Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We shouldn't let the generals off the hook for the loss of the Iraq War

Pat Lang (Which Mistake Was the Worst? Sic Simper Tyrannis blog 04/19/06) refers to this PBS Newshour interview of 04/18/06 with Gen. John Keane, formerly vice-chief of the Army Staff. Keane is criticizing those generals who are speaking out against Rummy right now.  While the effect of what he says is to support Rummy, he makes some good points which should be thoroughly explored by Congress and the press in the aftermath of the Iraq War disaster.  He touches on some of the serious failures of the uniformed military itself in this situation:

GEN. JOHN KEANE: ... I believe strongly, having been there and participated in some of this, that we have a shared responsibility when we go to war. And the war plan was not Rumsfeld's war plan.

Certainly, at some point, he embraced it, because Tommy Franks developed it, the Joint Chiefs approved it. We had lots of questions about it. At the end of the day, it received our full support, and it became his war plan.

But we had some failings as a result of that. I believe it's our responsibility as senior leaders to have recognized that one of the options that Saddam Hussein had was not to yield his regime, to fight us indirectly in an insurgency. We never considered that as a realistic option.

That's not Secretary Rumsfeld's responsibility to figure that out. We know what the enemy can do. We know what his capabilities are; he does not. We did not bring that to him as a realistic option.

JIM LEHRER: We, meaning the military?

GEN. JOHN KEANE: We, meaning the senior military leaders. It's conventional to blame the intel people; I don't blame them for that. We were not inside the thinking process of Saddam Hussein.

But we have 35 years of judgment and experience that we should have applied here. And it's our fault. I blame myself for this. I was party to it. We didn't see it coming.

The second thing is we put an army on the battlefield that I had been a part of for 37 years. The truth of the matter is: It doesn't have any doctrine, nor was it educated and trained, to deal with an insurgency. And that insurgency challenged us, as I knew it would for that first year.

After the Vietnam War, we purged ourselves of everything that dealt with irregular warfare or insurgency, because it had to do with how we lost that war. In hindsight, that was a bad decision. But my point is, is that you cannot...

JIM LEHRER: Blame...


GEN. JOHN KEANE: ... draw a circle around the civilian leadership and blame them all. We have responsibility.  (my emphasis)

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