This interview by Tim Russert illustrates something that has become increasingly evident, and that is that the senior leaders of the US armed forces have constructed a separate reality for themselves which insulates them from unpleasant and perhaps insoluble difficulties in Iraq. It is easy to do this if Washington tells you continuously that you are making progress and that over-riding voice becomes the outer boundary of your "planning guidance." In the military most people accept guidance from above as the basis on which they plan, and then enforce that reality on subordinates.
It takes real character and something of genius to do otherwise in a hierarchical situation in which career destruction is risked by firmly disagreeing with a superior. Patton, Truscott, Sheridan, and TJ Jackson, were men who could and did do that, but it was a different time and we were a different people, or peoples in some cases.
In the present system, staff officers, subordinate commanders. providers of intelligence, etc. all know that they are implicitly expected to agree with the boss, and they do. This provides wonderful reinforcement to the group think underway among the seniors and pretty soon a closed system emrges in which any and all evidence can be and is interpreted to confirm whatever nonsense the bosses want to believe.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel." Westy said that. I remember it well. He wasn’t lying. He believed it completely. Everyone on his staff believed it in spite of the mountain of intelligence reports pouring into headquarters in Saigon that said the enemy was preparing for a major effort.
A month after he made this statement the 1968 Tet offensive began.