The War of the Generals

It seems appropriate that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld and Generals Myers and Franks should be left to the judgment of history.  They are still quite pleased with themselves and seem to be sure that they took action over the last however many years that it has been that has been in the public interest.

That is certainly debatable and my position has been clear.

Nevertheless, I think that criticism of these men, and in this case Rumsfeld should be civil and restricted to their policy and operational decisions.

The question of whether or nor Rumsfeld should be SECDEF is something for the president to decide since he, Cheney and Rumsfeld will be thought of as a "triumvirate" for all time.

I regret my earlier comparison of Rumsfeld to George Marshall.  The two men are so dissimilar that the comparison is inapt.

Pat Lang


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42 Responses to The War of the Generals

  1. rpe says:

    I assume the comparison of Marshall to Rumsfeld was somewhat akin to a comparison of matter to antimatter ?

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. It got to me.

  3. Glen says:

    I hope my comments concerning Rumsfeld were not over the top.
    It is disturbing to me that the retired generals have so publically spoken up. It must represent a good deal of frustration in the Pentagon for this disagreement to have gone so far and become so visable. It was obvious when Murtha spoke up that the generals had been reaching out to members of Congress, and also by Murtha’s reaction that it was a message not well received by the WH.
    I have absolutely no fears whatsoever that our military will overstep it’s bounds and try in any way to undo the civilian leadership. (Most people do not realize how dangerous a mutiny or military coup could be – luckily our military does.) However, what we face is not so much that the military leadership is running amuck, but that the civilian leadership may be.
    Like you I agree that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are a “team” and it is extremely unlikely that Bush will act to break up the team. It is up to the Congress to provide the oversight required to “fix” this issue, but it is also imperitive that the generals speak out when asked by Congress. This is of some concern since it seems as if Congress has stopped doing it’s job.
    So it’s up to Congress to ask hard questions, and to get honest answers. No doubt, if this takes place, it will end some careers, but like you, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not the boss.
    The ball’s in Congress’s court. But honestly, I doubt if we’ll see this happen.

  4. manowar says:

    “he (Bush), Cheney and Rumsfeld will be thought of as a “triumvirate” for all time”
    Sort of like Napoleon III, Rouher, and Bazaine, but without the benefits.

  5. Curious says:

    Rumsfeld is going to do “I am a survivor” Iraq tour again.
    What’s new. It’s all PR spin and damage control for Bushco and team. Who needs to actually do the right thing?

  6. RJJ says:

    “It seems appropriate that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld and Generals Myers and Franks should be left to the judgment of history. ”
    But the process of their becoming history should be expedited.
    Apologies for the discourtesy of sloppy reading and commenting on the deleted thread.

  7. RJJ says:

    By “becoming history” I mean as public persons – a return to private life.

  8. zanzibar says:

    “It seems appropriate that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld and Generals Myers and Franks should be left to the judgment of history.” – PL
    History always passes its judgement, however, in the here and now, we as citizens need to hold our leaders accountable for their actions.
    The next opportunity under our political system is this Nov. Will we vote for change or more of the same?
    In the mean time I’d like to see a transparent hearing into the decision making of this Administration. Of course I realize this is not realistic with a compliant Republican majority Congress. The Senate Intelligence Committee is never going to get to the bottom of how intelligence was used to develop policy and decisions in the invasion of Iraq with Sen. Roberts stonewall. As a citizen that gave this Administration the benefit of doubt, I now have deep qualms about their judgement and integrity. To put it bluntly, I don’t trust these guys any longer and I would prefer that history does not also weigh in on us as citizens for not stepping up to the plate and demanding change.

  9. RJJ says:

    Oh merde, did it again.
    Considering the overreach of the Absolute Executive doctrine, the magnitude of the administration’s clusterf**ks, and the absence/failure of institutional checks and balances, this deference to the president (in reality the out-of-control vice president), by refraining from comment on his choice of SECDEF seems like a scruple.

  10. zanzibar says:

    Gen. Zinni in an interview talked about Gen. Shelton, then Chairman, Joint Chiefs sending all 17 4 star generals the book, Dereliction of Duty and noting that all of them owe it to their oath to speak candidly to Congress and the President.
    I hope that our current generals are men of character and will speak their mind and provide Congress and the American people their best professional judgement and not be cowed by what happened to Gen. Shinseki. It will be a tragedy for our country if the military leadership do not challenge political judgements leading to war based on incorrect facts and perceptions due to fear of reprisal.

