Senator Warner was on MTP today. Senator Warner knows that the present US force levels in Iraq are not sustainable. He knows that the force must be heavily reduced next year. There are a number of reasons for this but the bottom line is that the numbers just are not there. The sizing of the ground forces that was done after the end of the Cold War, was not based on the idea of an interventionist foreign policy. The Bush Administration did not react to 9/11 by starting an increase in the size of those forces. As a result the forces are TOO SMALL to sustain continued rotations at the "surge" level. The numbers MUST come down. In the message that he has delivered to the White House, Warner is trying to get the president’s attention, to warn him that time is running out in the real world, as opposed to the world of the sycophants who surround Bush.
MG Lynch, presently in Iraq, somewhere in what he calls his "battle space," has presumed to instruct members of the US Congress with regard to foreign policy. "Civics" is a little taught curriculum item in the high schools these days. When I was a boy, it was core curriculum everywhere. I learned in high school that US military officers are the servants of the civilian government. I guess Lynch never learned that. The decision to go to war, the decision to remain at war, the decision to end wars, these are all foreign policy decisions. They are not the province of uniformed leaders. Lynch is way off the reservation in what he has been saying about Clinton, Warner and Levin. Now we have "legionary" commanders dictating from the Rhine what policy should be?
The Congress has no say in such things except for funding? The US Congress intervened mightily in the conduct of the Civil War through the "Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War." Then there was the raging controversy that went on in the Congress during the Philippine Insurrection and over the Platt Amendment… Shall I continue?
Lynch said that the insurgents will re-occupy the ground that he and his men have gained if our troops are withdrawn. Well, fellah, unless one subscribes to the idea that the US intends to remain in Iraq permanently, (I do not.) then Iraqis of one stripe or another will have to take charge of your "battle space." When do you intend to hand it over to them?
The Iraqi Government? There is no Iraqi Government. pl
See Barabara Tuchman’s "The Proud Tower" for a discussion of the Phillipine controversy.
Do you think the MG is on his own, or was he “cleared” to make these comments? After all, congress is not very respected by the public to say the least.
Last week I watched Warner interviewed on The News Hour. I don’t recall him mentioning the issue of sustainability. I get the impression that the press and politicians want to avoid the issue. Maybe they’re afraid that if you talk about it you sound unpatriotic. Likewise, they seem to think it unpatriotic to say that military officers are servants of the civilian government.
I think this (MG Lynch’s behavior – of which I am not familiar with …) would be an understandable effect of the B.S. rhetoric that the President uses in his continuous sales job to prolong the war through the end of his term. (hopefully it will end in Jan ’09 , who knows…)
the hollow, ignorant shouts of ” I’m gonna listen to the generals on the ground!, not what the Washington politicians say !” on the part of Mr. Bush, I believe only enables the thinking of Generals like Lynch
The fact, as you have pointed out more than once, is that it is precisely the civilian politicians who are supposed to be telling the military what to do -or not do.
Bush’s public “sales job” does real damage to American republicanism. MG Lych’s apparent behavior – I suggest is merely one more consequence of Bush’s tragic “leadership”.
one could go on and on about this….For example, Is the president’s specific job to defend the Constitution….or defend the country…., etc. etc.
thank you, Col., for pointing out that MG Lynch is trespassing into civilian territory with his remarks. But, more importantly, you asked the question I want to pose every time I read about a soldier or civilian whining about insurgents taking over the hard-won ground our military has gained if we withdraw too early. As far as I can see, unless Iraq gets itself together politically, it doesn’t matter if we withdraw today or 2 years from now. Yes, MG Lynch, that hard-won ground is possibly going back to the insurgents’ hands, but we can’t very well stay in Iraq indefinitely, as Sen. Warner is all too aware. And the final decision about when we leave Iraq is a civilian call, not a military one.
I would like it if John Warner actually put his money where his mouth is.
Can MG Lynch be making these comments on behest of others – ” Look, the man on the ground says XYZ, we should listen to him.”?
Col Lang, Evidently you aren’t privy to the War College’s course, “A New Civics For General Officers”. It has become all the rage since the White House ceded National Security policy-making authority to the Pentagon. The catalog describes…
“Generals create their own Civics, the People’s role is to obey and execute. Examples from recent operations are reviewed and applications to domestic politics are described”. I can’t recall whether Hanson or Barnett teach it.
what tom s said.
what the nation needs right now is for congress to step up and end this thing. a forceful legislative voice would be impossible for bush to ignore and, my opinion, too strong for him to work with “signing statements”.
i think warner is strong enough, if he stands up, to turn enough republicans, in both houses, back to the land of reality and responsibility.
Two related articles:
Kaplan’s NYT Mag Article
Wash Post Article
Lynch isn’t the only one.
What would happen to our force structure if the ‘stop loss’ orders were rescinded? the next question is about the size of the force. For what strategy do we need a larger force structure? Is that the best strategy or even a good one? What would a good strategy for comabatting terrorist cells look like and what kind of alterations to the force structure would be required for it? These are all questions that keep coming to mind. Help would be appreciated.
I know a lot of military folks – some very high up, especially those very high up – have views similar to yours – that the US will HAVE to draw down troop levels early in 2008.
But I have to say, I’m skeptical until I see it occur. I personally believe that the C in C, the self-designated “decider” could well overrule this consensus, find some military yes men, and force a sustained high troop level through some sort of legerdemain – ie using navy and air force people in non-combatant support roles, possibly even forcing forward yet more deployments.
In my opinion, Bush is a narcissist who has an inflated vision of his place in history and it is not beyond him that he will break the military, so to speak, in order that his “legacy” might look a bit better.
