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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 28, 2004

 
Playing The Game Of Risk

Via Atrios I see that Wes Clark is a little bit miffed with everybody's favorite GOPHo, Rudy Giuliani:

For President Bush to send Rudolph Giuliani out on television to say that the 'actual responsibility' for the failure to secure explosives lies with the troops is insulting and cowardly.

The President approved the mission and the priorities. Civilian leaders tell military leaders what to do. The military follows those orders and gets the job done. This was a failure of civilian leadership, first in not telling the troops to secure explosives and other dangerous materials, and second for not providing sufficient troops and sufficient equipment for troops to do the job.

President Bush sent our troops to war without sufficient body armor, without a sound plan and without sufficient forces to accomplish the mission. Our troops are performing a difficult mission with skill, bravery and determination. They deserve a commander in chief who supports them and understands that the buck stops in the Oval Office, not one who gets weak knees and shifts blame for his mistakes.


Dana Bash on CNN just said that the Bush campaign told her that Giuliani may not have used the most "elegant" or "eloquent" terms but he just meant to say that it's not the president fault. That doesn't really pass the smell test since William Kristol on FOX News Live and Laura Ingraham all echoed this reprehensible line: They seem to be implying that this was a call by the officers on the ground and therefore, out of the hands of the civilian leadership.


KRISTOL: ... [President] George [W.] Bush didn't decide, you know, "skip that dump" [the Al Qaqaa military installation, where the missing explosives were supposedly housed]. That was 101st [Airborne Division] or the 3rd ID [Infantry Division], "skip that arms dump." That's not a decision made by the president, that's made on the ground...


AND

STEVE MURPHY (FORMER MANAGER OF REP. DICK GEPHARDT'S (D-MO) PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN): Laura, Laura, John Kerry did not question the troops. John Kerry questioned the leadership of --

INGRAHAM: Oh, really? Who was looking for those weapons, Steve?

MURPHY: He questioned the leadership of George [W.] Bush. George Bush did not send enough soldiers.

[CROSSTALK]

INGRAHAM: Was George Bush on the ground there? The military commanders were on the ground there, Steve.


Man, we've sure come a long way from "the buck stops here." Indeed, we've come a long way from the "responsibility era" that Junior has been hectoring us about for the last four years.

This Al Qaqaa disaster is 100% the fault of the civilian leadership of the Bush administration. One thing that has to be remembered about these early days was the insistence that the army push through to Baghdad at record speed, stopping not even for rest or refueling. Do you remember the embeds hanging on to the back of jeeps and humvees by their fingernails, looking like hell, as they raced through the desert to get to Baghdad (and then found that Baghdad was wide open?)

These lethal explosives are missing because Rumsfeld was using Iraq as an experiment for certain aspects of his Revolution in Military Affairs wet dream. He managed an impressive dash across the desert with a relatively small force but because he was trying to prove a theory rather than deal with a very real situation on the ground, his refusal to commit enough troops to the operation as a whole meant that they could not spare the manpower or the time to secure these weapons dumps.

I wrote about this crazy stuff back in March of 2003, when it was revealed that none other than Newtie Gingrich was advising the Pentagon, and had been doing so for a long time, with some very questionable new-age theories that his soul mate Rumsfeld was more than happy to put into practice. It's not that there aren't some aspects of this RMA that are very useful, it's that like everything else in this administration they let their faith and their ideology overrule reality. Talking about Afghanistan, Newtie told the Hoover institute:

…their [old] answer has been to design campaign plans that are so massive - I mean the standard plan in Afghanistan was either Tomahawks or 5 divisions, and that's why Rumsfeld was so important. Cause Rumsfeld sat down and said, "Well what if we do this other thing? You know, 3 guys on horseback, a B-2 overhead." And it was a huge shock to the army. I mean, because it worked. Now I'll tell you one guy who does agree and that's Chuck Horner who ran the air campaign.


We now know that this "high tech horseback" plan was the one that let bin Laden escape. And it unfortunately informed the choices that were made in Iraq. The International Herald Tribune wrote this in the fall of 2002 about the Iraq invasion:

Gingrich, who also is a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, said he was confident that General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, would not be swayed by suggestions that he include more reinforcements and plan a more cautious attack. He said that Franks, an army general, "will probably have a more integrated, more aggressive and more risk-taking plan."

"If the chiefs wanted to be extremely cautious, extremely conservative and design a risk-avoiding strategy, that would be nothing new," he said in an interview.



This was the mind-set that sent the troops barreling across the desert. It was a macho show of hi-tech modern strength designed to "send a message" not actually accomplish the task of securing the nation of Iraq. Relying on rose colored cakewalks, the civilian policy makers simply didn't look any further than the images they wanted to see --- the statue falling, Bush in his flyboy costume. And, that is actually the crux of Gingrich and Rumsfeld's "third wave information warfare" scheme --- you don't have to actually fight wars, you just have to be seen to be winning them.

Clearly, this little experiment in faith-based warfare has been a disaster. The looting of Al Qaqaa is just the most recent example of reality raising its ugly head and biting these starry eyed, ivory tower neocons right in the ass.

And, let's not forget that not one single member of that civilian leadership has been called to account for the disaster in Iraq. Since the boss won't do his job, the only thing Americans can do is fire the boss.


Great minds and all that update: I see that Josh marshall makes much the same point here. And, Yglesias has some other thoughts along this line as well.

It's always interesting trying to unravel the reasoning behind Bush's decisions. Every single time you find that it is opaque and unknowable because there are so many compting and complimentary philosophies that led to the same catastrophic result. Historians are going to have a field day with this administration.





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