On July 25, the Washington Post
's senior Pentagon correspondent will publish his book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
Here's an excerpt from the advance description:
The definitive military chronicle of the Iraq war and a searing judgment on the strategic blindness with which America has conducted it, drawing on the accounts of senior military officers giving voice to their anger for the first time. . . .
[A] great many senior officers view the Iraq war with incredulity and dismay. . . . . Ricks combines these astonishing on-the-record military accounts with his own extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to create a spellbinding account of an epic disaster. . . .
[T]he officers who did raise their voices against the miscalculations, shortsightedness, and general failure of the war effort were generally crushed, their careers often ended. A willful blindness gripped political and military leaders, and dissent was not tolerated. . . .
There was never any question that the U.S. military would topple Saddam Hussein, but as Fiasco shows there was also never any real thought about what would come next. This blindness has ensured the Iraq war a place in history as nothing less than a fiasco.
Okay, you're a Bush Republican. How do you respond?
Do you take on the merits of Ricks' argument about Iraq?
Of course not.
Instead, you attack the generals who opposed Iraq as Clinton cronies. Remember, it's all about distracting the public. (You wouldn't want them to focus on the gross negligence that resulted -- and continues to result -- in unnecessary levels of troop casualties.)
Not sure how to do it?
Here, let NRO's Cliff May show you. He's excerpted this gem from an attack piece penned by the American Spectator's Jed Babbin:
The Clintons - and the plural is more accurate than the singular - picked generals for their political fealty rather than military prowess. The worst public examples were Wesley Clark (a Friend of Bill from their Oxford Rhodes scholar days), and Anthony Zinni. Having spent too much time in the company of Arab leaders, Zinni became addicted to stability in the Middle East and opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. But in the middle of the April "revolt", Zinni - echoing Congressman Jack Murtha - once accused Rumsfeld of, "disbanding the Army."
The least public and most political general is former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki. When Rumsfeld took over the Pentagon, his orders were to shake the military out of its Cold War mindset and strategies. According to one source (who was an active duty army officer when he told me this) Shinseki tried to make Rumsfeld an offer he couldn't refuse: Shinseki would make Rumsfeld look good on Capitol Hill if Rumsfeld would leave the Army alone and not force it out of its Cold War garrison-force mentality. Rumsfeld didn't take the bait, and instead treated Shinseki gently, allowing him to retire with dignity instead of firing him. And then Rumsfeld went about building a better team made up of war-fighting generals who could transform the force under fire. Could Rumsfeld have treated some people more gently? Certainly. Were careers ended? Yes, and deservedly so.
I'll let others take on Babbin's comments about Clark and Zinni and their alleged lack of "military prowess."
I'd like to focus on the Shinseki passage.
Here's Babbin's argument distilled to its essence:
1. Shinseki was a weak military strategist ("Cold War" mentality)
2. Rumsfeld nonetheless treated him gently (Republicans respect the uniform)
3. Rumsfeld built a "better team" for fighting the Iraq war.
Here, for comparison, is reality:
1. Shinseki accurately warned that it would take "several hundred thousand soldiers" to win the peace in Iraq.
2. Rumsfeld's Pentagon called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark" and attempted to undermine Shinseki's authority by floating the name of a potential successor 14 months before Shinseki was due to retire.
3. Rumsfeld kept on his team Wolfowitz (the man who made the "wildly off the mark" assessment) and Douglas Feith (a man even Bush apologist Tommy Franks reportedly called the "f------ stupidest guy on the face of the earth").
Up is down, and respecting the military is trashing the military.
Put another way:
BUSH REPUBLICANS: Fly the flag, display "Support the Troops" ribbons, but ignore what military leaders actually say and put our troops into harm's way without adequate support and planning.