Sunday, April 09, 2006

U.S. General - We've Been Fooled Again

Time magazine this weekend has a "full-throated critique" of the Bush administration's conduct of the War on Terror and in particular the occupation of Iraq from General Greg Newbold. Who he? Well, he was the Pentagon's "top operations officer, voiced his objections internally and then retired, in part out of opposition to the war".

What he has to say is nothing new - many critical of the Bush Adventure have said the same things. What is important is the fact that this expert and seasoned warrior is the man saying it.

He begins by remembering the Vietnam War and says the military of the time had :
a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again.
and continues to explain his own witnessing of that fooling.
From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq—an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat—al-Qaeda.
Newbold is scathing in his scorn for Condi's recent "figurative" admission of thousands of "tactical errors", saying that the military are being made scapegoats for their civilian dunderheaded leaders who have made an utter hash of the strategic guidance the military looks for.
What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions—or bury the results.
Yup, you read that right, the Pentagon's ex senior operations officer just called Bush and his cronies chickenhawks.

Newbold also criticizes many in the military leadership for being too timid to stand up to their Bushevik masters.
Flaws in our civilians are one thing; the failure of the Pentagon's military leaders is quite another. Those are men who know the hard consequences of war but, with few exceptions, acted timidly when their voices urgently needed to be heard. When they knew the plan was flawed, saw intelligence distorted to justify a rationale for war, or witnessed arrogant micromanagement that at times crippled the military's effectiveness, many leaders who wore the uniform chose inaction...The consequence of the military's quiescence was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war."
And the good General ends by calling for the replacement of "Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach" as well as a new courage among military officers to speak out against the neocon narrative.

General, you held your public silence, honorably, as long as you could. Thank you for finally speaking out.

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