I was actually writing a post about those speaking out about Rumsfeld and Tim went and posted it first, so let me give the condensed version:
It is important to look at what they are actually saying rather than just whooping it up that someone is gunning for Rumsfeld’s head. I tend to look at the events that have transpired in Iraq and think that Rumsfeld should be gone (Abu’ Ghraib would have been enough for me to fire him and quite a few others), but I also have enough experience with the military that I recognize how intensely political the upper ranks are- there is a reason Colin Powell managed to win so many of his behind the scenes street fights- he had years of experience with bitter political infighting from his days working in the Pentagon and in the upper echelons of Army leadership.
That doesn’t mean that what these folks are saying is wrong- it means that as a reader you should look at the actual criticisms themselves, rather than simply count the number of folks speaking out and think there is a trend. Additionally, remember that Rumsfeld’s intent when he took over was to radically re-structure the military (plans since abandoned in earnest- ‘Retreat hell! We’re just advancing in a different direction’), so there is some ingrained ill will amongst more than a few individuals.
Just my 2 cents.
John is dead-on re Rummy. He should have gone after Abu Ghraib. If the buck stops at the top of the command, then there was enough happening back then for him to step down and allow Bush to get someone new. I hope Bush makes a move and brings in a capable Democrat (and not someone like Tom DeLay) to fill Rummy’s shoes.
Rummy is also the titular head (at least in my mind) of the entire neo-con movement within the administration, a group that has been pretty much discredited by the results of this conflict’s execution.
Given that Rummy’s much-vaunted “Revolution in Military Affairs” basically consisted of “We can reduce the Army to just Special Forces and Air Cavalry,” I’m not surprised that the generals are a bit irritable. However, if Iraq has demonstrated anything, it’s that MPs and Civil Affairs and the like aren’t exactly superfluous.
I don’t know why everyone is blaming poor Don. He did offer his resignation, after all.
But Bush didn’t accept it.
I read in my new issue of Atlantic Monthly about Desert One, the ill-fated attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran in 1980. It was led by Charlie Beckwith and his “Delta Force”, an elite team that was proposed as the new model of military professionalism. Beckwith sold his concept to Jimmy Carter, and got the go-ahead to use precious military resources and personnel. It was a major failure. They never encountered the enemy, never got close to the hostage, and gave new meaning to the word “boondoggle”.
Be very suspicious of people like Beckwith, and Rummy.
The more I think about it, do you think Bush would have the chutzpah to nominate DeLay to replace Rummy? It sounds crazy, but is it? He’d never get past Congress, but still…..
I am honestly not trying to pick a fight here. I am just asking a question, that may have a very legitimate answer.
How do you square that statement with the one in the other thread implying that there is a media witch hunt of Rummy?
No, that puts support of DeLay back in the midterm campaigns. Rove understands this and would never allow it.
I believe, but you never know.
I just hope it isn’t Leiberman. That is the name that people like to throw around, but what qualifies him for the job?
Besides, DeLay and Bush were never the best of friends. DeLay supported Bush out of a sort-of truce. Congress rubberstamps everything that passes under its nose, and Bush won’t veto putting Jesus stickers all over the Constitution.
But that hardly means they liked each other.
The number of those speaking out is significant, because it reflects the opinions of those currently serving who cannot. Generals are a pretty exclusive club, and maintain loyalties that go beyond active service. There was a lot of speculation when Murtha originally spoke out that he was a stalking horse for the Pentagon, due to his close ties and distinguished service. Since he got smacked down by the noise-machine and the ‘aid-and-comfort’ brigade, I guess the Generals had to pull in the lines and put retirees in the firing line as their next best chance. I guess it can only go to mass resignations next, unfortunately, like Hersch was talking about in the nuking Iran article. The army brass is already starting to die at the roots, with the increasing early resignations by junior officers, and this is going to add to the rot. I suppose then Rummy will have successfuly re-organized the army: he’ll have loyal warriors and NCO’s directly under the command of the executive branch and possibly the 101st fighting keyboarders.
All powerfull people in large organizations must play politics in order to survive and/or succeed. If four bigwig Coca Cola execs came out with four different books about how crappy the Coca Cola CEO was it would mean more to me than it would if one or two bigwigs had written a book on that topic.
The quantity of dissentors is a relevant factor. It is a seperate issue from the actual critisism but it is a factor that shouldn’t be ignored.
Dude you don’t know jack crap about COL. Beckwith or Delta Force.
All I meant about the media was that they would take anyone in Bush’s cabinet right now. They want someone to get the axe. Rummy just happens to be the most vulnerable of late, and the wolves are gathering. I have never liked Rummy’s management of Defense. I share the contempt that he has for the media, but that contempt draws reciprocal contempt from the media that draws his ire. All that I’ve read about the man, his management style, his single-mindedness, his imperviousness to external influences that should be respected, his unwillingness to meet the most basic necessities of the military in support of some apparent new philosophy about structures, make me believe he’s better suited to the private sector.
