In the Crosshairs- Media on Palin's Foreign Policy Experience
We love you too

Iraq War strategy- Don't blame me

I was pro-put-a-bullet-in-Saddam's-head all along.

Mac Owens has an interesting piece in the WSJ today. I agree with the point he makes about a flawed idea of who was advocating what policy regarding condiuct of the Iraq War.

The dominant media storyline about the Iraq war holds that the decisions about how to conduct it pitted ignorant civilians -- especially the president and secretary of defense -- against the uniformed military, whose wise and sober advice was cavalierly ignored. The Bush administration's cardinal sin was interference in predominantly military affairs, starting with overruling the military on the size of the force that invaded Iraq in March 2003.....

The plausibility of the narrative rests on two questionable principles. The first is that soldiers have the right to a voice in making policy regarding the use of the military instrument -- that indeed they have the right to insist that their views be adopted. The second is that the judgment of soldiers is inherently superior to that of civilians when it comes to military affairs. Both of these principles are at odds with the American practice of civil-military relations, and with the historical record.

But I disagree with the two principles he uses to make that point.

He makes the first point to support an argument that the uniformed leaders were attempting to demand that their methods be adopted. Actually several courses of action were presented and eventually the top-down, nation-building approach was chosen. This was after both military and civilian leaders had a chance to evaluate other options as well. There was no monolithic bloc at the Pentagon supporting one strategy, as usual different groups developed different options for the command structure to choose from.

The second principle is stealing a bit of a march. By making the statement that the judgment of soldiers is "inherently" superior to civilians on military affairs he adds an absolute that games the question. A truer statement would say the judgment of soldiers on military affairs is usually superior to civilians.

But back to whose fault our choice of the wrong strategy to start with was and who to blame for the failure to change it after several years of simply staying the course. My natural instinct is blame Al Gore, but this time it was Rumsfeld. He was the driving force behind a plan to invade, depose Saddam, and then turn the keys over to the first puppet strong man he could stand up. It tied in with his overall desire for a smaller, more efficient military and his transformation plans. The uniformed leaders may have supported this as well, but Rummy was the puppet master as far as the initial invasion and transfer of authority plans.

On the second matter of why we floundered following the Thunder run, there are many who contributed poorly, but in the end it is the President's job. No buck-passing allowed and he stuck with Rumsfeld, Abizaid & Casey too long. When counter-insurgency began getting mentioned in 2006, I couldn't believe it hadn't been our main strategy from the start of trouble on the Sunni provinces. It is proper to allow a course of action a reasonable amount of time to come to fruition, but the nation-building plan was supposed to be a fast in, fast out. When that didn't happen President Bush had an obligation to look for other answers and he didn't. Loyalty to subordinates is desirable in a leader, but the true loyalty is to the country and the troops.