I am getting a little tired of these mid-occupation internecine blame games about Iraq:
Rumsfeld’s War, Powell’s Occupation: Rumsfeld wanted Iraqis in on the action – right from the beginning.
he latest post-hoc conventional wisdom on Iraq is that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld won the war but lost the occupation. There are two problems with this analysis (which comes, most forcefully, from The Weekly Standard). First, it’s not Rumsfeld’s occupation; it’s Colin Powell’s and George Tenet’s. Second, although it’s painfully obvious that much is wrong with this occupation, it’s simple-minded to assume that more troops will fix it. More troops may be needed now, but more of the same will not do the job. Something different is needed – and was, right from the start.
A Rumsfeld occupation would have been different, and still might be. Rumsfeld wanted to put an Iraqi face on everything at the outset – not just on the occupation of Iraq, but on its liberation too. That would have made a world of difference.
It is not the State Department’s occupation. It is our occupation, and the blame, if things are going poorly, does not fall on Rumsfeld or Powell. It falls on Bush/Cheney, and not to get all high and mighty, but this is more important than a blue dress.
Cripes- I am as big a Bush supporter on this issue as you can be, but these idiotic turf wars that keep getting ginned up are stupid and pointless, and as irritating as the Monday morning quarterbacking being done by the Democrats regarding 9/11. Bush is the President, Bush made the ultimate decisions. If you think there is blame to be spread around, it starts and ends with Bush.
It is called accountability. You know, after all, Bush did choose Powell and Rumsfeld.
Good point, John.
Most of the criticism I’ve seen on that article focuses on whether the Rumsfeld approach or the Powell approach is more valid, and I think they’ve concluded that the whole thing is stupid. For reasons unrelated to your point, though.
I wonder if anyone will show up to disagree? (Probably.)
I would caution you to be wary of accepting at face value all of the apparent “finger-pointing” supposedly between Administration officials. As the Woodward book demonstrated, much of this is overstated, and in many cases, outright rubbish. The media, both Left and Right, love turning any and all policy differences into a great big food fight.
Frankly, unless Powell and Rumsfeld meet at dawn with pistols, I have to wonder how much of this is made up out of whole cloth by the media just so Bush will look bad. Which is sad, because then all I have to evaluate whether I should support Bush is the kind of people who are against him. As long as Kennedy and DU hate him, I have to support him.
“As long as Kennedy and DU hate him, I have to support him.”
Sound reasoning. So, for instance after Hitler broke his Pact with Stalin, if you felt that way about Stalin, you’d have to support Hitler. Or vice versa.
Not to sound like I’m piling on the Bush League, but this post om Juan Cole’s site is scary, especially given the source.
I suspect that much of the “finger pointing” is being ginned up by the press.
Also, despite the casualties that we are currently suffering, I remain skeptical of the claims that we are doing badly in Iraq.
Because these claims are being filtered to us by the same press that claimed that overthrowing Saddam would take six months to a year, the same press that claimed that the US military was stalled out three weeks into the war, the same press that puts a negative spin on everthing the Bush administration does. The same press that carried Saddam’s water last year, and is eager to carry the insurgent’s water this year.
Yeah, things are messy right now, but there is a war being fought right now. Meanwhile worldwide terrorist attacks are at a 20-year low, and there has not been a major car bombing in Baghdad since the fighting in Fallujah started. And, oh yeah, Iraqi death squads are hunting down the “Mahdi” army in Najaf and Karbala. Our Marines remain in Fallujah engaging the enemy, despite press reports of a pull-out.
I don’t think we really know what is going on, but measuring the performance of the US military against the performance of the US press over the last three years (anyone remember the Afghan winter that was supposed to stop us or the “invincible” Taliban?) — or for that matter the performance of the Bush Administration against that of the US press — and I would bet on the US military and the Bush Adminstration.
So, I am going to be patient — not just for a week, but through July.
