Ignorance is not the problem in the world.
It's the things people 'know' that aren't so.
So what if President Junior doesn't know squat? It wasn't supposed
matter. Bush had "moral clarity," we were told, unlike certain ex-presidents
whose heads were stuffed with useless information, rendering them womanish
and indecisive. The purity of his motives uncluttered by geography or history
and unsullied by reason, Junior was the political equivalent of a child evangelist.
"I'm not a textbook player," Bush boasted to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward.
"I'm a gut player. I rely on my instincts."
Even so, Bush started carrying around a book called "Supreme Command:
Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime," by Eliot Cohen, a Johns
Hopkins historian. Cohen protests that the media over-simplified his message.
Even so, its symbolic import was unmistakable: war is too important to be left
to generals. Great wartime leaders like Lincoln, Churchill and Clemenceau
overruled timid military men who are too risk-averse, always fighting the last war.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the neocon hawks talked
Junior into a
"faith-based" plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein. It was going to be a cakewalk.
Vice President Dick Cheney said the conflict would be over in weeks; Saddam's
vaunted Republican Guard would refuse to fight.
Richard Perle, the ubiquitous ideologue who resigned as chairman
Defense Policy Board due to the appearance of war-profiteering, described
the Iraq as "a house of cards" which "will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder."
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, another architect of the great game
of "Risk" to which America has committed its lives and fortunes, told the VFW
that "the Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of
France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator."
Barely two weeks into the war, the alibis and finger-pointing
"[A]ccording to three senior administration officials," Knight-Ridder's Warren
Stroebel reported, "President Bush's aides did not forcefully present him with
dissenting views from CIA and State and Defense Department officials who
warned that U.S.-led forces could face stiff resistance in Iraq." One said,
"as a result, almost every assumption the plan's based on looks to be wrong."
The Pentagon appears to be in all but open rebellion. According
Hersh in the The New Yorker: "Several senior war planners complained that
...Rumsfeld and his inner circle of civilian advisers, who had been chiefly
responsible for persuading President Bush to lead the country into war, had
insisted on micromanaging the war's operational details. Rumsfeld's team took
over crucial aspects of the day-to-day logistical planning-traditionally, an area
in which the uniformed military excels--and Rumsfeld repeatedly overruled the
senior Pentagon planners on the Joint Staff, the operating arm of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff. 'He thought he knew better,' one senior planner said. 'He was the
decision-maker at every turn.'
"On at least six occasions, the planner told me, when Rumsfeld
deputies were presented with operational plans--the Iraqi assault was
designated Plan 1003--he insisted that the number of ground troops be
sharply reduced. Rumsfeld's faith in precision bombing and his insistence on
streamlined military operations has had profound consequences for the
ability of the armed forces to fight effectively overseas. 'They've got
no resources,' a former high-level intelligence official said. 'He was so
focused on proving his point-that the Iraqis were going to fall apart.'"
The Washington Post reports similar misgivings. Evidently, the
deep thinkers saw Iraq as a kind of geopolitical demonstration project, like a
new strain of soybeans planted alongside a busy highway. Instead, what's being
demonstrated, Robert Baer, a former CIA Middle East hand told Hersh, is that
"everybody wants to fight. The whole nation of Iraq is fighting to defend Iraq.
Not Saddam.... [W]e are courting disaster. If we take fifty or sixty casualties
a day and they die by the thousands, they're still winning. It's a jihad, and it's
a good thing to die. This is no longer a secular war."
Retired soldiers agree. General Merril A. McPeak, former Air Force
Chief of Staff
1990-94, told the Portland Oregonian that "if we sent the 3rd Infantry up there naked,
by themselves, because somebody assessed that they'd be throwing bouquets at us,
that's the worst thing you could say about political leadership."
Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, who commanded an armored division in Gulf
War I, warned
the AP "we'll be camping on the outskirts of the city [Baghdad] for years."
Meanwhile, Marines in Iraq are being given a pamphlet called "A
Duty," with tear-out prayer cards to mail to the White House. One says:
"Pray that the President and his advisers will be strong and courageous to
do what is right regardless of critics."
I'll bet they're going over really big.
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