Monday, April 10, 2006

General Newbold: There's no "there" there. 
The former Ops Chief at the Pentagon, Retired Marine Lieut. General Gregory Newbold, writes an article for Time entitled "Why the Iraq War Was A Mistake."

My review: The peace is a rhetorical Oakland: There's no "there" there.

The General mentions some mistakes along the way - such as the remarkable reluctance of Secretary Rumsfeld to characterize the insurgency as an insurgency (which I commented upon in 2003 as well ) - and the lack of resources and commitment from departments other than defense.

But he doesn't say a thing about why the Iraq war was a mistake to begin with - why the strategery was unsound, etc.

He hits on a couple of tired canards about alienating allies who could have helped more (but fails to mention who. France? I don't want their troops protecting my flank. Germany? Constitutionally prohibited from sending combat troops. Russia? Please. China? Hell no. Who on earth is he talking about?)

Hell, you can read halfway through the article before hitting the first substantive points. And even then, the article utterly fails to live up to its billing - it fails to explain why the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Actually, I find the thinking to be pretty soft. The General concedes, for example, that some of the senior Pentagon brass actually believed in the Administration's policy - and then seems to use that fact as if it were prima facie evidence of their own spinelessness!

That's an extraordinarily sloppy argument.

This could have been, with better editing, a piece called "How we screwed up in Iraq." But it's not even quite that.

The case for Iraq as a mistake can be made. But this isn't the article to make it.

Splash, out


he doesn't say a thing about why the Iraq war was a mistake to begin with

He says, "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."

However, the article is even more pointless because he says we should stay in Iraq and fight it out, yet complains we need a new strategy for doing so, yet suggests nothing in the way of a new strategy. What, exactly, would he do that is different from what we're doing? "Fire Rumsfeld" is not a strategy.
LTG, huh?

As in retired without getting the GEN he desperately wanted?

As in resents Rummy for it?

That might explain the public lambasting without recommendations...
Rumor has it that he was offered a fourth star but turned it down.

Some great zingers here from Rummy and Peter Pace:


GEN. PACE: Sir, thank you.

In the last couple of days there have been several articles, opinion pieces, editorials about the responsibility of senior U.S. military officers to speak up, to tell the truth as we know it, and that is a sacred obligation of all of us who are fortunate to represent all the members of the armed forces and to have the opportunity to participate at this level.

Let me just give you Pete Pace's rendition of how the process worked building up to Iraq. First of all, once it became apparent that we may have to take military action, the Secretary of Defense asked Tom Franks, who was the commander of Central Command, to begin doing some planning, which he did. Over the next two years, 50 or 60 times, Tom Franks either came to Washington or by video teleconference, sat down with the Secretary of Defense, sat down with the Joint Chiefs and went over what he was thinking, how he was planning. And as a result of those iterative opportunities and all the questions that were asked, not once was Tom told, "No, don't do that. No, don't do this. No, you can't have this. No, you can't have that." What happened was, in a very open roundtable discussion, questions about what might go right, what might go wrong, what would you need, how would you handle it, and that happened with the Joint Chiefs and it happened with the Secretary.

And before the final orders were given, the Joint Chiefs met in private with General Franks and assured ourselves that the plan was a solid plan and that the resources that he needed were going to be allocated. We then went and told the Secretary of Defense our belief in Tom's plan and in the resources, and I know for a fact, because I was there, that when the Joint Chiefs were called over to the White House, several of the questions that the president asked specifically were about our understanding and belief in the plan, and whether or not the amount -- proper amount of resources had been allocated. He did that both with us, just the Joint Chiefs, and then again when all the combatant commanders were in from around the globe well before a final decision was made.

We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds, and if we do not, shame on us because the opportunity is there.

It is elicited from us. You know, we're expected to. And the plan that was executed was developed by military officers, presented by military officers, questioned by civilians as they should, revamped by military officers, and blessed by the senior military leadership.

Then, when we go to Congress, part of our confirmation process is, "Will you, General Pace, if confirmed, give your personal opinion when asked?" And the answer to that question is, "Yes, I will, sir." And I have been for almost five years now asked my personal opinion multiple times by members of the Congress of the United States in testimony, and I have spoken my personal opinion.

Now, I've given my best military advice to the Secretary and to the president, as have the other officers who have the privilege of being Joint Chiefs or being combatant commanders. Our troops deserve and will continue to get our best military thinking.

I wanted to tell you how I believe this system works, and I wanted to tell you how I have observed it working for five years, because the articles that are out there about folks not speaking up are just flat wrong.

Thank you.

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