Andrew J. Lazarus
John, you were very charitable in not quoting the part of Lerner’s piece where she explains how State went wrong. They didn’t send in 10,000 exiles led by Ahmad Chalabi! (He finds them, I suppose, at the Stone of Erech.) That isn’t even Rumsfeld’s Occupation, more like Doug Feith’s.
I taunt you, you english K nig Its.
That’s so flimsy that ‘strawman’ doesn’t do it justice; gossamerman would be better.
No, if my choice were between Hitler and Stalin I’d have to kill both of them. Choosing between George Bush, who for all his imperfections and false starts is genuinely trying to do something about thugs like the two in my example, and an opposition exemplified by a fat drunken murderer who PERSONALLY abandoned a woman to drown in a car to save his precious political career and a collection of people who hate with a passion this country and the people (like Ranger Tillman) who defend it, is way easier.
Stop comparing shit with shit.
Admitting our politicians have been a choice between the lesser of two evils for some time now is the first step to admitting we need to fix shit before it’s too late.
The problem, IXLNXS, is that shit’s not broken. It’s working just fine, and just like it always has.
Which is a piont we rally ought to contemplate more often when looking at any of these stories.
All this “Powell vs. Rumsfeld” stuff amounts to a bunch of silliness because in ANY administration, you will have disagreements among the major players on how to proceed.
I mean it. ANY administration. And by “healthy,” I mean “not dysfunctional to the point of tragic.”
All administrations, ALL OF THEM, have powerful people with big egos that sometimes clash. ALL of them have disagreements among the major players.
As it happens, SecDef and SecState are the two positions most likely to conflict in big, noticeable ways because their territory so often overlaps. And historically, you have to struggle to find an administration where the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense never disagreed with each other.
So, let me point out this one stunningly obvious fact that too many people miss:
1) Whenever big decisions are made, there will be multiple options. Someone will make the final call.
2) Many final calls will be made.
2a) Some of them will be bad calls. Always.
2b) Some of them will always result in unintended consequences.
2c) Some of them will result in anticipated problems, but which the person who made the call calculated to be better than the risks of the other alternatives.
Now, any rational person can tell you that #1 and #2 are indisputably true, for any and all administrations throughout time. YES, ALL ADMINISTRATIONS. Unless a complete set of lock-step lunatics are running the joint, and so far as I know we’ve never had that yet in our entire 200+ years of Constitutional government.
So here’s the thing:
Sometimes the CIC will make a call, and the result will not turn out all that great. This has happened to every single President who has ever served, except maybe the guy who died two weeks after his inauguration.
Whenever this happens, you will always–repeat, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS–find someone in that administration who had advised the President not to make that decision.
No matter WHAT the decision was.
People who don’t understand this either don’t understand government, or are too blockheaded stupid to have an opinion worth taking seriously.
Andrew J. Lazarus
Here’s a cognitive dissonance problem for you, SDN. The Dems’ last radio address was given by an Iraq vet. (Link via Hesiod.)
I can respect an argument that the Dems’ and their large antiwar faction are mistaken, but unpatriotic is a big, unwarranted, stretch.
By the way, ever checked out First Lady Laura Bush’s driving record? Up there with the Tedster.
Look at the last line in the comments posted by “Lazarus” above and you get a good feel for the kind of disgusting scum and worse that increasingly comprise the Democratic Party. This piece of flotsam brings up a forty year old tragic traffic acident involving the First Lady in an attempt to find a new way of attacking the President. And to suggest that this incident is somehow comparable to the Kennedy/Kopechne incident is way, way beyond the pale. As the famous old Boston attorney once put it to the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy, “Have you no shame, sir?”
The clear answer is: “No.” These kinds of ??????? will do and say anything to “get the President.” Absolutely nothing is off limits.
Did Laura Bush leave the scene of the accident, letting her boyfriend bleed to death on the road? So she could keep her political carreer? No to both. Hmmm. 17 years old. Not old enough to vote, let alone run for office. Doesn’t really compare to a legal adult, at least not to rational people. And let’s see: No hint of DUI, either. Yep, definitely the same…. to a jackass.