Now, I’m not saying this view is definite either, but I don’t think – knowing this administration – that even a necessary draw down will occur factoring some of the above.
Something to think about at least.
Reuters is carrying an AlertNet item reporting that the Iraqi leadership caucus (my term) has reached agreement on a framework for reconciliation. We’ll see. For the purpose of this discussion — Iraqis are masters of brinksmanship. If this report is true, it means that when they hear John Warner call “Time’s Up”, they know its real — as opposed to the many other natterings they have heard.
Bush says offensive in Iraq just beginning
Aug 25 02:22 PM US/Eastern
US President George W. Bush signaled Saturday his unwillingness to consider early US troop reductions in Iraq, saying new offensive operations there were just in their “early stages.”
Fat chance of talking the decider off the war. We’ve just ratcheted up the status quo with the surge, and now it is such that any decrease in troop strength in Iraq, is a step towards acknowledging defeat. Nothing will change as long as W is still president.
Lynch and his attitude can be directly attributed to the overblown “support the troops” meme. It’s all about the troops now.
It’s as though we have created a “Troopocracy”.
I was a troop once, but this support the troops talk has gone way too far. The military is a tool of foreign policy as you have correctly pointed out Colonel.
We could start leaving soon, or wait and let our beloved troops fight their way out when things go sideways. The decider WILL do something regarding Iran before he exits. The info-wars seem a bit more present in every-day’s news outlets.
It’s on the horizon.
Didn’t Clemenceau say, “War is too important to be left to generals?”
In 1888, General Boulanger, who would later try to overthrow the Republic in an inept military coup, was elected to Parliament. He proposed a revision of the Constitution (it was more of a suicide pact for democracy)–calling Parliament, “merely a scene of fruitless debates that got the country nowhere.”
Clemenceau replied: “These debates, which you deplore, honor us all. They show above all our ardor in defending the ideas we believe just. These debates have their inconveniences, but silence has even more. Yes, glory to the lands where men speak out! Shame to those where men keep silent!…It is the Republic itself which you dare bring down!”
You make two entertaining observations. First, The Proud Tower in this context. The Gilded-Age Senate which had once hoped for a conflict to excuse expansion into Cuba came to regret a far-off war against suicide-mission savages in what was deemed a coaling station for ships. No corollary there!
Second, Lynch does seem to have pitched his FOB on the wrong side of the Rhine. Perhaps he must be recalled from Germania, married to an available Cheney daughter, and prepare to rule as interregnum?
Ben P has, I think, got it in one. The Decider is now solely concerned about his “Legacy”, which is not looking good.
He is so concerned in fact that he is only spending one day at the APEC conference in Australia before heading back to the USA for the “Surge” report – thus really p1ssing off all Asian leaders bigtime and damn near alienating the Australian Government as well.
The message Bush has been consistently sending to the entire Pacific region is that the main game for him is the Middle East. There has been continued non-attendance by Bush and Rice at ASEAN and APEC meetings sends the message “You don’t matter” to Asian leaders, which is a very dumb and stupid thing to do, particularly if you expect the Pacific rim nations to help engage with, and contain, China.
This to me is absolutely and totally insane because America’s interests around the Pacific rim simply dwarf it’s interests in the Middle East.
Furthermore, the current Australian Govenrment under John Howard is facing an absolute landslide defeat at the election which must be called this year.
Thank Christ I don’t live in Sydney because I suspect that the protests there against the visit of the young Mr. Bush are going to be the most spectacular since the Vietnam war.
If you think APEC is being neglected, look at what is happening in Latin America.
Latin America has become a mess that will take many years to repair all the damage done by this administration.
China has made huge investments throughout the region.
The Administration has neglected our southern neighbors completely.
I like that, “legionary” commanders dictating from the Rhine”.
Maybe they should remember what happened to other Roman troops in the
Teutoburger Wald. There is more than one way to loose your legions.
Considering how inept the Busheviks are, “neglect” is actually the better policy. In 2002 they applauded the ephemeral coup against democratically-elected Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In 2004, I believe, they actually ousted democratically-elected Jean Bertrande Aristide in Haiti, leading to chaos and murder.
There’s a funny story that during the brief Chavez Coup a young Army bugler was ordered to blow his bugle for the new “President,” who had just been appointed by the junta. The bugler protested, “But Hugo Chavez is my President!” It was patiently explained to him that there was a new President now. But the bugler wasn’t having any. He handed the officer his bugle and said, “If you like him so much then YOU blow the bugle for him!”
The coup collapsed when the rest of the Army agreed with him, and they had more than just bugles.
Bad news, COL. I am a constituent of Warner’s who voted for him last time and will never do so again.
It is interesting how he gets so much good ink after having slavishly parroted the Administration propaganda for much of the preceding five years.
I know, I wrote him several times to remonstrate, and got back responses worthy of Jeff Sessions.
I do hope he runs again, I will volunteer time and money to his opponent. He is either a man of situational honor or not smart enough to be in the Senate.
I do second your comments on Rick Lynch, who is an acquaintance. I have even visited his battle space, a patch of crappy ground in a crappy country. I say let the Iraqis have it, they deserve it.
Who do you wish to see in his seat? pl
Webb was a big improvement over Allen, I am content to wait a while before I choose.
“Now we have ‘legionary’ commanders dictating from the Rhine what policy should be?”
Not really. Just sycophantic toadies who know how to suck up to the commander guy.
The modern bureacratic military has many downsides, but it doesn’t tend to produce a lot of Caesars or MacArthurs. For better our worse.
Jodles and Keitels on the other hand . . .