As Iraq crumbles, Bush still isn’t listening

Suddenly we have come full circle in the Iraq strategy.

As the war began a distinguished retired general friend argued strenuously at a discussion club to which I belong (and that also included two former officials who would later be members of the Iraq Commission) that the Pentagon’s assigned manpower was woefully shortsighted.

He was echoing the criticism of other longtime military strategists, including the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, who had just been shoved rudely into retirement for telling Congress that it would take as many as 300,000 troops to pacify Iraq.

The message to the other generals was clear: If you want to keep your job, keep your mouth shut and follow what your civilian bosses within the Bush Administration tell you, even if those geniuses are meeting criticism of the troop level by saying they are depending on the commanders on the ground to tell them what they need.

Now another top general, John Abazaid, who tried to do the job with what he was given, is retiring at 55 in an atmosphere of disagreement over the so-called “surge plan” for accomplishing what no one outside the Oval Office believes is possible — winning the war. (Few of us can understand what victory even means in this case, seeing that U.S. troops are caught in the middle of a civil war. At best, winning probably means we finally can escape a hideous encumbrance).

The surge plan that George W. Bush seems to be favoring would put some 20,000 to 30,000 additional troops in Iraq at least temporarily to stabilize the deteriorating situation in Baghdad and to allow the Iraqi government to finally take control of the situation. More U.S. troops would be freed up to train the Iraqi military and police for our eventual withdrawal. Well, as my brother told our cousin when he finally decided to take up golf: “It’s too late, Jack.”

That is clearly what Abazaid believes. He is backed up not only by other military experts and a whole lot of popular opinion that regards the plan as merely augmenting the U.S. casualty lists. That is reflected by the fact that Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, who backs the quick-fix plan, has seen a decline of his support in the polls.

Suddenly the president is not talking about what the generals’ want, but about what he decides is needed. And if he says we now need more troops, he reasons, we need them.

Almost 40 years ago I stood in the Oval Office with a handful of my colleagues listening to Lyndon Johnson harangue us for writing that he had decided to increase the troop commitment in Vietnam to above a half million men. He made it clear before ordering us out that he would make that announcement, and not the generals nor those on Capitol Hill who had given us the information. Commanders-in-chief are sensitive about these things.

Abazaid would seem to have been the perfect commander for this conflict. He is of Lebanese descent and speaks Arabic and probably understands the culture of the Middle East better than anyone of his rank in the Army. But even that has not helped in the political battles that have begun to rage between the military and civilian sides of the Bush Administration over the increasingly destabilized situation in Iraq. If Abazaid and his peers, current and retired, believe that the surge plan is wrong, the president should listen to them. The last time anyone looked, George W. Bush’s total military experience was a few months in the Air National Guard, and even that is questionable.

And if these internal disputes weren’t enough, there now are serious questions being raised about the ability of the Army to carry out its general mission under current troop levels that have been depleted by Iraq. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have indicated that serious new recruiting is needed to add to the overall strength if the U.S. is to meet any new global challenges. Bush seems to agree. But he also appears determined to stay the course in Iraq as long as it takes or at least until his term is up in two years.

The old adage about hindsight always being 20-20 doesn’t apply here. The experts warned at the very beginning of this war what was needed if this mission was to have any success. Not only were they ignored, but they were also maligned in the process as out-of-date traditionalists. That’s too bad. We might have been out of this mess by now had the president really paid attention.

(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)

Comments

  1. Right on Yank.
    Bush is the classical “idiot-savant.”
    Replay some of his famous speeches and study them.
    When he has had time to memorize and rehearse, as in his famous “bull-horn” act at
    ground zero (way way beiind the action but made to look responsive by Murdoch,
    Fox, NBC et al) he appears rational and convincing.
    No great feat given his extended rehearsal time and the depth of scriptwriting by Rice,
    Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the profiteering warmongering gang.
    Any other way, forget it. The immature moron’s imbecility shows up, no matter what Fox
    calls it.
    The real George W. Bush is the lunatic idiot we saw paralyzed for seven minutes in
    the schoolroom.
    This cheerleader-chickenhawk-commander-in-chief-decider can’t do anything.
    Never has done anything

    Big George

    (To the tune of “Long John Blues” as recorded by Dinah Washington)

    Oh we got a president thinks he’s ten feet tall
    We got a president he thinks he’s ten feet tall
    But when we look hard at him
    Why, there ain’t no man there at all

    He don’t fly no plane, don’t drive no car
    Falls offa his bike, can’t play guitar
    Can’t knock a nail in a little bit o’ wood
    Yet he took us to war – ‘cos God said he should

    Says he talks to God ‘most every day
    Yet loves scheming rougues like Tom DeLay
    Despises the Constitution, of paper a scrap
    Made to be avoided and treated like crap

    Rides a mountain bike, keeps away from hills
    Loves to wear uniform, war gives him the thrills
    Loves to dodge duty, breaks his oath at will
    Hell, I’m a war president, I’ll do what I will.