And as for who delivered the radio address: did you make sure he was a real vet? From Vietnam Vets Against the War in 1972 to Micah Wright lying about being a Ranger today, the Left has a rich history of presenting “vets” who don’t stand up to scrutiny.
Mr. Lazarus, you are indeed shameless.
Hey, dig this: Child Jesse Taylor has a new job… with Jerry Springer! The laughs just never stop.
Andrew J. Lazarus
Ha, ha, ha. You get to talk about Ted Kennedy’s driving, but Laura Bush is off-limits. Frankly, I don’t think EITHER incident says much about whether Kennedy or Bush has better political ideas, but you guys started it.
And then you follow with an insinuation of the idea that the Democrats’ Iraq vet must be an impostor.
Tell you what, guys. You show me the Democrat is an impostor, and I’ll prove Laura Bush ran into her boyfriend’s car on purpose. Oh, you first.
John – Why do you let pond scum like “Andrew J. Lazarus” post freely in your comments section? He degrades and dishonors everything he touches with his words.
Is there bad blood between atrios and oliver “uncle fester” willis? i’ve noticed that neither links to the other’s site.
What’s the deal anyway? People yell it’s all f***ed up in Iraq and if they yell it enough times it’s true?
Let the friggin’ people in Iraq do their job. It’s been only a year. ONE friggin’ year.
The only difference between Iraq, Germany, and Japan is that we didn’t have the constant micromanaging and sniping by armchair strategists in Germany and Japan.
I have never voted Republican in my life and now I know for sure I’ll never ever vote Democrat again.
I have to say that I agree, though I would like to take issue with the “monday morning quarterbacking” characterization, inasmuch as most everything that has transpired in the invasion and, especially, the occupation was forwarned by many democrats, and by the president’s father, and by Colin Powell, and by Dick Cheney fourteen years ago.
Hmmm…Ted Kennedy vs. Laura Bush. Now, if we were discussing Ted Kennedy’s WIFE, there would be some comparison. Sadly, no.
Hm, good point. Guess we’d better stick to Bush and Cheney’s DUIs.
Well, if we are going to function at the level of debate established by Messrs. Lazarus and Kimmitt, it seems only fair to point out that Senator John Kerry has already confessed his complicity in killing civilians as
“Guess we’d better stick to Bush and Cheney’s DUIs.”
And risk an appearance of consistency? Horrors.
Andrew J. Lazarus
Hey, Syl: total number of GIs killed by terrorists after the surrenders of Germany and Japan? Zero. Whereas our short-handed maladroit occupation goes worse and worse. How long before you admit it’s a failure? A year? A decade?
Here’s fervently pro-war Bob Kagan in yesterday’s WaPo:
Clue up. Join us pond scum.
“Hmmm…Ted Kennedy vs. Laura Bush. Now, if we were discussing Ted Kennedy’s WIFE, there would be some comparison. Sadly, no.”
Okay. I’ld like to get this straight, though, Slarti. You’re saying that Laura Bush is so morally flawed she should never speak up again in public, just as Ted Kennedy is the same?
Now you’re confusing me, Gary. How on Earth did you draw that conclusion from what I said?
Of course, the fact that the occupation of Germany was prefaced by Dresden, and the occupation of Japan by the Tokyo fier raids and two atom bombs has NOTHING to do with that….
even if it were true, which it isn’t. Check out the Life magazines for ’45-46 describing our GI’s being shot at after dark.
Another historically challenged Liberal….
“even if it were true, which it isn’t. Check out the Life magazines for ’45-46 describing our GI’s being shot at after dark.”
Hang on, hang on. My understanding is that there was some fighting but no hostile GI deaths during the occupations of Japan and Germany. (Of course, there were traffic accidents and other tragedies.)
Andrew J. Lazarus
OK, SDN, I’ve got more from where the quote below came from, but why don’t you take a turn first, and give us some positive evidence for your position. Or, I suppose, you could shut up with the historically-challenged Liberal canard.