Skip to comments.Why I Think Rumsfeld Must Go
Posted on 04/09/2006 9:00:05 AM PDT by Leisler
Posted Sunday, Apr. 09, 2006
Two senior military officers are known to have challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the planning of the Iraq war. Army General Eric Shinseki publicly dissented and found himself marginalized. Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's top operations officer, voiced his objections internally and then retired, in part out of opposition to the war. Here, for the first time, Newbold goes public with a full-throated critique:
In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture—who became career members of the military during those rough times—the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again. From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq—an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. ...
(Excerpt) Read more at time.com ...
You're right, I spoke to quick. There are some very bright retired generals who are outspoken in their criticism of the Iraq conflict. I am not prepared to outright dismiss them as either unintelligent or political in their motivation, especially with the current results.
Apologies for the haste of my prior post.
You know, is that the best you can come up with if you object to what he's saying? I'm tired of seeing so many of these threads from people who have sincere reservations about how things have been handled get hijacked by pranksters trying to divert discussion -The STFU crowd should take its own advice. I think his critiques are sincere and well reasoned. I found these to be particularly compelling:
"For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.
What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures...McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job...the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation...and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -or bury the results."
"Anthony Zinni is certainly not a Democrat and is one of the most knowledgeable men alive in regards to military actions. Maybe people like him need to be listened to much more closely rather than the people who have given us the current results."
He should be knowledgable about Iraq since he commanded the air strikes of Iraqi WMD sites in December 1998. He also enforced the mandatory Anthrax vaccination program of all personnel under his charge in the Persian Gulf. Many personnel recieved contaminated vaccine during the rush to protect them against the Iraqi Anthrax threat.
Seems to me his criticisms are political and revisionist...same with Richard Clarke and the rest of the Clinton gang.
|He (General Downing) resigned as we were taught how to resign .... quietly.
I agree with you on that one. Every time I have seen him speak it is on something like what the military will do next and how best to accomplish the task. He doesn't appear to be grinding a political axe as so many others.
Men that reach the ranks of Generals and Admirals know that the time to express dissent is before hand, if your viewpoint isn't the one agreed upon and action commences, you get in the boat and row with the rest of the team or you quietly retire.
General Downing and the others dissenting publicly may ultimately be proven correct, however, public dissent during the crisis does nothing but increase casualties and costs. Another thought along this same line is that these men held true to this unwritten boat-rowing law of warfare. Until the war was over that is! Now all the ranting and raving is for mere political gain. Just a thought mind you.
--To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam.
Speak for yourself girly-man. To me it was bad-ass rock n' roll.
Really? You don't have any warheads out back behind the garage do you? I've been looking on ebay, but nothing comes up on the search engine. E-mail me. I live in a development of quarter acer lots and cant stand my neighborhood.
I think the worst mis-judgement made by Rumsfeld and the rest of the administration was expecting to be greeted as liberators by a grateful and peaceful Iraqi population. That lead to a series of decisions which prolonged the war.
On another point; I don't think Shinseki was marginalized. He retired early because he knew a war was coming and he didn't want the Chiefs to have to deal with a change of Chairman in the middle of it.
Point taken and well understood
The Downing / Rumsfeld debate will be one of the "What -Ifs" in history. Downing is positioning himself to be a future player for something .... But the real Rumsfeld question is General Jay Garner. Why did Rumsfeld fire Garner? Did Garner ask for more troops?
Rumsfeld has been good for the "Merc World" ... questions should be asked about how much money is being spent on mercs vs expanding the army? I think the true answer would stun America and could have been far bettter spent.
"I'm a whore for the Dimocratic Party?"
I think that is the worse public mistake. I believe others remain classified.
I understand your Shinseki position, but I think that is wrong. Another of Rumsfeld's mistakes was replacing an SF's Chairman of the JCS after Afghanistan with an AF general....
Richard Clarke and Zinni are two completely different animals. Clarke is not very credible and there is plenty of proof about his attempts to 'revise' history. I know of know similarities to Zinni.
The following is a very good article with good insight.
Can anyone answer this?