  11. Larry Mitchell says:

    Given the fact that Bush & Cheney were going to invade Iraq no matter what, I’m not sure how much Rumsfeld could do about troop strength. There was no stomach for a draft, and no more troops to be had. I’m sure the generals involved got tired of being quoted as not needing any additional troops as they struggled to complete their mission with too few. Rumsfeld seems to be a prickly character who doesn’t care to be your buddy, so he’s a great target for everyone’s impatience. I’m still convinced that the root of the problem is with Bush (who talks like he wants to be your buddy) and Cheney (who doesn’t want to be anybody’s buddy – except when hunting) and their plan. I think all three of them will have to answer to history with regard to prisoner abuse and torture – a low point in US history.
    COL Lang has mentioned the limitations on the active military with regard to going public with complaints. I would appreciate a little education from him and others who are knowledgeable regarding not only what is allowed, but what we have a right to expect from the military. I read “Dereliction of Duty” to better understand the mess back in my day, but still I’m not clear on when and how military commanders can and should speak up. I’m guessing that it’s a very difficult decision under the best of conditions.

  12. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It is a violation both of the UCMJ amd of military custom for an officer or anyone else on active duty to publicly criticize the grand officers of the government or members of Congress. The only exception is that Congress must be informed fully when it queries the military. This is at any tme (including wartime) since although the prsident is the commander of the military, the Congress is its creator and enabler in law.
    Having said that, the president and his subordinates have always known that if they ignore military advice at the top they risk a “behind the scenes” disclosure to journalists who are either trusted or thought useful.
    As to the troop strength, your assumption that there were not more troops available at the beginning of the campaign is incorrect. We have gotten into trouble over strengths becasue of the extended nature of the war and the necessity to spread the force available out over time in order to be able to make periodic rotations of units. We could have gone into Iraq with at least twice as many troops if we had wished to do so. pl

  13. jonst says:

    I believe the US could have gone into Iraq with “at least twice as many troops if we had wish to” only if one took them from other potential fronts, as well as jettison the plans supposedly articulated in NSPD 9, still classified. And, I would argue, you would have had to leave the bulk of the troops in place, and therefore leave the other fronts, particulary the Afghan front, vulnerable, for a long time into the future. And that in fact this is what we have done. And I would argue that would be even if the Iraqi army was not disbanded.
    Going into Iraq absent a draft, and accepting the fact that said forces were going to stay there a while, was, and is, a giant, and reckless, gamble. For the nation and for the military personal, and their families, involved. Now if you could have gotten NATO forces or other Arab forces to act as peacekeepers, big if, but if that could have been done it would have lessoned the strain. But that was never going to be possible given the distain expressed towards not only potential allies, but to the diplomatic process itself.
    Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we should have had a draft, and should have gone into Iraq. Going into Iraq was always going to be disaster.

  14. Larry Mitchell says:

    PL, thanks for the clarification. I’m sure you must be correct about the possibility of more troops initially, but could that number have been sustained long enough to make a difference?
    Besides the inability to maintain civil order and immediately showing a weakness of plan, do we know what may have been lost due to the inability to secure some Iraqi military sites? I remember stories about an ammo dump that was pretty well carried off by Iraqis by the time it was discovered. I have not heard much more about that kind of thing, but it seems like a pretty important mistake. Can we ever know what all was forfeited by going into it short handed?

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    IMO aside from the folly of the idea of occupying Iraq,
    our difficulties center on two basic mistakes:
    1-Too few troops in the intial invasion force. these could not have been kept there for long but could have been effective in thoroughly occuping the country and intimidating resistance long enough to
    2-bring back Iraqi security forces under new managemnt.
    We could then have withdrawn much of our force. pl

  16. jonst says:

    I promise this is the last time i will harp on this but we made a huge mistake from the start. From Sept 12th. We set our nation on a course that personally I disagreed with. But to the extent one WAS going to go down that course the nation was going to need a greater sacrfice from the people than it got. We got no draft, no substantial increase in the number of our forces, no tax increase, no call to cut oil use, in fact just the opposite. We were told, literally, to go to Disneyland. Go on with our lives while others got ready for war. This was dead wrong policy for a number of reasons.

  17. Eric says:

    A Link. I am having one helluva time negotiating this system this morning. Have had two posts eaten.

  18. Eric says:

    From reading Cobra II, it seems to me that all the military estimates of # of troops needed, derived from the 1995 Parameters study I linked to above.
    Pat, is there such a thing as “doctrine” in a subject such as this?
    SEDEF, in my opinion, was applying a very revolutionary new approach.
    Dangerous, but revolutionary.

