More Cautionary Stuff from Generals
Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC, (Ret.) Remarks at CDI Board of Directors Dinner, May 12, 2004
And what I thought I would do tonight is go through the ten crucial mistakes to this point that we’ve made. Because I think it helps frame what, in fact, has happened over time … and is going to be the first part of that history. And I will conclude with maybe some thoughts on the way ahead, at least from my point of view.
Gen Zinni was CentCom Commander prior to Tommy Franks and in this days of demanding that we listen to the Commanders no matter what, some wonder why nobody wanted to listen to Tony Zinni in real time. There is a lot of selective memory going on about the period between Sept 11, 2001 and March 20, 2003 and equally about the events in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to the Surge announced in January 2007. There has been a tendency towards triumphalism among war supporters along the lines of “The Surge Worked” which totally ignores that Army Chief of Staff Shinseki was effectively sacked in 2003 because he testified to Congress that more troops would be needed, and that Zinni’s reaction was in point 8 of the linked speech:
The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground. There were a lot more troops in my military plan for operations in Iraq. I know when that plan was presented, the secretary of defense said it was “old and stale.” It sounded pretty new and fresh to me, and looking back at it, now because there were a hell of a lot more troops. It was more the (Eric) Shinseki model that I think might have been a hell of a lot more effective to freeze the situation. Those extra divisions we had in there were not to defeat the Republican Guard, they were in there to freeze the security situation because we knew the chaos that would result once we uprooted an authoritarian regime like Saddam’s.
If Rumsfeld had just listened to his Generals we might not have had to waste four plus years and thousands of Americans dead that were in large part the result of going in too light the first time. Bush/Rumsfeld apologists themselves have a lot to apologize for. You screwed up and trusted the Neo-Cons. Bad move.
Wow, Bruce. You do know that was 5 years ago??? That we have went on to win Iraq since then and that Obama is consolidating our victory there? And now we (Obama and the US) are moving forward back into Afghanistan with (reportedly) 30-34K MORE troops there?
And we are planning to stay in both countries for a LONG time?
BTW – It was your side that said “listen to the Generals” back then. Why the change of heart? Remeber Afghanistan is the ‘good war’ in Obama’s own words.
Also – Remember Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism!!!
Islam will change
I know that people like you blindly defended the strategy when we were actually losing the war under Rumsfeld only to puff your self up like peacocks when a more sensible strategy was instigated under Gates.
We had a decision to make in 2003. That decision was made directly in the face of recommendations by previous Centcom Commander Zinni, Army Chief of Staff Shinseki, and the first two battle plans or General Franks. Now the Republican Party is about to enshrine as a litmus test that it is illegitimate for any President to question the requests of field commanders as to troop size, with a decision to be announced tomorrow. And blind supporters of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld war effort at the time want to just shove it down the rabbit hole so that the can attack Obama.
Well screw that. You were wrong to support Rumsfeld, literally dead wrong, and I have no intention of letting you get away with it. Plus anyone who thinks we “won” Iraq is delusional, we stabilized it enough to bug out, for example nothing about Kirkuk has been settled or about distribution of oil revenues. You have just defined “US GIs getting killed less slowly” as victory.
Dont ever forget the basics : We lost the war the moment we attacked. There was nothing to win, no reason to start.
Everything since then has been a matter of pillage vs atonement.
Some want history to mirror what exists only in their own mind. Iraq was always a mistake. No WMD’s, and to top that off, Iraq was a counter weight to Iran. Not any more as the Shittes who run Iraq are much closer to Iran. So if you can’t face reality, blame it on Clinton. That seems to work for most neo-cons.
What if this counter weight meant that Iran & Iraq with $100+ oil would have started a nuclear arms race? This potential reality was avoided by the actions of Bush & the neo-cons.
Get over it. We WON in Iraq. And we plan to stay there for a long time – just like we did in South Korea. S. Korea was not a nice place in 1955 and Iraq isn’t Switzerland now. But South Korea became the nation it is and Iraq can to.
I was right, and still am, to support the overthrow of a horrendous dictator (overwelmingly supported by huge bi-partisan votes in the House and Senate). The fact it took longer than projected by Rumsfeld was no surprise. The fact that the Dems VOTED for it over and over is also a fact. And we finally found some Generals in Petreous and McChrystal who could win. The fact that we ignored Gen Zinni et al, who either didn’t want to fight or wanted something unavailable (a HUGE Army) is immaterial. The guys advising Obama now are winners and have proven it.