"...going out of our way to alienate European countries who could have helped with the rebuilding..."
Since Newbold isn't here to flesh this out for me and you specifically noted this part of his assertions, maybe you can answer.
Since what really alienated Europe was our going into Iraq at all, how could we have not alienated them so they would be helping more now?
Well...considering the General's assertions are flat wrong...
Exactly, when did the President, and or people of importance in the Administration, deny that an insurgency was at the heart of the problems in Iraq?
It seems to me, the President has been sounding this all along but, those with opposing views tend to see only what their agenda wants them to see. Hence, major news media distorts the facts, history, etc. on a regular basis in regard to Iraq. The truth hurts their cause. As in this retired General.
I agree with you in part, at least the General is being critical with some measure of structure. Nevertheless, he's still wrong and appearently willing to be disinenguine about what is occurring in Iraq. And that lumps him in the same group as Wesley Clark.
Aren't we calling up 50 and 60 year olds who served in the National Guard at some time? Most generals can't be much older than that.
Anyway, my point was that I am getting tired of all these mostly Democratic Clinton-type officers like Wesley Clark bragging about their military prowess while simultaneously endorsing cut and run strategies or pointless one time only bombing raids.
There can only be so many "Chiefs". Cut and Run can not be an option. Neither is failure. Downing is now the head of West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. It will be interesting to see his future positions.
In 2000, country singer Aaron Tippin released the anti dumbass Marine General anthem "Kiss This."
|Since what really alienated Europe was our going into Iraq at all.
That's really a political misnomer unless you don't consider Britain, Spain, Italy, Poland and a few other ex-Soviet bloc countries a part of Europe. To me they are the largest portion of Europe in both land mass and population. It's seems a more accurate statement would be: since what really alienated France and Germany was our going into Iraq at all.
That said, I don't recall anyone in the administration going out of their way to alienate France or Germany. Chirac had his own personal reasons all of which have become rather apparent since the war and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was bashing America for personal political gain that also became quite transparent.
Secretary Rumsfeld's comment of "Old Europe" was an expression indicating that Europe is now different with the addition of the ex-Soviet bloc countries at best and a slap in the face of Chirac and Schroeder at worst. Assuming the worst case scenario, the comment came after France's DeVillipan & Chirac stabbed Secretary Powell in the back and Schroeder was bashing America for votes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- France's ambassador to the U.S. has insisted that weapons inspections in Iraq were working, and that Washington has no clear authority for waging war now. Monday March 17, 2003
Former French interior minister Charles Pasqua has said he had been put under investigation for profiting from corruption in the UN's scandalized oil-for-food program for Iraq. Investigating Judge Philippe Courroye has also placed under investigation two former high-ranking French diplomats in the case. A UN report published last October showed that kickbacks and been paid for lucrative contracts linked to the program including over 170 French companies.
Did they have different motive for/against the war than America?
Daily Times Saturday, April 08, 2006 BERLIN: Germanys parliament gave the green light on Friday for a parliamentary inquiry into whether German spies in Baghdad helped the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 at a time when the government was publicly opposed to the war. ...German agents in Baghdad helped the United States launch its invasion, including by picking out bombing targets.
That alone should make one scratch his head about Germany's position on the war. Of course German agents may really NOT be under the control of the German government, but it's unlikely.
Now I don't know what this all means, but it surely doesn't appear that everything is as we think.
Going back and reading old news accounts in late 2002 and early 2003 gives me the clear impression that everyone gave permission to eliminate Hussein thinking it wouldn't happen. However, when it became clear that America was prepared to go immediately something happened to change these opinions drastically.
Is it radical to think that Hussein paid hundreds of millions of dollars to a handful of French firms with the understanding that they would take care of certain French officials after they leave office? Remember we found close to 3 billion dollars in cash in several locations in Iraq. Is it possible that Chirac et al thought what the hell, let's take the money and let the American military whack this guy anyway. Getting their cake and eating it too? I simply don't think this is a far fetched scenario. Occum's Razor says this is more likely the case than all the nuanced positions we read in the newspaper.