  19. ali says:

    Rumsfeld is plainly a very capable man but hasn’t been able to recover from major strategic errors some of his making but many of which were inherent in this very risky venture. The time to fall on his sword was two years ago, a successor focused on damage limitation might have made mitigated the consequences, I doubt it would make a difference now.
    We went into an Iraq broken by decades of wars, sanctions and divisive dictatorship, with a shifty US administration ill disposed to nation building, an indebted American people unprepared for the trillion dollar tax burden needed to stuff a war chest let alone a couple of decades of blood sacrifice, too few militarily significant allies and no deal with Iran over the Shi’a South. This was a strategic muddle and structurally unsound from the start.
    Franks would certainly have been wiser to have the strategic flexibility that a larger invasion force offered. But this isn’t as critical as mistaking looting for a happy manifestation of freedoms march rather than something terribly dangerous that had to be stomped on hard. We came as eager liberators not as responsible neo-colonial occupiers. Our troops were standing idle or guarding decayed oil infrastructure that was meant to bankroll the construction of free market economy while arms dumps were being looted and a decapitated Iraqi society slipped into Hobbesian warfare.

  20. Eric says:

    Good thoughts, Ali, but I think SECDEF and his group are revolutionaries who pride themselves in not thinking conventionally. Rumsfeld outlined his thoughts in a speech, “Beyond Nation Building in New York, Feb. 14 2003:
    Drawing on his perception of the Afghan success at that point, Rumsfeld drew up his model. Go in light, shock and awe, decapitate the regime, get out quick, and spend their money on reconstruction, not yours. Since this was a public speech we have to highlight our creation of schools for the kiddies. Or something equally warm and fuzzy.
    Short Rumsfeld: JDAM the china shop; take away Fu Manchu; they can clean up the shards; you have set them free; you have “enabled” them ; you don’t owe them anything else.

  21. jonst says:

    Please define “capable”. Just for the record I don’t see Rumsfeld as a “plainly capable man” at all.

  22. RJJ says:

    “Rumsfeld is plainly a very capable man …”
    for some reason reminds me of Thabit’s admiration for Frankish therapeutics.
    “A case illustrating their curious medicine is the following ….I returned home, having learned of their medicine what I knew not before.”

  23. rpe says:

    What I find interesting about the revolt of the generals is the timing. I suspect that this has less to do with present disaster in Iraq and more to do with heading of the potential disaster with Iran. There is a growing drumbeat in the media about a coming war with the Iranians that, I suspect, the general officers of the United States Army & Marine Corps look upon with horror.Some of the ideas being bruited about- idiocies like the regime collapsing out of shame and the cheering crowds rushing into the streets to praise America after we bomb them combined with stories leaked to the press of the Pentagon taking the MEK ( a viscously, unhinged, Iranian counterpart to the Shining Path or the Khmer Rouge}into our service after they swear allegiance to “Democracy”- make the blood run cold.
    The Generals are a long suffering lot but something seems to be seriously unnerving them.

  24. angela says:

    Many Iraqis believe we let the looters destroy Iraqi infrastructure on purpose.
    Sadly it is not so implausible though the reasons may differ. It is a fact that we would not hire Iraqi engineers to rebuild things like the power infrastructure they knew or use Iraqi concrete because this involved firms still owned by the Iraqi government. Rightwing PC overruled expediency and getting jobs for Iraqis.
    Many of the instititions and factiories looted were government owned and their destruction might have been viewed as good by the zealots.
    This is a different motive than that given by Iraqis who think the goal was destroying the country, instead the lotting may have been condoned because of a faith based ideology apparently opposite but exactly similar to the distorted realities of communists.

  25. John Howley says:

    (1) I agree with rpe that the generals’ timing merits consideration. Forestalling Iran foolishness is one possibility; are there specific Rumsfeld moves re Iran that could have aroused them? Are there other possible underlying causes of this outbreak? For example, has Rumsfeld proposed changes in force levels for Iraq on the eve of Nov 06 elections which need to be initiated now?
    (2) Has anyone come across a good analysis of the objections raised by the various generals? Do they have a consistent set of complaints (besides Rumsfeld is a pain in the neck) or are they all over the place?

