Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Monday, April 10, 2006

The chorus is getting louder

Belgravia Dispatch has a great post on the growing chorus to fire Donald Rumsfeld. As I've stated in the past, I think he should be fired if only for the prisoner abuse scandal alone. Bottom line, leaders are responsible for their subordinates, not the other way around.

But with each and every general, lieutenant General and high ranking officer coming out and explaining their side of the story, as evidenced by BD's post, it is becoming increasinly more evident that Rumsfeld is at the heart of every failure. But for Bush, loyalty is the only thing that matters. Pity he doesn't put our troops, the mission, the Iraqi people and success in the GWOT above that.


Blogger K. Pablo said...

Just curious... who would you recommend as a more competent replacement for Rumsfeld?

8:08 PM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I don't know that I could name someone specifically. I would think someone who is not inside the current adminstration circle. We need new thinking in that position. Perhaps a senator or rep. with military experience of preferable someone from the military itself.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I think that Rumsfeld point about mistakes and tactics is a very good one, and a very important one to understand.

Yes, of course 'mistakes' were made. Some of them were doubtless avoidable, but most a clear only in hindsight.

Those who loudly complain about the mistakes we have made seem to me not to understand war very well. War is a constant series of mistakes, the best you can hope for is to make less than the enemy. Read about WWII or any other war for a bit and they are all a litany of mistakes.

We invaded, conquered and occupied Iraq for 3 years now, and have only a little over 2000 deaths. That is an amazing figure, unequaled in the history of warfare.

I have a hard time figuring out what yardstick we are judging Rumsfeld by. What is this expectation that he is failing to live up to?

1:04 PM  
Blogger Katinula said...

I guess what makes me, and most people mad about the Rumseld situation is the sheer arrogance of his leadership. When told we would need more troops for the occupation, those opinions were poo-poo'ed and those Generals were relieved of duty. When told we need a strategy for the insurgency, ideas ignored. When we didn't have enough troops to secure the country..ignored. It was one absolute strategy that has never changed or adapted to the changing landscape. those who disagree are sent packing. he didnt listen to one piece of advice his military commanders gave him and even after all the mistakes, unavoidable or not, they aren't acknowledged, strategies haven't changed, nothing is done. The soldiers at Abu has been proven that those interrogation tactics were specifically brought there from Guantanamo, yet still, Rumself took no responsibility for any of it. It is sad and if you read BD's post, even sadder how clueless Bush is about even the most basic aspects of this war. What legislation covers subcontractors? Our own President doesn't know. I don't write about day to day happenings in Iraq, as history will be the judge on the operation as a whole and to judge from day to day is a hard to do with a clear view. But Rumsfeld has proven beyond incompetant. How many more Generals will it take for you to be convinced that he hasn't lived up to anyone's expectations, except Bush's, which consists of loyalty and loyalty only.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

First off, some of those things seem obvious now, but were not at all obvious at the time.

We really didn't know how the invasion of Iraq would go, what the effects would be (would Saddam torch the oilfields? Would Bahgdad be like Stalingrad? Would chemical or biological weapons be deployed? Would the Shias unleash a massive retaliation campaign against the Sunnis?)

One of the possibilities of course was a protracted insurgency. Those who warned against such an event seem prophetic now, but I is not apparent to me that that was an obvious conclusion at the time.

Overplanning can be as great a problem, perhaps greater, than underplanning in war.

It is also not obvious to me that more troops would have improved things. The long pole in the tent of fighting an insurgency is usually actionable intelligence. More troops probably wouldn't have equaled more intelligence but likely would have increased casualties and quite probably increased Iraqi resentment. Certainly it would have resulted in increased deployment times and greater overstretch of the military.

As for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, while it is true that some interogation techniques improperly made their way from Cuba to Iraq, and I have faulted the administration for being partially to blame for that, I don't know how much of that is Rumsfeld's fault. That being said, the most damaging images out of Abu Ghraib, prisoners in naked human pyramids for example, were not part of the Guantanamo interogation techniques but apparently developed on the fly. It does not seem to me that this problem would not have existed if it were not for Guantanamo.

It is patently untrue that our strategies and tactics have not changed during the course of the war. We have learned and adapted. Of necessity, a lot of this is trial and error.

My basic question remains unanswered. Where do you think we should be at this point of time that we are not at? What is a reasonable number of casualties? If the mistakes are as obvious as you claim they are, then these should be questions you can answer.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Katinula said...

They "may seem obvious now but were not obvious at the time"? It wasn't that they were obvious, it was that educated and experienced people's recommendations were dismissed when they weren't in line with what the adminstration was selling to the American people. That is NEGLIGENCE.
When general's on the ground requested more troops, different planning, they were IGNORED. General Zinni, General Shinsecki--ignored!
As far as Rumsfeld being responsible for interrogation procedures, I guess it's just my old fashioned values that says that the leader is held responsible for the subordinates. These systematic changes in policy, the shaming of the American military from this scandal, happended under his watch.
I am not one to go on about troop casualties. I have no idea what an acceptable level would be and I'm quite happy it isn't more than it is. I think we've done ok in that credit to Rumsfeld there. I didnt agree with the war, so I'm sad there are any, but I certainly don't feel the need everytime there is a casualty to go one about why we shouldn't be there.
In the words of General Zinni:
"I saw on the ground a sort of walking away from 10 years’ worth of planning. You know, ever since the end of the first Gulf War, there’s been planning by serious officers and planners and others, and policies put in place - 10 years' worth of planning were thrown away. Troop levels dismissed out of hand. Gen. Shinseki basically insulted for speaking the truth and giving an honest opinion."
10 years worth of planning for something this disjointed and disastrous? Three years and we haven't even secured major cities? yeah, thats on Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush's plate. Can't fire Bush or Cheney...and someone needs to be held responsible.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I believe there were a variety of opinions on what was needed, what would happen etc.

In such a situation some would have to be ignored. Calling ingoring someone in such a situation negligence seems unreasonable. Now, if the results of that ignoring were negative enough I could see calling the decision wrong, negligent and cause for dismissal.

As I have tried to argue though, the results seem to be to be remarkably good. Less than 3000 dead soldiers, successful elections, no civil war, Increasing ability of Iraqis to take control of their own security, progress being made on forming a government.

The Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo issue is quite different of course, and you can make a case there. I haven't seen anything there that would make me desire a resignation, but opinions can differ on that. Certainly it seems fairly clear to me that in that situation Rumsfeld implimented decisions that were made by the President, I don't think that someone should be asked to resign because they did their job. This particular arguement though is quite tangental to the rest of your argument.

This is nonsensical to me: "thats on Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush's plate. Can't fire Bush or Cheney...and someone needs to be held responsible."

Bush and Cheney of course can be fired. In 2004 the voters had a chance to do so, and declined. Congress can 'fire' either of them if it desires. It isn't really any easier to 'fire' Rumsfeld than it is to fire Bush. If Bush feels that this someone needs to resign over this, I would think it would be him.

I expect that if Zinni or Shinsecki had gotten everything they wanted there would still have been a variety of negative consequences. There always are in war. It is very possible that the outcome would have been worse. We don't ever see the negatives that don't happen, only those that do. In that scenario, it seems to me you would be calling for Rumsfelds resignation because he didn't listen to someone else, and over commited our forces so we were unable to stay the course or something similar.

1:17 PM  

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