They were blocked from entering sites that they wanted to inspect by armed soldiers. They were unable to execute the mission for which they were assigned. They were effectively kicked out.
Mention the name Rumsfeld on this forum, and legions of the clueless will rise in full cry to his defense. I have yet to hear a Rumsfeld champion who understands what has really been going on in the building for the past five years.
I happen to believe that Rumsfeld made the correct strategic judgments, including the decision to attack Iraq. A successful war against terrorism must include not only its agents, Al Qaida and their ilk, but also the state supporters of these agents. Iraq was the logical intermediate objective. Attacking Iraq has neutralised Lybia and stymied Syria. Iran must be dealt with in due course, but Iraq has bought us some time.
Where I part company with Rumsfeld is in his operational judgements and decisions. He was so confident of a quick and decisive outcome in Iraq that he interupted the troop flow so that he use the result to bolster his case for a smaller, but more technologically capable force. He has botched most of the decisions subsequently. His arrogance makes it impossible for him to acknowledge these errors and to take corrective action. We are not being well served and I am at a loss to explain the continued confidence that he seems to enjoy with the President.
In the fullness of time, some H. R. McMaster will write the definitive account of Rumsfeld's tenure as Sec Def. He will not fare well.
|"I have yet to hear a Rumsfeld champion who understands what has really been going on in the building for the past five years."
I agree with this statement 100%. I have also yet to hear a Non-Rumsfeld champion who understands what has really been going on in the building for the past five years.
Apparently you know, so please tell. I freely admit I don't know what has been going on but would like to be enlightened.
You might want to do a little reading, including the story that spawned this thread. Newbold, Zinni, Eaton, Downing to name but a few. Many others have remained silent because they are still serving and that is what they should do. If I had first hand knowledge, I would certainly report it. My information is largely second hand, but comes from people whom I know and respect. BTW, they are largely conservatives - this is not an argument about the ends, it revolves around the ways and means.
I think the article makes one excellent point that concerns me about the administration as a whole. I worked with Don for several years and have a very high regard for his integrity. He was often wrong. But he does not lie. His style, however, as he once bluntly put it at a meeting was to seek information and not guidance. That arrogance that Cheney also shares can be both effective and successful in business. But both are now also in the role of leadership in a political arena. Being right is critical (competence is a wonderal trait for our leaders!) But selling the decision is a critical element as well. I don't see them failing to sell it as much as I see them not bothering to try. I think we all deserve that additional effort as it would serve them well.
You have hit it on the head.$$$$s.And, on any thread, whether it be about this, or oil or whatever-when someone mentions its really all about the benjamins, the bs slows to a crawl.
some good observations.
I would like to add that they continue to serve the President because they reflect both his view AND his philosophy. Take that for what it is...
Frankly, I also find it frustrating, but much more likely to be more kindly viewed by history...
I think all Bush cares about is doing what is his highest sense of right. I don't think he gives a damn about "selling" it properly. I am sure it drives everyone crazy, esp. his fellow Republicans.
It may serve him well in history...depending on who writes it...
|"Why did Rumsfeld fire Garner? Did Garner ask for more troops?"
From and article by Michael Young a leading columnist in Lebanon on Mar 19, 2003 just prior to the start of the war. Jay Garner was considered a protégé of Sec. Rumsfeld so I have no doubt he was removed for a good cause. I simply cannot imagine Sec. Rumsfeld make a mistake and sacking one of his own trusted people. Now firing a highly qualified person that is not "on your team" may be a mistake, but I simply don't buy into this as a mistake. The alternative had to be worse at the time. (Note, I said "at the time") Is it far fetched to believe that we had contact with powerful or future powerful people in Iraq that simply refused to work with General Garner? The following snippet of an article gives a bit of insight into that train of thought.
Iraq's New Rulers
Jay Garner famously signed onto an October 12, 2000 statement by the archconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which praised the Israeli army for having "exercised remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of a Palestinian Authority that deliberately pushes civilians and young people to the front lines."
