Faith-based War Plan Encounters Reality
   by Gene Lyons

 Ignorance is not the problem in the world.
 It's the things people 'know' that aren't so.
          --Will Rogers

 So what if President Junior doesn't know squat? It wasn't supposed to
 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 of the
 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 have begun.
"[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 to Seymour
 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 and his
 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 administration's
 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 Christian's
 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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