  26. zanzibar says:

    “Rightwing PC overruled expediency and getting jobs for Iraqis.” – angela
    Or was it about crony capitalism?
    A recent example:
    U.S. Plan to Build Iraq Clinics Falters
    Contractor Will Try to Finish 20 of 142 Sites
    A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.
    The contract, awarded to U.S. construction giant Parsons Inc. in the flush, early days of reconstruction in Iraq, was expected to lay the foundation of a modern health care system for the country, putting quality medical care within reach of all Iraqis.
    Parsons, according to the Corps, will walk away from more than 120 clinics that on average are two-thirds finished.

  27. Stanley E. Henning says:

    The current outburst of dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld from a handful of retired generals is unprecedented in US history and its implications may be of greater import than we might expect even if it appears to involve no more than the number involved to date.
    We need to focus carefully on all the possible factors involved to even begin to gain a meaningful, balanced understanding that this incident fully deserves. From the start, it appears to reflect serious shortcomings in both civil and military leadership at the highest levels, not just a Secretary of Defense and a small group of general officers. Even many not specifically mentioned likely bear some responsibility for the environment that spawned this incident.
    Actually, the stage for this sad state of affairs was set in the wake of 9-11.
    This tragic catastrophe appears to have sparked an overwhelming desire among
    the voting public to gravitate toward the appearance, of strong, decisive, and
    even vengeful leadership and marginalizing of the possible effectiveness of
    dissenting views – even Senator Kerry jumped on the bandwagon at the crucial
    point in time.
    For its part, the administration has reflected a desire for groupthink,
    dependence on a fallible few, and relegation of checks and balances in the
    system to a back seat. The President, who appears to be a tough minded good old boy on the surface, may actually be more along for the ride than in the driver’s seat, refusing to see crucial human limitations in those he should be overseeing, however capable his people may be in some areas – a situation which seems to have relegated the State Department to a back seat when it was needed most, and resulted in the handling of Intelligence in a manner to justify action rather than assess facts (past examples of this include sinking of the Battleship Maine in 1898 and actions against Koh Tang Island during the Mayaguez Incident in 1975)
    Meanwhile, with very few exceptions such as General Shinseki’s
    assessment of numbers needed to “pacify” Iraq, failure of any of the generals to
    fall on their swords when it could have made a difference, assuming any of them
    had doubts at the time, appears to reflect the possibility that an alarming degree
    of careerism has set in among the officer corps since Vietnam.
    So, it appears that we American’s at all levels need to do some serious
    soul searching into our responses since 9-11.

  28. ali says:

    “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
    It’s close to poetry. Rumsfeld is reminiscent of McNamara. He’s a man of great energy and considerable intellectual ability who road roughshod over a supine Brass, but he has not brought victory. He has failed Napoleon’s criteria for Marshals: he has not been evidently lucky and now they turn on him. Sometimes it takes a Stalingrad for Generals to develop a backbone.
    What Rumsfeld’s not is McArthur; we needed a McArthur in Iraq. McArthur, a man who makes Rummie seem humble and humdrum, got everything wrong in Japan in that first year, then like a true Yank realized his mistakes and began to reconstruct Japan using existing power structures. The Japan he left wasn’t at all what he or Truman had in mind but it was a viable compromise.
    Perhaps it is not the man but the moment? If McArthur had not been warily eyeing Red China and the USSR but been obsessed GOP base opinion and the numbers in Florida would he have been so wisely pragmatic? I doubt it.

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    MacArthur was a product of an age that understood that “noblesse” obliged one to achievement.

  30. Eric says:

    Yes, ali.
    Sounds a lot like TS Eliot.
    Speaking of Unknown unknowns, likely to be with us for a while, as Rum was unwilling to be interviewed by Gardiner and Trainor(hereafter G&T), and I doubt he’ll talk to Tom Ricks either, as the title of his forthcoming book is Fiasco. So we are in a sense speculating in the dark.
    G&T believe that the policy makers in Dubya’s administration, not just Rumsfeld, came to thoroughly believe in their “wishful thinking” on nation building. Call it group think, kool Aid intoxication, whatever.
    Here is candidate Bush’s speech at the Citadel in 1999 on the mission of the armed forces in the 21st century:
    Much high-grade irony ore to strip here, and methane reserves to drill, given six years of experience.
    However, this was the Bush administration’s position when it came into office, and has remained such.