  2. Right on Yank.
    Bush is the classical “idiot-savant.”
    Replay some of his famous speeches and study them.
    When he has had time to memorize and rehearse, as in his famous “bull-horn” act at
    ground zero (way way beiind the action but made to look responsive by Murdoch,
    Fox, NBC et al) he appears rational and convincing.
    No great feat given his extended rehearsal time and the depth of scriptwriting by Rice,
    Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the profiteering warmongering gang.
    Any other way, forget it. The immature moron’s imbecility shows up, no matter what Fox
    calls it.
    The real George W. Bush is the lunatic idiot we saw paralyzed for seven minutes in
    the schoolroom.
    This cheerleader-chickenhawk-commander-in-chief-decider can’t do anything.
    Never has done anything.

    Big George

    (To the tune of “Long John Blues” as recorded by Dinah Washington)

    Oh we got a president thinks he’s ten feet tall
    We got a president he thinks he’s ten feet tall
    But when we look hard at him
    Why, there ain’t no man there at all

    He don’t fly no plane, don’t drive no car
    Falls offa his bike, can’t play guitar
    Can’t knock a nail in a little bit o’ wood
    Yet he took us to war – ‘cos God said he should

    Says he talks to God ‘most every day
    Yet loves scheming rougues like Tom DeLay
    Despises the Constitution, of paper a scrap
    Made to be avoided and treated like crap

    Rides a mountain bike, keeps away from hills
    Loves to wear uniform, war gives him the thrills
    Loves to dodge duty, breaks his oath at will
    Hell, I’m a war president, I’ll do what I will.

  3. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Rethugs,
    or the Dems, or even _only_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American
    (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so
    darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”). Since our laws have
    been gerrymandered to the point where corporations have more rights
    than real people, there are no practical limits on their behaviour.

    The reason that war/defence spending is so profitable is that the
    government has such deep pockets because the hands of the IRS can
    reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets,
    apparently without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense”
    boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the
    while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their great
    patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how
    about stealing from an unborn baby, but that only leads into a
    “right to fiscal life” discussion?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this,
    they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040
    form: Either to the IRS, or to where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way,
    you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about
    it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they
    clearly need to these days, much less several million delinquent
    taxpayers. What could they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest
    (middle and lower class) tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this situation is to simply
    re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician
    standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would
    certainly bring everything to a head very quickly and at least it
    would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  4. Rob

    So, who wants their kid, brother/sister, niece/nephew, grandchild to die for Bush? Do them all a favour and send them to Canada. They will live longer.

  5. Rob

    So, who wants their kid, brother/sister, niece/nephew, grandchild to die for Bush? Do them all a favour and send them to Canada. They will live longer.

  6. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs,
    or the Dems, or even _only_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American
    (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so
    darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”). Since our laws have
    been perverted to the point where corporations have more rights than
    real people, there are no meaningful limits on their behaviour.

    The reason that war/defence spending is so profitable is that the
    government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can
    reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets,
    apparently without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense”
    boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the
    while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior
    patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how
    about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this,
    they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040
    form: To the IRS, or to where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way,
    you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about
    it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they
    need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers.
    What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest (middle and
    lower class) tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this situation is to simply
    re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician
    standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would
    certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be
    resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  7. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense” boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  8. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense” boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  9. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense” boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  10. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense” boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  11. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense” boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  12. canuck

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit. They can finance gigabuck “defense” boondoggles by mortgaging future generations to the hilt, all the while wrapping themselves in the flag and proclaiming their superior patriotism (Hmmm, you thought stealing from a baby was bad, how about stealing from an unborn baby?).

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  13. 0xdeadbeef

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit.

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  14. 0xdeadbeef

    Everyone needs to remember that this in not about Bush, or the Repugs, or the Dems, or even _just_ the oil companies.

    It’s about business, corporations, and lawyers. The reason American (corporations) love to go to war, for any reason, is that it is so darn profitable (See the movie “Why We Fight”).

    The reason that it is so profitable is that the government has such deep pockets, since the hands of the IRS can reach into our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s pockets, seemingly without limit.

    So, if anyone is _really_ serious about doing something about this, they should stop and consider where they will send their next 1040 form: To the IRS, or where the sun don’t shine.

    If any significant number of taxpayers chose to protest in this way, you have to admit that there isn’t much the government could do about it. They don’t have the resources to prosecute the people that they need to these days, much less several million delinquent taxpayers. What will they do: Call the army back from Iraq to arrest tax evaders?

    The other really quick way to deal with this is to simply re-instate the draft. Of course I don’t believe there’s a politician standing anywhere with the guts to do this, but I think it would certainly bring everything to a head quickly and at least it would be resolved for better or for worse.

    Cheers from the north,

  15. Vi

    G.W. Bush fails at everything he does. He has failed here too, and in the process killed thousands. He is not fit to be president of this country. He is not fit to be in charge of anything. He needs to be stripped of power and forced to sit in a corner all by himself for the rest of his life for being a very bad boy.