One of the most common demands of President Bush's critics on the war in Iraq is that he "admit mistakes" that he has made. Leave aside the question of the impact on Soldiers of a war leader going before all humanity and telling the world that his troops in the field are the victims of blunders. If admission of mistakes is to be the measure of virtue, those very same critics have a lot of fessin' up to do.
We came across an article yesterday written by Seymour Hersh on March 31, 2003 in the New Yorker (in a section hilariously titled 'Fact') 11 days into the Iraq War when the attack paused for re—supply and to ride out a sandstorm. Here are two paragraphs from that article:
As the ground campaign against Saddam Hussein faltered last week, with attenuated supply lines and a lack of immediate reinforcements, there was anger in the Pentagon. Several senior war planners complained to me in interviews that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his inner circle of civilian advisers, who had been chiefly responsible for persuading President Bush to lead the country into war, had insisted on micromanaging the war's operational details...
According to a dozen or so military men I spoke to, Rumsfeld simply failed to anticipate the consequences of protracted warfare. He put Army and Marine units in the field with few reserves and an insufficient number of tanks and other armored vehicles. (The military men say that the vehicles that they do have have been pushed too far and are malfunctioning.) Supply lines—inevitably, they say—have become overextended and vulnerable to attack, creating shortages of fuel, water, and ammunition. Pentagon officers spoke contemptuously of the Administration's optimistic press briefings. 'It's a stalemate now,' the former intelligence official told me. 'It's going to remain one only if we can maintain our supply lines. The carriers are going to run out of JDAMs'—the satellite—guided bombs that have been striking targets in Baghdad and elsewhere with extraordinary accuracy. Much of the supply of Tomahawk guided missiles has been expended. 'The Marines are worried as hell,' the former intelligence official went on. 'They're all committed, with no reserves, and they've never run the LAVs'—light armored vehicles—'as long and as hard' as they have in Iraq. There are serious maintenance problems as well. 'The only hope is that they can hold out until reinforcements come.'
It turns out waiting for reinforcements wasn't the only hope. The Marines rolled into Baghdad and pulled down the statue of Saddam in Firdos Square on April 9.
The President has very sensibly refused this poisoned chalice of a full grovel. But what about his critics demanding the same admitting their own mistakes? Start with the "Brutal Afghan Winter" please.
Greg Richards 12 11 05