2007/05/01

Bush's veto speech 2May07

"Twelve weeks ago, I asked the Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that would provide our brave men and women in uniform with the funds and flexibility they need. Instead, members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. So a few minutes ago, I vetoed the bill." [emphasis added]

Gee, I guess it's a really terrible and awful thing for a civilian to override the judgement of a military commander on the ground, eh? But what's with this statement from December?

"Asked if he would overrule his own military commanders if they opposed a plan to increase troop levels [i.e. the "surge"] in Iraq, Bush called the question a 'dangerous hypothetical.' "
"Let me wait and gather all the recommendations from Bob Gates, from our military, from diplomats on the ground interested in the Iraqis' point of view and then I'll report back to you as to whether or not I support a surge or not."

Well, as it turned out, Bush DID substitute his opinion as a politician for the professional opinions of the military commanders who felt that the "surge" (Really an "escalation" as there is no obvious end date for the "surge" to draw to a close) was a bad idea. In fact, he doesn't even say here that the opinions of the military commanders are his primary consideration, they're just one among many groups that all have an input into what was a military decision, but which was also a highly political one. After all, the "surge" impacted the citizens of Iraq, had an impact on Arab opinions across the Middle East and put an extra strain on US supply lines.

Not that there's anything wrong with the Commander in Chief overriding commanders in the field. The C-in-C is entitled to be "The Decider" for the military and to have the final say. In fact, a decision concerning withdrawal is one that a military commander would describe as "above my paygrade." Deciding whether to call off the Iraq War and to bring the troops home is NOT a purely military decision. Certainly, uniformed personnel on the ground in Iraq are entitled to their opinions and it's always a good idea to listen to what those ideas and cautions and qualifications are, but it's not like their opinions are the only ones that matter. Far from it. The decision as to whether to call the war off is one that the American public has already made. Bush is just trying to bully the Congress into backing down on the latest "emergency" spending bill.

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