  31. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think the failure has more to do with inability to cope with the security situation that anything else. pl

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Gordon and Trainor pl

  33. Eric says:

    Sorry Pat.
    Book had to go back to library. Don’t know either of the gentlemen. Have seen the general on TV, most recently on Friday, right after Gen. Franks labelled him “Admiral”.
    Is that 1995 Parameters thing from the Army War College I linked to upthread on nation building doctrine?
    This seems to me to be the crucible of everthing about current policy–the numbers needed to pacify a country.
    As you pointed out we could have probably put 300,000 men into Iraq initially, for a period of time. Franks’ initial plan called for 275,000, before Rum took out his whittling knife.
    And Iran, at 70,000,000 and Terhan at almost 13,000,000
    are beyond prudence, if the Parameters thing is a meaningful guidline.

  34. John Howley says:

    Perhaps the Generals are responding to Condi…
    “Blackburn, England — Greeted by anti-war protesters at almost every stop in a tour of working-class England, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that the Bush administration has probably made “thousands” of tactical mistakes in its handling of the Iraq war. But she defended the invasion of Iraq as the right strategic decision.”

  35. Patrick Henry says:

    As a Citizen who Daily Cares about the State of Our Union and the Management of Our Government and How well we` are such a Charged Atmosphere of Debate..
    I would like to say that I Applaud the Six Generals who have stepped Forward with thier opinions on the War and Don Rumsfelds Actions as the Secretary of Defence in the Current Administration..
    They are doing thier Duty..
    As` Officers..and as Citizens…
    Who know how the War was Planned and Donald Rumsfeld..
    .As Combat Experienced Veterans who Speak from Hands on experience..
    Who know the military was SOLD the WAR..just like the American People and the United nations were sold the War..
    They KNOW what happened…and how the War PLAN was a CIVILIAN Secretary of Defense..who came to Office During PEACE TIME..
    Everyone knows the War was Poorly Planned and EXECUTED by DON RUMSFELD and those who went along with it without STRONG Dissent..or Disagreement..
    it seems to me there is Logical Argument that there were Insufficient Secure Weapons Bunkers..along the Way..and to secure Citys..Structures..and work with the People of Iraq to Rapidly deveop thier Own Army and Security forces and Prevent Insurgencys and Factional Wars and Conflicts..
    The already well Known Facts as to Pre`Planning.Organizing and Promoting the War with Cherry Picked Intelligence
    and too much Reliance on Mr. Chalibi and other Promoters of the War..
    And the OUTCOME..
    SPEAK for themself..
    If Don Rumsfeld refuses to Step or Stand Down..and GWB Refuses to Relieve Him of His DUTYS..becuase He is afraid He will Look Bad..or Send some Signal of Weakness..or Admission of a MISTAKE..
    Then He should ORDER Don Rumsfeld to Tone it Down..
    With little to NO EXPERIENCE
    as a MILITARY COMMANDER or WAR Planner..
    Thats why we Have a Military and a Pentagon..
    GWB has a DUTY the sit down with these SIX Generals
    and Listen to them ..and Give them the FREEDOM and RESPECT..of Expressing thier Opinions..and telling HIM Why they Stepped FORWARD..
    If I had a Poster of those Six Generals ..Three in COMBAT Gear and Three in Dress Uniform to represent the Two Sides of the United States Military
    I would Hang it in My to the CONSTITUTION…

  36. canuck says:

    Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were way off the mark. Not only did the Pentagon not listen to the advice they received; they cut General Shinseki off at the knees and made him a lame duck.
    Generals in Iraq are now following the orders the Pentagon mistakenly made.
    The dissent the retired generals are expressing is the change in the structure. Until this war, Pentagon officials didn’t interfere with the size of troops that were needed, and the strategy that is employed. Generals are career soldiers who have the training, and the expertise that is needed. They serve as ‘expert advisors’ to the civilian leadership.
    The Pentagon has overstepped their authority. That’s the common message I’m hearing from the retired generals. If he doesn’t understand the roles each serves, he should step down and be replaced.
    I wonder what the opinon is of the Generals about civilian contractors being used as paid mercenaries in this conflict?

  37. Beren David says:

    I’m genuinely puzzled with the remaining tones of deference to Rumsfeld here. It was apparent to any honest, studious thinker contemplating invasion that multiple evolving insurgencies, not to mention high potential for long-term civil war, should have been expected in Iraq.
    Quite literally, my wife’s Aunt Ellen knew that, and she is a contract paralegal with no interest in military affairs whatsoever. Aunt Ellen also took it as a given the post-occupation security would be screwed up by Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration regardless of the number of troops allocated to the task. Isn’t that obvious now, at least? Rumsfeld could’ve put half a million troops in, and about the only certain consequence would be a lot more dead Iraqis.
    Rumsfeld has shown little understanding of warfare that involves non-automated ground troops (a/k/a “grunts”), even less of statecraft, and zero ability to learn from his main strategic blunders. How is this not a disaster, and how is he not responsible? Worse, the entire occupation force will be attacked by millions more insurgents if we attack Iran, and he’s still preaching flowers and candy. Please!
    As a civilian I would find it much more reassuring to be reading a discussion on how best to be shot of a SecDef who does the bidding of an administration that is itching to push the nuclear button on Iran. I’d like to hear what kind of support the retired generals raising the alarm would like to have, and I’d like to hear realistic options on how to get my country out of this jam. And if you think that this flotsam of dispensational eschatologists that refers to itself as an Administration won’t push the nuclear button, I truly envy you.