Whatever. I’m only relaying what I read in a respected publication. I’m not claiming it as my own. But I am old enough to remember a lot of what happened then, and it rings true to me. Maybe you’d like to enlighten me?
I’m not trying to trash anyone with a report about the story. I do think that if the story is true about Beckwith’s arrogance, open dislike for conventional military structures, and overconfidence that he had the formula for the type of elite force that would remake the modern military, then we are seeing very similar behavior in Rumsfeld that might lead to similarly disastrous outcomes.
I don’t need any generals speaking out to tell me that Rumsfeld is a collosol fuckup.
But blaming Rumsfeld for this mess is like blaming E-4’s for Abu Ghraib.
But was William Cohen under Clinton? I don’t really know what makes for a good SecDef. Is legal/political smarts better than sheer military expertise?
Life isn’t a video game Brian. Real men died trying to save their countrymen. It isn’t right for you to dismiss their efforts because you read an article in Atlantic Monthly.
I don’t anything about Cohen. But, I do think that military knowledge is important in that position.
A Lieberman appointment would make way too much political sense to be the right choice. It would show bush as ‘a uniter, not a divider’. Lieberman is in need of a reason to drop out of his Senate race. Pundits on both sides like to throw his name out there to appear moderate. I think it would be crass politics and not a decision made to help the troops or the country.
The Other Steve
While I don’t buy Rumsfeld’s transformation argument of solely relying upon special ops.
Operation Eagle Claw was a bold move. It was a terrible thing that it did not work, but it wasn’t for the fault of trying.
There are two explanations for what went wrong. The official explanation of choppers crashing due to sand storms… and the unofficial story that they came under enemy fire because the Iranians expected them.
Either way, whether or not it would have worked, it was a bold move and those service members are a credit to our country for trying.
The Other Steve
Which means it’s likely that Bush would do it.
John: “there is a reason Colin Powell managed to win so many of his behind the scenes street fights- …”
Last I heard, he lost every single one, from the decision to invade Iraq to the incompetancy with which it was done.
WTF are you talking about??? I am not dismissing anyone, except Beckwith.
You don’t need to prove to me that you’re pro-troops. Settle down.
It was a camel fuck of major proportions. They didn’t even make it to Tehran, for crying out loud. THAT would have been bold.
The ill will Rummy has generated goes far beyond his restructuring efforts.
He made the military look bad in this war, PRECISELY because they were required to adopt his methods.
He made Intel look bad, PRECISELY because they were compelled to ignore caveats to his stovepiped information.
And let us not forget that he is a smug jerk. That matters, even in Washington.
and then you claim this about Operation Eagle Claw:
That is a really assholic thing to say. Even a high school kid like you should know that.
It was Les Aspin who was primarily responsible for messing up some of the military under Clinton.
Additionally, remember that Rumsfeld’s intent when he took over was to radically re-structure the military…so there is some ingrained ill will amongst more than a few individuals.
This is very insightful…but what it leaves out is that Rumsfeld’s vision has left the military in disarray and unable to effectively and efficiently carry out many of their missions. The military is too small by at least 1/3rd (I would say 2/3rds), in terms of man power, and wastes far too much money on high tech weapons that don’t work for the functions they are intended for.
What Rumsfeld (and G.H.W. Bush and Clinton, and every congressperson who approved the troop elimination) forgot is that the single most effective tool the military has is the trained soldier…Boots on the ground win military engagements. You can have fewer boots if they have better equipment, but you still have to have boots and we don’t have nearly enough boots. And G. H. W. Bush started it when he cut the military to 10 divisions.
I claimed it because of the leadership of the team, not the team itself. If you care so much, read the article yourself and you’ll see how much an asshole Beckwith was, and how his troops tried to get through to him, to no avail. The guy wanted his fame, and did it at the expense of his team.
Ross Perot hired a better guy to get his employees out of Iran. Less difficult situation, but he got it done. Beckwith was a fuckup, and Carter trusted him.
What does pro-troops mean?
The Other Steve
What the fuck?
Ross Perot rescued TWO PEOPLE, who had been arrested by the Shah. They got them out of there because the Revolutionaries stormed the jail and freed everybody.
Operation Eagle Claw was trying to rescue 53 people! It’s a totally different scale of operation. You don’t just sneak them out in the back of a car.
Christ, you are a partisan hack… looking for any excuse just to attack Carter.