I always agreed on the strategy and it hasn’t changed since the first day. Operational and tactical procedures have changed a ton – throwing out the Rumsfeld era counter-insurgency tactics (and the Generals behind them) with the winning ones. Obama hasn’t changed the strategy much at all. With Iraq won it was time to focus on Afghanistan again – a tougher fight with a much smaller payoff with the win in Iraq under our belt. But still needs to be done. Heck from war-on-terrorism POV I see very little difference between Bush and Obama – its like Bush & Cheney were still there.
Now Obama plans to send 30-34K MORE troops into Afghanistan, JUST AS HE SAID HE WOULD IN THE CAMPAIGN!!!!, and you are crying?? He said he would do this.
Hey but keep bringing up spilled milk from 6 years ago. Its Obama’s war now. And the Dems.
Did you really forget the discussions on AB after the 2006 election about the war? I said then that the only way the Dems in Congress were going to end the war (Iraq or Afghanistan) was to have Bush end it. I laid out the political realities that made it impossible, even though they had the power, for Reid and Pelosi to end the war. I predicted that they were not going to trade their political victories into ending the war. And they didn’t. Now the Dems own it all. If we lose the wars it will be their fault not the R’s . And American’s don’t like losers…
And after 7 years of the Dems attacking Bush etc on every aspect of the war, do you expect the R’s to suddenly lay down and play nice with our current dithering President? Don’t you remember that Dissent is the Highest form of Patriotism? I saw it on all the bumper stickers every time I visited family in Austin (not so much anymore…)
BTW, hows that closure of GITMO coming?
Islam will change
I heard Saddam was thisclose to carving a Zen Gun.
It was a good decision to attack Iraq and to win it finally. We will repeat this victory again in Afghanistan. Now we have to won this war for the sake of army men fighting there from long time, for the sake of money we incurred in this war and above all to stop terrorism.
Of course we won in Iraq. I mean we got so much for so little. We got rid of a very bad man; we pleased our wonderful Israeli allies; we killed lots of Arabs before they could kill us; and now we can go home. If we hadn’t won, we couldn’t go home, could we? And if we hadn’t won, Saddam would be getting ready to nuke us right now. People who say we didn’t win, don’t know what they are talking about.
Why are we talking about all this insignificant stuff when what is really important is Tiger Woods and his marital situation. And his accident. And why he isn’t talking. That is what concerns thinking Americans right now. Not all this nonsense.
You and the other lib anti-war believers have argued the wrong side forever. When we need to, we fight. When we do fight you talk about us. That is of course before we start fighting proposing over and over again that some more diplomacy or sanctions will win over the green meanies.
Fromt he very beginning Bush said this is going to be a long war, perhaps generational. I guess you didn’t believe him then , and now don’t believe your own candidate.
Please note what Buff told you! “The fact that we ignored Gen Zinni et al, who either didn’t want to fight or wanted something unavailable (a HUGE Army) is immaterial.” Second guessing? Why? It’s over. The decision has been made!
Rumsfeld also ignored then MG Petraeus. Maybe someday someone will publish the TWX message traffic between Rumsfeld and Petraeus. It was blistering. And it’s why Petraeus was exiled for awhile. Rumsfeld actually got so petty with Petraeus that shortly before the Iraq war Rummy personally started managing OMA budgets for the 101st down to the company level. It was ridiculous and the first of many signs that Rummy was unhinged.
Obama has come round to the Bush Cheney position on Afghanistan, evidently. He is going to take charge of the war. Let’s see if he can win it. At least he wasn’t coward enough to cut and run. Obama is improving all the time. No universal health care; war vs terrorism going strong. And of course he’ll lose his leftwing support that will have nowhere to go. Ha ha.
Thanks – the left just cannot come to terms that Obama is acting like a Bush third term plus the addition of huge US debt and high unemployment.
I always know when I won the argument when they start bringing up stuff from 5 years ago….(I can do that also – so when are teh Dems getting us out of Kosovo? Clinton said it would be very short…still there. Like Japan, Germany, South Korea, Iraq, Afgahnistan…..)
Its actually fun. Even more fun is to point out the repeated statement of Obama during the campaign and as President that Afgahnistan was the ‘good’ war we needed to focus on. So did they believe Obama was a lier but still voted for him? Or did they just not listen?
I hear that Obama will mention getting 10K worth of NATO troops. That WOULD be a real accomplishment if he got them AND they would actually fight. But I don’t see the Brits or Canadians sending more (the Canucks are schedule to leave next year) and the rest of the NATO forces will not fight and generally have to be protected by US forces. When I see 1000 German troops south of Kandahar I’ll beleive it.
And then you have Michael Moore’s open letter to Obama. Another person who didn’t listen to what he said. You would think a maker of some of the best propaganda films since the Soviet Union fell would actually listen to Obama’s words…
Islam will change
Oh you are sooooo right. Obama is fitting into Bush’s skin very well. Like a glove. We should call him “Shrubama.”
