Friday, May 9, 2008

How To Screw Up A War

Hint: talking tough and developing a crusty persona so that the media can call you sexy while being completely incompetent in your job is a good start. Bonus points for blaming those under your command for your piss-poor planning:
According to documents recently released by the Pentagon in response to The New York Times’s expose on its propaganda program, however, Donald Rumsfeld claimed in a 2006 briefing that the reason why he did not support a larger invasion force was because commanders did not request it:

RUMSFELD: They were in the queue. We would have gone right on if they’d wanted them, but they didn’t, so life goes on.

Oh, really? ThinkProgress points us to this link:

At a Pentagon news conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Mr. Rumsfeld echoed his deputy's comments. Neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the general's suggestion that a postwar Iraq might require many more forces than the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that are also expected to join a reconstruction effort.

"The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said. General Shinseki gave his estimate in response to a question at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday: "I would say that what's been mobilized to this point — something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers — are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." He also said that the regional commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, would determine the precise figure.

A spokesman for General Shinseki, Col. Joe Curtin, said today that the general stood by his estimate. "He was asked a question and he responded with his best military judgment," Colonel Curtin said. General Shinseki is a former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.

(As a sidebar, I thought I’d point out that the main purpose of the Rumsfeld-Karzai press conference in February 2003 was to announce “the war against terrorism is ‘largely over’ in Afghanistan.” Another mission accomplished!)

Of course we all know what happened: Gen. Shinseki was fired, and when Army Secretary Thomas White spoke up in agreement with Shinseki's estimate, he got fired, too:

Former Army secretary Thomas White said in an interview that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq. The Pentagon has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and recently announced that the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's stay there has been extended indefinitely.

"This is not what they were selling (before the war)," White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term."


Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require "several hundred thousand troops." Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark."

Rumsfeld was furious with White when the Army secretary agreed with Shinseki.

Well no wonder the commanders “did not request” a larger force. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz fired everyone who dared dispute their chocolates and roses vision of post-Saddam Iraq.

But now they're lying about it? That's not sexy. That's cowardly.