And I’ve never liked Carter. Sheesh
No, I am not. If you bothered to read further up in the thread, you’d realize I was comparing Beckwith to Rumsfeld, and stating how their attitudes toward the military and their narrow-mindedness are flaws that affect an entire team (in Beckwith’s case) or the entire military (in Rummy’s case.
Soon after my post, other commenters have twisted it into a) my being anti-Carter, b) me being a partisan hack, c) me taking shots at the team who was part of the OEC.
I guess you see what you want to see.
I did say that it was a diffeent scale job. But note that Beckwith didn’t even get past the first stage of the trip. He didn’t get into Tehran. Didn’t come close to the hostages. Didn’t encounter the enemy. Never met any real risk.
It was a F-A-I-L-U-R-E.
By the way, Other Steve, every link on this search that references the hostage rescue attempt describes it as a failure. I see the word time and time again, even used by Beckwith himself to describe the mission.
Sorry. Here’s the search.
Brian, it was a failure. No one is claiming it wasn’t.
What you seem to be ignoring, however, is the fact that the rescue attempt was a long shot in the first place. It isn’t right of you to summarily dismiss Beckwith like you have.
The Other Steve
Then explain why you decided to turn your attack on Beckwith into an attack on Carter.
You’re a flake and a partisan hack. Your argument is so fucking typical of Republican whining. I saw the same shit when Clinton was in office and your constant bleating about how he was breaking the military.
Failure or not, it was a bold move.
The point of failure is not to be afraid to repeat it. The point of failure is to learn from the experience, so that the next time the attempt is tried it is done differently.
The idea was bold. The execution was an utter failure. Ideas are one thing. Carrying them out as actions are another thing altogether.
By your thinking, the Iraq Qar is “bold”, and therefore worthy.
The Other Steve
Ok, obviously bold isn’t enough. You’ve got to have a good reason.
Inchon was bold. Operation Eagle Claw was bold. But both of these had a purpose to them, which was well reasoned. The first to flank the opposition and relieve our soldiers, the second to rescue hostages.
But the Iraq War has not reason behind it.
Whatever reason it once had crumbled like a Oreo Cookie in Milk when we couldn’t find the weapons of mass destruction.
Here is the Atlantic article referred to by Brian.
There are a couple of instances that don’t portray Beckwith in the best light: his alcoholism and his issues with the other branches. Much of the latter seems fixed with the creation of SOAR, and when you read the BlackHawk Down account, I don’t think these issues can ever be completely fixed.
(I think the Carter-Beckwith thing is not portrayed as a “boondoggle.” He may be reading a bit much into a natural friendship between two Georgians. The premise of the article was that it was a “debacle” not a “boondoggle”—that premise, I think, most of us can agree upon.)
In any case, in the article, the key decision made by Beckwith, on whether to abort or not abort, was the right one. It is sad that Eagle Claw ended in tragedy, but not one easily avoided given the relative inexperience the U.S. had with such operations at the time. A fact that is easy to forget when read from today. (I believe that Eagle Claw was the first operation done by Delta Force?)
Back to the original topic:
John, if you look at the original article Tim linked you can see that in the key issue, Glenn agrees with you 100%:
In other words, while the Left may be in a small error in using an Appeal to Authority, it seems that the right wing is in a much larger error in engaging in Ad Hominem. Which I can assume is the thrust of your post?
oh…and lets add one more general for good measure. This just breaking:
Here is the link to the above CNN story.
hmmmm… NY Times now picking up the story….
This seems to have veered off a bit.
The generals are in part saying what others have said, with justice, for a long time.
The new parts:
(1) The story that the commanders in the field got everything they wanted is bullshit. Batiste, anyway, says he asked repeatedly for more troops up his chain of command and didn’t get them.
(2) The big mistakes, such as disbanding the Iraqi army, and going in too light are laid directly at the door of the civilians. It appears as if the military had very little input into Occupation policies, and troop levels for “major combat operations” were basically decided by Rumsfeld and… well, he has a chain of command also.
These two strategic mistakes have never been admitted by the civilian leadership.
The only reason that Rumsfeld isn’t gone is that without him, there is no good scapegoat for the dynamic duo of the Prez and the Vice Prez.
Impugn these soldiers all you want, they are adding a factual context to the Iraq clusterfuck that makes Rumsfeld and his chain of command look like a bunch of tin soldiers.
The Other Steve
I suspect the Generals who have been critical have become more vocal because the Administration has spent considerable more effort in recent months in trying to lay the blame for Iraq on the military troops and their officers.
Things must be going spendidly, considering the Bush Administration is looking for new scapegoats.
If they spent half as much time actually doing their jobs as they spend trying to find someone else to blame, maybe they’d accomplish something good.
Other Steve: are you sure we’d be better off if they spent more time doing their jobs? The instincts of this WH are.. crazy.