  38. jonst says:

    An old white guy in a suit and tie, armed with a PR dept, can go very far. And inspire much trust. Throw in the all too familar homilies, the “Rumsfeld’s ten rules” and such, along with the nervous laughter offered by boot licking reporters, at the sad attempts at humor, and there is no telling how far Americans will believe that the guy has it together. I would not let him hold the remote control in my house…never mind lead men into war.

  39. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think the Iran thing is doable at any strength on the ground that we could muster.
    I have know them both for a long time. Good people. pl

  40. rpe says:

    I disagree with those who think that the Iraq adventure could have ended up in anything other than a disaster. I read the original plans for the ” rebuilding of Iraq”, it called for the privitization of everything. This meant that every Iraqi government asset was to be sold to American & British companies including the oil fields, any and all hospitals and clinics, the higher education sustem, state owned facotories and utilities, and any and all farm lands owned by the government. The Iraqis would have been lucky to retain the clothes on their backs. { I particularly admired the reported patenting of all native Iraqi food plants by an American agribusiness working through an agribusiness lobbyist seconded to the CPA. Thats stealing with flair and imagination.}The original plan was nothing but corporate gang rape. Little of this came to pass for two reasons; 20,000 or so Sunni fighting man started a viscous and effective war against us and the Ayotollah Sistiani made it brutaly clear that if we attempted to implement our plans he would lead a nationwide revolt.The corruption in Iraq, and I mean American corruption, was staggering and blatantly obvious to the the Iraqi people. Under Saddam only Saddam and his family were allowed to steal. The amazing corruption and concomitant incompetance of the Bremer and subsequent administrations destroyed whatever little good will some of the Iraqis may have had for us and convinced the majority that the sooner we left the better. Deprived of American advice and guidance the Iraqis could get the lights back on and the water running in something like the remarkably short time they accomplished the same task after the first Gulf War. The America that the political hacks in the CPA showed the Iraqis and the rest of the world is something few Iraqis, aside from Ahmed Chalabi et al, and even fewer Syrians and Iranians would care to emulate.

  41. ali says:

    So Bush caves in and we have a new SECDEF.
    Does anyone seriously anticipate a successful radical change? Bush does not confront error, like a bad CEO facing the annual report he wishes it away, he lacks the great American virtue: candor in failure. We will just have a more tactful version of the denial and evasion than Rumsfeld offers. It will be another Cheney Vulcan doing his damndest to stage some Clintonian bombing before the Midterms or Harriet Miers.
    Zinni was tardy, this lot are two years too late too make a difference.

  42. taters says:

    Zinni has been speaking up for quite some time, prior to the invasion. Even when he was Special Envoy to the Midlle East.
    Mike Salinero, “Gen. Zinni Says War With Iraq Is Unwise,” Tampa Tribune, 24 August 2002
    TALLAHASSEE – One of President Bush’s top Middle East trouble- shooters warned Friday against war with Iraq, saying it would stretch U.S. forces too thin and make unwanted enemies in the volatile region.
    Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the president’s special envoy to the Mideast, made some of his strongest comments to date opposing war on Iraq. Speaking to the Economic Club of Florida in Tallahassee, Zinni said a war to bring down Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein would have numerous undesirable side effects and should be low on the nation’s list of foreign policy objectives.
    “I can give you many more [priorities] before I get to that,” Zinni said when asked if the United States should move to remove Saddam.
    Zinni said the country should instead concentrate on negotiating a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, and on eliminating the Taliban in Afghanistan and the al-Qaida terrorist network that launched the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
    “We need to make sure the Taliban and al-Qaida can’t come back,” he said.
    Much more important to Mideast stability than Iraq is Iran, Zinni said. Iran has been one of the leading financiers of Islamic terror organizations such as Hezbollah since followers of the Ayatollah Khamenei took American hostages in 1979.

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