The statement noted: "What makes the US-Israel security relationship one of mutual benefit is the combination of military capabilities and shared political valuesfreedom, democracy, personal liberty and the rule of law." That Garner himself benefited from the security relationship is well known: As president of California-based defense contractor SY Technology, he oversaw the company's work on the US-Israeli Arrow missile defense system.
David Lazarus reported in the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the war "that Garner's former company is also working on missile systems the US will use against Iraq. Not only does this appear to be a conflict of interest, it also happens to be peculiar politics. As Ben Hermalin, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies professional ethics, told Lazarus: "You have to wonder what the Iraqis will think of this guy and how much trust they'll place in him."
That line has probably been used by lefties in relation to the war on Iraq at least a dozen times, each one thinking he is being or so original and avant garde in doing so. You know idiots on the left get their best material from anti-war movies and rock and roll lyrics. Remember Richard Clark said when he saw the smoke rising from the Pentagon on 9-11 he thought of a line from Apocalypse Now, "Oh! The horror!" Its all for drama and to be taken seriously by the left-wingnut MSM.
|"You might want to do a little reading, including the story that spawned this thread"
Well I just reread this transcript of General Wayne Downing (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Special Operations Command; General Barry McCaffrey (Ret.), Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command; General Montgomery Meigs (Ret.), Former Commander, NATO Stabilization Force in an interview with Tim Russert about 3 months ago and didn't get any insight into what is really happening inside the Pentagon. They all did however praise Sec Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Downsizing the military seems to be their only complaint. McCaffrey stated clearly that the plans were exactly as he thought to be proper.
Gen. Wayne A. Downing Jr. just completed a study of a new Special Operations Command (SOCOM) created in 2003 in Tampa. He was asked by Secretary Rumsfeld to perform this study. Rumsfeld felt that in over two years the command couldn't react quickly enough and wanted to know why. The quote from a senior Pentagon official was that Rumsfeld's question was: 'With all this new money and all these extra people and all this wider latitude to maneuver, why haven't you won the war on terror for me yet?'
Downing's response is that "the command's new global role in counterterrorism has rankled some officers at the Pentagon and in regional war-fighting commands who previously took charge of that mission. Some of the command's new efforts, in particular the placement of small teams in American embassies to gather intelligence on terrorists and to prepare for potential missions, has outraged some intelligence officers and career diplomats."
"More broadly, the review found that the government-wide national security bureaucracy still does not respond rapidly and effectively to the new requirements of the counterterrorism campaign. The report said more streamlining was necessary across a broad swath of the civilian bureaucracy and military, including civilians in the policy office that reports to Mr. Rumsfeld and the office of the secretary of defense, the military organization that reports to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the regional combatant commanders and even the National Security Council staff at the White House."
That doesn't sound to me like criticism of the changes Rumsfeld has made, it sounds more like criticism of the way the Pentagon has operated for years and that it needs to be changed further.
Phrases like "rankled some officers at the Pentagon that previously had charge of that mission" sounds to me like the old guard fighting necessary changes. Another, similar phrase "outraged some intelligence officers and career diplomats" sounds again like people fighting changes. I'm sure these are the very same intelligence officers that blew Iraq completely, the fall of the Soviet Union and the Shaw of Iran.
"One Pentagon official who read the review said it criticized the Defense Department and National Security Council bureaucracy for not creating ways to answer Socom's real-time needs, forcing the command to navigate plodding bureaucratic channels whenever it wanted to adjust course. The official said this made it difficult to mount the quick action required to single out insurgents or terrorist leaders whose locations may become known only for brief periods of time." I may be wrong here and Lord only knows it would be the first time today, only, but Donald Rumsfeld comes across as a man that knocks down bureaucratic barriers rather than a man that would build barriers. After all, he is the guy that wants to streamline and speed up the military.
In Zinni's book he writes: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."
He says to Congress: This is, in my view, the worst time to take this on. And I dont feel it needs to be done now.
But like so many others, he doesn't say why. He drew up a plan to invade Iraq prior to Tommy Franks taking over CENTCOM and it called for 300,000 troops whereas, Frank's plan called for 180,000. Honest men can disagree, but General Frank's deposed Hussein and rendered the Iraqi Army toothless in 3 weeks. The charge is always that with 300,000 soldiers we could secure the country. I'm not sure. Can two soldiers driving down a road keep an IED from exploding more effectively than one soldier? Out of 120,000 soldiers aren't 20% or 24,000 actually shooters or able to stand guard while 80% or 96,000 are in support?
