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.