Our British friend "Ali" has contributed this cogent comment which I am glad to give pride of place. pl
"I agree with Pat that Casey should not be in his job. Constantly offering light at the end of the tunnel when in fact a train is bearing down on the mission was a great error in Vietnam; it’s been repeated here. It is the candor thing; he never faked sincerity well and has now obviously been as habitually cavalier with the truth as Rummie.
British soldiers do expect a CGS to be a wily politician fighting their corner. They know their generals are a slippery bunch of slim customers. Given the adversarial nature of British politics an institution as down trodden as their Army that needs such skills rather more than a poker backed exemplar. That said the current chap also plays the simple soldier rather well:
Marlowe above suggests: "In my opinion, men and women in the military should have resigned their commissions when they realized that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a fraud sold to the world on false trumped-up reason"
In an ideal world perhaps but as a great many wars have an essentially fraudulent beginning this perhaps expecting too much. When a state moves to crush an enemy it’s often for long term strategic reasons and a suitable provocation has to invented or exaggerated to achieve popular support. An event like Pearl Harbor is the exception the Gulf of Tonkin is more the rule. This isn’t just an American habit it’s universal. Aggressive wars are often a necessity and even the Romans felt the need to invent excuses for them.
In the case of the Iraq invasion itself I’m sure Marshall would have saluted and done his job. The isolationist US public was not the least bit kean on raising a finger against the Third Reich as it ravaged Europe in 39. I’m thankful Marshall worked for that great political dissembler FDR who sneakily aided the allies from the start of the war and not some rule bound boy scout. Deceit is not an issue that a responsible General will give up his stars for; that is simply how the politics often continues into war.
A greater question is should an army prosecute a war they have good cause to believe is against their national interest? Pearl Harbor is actually a good example. The Japanese Admiralty knew the attack was strategic folly; a desperate roll of the dice. Yet they obeyed their Emperor. Most militaries in the service of a modern state would do the same. The British military were always riddled with dissent over Iraq but nobody fell on their sword in protest.
From a US perspective Iraq can’t even be placed in the obvious blunder category. The case presented for war to a willingly deceived US public was laughably thin. While in London the sandcastle muttered nervously and people took to the streets in their millions there was barely a whisper of protest in the US body politic, even the bastions of the "liberal" US media cried for war.
It really is not hard to see why the the brass would nod along knowingly with the Pentagon suits on this one. Saddam was an unresolved problem; a likely source of future wars. The Middle East is water poor and energy rich. The Persian Gulf is the greatest geopolitical prize in the world. The unipolar moment was upon us. Given the window of opportunity afforded by 9-11 the land of the two rivers was an obvious theater to demonstrate the efficacy of expensively purchased US military power. After a decade of sordid, enervating peacekeeping at last a lovely war of maneuver in open desert. The US military having trounced this foe before was absolutely certain of the success of the initial invasion. Dissent was expressed about troop levels to support an occupation and the operations costly difficulty but it would be a very eccentric soldier that resigns in these circumstances.
There was very little public mention in the US of the very obvious strategic problems of removing Iran’s main impediment to expansion. But then a subtle soldier would calculate the immense diplomatic leverage the fall of Baghdad would offer DC. A blunter one might imagine the M1As storming Tehran by Autumn. Neither would have had a chance to fully appreciate the nepotistic incompetence and blinkered ideological foolishness of this administration. Au fond it’s the rigidity of PNAC dogma that doomed this operation from the start.
Now we have Petraeus and his big brained clique bumped up. Instead of resigning they soldiered on as the brass dallied with big kinetic operations. Finally it looks like they’ll be allowed to fight the war in manner they hope could win it. Too late; they know the odds are heavily stacked against them but its their job to go on trying until a merciful POTUS throws in the towel.
The American voter gave this luckless President a second term and a mandate despite his stubbornly uncorrected blunders. The truth was evident; they just balked at the bitter pill. It is there that civic courage failed." Ali