2006/02/28

Letter to Weekly Standard

Bill Kristol came out against US performance in Iraq, suggesting that the US effort there was short of personnnel. I wrote the following letter to him:

28 February 2006

Bill Kristol
The Weekly Standard
1150 17th Street, NW Suite 505
Washington, DC 20036


Subj: Your statement on Fox News Sunday that US has
...not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq”


Dear Mr Kristol,


As a liberal blogger, I won’t belabor the pre-war estimates of the manpower needed to overthrow Saddam Hussein AND to stabilize Iraq in the aftermath. As Rumsfeld has said [paraphrasing] “Ooh Gawwd! I’m like, sooo sick of hearing about how Shinseki was right and I was wrong!!”

My question is, how come I don’t recall you and Limbaugh and Coulter and Hannity, etc., etc., making pitches for people to enlist in the Army? It became obvious to me during the much-longer-than-planned battle at Umm Qasr that the Iraqi army America was facing was a great deal tougher than the rag-tag, unmotivated recruits we routed during the 1991 war. Granted, I had nine years in the Navy and was a military history buff long before that, but my information sources were all strictly public and non-classified. I can’t believe that I saw the significance of this and that the US chain of command didn’t.

At the time, I was unaware of the dilemma faced by the US commander at the three-square-mile ammo dump at al Qa-qaa. He apparently had to choose between making the charge towards Baghdad and between leaving behind enough troops to properly secure that dump. Again, there’s no question that people like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Feith and anybody else in that chain of command was aware of the shortage of personnel that dictated that fateful choice.

I suspected at the time but have not run across any evidence that their shortage of personnel persuaded the Army not to try and prevent the entirely predictable, wholesale orgy of looting and destruction that followed the fall of Baghdad. But I’ve simply never found credible the explanation that the folks in charge were just too stupid to realize the horrible PR black eye the chaos would give to the US occupation. The difficulty of managing the reconstruction of Iraq, heck, of maintaining Iraqi society in the meantime, also seemed obvious to me at the time. A bureaucrat without an office is like a pilot without a plane or a sailor without a ship, i.e., more or less useless.

Given that the need for more “boots on the ground” was blatantly obvious long before Bush’s aircaft carrier “Mission Accomplished” speech and that the need for more troops became even more obviously necessary once that insurgency began in earnest by August 2003, it’s a mystery to me why you and other conservative spokespeople have never once made any serious recruiting pitches to your conservative and Republican followers.


Why is that?

Richmond L Gardner
PN3(Ret), USN, 1991-2001

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