying to second guess what’s going on over there based on very limited information. Our efforts are better used on something we can affect here at home, such as immigration policy, what the heck do we do about the UN, and the radical islam brainwashing - the enemy within and here.
It is unrealistic, I believe, to suppose that anyone could have a workable plan in hand
for Iraq and the mideast…that is not changing dramatically every day. This is a war. We will lose the war by being defeated within our own borders. The problem here is that a significant part of the US still does not believe and act as if we are at war. And, there is a minority of Americans who want the US to lose the war.
Losing the war means living in the US like the Israeli’s are living today.
Generally, I am not pessimistic. But, I think it will take another massive attack here before this nation unifies…and fights and Congress actually declares war. I hope I am wrong on this.
Regarding the letter from the front, I have already asked the source for more and I told them the questions from this board, with my apologies.
Mr. Jose, regarding the Stephen Schwartz piece in Front Page, I highly recommend reading the piece as well as the Two Faces of Islam. Mr. Schwartz speaks for himself better that I.
By the way, it’s the corrupt UN which is supposed to be rebuilding Kosovo and Bosnia, not the US, since 1999. It is well worth reading up on that UN fiasco. And, in case you don’t rememeber, the Christian Serbs were slaughtering the Moslems before. There is no point in tracking down where in the long past that war started.
Each time I tell Mr. Bromley, no, I didn’t say that Bush should fire any generals, he comes right back and says that I did say it. This is now the third time I’ve had to correct his incorrect attribution of someone else’s statement to me. He’s wasting my time and wasting space in this discussion.
In order to post at VFR, people should be able to demonstrate a bare minimum of reading comprehension. In the case of Mr. Bromley, that is evidently asking too much.
Matt is and remains one of my favorite contributors at VFR. I apologize if I seemed to be harsh about his not mentioning the soldiers. I was really commenting on a general feeling I get from reading some discussions here that sometimes it seems that those paying the ultimate price for our political leaders’ whims/decisions are often forgotten—or simply not mentioned, and that bothers me.
Mr. Auster is right; Bud Bromley’s April 21, 2:49 pm post was actually referring to MY saying that Gen. Kimmett should be fired, not Mr. Auster’s saying that. I’m sorry for the confusion.
My feeling regarding what has happened in Iraq with regard to our military commanders is this. Gen. Tommy Franks’ departure from the scene was very suspicious. He was the “Patton” of the invasion and initial battle. I wonder if he really left because he saw this prolonged deployment and entrenchment of our Army and Marines. Yet, I believe we need him more than ever there, now. Perhaps Gen. Kimmett is a genius and a fine leader and motivator. But looking at our troops and the near civil war they are facing, I am wondering if that is indeed the case.
Mr. Levin wrote:
“I was really commenting on a general feeling I get from reading some discussions here that sometimes it seems that those paying the ultimate price for our political leaders’ whims/decisions are often forgotten—or simply not mentioned, and that bothers me.”
It is a good point. After a month in which nearly a hundred of our fighting men have died in Iraq - even though as a practical matter discussions have to stay concise and on-point - it seems almost disrespectful not to mention them emphatically in every comment. And they are indeed central to any discussion of what motivates Bush. I think few things are more important to him than having a clean conscience (in his own view) about the men he has personally sent to fight and die. That means there has to be a total victory on at least one important thing. Dismantling WMD programs would have done that for Bush, I think, but now doubt has set in and an Iraqi people who are clearly better off (from a modern liberal’s point of view) has taken on greater significance.
The now-retired General Franks’ successor as theater commander-in-chief is his fellow four-star, General Abizaid, who strikes me as a typically political Army clock-puncher who has been installed as America’s imperator in the Middle East largely because he is an Arab. I cannot detect that he has approached his very difficult job with any imagination, but perhaps he is stifled by proconsul Bremer and Washington. The level below Abizaid, that of field commander in overall tactical command of forces in Iraq, is filled by the three-star Lieutenant General Sanchez, who strikes me as another typically political Army clock-puncher who fills so critical a post largely because of his surname. (By identifying these clock-punchers as Army officers I do not mean to suggest that the Army has a monopoly on clock-punchers. By no means, alas.) The commanding generals of the divisions in Iraq report to him. The one-star Brigadier General Kimmett is far junior to Abizaid and Sanchez (he is in fact junior in grade to the division commanders, who are two-star Major Generals), and is Deputy Director for Operations in the sand-box; i.e., not a decision-maker. He gets stuck speaking to the press. Kimmett strikes me as perhaps afflicted with hubris about what we can expect to accomplish in Iraq, but he is a symptom. The problems begin far above his pay grade, and on the military side the buck stops with Abizaid (and his commander-in-chief, who is…). HRS
I thank Mr. Sutherland very much for that detailed and enlightening description of our Army’s military command. It really helped me understand the situation better. Please substitute “Gen. Abazaid” for Brig. Gen. Kimmett in my previous posts!
fuck the revolution!!!!!!
I would feel far better if our top generals in Iraq were non-Hispanic, non-Arab, non-Black Jewish or Christian people. My view is a direct result of affirmative action and the prima facie case, which presupposes discrimination. I have zero confidence in our generals since Schwartzkoff left. There are probably many good ones that Mr. Sutherland knows about (such as Hack).
I can’t help but feel the same way as Mr. Murgos. The vast effort under way by the military establishment to shift the focus of the prison abuse scandal away from the person in charge of the prison, Gen. Janis Karpinski, gives us a clear picture of how the military, tradtionally one of the most conservative institutions in America, has become a playground for various leftist schemes like affirmative action, etc.
My bet is that Karpsinski will not take the fall for this. The entire responsibility will be shifted to those beneath her in the chain of command. Once again, for the millionth time, we are faced with the obscene spectacle of the Bush administration bending over to be defiled by leftists while declaring conservatives to be “racists” for questioning their incompetenve and irresponsibility. Bush is an an utter farce.