He is merely playing politics. He is trying to have it both ways. The only way we are going to be able to see where he really stands is if things get much worse in the Middle East. If he sticks to his guns, and tells his left wing base to back-off, then we can have some faith that his intentions are in the best interest of the United States. Until then, Obama has alot to prove, no one has any faith this guy has any clue to what the hell he is doing.
We lost the moment we stepped foot in Iraq. We didn’t win. There is just less fighting now. We spent trillions in irreplacable money, resources and will, and received two black eyes. We made ourselves look bad by ignoring our own principles and by not being able to put down the insurgants.
A smart President (which we sorely lacked in 2001) would have told Sadam “We both have this enemy called AlQuida. How would you like to be our son of a bitch again? These are the terms:” That is what Sadam wanted. That would have secured our flank on the cheap.
And however evil Sadam may have been, we killed a lot more Iraqis than he ever did. The only way to conclude differently, is to credit him for all the deaths in the Iran-Iraq war, back when he was our son of a bith.
Even Michael Moore has soured on him. Wrote an open letter saying that if he sends more troops to Afghanistan he’ll lose all his leftwing support. Hatred right and left; poor Obama and his shrinking support/base. How long before he is down to Shrubby’s level?
Despite how remote the potential…………..
The F-15 is being retired after 40 years punching holes in the sky at huge cost.
Never shot down a Red Airplane.
But it had the potential to………………
your risk aversion justifies no dead US soldiers.
After Obama’s surge wins the US comes home from Afghanistan.
Or does the US reinvade Iraq because the lull after the surge had no connection to the militarist non solution.
Perpetual war is business development fopr the militarists and their war profiteer support.
Well 0 has made his decision:
“President Obama announced Tuesday that he will send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan by next summer and begin withdrawing forces in July 2011.”
There is your precious timetable. If I were the enemy I would LOVE a timetable. That way I know when the my adversary is going to stop fighting. Brilliant generalship.
Obamadum(b) is going down the exact path Nixon tread in the early 70s. We’re “going to surge and then turn it over to the locals” and this will allow us to get out. Of course when Nixon got out, everything collapsed and the North Vietnamese took over lock stock and barrel. I don’t think Obama is old enough to remember. LOL. The fiasco finished the Nixon Presidency. And Obamadumb’s too?
A lot of the speech was pretty good but the timetable undermined it. I hope he’s lying to his left wing base but I have to for now take him at his word. With the timetable it makes it hard to understand what the strategy actually is. Bush let conditions on the ground dictate what he did including the surge following the the increase in violence after the bombing of al-Askari Mosque. Maybe the coming hearings will develop a more coherent version of the strategy.
Well it’s his war now and he’ll sink or swim depending on the outcome. Suckered in, I’d say.
From Spiegel Online:
Related articles, background features and opinions about this topic.Print
E-MailFeedback12/02/2009 OpinionSearching in Vain for the Obama Magic
By Gabor Steingart
President Barack Obama’s Tuesday speech left a bad taste in many mouths.
Never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America’s new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric — and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.
Obama’s Magic No Longer Works
But in this case, the public was more disturbed than entertained. Indeed, one could see the phenomenon in a number of places in recent weeks: Obama’s magic no longer works. The allure of his words has grown weaker.
It is not he himself who has changed, but rather the benchmark used to evaluate him. For a president, the unit of measurement is real life. A leader is seen by citizens through the prism of their lives — their job, their household budget, where they live and suffer. And, in the case of the war on terror, where they sometimes die.
Political dreams and yearnings for the future belong elsewhere. That was where the political charmer Obama was able to successfully capture the imaginations of millions of voters. It is a place where campaigners — particularly those with a talent for oration — are fond of taking refuge. It is also where Obama set up his campaign headquarters, in an enormous tent called “Hope.”
In his speech on America’s new Afghanistan strategy, Obama tried to speak to both places. It was two speeches in one. That is why it felt so false. Both dreamers and realists were left feeling distraught.
The American president doesn’t need any opponents at the moment. He’s already got himself.
this way the bad guys will just hang out in the local bar until the Americans come to arrest them. it’s always a good strategy to wait around doing nothing until your enemy decides to go home.
Well, it is always easy to Monday Morning Quaterback a War. I could back and dream up a solution to Vietnam that would give the entire world warm and fuzzies, but it is much healthier to look forward.
The questions isn’t what we should have done, the question is what are we going to do in the future. It looks to me that the “Smartest President Ever” doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what the hell he is doing………Is anybody really that surprised?