So now I've read all these vaunted men's thought's on this war and I'm still of the opinion that they offer nothing to the debate.
It makes me wonder when I see Generals say things such as that. How the heck did they get that high? I guess its politics after Major.
Hah funny..that's when I stopped reading, too.
I agree with you.
Rumsfeld is like some generals I've met - too arrogant to listen to advice. They assume those who disagree do so because they are slow of mind. It doesn't seem to occur to them that their opponents may have more knowledge that has led them to caution.
I'm more familiar with Rumsfeld from an acquisition perspective, and I think he's been a disaster there.
One toke over the line sweet Jesus, one toke over the line...
You've certainly done your homework and you have my admiration for it. I agree with you that its tough to draw conclusions with the limited information that's made it to the public domain. Add in the various agendas, axes being ground, etc. and its hard to put a finger on what the real issues are.
The real story won't be written for years, but my humble take is boiled down to three issues:
1. Rumsfeld ramroded us into the War with Iraq (minority opinion, not shared by me)
2. Rumsfled exercised McNamara-like micromanagement over the war plans even when they were in execution. His changes were highly successful in Afghanistan which led him to disregard the military advice that he got on Iraq - with disasterous results
3. His mind is made up on Transformation and he believes that air and naval technology trumps ground forces and therefore the Army and Marine Corps can be safely downsized and portions of their budget shifted to USAF and USN. This idea is not popular with Army and USMC, and increasingly with others given the implications on its effect on the Long War (GWOT).
The final reason is entirely personal and not to be given much weight - he's a prick.
That may be true, but it does not dispute what I said. Their access to sites of interest had already been blocked by Iraqi Republican Guard troops.
Is that a good book by the way? Sounds interesting. Does say anything about that sh*it sack Scott Ritter?
But what's *really* funny is that he apparently hasn't listened real closely to the lyrics.
In the song, the idealistic "rebels" the song is singing about in first person swear they "won't get fooled again" if they overthrow the current "Establishment".
Two thirds of the way through the song, they win their "revolution"... and discover that the new leaders, the ones they put into power, are just as bad as the old ones. Thus the lines, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss...", "there's nothing in the street Looks any different to me...", and "pick up my guitar and play Just like yesterday". The final irony is that they *did* get "fooled again".
Although it came out in an era when youthful idealism and dreams of overthrowing "The Man" were ubiquitous and countless hippy-dippy songs were written about it, the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" was actually a bitingly cynical song which said, "if you hippies ever actually got your revolution, you'd probably f*** it up through naivety, and end up with the same kind of oppressive government you bitch about now, because the power-hungry are a lot smarter than you starry-eyed unrealistic dopes."
It's amusing that Newbold can't even figure out what the song's about, but he feels qualified to second-guess the President and the other Pentagon generals.
It's hard to choose a favorite among so many great tracks. But "The Greatest Love of All" is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written; about self-preservation, dignity. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it's not too late to better ourselves.
Since, Elizabeth, it's impossible in this world we live in, to empathize with others. We can always empathize with ourselves. It's an important message. Crucial really, as beautifully stated on the album.
One of three reasons.
Either you are a member of Al Qaeda, your an idiot, or both.
I think a discussion of JCIDS might be a little off the track, but its an ugly baby. Again, IMHO, its not the overall goal that off track, its the execution that leaves alot to be desired.
Interesting observation, they both seem a little tone deaf to the demands of the political process. Agree that his integrity is not at question, he's always honest, just not always right.
Agree or disagree..retired generals are the only ones that should speak out in this manner.
My personal opinion is that the whole article was written for him by the same goofs that wrote and still write Clinton's stuff. That's their way of talking down to us from their intellectual thrones.
Doesn't say much for the depth or quality of the General thinking, does it? No doubt he will write a full length book, in detail. The troops deserve it.