18, 2004 #01: Political
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author, Jim Wrenn.
Rumsfeld-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has become target of demands that he resign or be
fired, so it's clearly time for Bush to "fire" Rumsfeld (at his critics).
The long-knives are out for Donald Rumsfeld. He's angered too many former and would-be
generals for not fighting the "last" war, in which the fabled Powell Doctrine,
Overwhelming Force, made sense for many reasons: First, the goal was to evict Saddam Hussein's
half-million-man force from heavily fortified positions in Kuwait. Second, our use of
"overwhelming force" was unlikely to make the Kuwaitis or other allies in the region
suspect we had plans to perpetually occupy Kuwait or Iraq. (There are many other reasons, but
most of them are irrelevant to this issues on which this commentary focuses.)
In planning military operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, if Rumsfeld were to
have applied the Powell Doctrine, it would have required far longer to assemble an overwhelming
force and arrange the logistics, over-flight rights, land-transportation rights, etc. The
local warlords would have suspected our motives were really no different than those of the Russians
in the 1970's. It would have been far harder to persuade Pakistan and other neighboring
countries to cooperate. The strategy Tommy Franks designed and Rumsfeld approved in
Afghanistan was nothing less than brilliant. With under-whelming force, their plan dislodged
the Taliban and disabled al Qaeda from freely using Afghanistan as a bastion. I remember
hearing-- as we began Operation Enduring Freedom-- "expert" after "expert" after
"expert" predicting disaster and failure. Many of them arrogantly asked
rhetorically, "The Russians failed with a half-million-man army-- how can we succeed with only
a tiny fraction of the forces who necessarily must become dependent on "warlords"?
Yet I also remember that a mere three weeks into Operation Enduring Freedom, the media and
Rumsfeld's critics were still predicting disaster and wondering why we hadn't made more
progress. I remember that press conference-- Rumsfeld
had to remind the press that the rubble at our 9-11 Ground Zero was "still smoking."
I mean no disrespect to former Secretary William Cohen, but if 9-11 were to have happened on his
watch, Operation Enduring Freedom would not have occurred. Not because he cares less for his
country than does Rumsfeld-- he's an honorable man who cares just as much as does Rumsfeld-- but
because he would have lacked the audacity to approve such a bold plan, and knowing he lacked such
audacity would have dissuaded his best generals from formulating such a plan because they had come
to understand that none of the political leaders then in power would have approved a bold and right
but risky plan.
For Operation Iraqi Freedom, Franks proposed, and Rumsfeld approved, a similar concept but on a much
larger scale, yet everyone knew there to be significant risks in again applying "Overwhelming
Force" for at least two reasons: First, our military was approximately half the size of
the military with which we applied "overwhelming force" in the 1991 Persian Gulf War;
Second, unlike that war, a half-million troops force (rather than the quarter-million size force
Franks assembled to stage, support and project the force into Iraq) would have made Iraqis and
neighboring countries suspicious that our real goal was long-term occupation rather than toppling
Saddam Hussein and helping a non-barbaric regime replace him.
What is surprising is not that we encountered surprises but that critics of Operation Iraqi Freedom
are surprised that we encountered surprises. Once warfare commences, surprise almost becomes
the rule rather than the exception because adversaries bend their entire strategy, tactics and
resources to the narrow purpose of surprising their opponents. Nevertheless, Rumsfeld's and
Franks' strategies out-surprised their adversaries at every turn. Their plans prevented
destruction of the oil fields, the oil-shipping terminals, missiles being launched into Israel,
massive refugee problems, massive casualties, and the "thousand Mogadishu's" so
confidently predicted by critics as our troops neared Baghdad. Peter Arnett (here
and here) had then only
just recently finished explaining to the world how stupid the American military had been and that
the invasion was on the verge of collapse.
No sensible person wants to minimize the heroism and sacrifice of the more than a thousand
combat-related deaths, the thousands of seriously disabling injuries sustained, the pain of the
families of those killed or injured, or the raw courage regularly displayed by our troops.
Yet, before Baghdad fell, most of us were expecting the number of deaths to quickly rise into the
thousands. We had not yet seen what we recently saw-- the Fallujah example of brilliant
application of all lessons learned the hard way in Somalia.
When the war began, no one seriously expected the HumVee to be needed to be a lightly armored
vehicle rather than what it had originally been designed to be-- a far more sturdy and versatile
version of the World War II Jeep. More than a year ago, when it became apparent we were
beginning to face hit-ant-run urban warfare, the military arranged for the design and production of
lightly-armored HumVees and for kits to provide light armor to as many HumVees as possible during
the interim. Given the scale of the problem, the response has been dramatic. That it has
been less than perfect is no grounds for demanding resignation of one of the best Secretaries of
Defense we've ever had.
Editor at PoliSat.Com.
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Questions for Americans:
we be at least as generous in supporting the families of our troops killed or injured while
serving our country in Afghanistan, Iraq, in America and throughout the rest of the world as we were
for the families of the victims of 9-11? Here are some suggestions:
American Heroes* *Support
Fallen Heroes Fund*
we recognize that many, if not most, instances of foreign anti-Americanism in the late 20th Century
(like most of the foreign anti-Americanism today) focused reactionary rage against maintenance of,
and willingness to use, human-rights-respecting power against forces that oppose liberty and favor
the "stability" of the status quo? See a retrospective
on Ronald Reagan. Shouldn't we recognize that despite arguments to
the contrary by devotees of the United Nations that the world remains a yet-to-be-civilized place in
which the wise exercise of human-rights-respecting power more than intellectual sophistry can best
assure the survival of liberty?
we recognize that "property rights" are among the most fundamental of "human
rights" and are therefore vital to the survival of liberty? See "'Life,
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness' versus 'Life, Liberty [and] Property.'"
for secular thinkers:
secular thinkers be at least as respectful towards ordinary people of faith as George
Bush is towards ordinary secular thinkers, and shouldn't ordinary secular thinkers
repudiate fanatical secular fundamentalists at least as firmly as Bush repudiates fanatical
religious fundamentalists? Shouldn't secular fundamentalists learn to recognize the
unscientific nature of their own leaps of faith before throwing stones at unscientific leaps of
faith by ordinary people of faith? See satire/commentary about Secular
Fundamentalists and Religious Fanatics.
people professing to be secular thinkers learn to understand the difference between science and political
science (i.e., politicized science)? Shouldn't radical environmentalists learn
to understand that their views are little more than modern forms of pantheism?
See Satire/Commentary about Pantheopians. Shouldn't they learn
to objectively and scientifically scrutinize theories such as Global Warming at least as rigorously
as they scrutinize "creationism"? See "Global
Warming or Scientific Flatulence?" See also the commentary on proposed "climate
stewardship" legislation and the animated illustration, "Goblins
of Globalized 'Warming.'"
people professing to be secular thinkers learn to understand that what science reveals about human
evolution supports, rather than undermines, the sensibility of a rebuttable presumption that
monogamous, heterosexual marriage best serves the interests of children notwithstanding the
sensibility of recognizing civil unions to accord comparable (but not identical) privileges
to mutual-support partnerships? See commentary "Evolution
versus Revolution" and the animated illustration, "Devolution
for people of faith:
people with faith that a Deity created free will recognize that compulsory piety would be offensive
to such Deity?
people with faith that a Deity created free will recognize that political compromises limiting the
power of government to compel conformity with theocratic doctrines over which other people of faith,
as well as secular thinkers, can reasonably disagree would not be offensive to such Deity?
See commentary about our Founding
Documents, the Constitution and the Creator.
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