[lit-ideas] Rumsfeld

  • From: JulieReneB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 12 May 2004 14:52:47 EDT

Should Rummy go?  I cannot begin to imagine why Bush continues to support 
him.  The below gives a very good case for Rumsfeld's departure, having very 
little indeed to do with any photos.  I can't help but thinking, though, that 
would be very good for Democrats for Bush to continue to hold on to Rummy.  The 
below is a very interesting analysis of the Iraq situation.
Julie Krueger

<<Tactical Failures?

It is at that point that things started to go wrong -- not with the grand
strategy of the United States, but with the Iraq strategy itself. A string of
intelligence failures, errors in judgment and command failures have conspired
to undermine the U.S. position in Iraq and reverse the strategic benefits.
These failures included:

* A failure to detect that preparations were under way
for a guerrilla war in the event that Baghdad fell.

* A failure to quickly recognize that a guerrilla war was under way in Iraq,
and a delay of months before the reality was recognized and a strategy
developed for dealing with it.

* A failure to understand that the United States did not have the resources
to govern Iraq if all Baathist personnel were excluded.

* A failure to understand the nature of the people the United States was
installing in the Iraqi Governing Council -- and in particular, the complex
loyalties of Ahmed Chalabi and his relationship to Iraq's Shia and the
Iranian government. The United States became highly dependent on individuals
about whom it lacked sufficient intelligence.

* A failure to recognize that the Sunni guerrillas were regrouping in
February and March 2004, after their defeat in the Ramadan offensive.

* Completely underestimating the number of forces needed for the occupation
of Iraq, and cavalierly dismissing accurate Army estimates in favor of lower
estimates that rapidly became unsupportable.

* Failing to step up military recruiting in order to increase the total
number of U.S. ground forces available on a worldwide basis. Failing to
understand that the difference between defeating an army and occupying a
country had to be made up with ground forces.

These are the particular failures. The general failures are a compendium of
every imaginable military failing:

* Failing to focus on the objective. Rather than remembering why U.S. forces
were in Iraq and focusing on that, the Bush administration wandered off into
irrelevancies and impossibilities, such as building democracy and eliminating
Baath party members. The administration forgot its mission.

* Underestimating the enemy and overestimating U.S. power. The enemy was
intelligent, dedicated and brave. He was defending his country and his home.
The United States was enormously powerful but not omnipotent. The casual
dismissal of the Iraqi guerrillas led directly to the failure to anticipate
and counter enemy action.

* Failure to rapidly identify errors and rectify them through changes of
plans, strategies and personnel. Error is common in war. The measure of a
military force is how honestly errors are addressed and rectified. When a
command structure begins denying that self- evident problems are facing them,
all is lost. The administration's insistence over the past year that no
fundamental errors were committed in Iraq has been a cancer eating through
all layers of the command structure -- from the squad to the office of the

* Failing to understand the political dimension of the war and permitting
political support for the war in the United States to erode by failing to
express a clear, coherent war plan on the broadest level. Because of this
failure, other major failures -- ranging from the failure to find weapons of
mass destruction to the treatment of Iraqi prisoners -- have filled the space
that strategy should have occupied. The persistent failure of the president
to explain the linkage between Iraq and the broader war has been symptomatic
of this systemic failure.

Remember the objective; respect the enemy; be your own worst critic; exercise
leadership at all levels -- these are fundamental principles of warfare. They
have all been violated during the Iraq campaign.

The strategic situation, as of March 2004, was rapidly improving for the
United States. There was serious, reasonable discussion of a final push into
Pakistan to liquidate al Qaeda's leadership. Al Qaeda began a global
counterattack -- as in Spain -- that was neither unexpected nor as effective
as it might have been. However, the counterattack in Iraq was both unexpected
and destabilizing -- causing military and political processes in Iraq to
separate out, and forcing the United States into negotiations with the Sunni
guerrillas while simultaneously trying to manage a crisis in the Shiite
areas. At the same time that the United States was struggling to stabilize
its position in Iraq, the prison abuse issue emerged. It was devastating not
only in its own right, but also because of the timing. It generated a sense
that U.S. operations in Iraq were out of control. From Al Fallujah to An
Najaf to Abu Ghraib, the question was whether anyone had the slightest idea
what they were trying to achieve in Iraq.

Which brings us back to the razor's edge. If the United States rapidly
adjusts its Iraq operations to take realities in that country into account,
rather than engaging on ongoing wishful thinking, the situation in Iraq can
be saved and with it the gains made in the war on al Qaeda. On the other
hand, if the United States continues its unbalanced and ineffective
prosecution of the war against the guerrillas and continues to allow its
relations with the Shia to deteriorate, the United States will find itself in
an untenable position. If it is forced to withdraw from Iraq, or to so limit
its operations there as to be effectively withdrawn, the entire dynamic that
the United States has worked to create since the Sept. 11 attacks will
reverse itself, and the U.S. position in the Muslim world -- which was fairly
strong in January 2004 -- will deteriorate, and al Qaeda's influence will
increase dramatically.

The Political Crisis

It is not clear that the Bush administration understands the crisis it is
facing. The prison abuse pictures are symptomatic -- not only of persistent
command failure, but also of the administration's loss of credibility with
the public. Since no one really knows what the administration is doing, it is
not unreasonable to fill in the blanks with the least generous assumptions.
The issue is this: Iraq has not gone as planned by any stretch of the
imagination. If the failures of Iraq are not rectified quickly, the entire
U.S. strategic position could unravel. Speed is of the essence. There is no
longer time left.

The issue is one of responsibility. Who is responsible for the failures in
Iraq? The president appears to have assumed that if anyone were fired, it
would be admitting that something went wrong. At this point, there is no one
who doesn't know that many things have gone wrong. If the president insists
on retaining all of his senior staff, Cabinet members and field commanders,
no one is going to draw the conclusion that everything is under control;
rather they will conclude that it is the president himself who is responsible
for the failures, and they will act accordingly.

The issue facing Bush is not merely the prison pictures. It is the series of
failures in the Iraq campaign that have revealed serious errors of judgment
and temperament among senior Cabinet-level officials. We suspect that Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is finished, and with him Deputy Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz. Vice President Dick Cheney said over the weekend that everyone
should get off of Rumsfeld's case. What Cheney doesn't seem to grasp is that
there is a war on and that at this moment, it isn't going very well. If the
secretary of defense doesn't bear the burden of failures and misjudgments,
who does? Or does the vice president suggest a no-fault policy when it comes
to war? Or does he think that things are going well?

This is not asked polemically. It is our job to identify emerging trends, and
we have, frequently, been accused of everything from being owned by the
Republicans to being Iraq campaign apologists. In fact, we are making a non-
partisan point: The administration is painting itself into a corner that will
cost Bush the presidency if it does not deal with the fact that there is no
one who doesn't know that Iraq has been mismanaged. The administration's only
option for survival is to start managing it effectively, if that can be done
at this point.

(c) 2004 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


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