Saturday, April 14, 2007

ya gotta love marines

Marines are noted for being blunt, no nonsense types. This seems to apply even to marine generals, as reported on Wednesday by The Washington Post:

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position....

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job.... "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.

If you want to know how and why the administration made the present debacle in Iraq inevitable, here are two excellent books:

The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer. The author, a journalist and a pro-war liberal, writes a gossipy, anti-Bush history without citations. It is more fun to read if you can overcome his biased, liberal dislike of the administration.

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
by Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor (USMC Ret.). This is by the very respected authors of the definitive history of the Gulf War (The Generals' War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf). This is more of a military history where the authors had access to classified materials and access to insiders who would never be so open with journalists. Although not as fun to read, it is still very readable and gives a much better, very unbiased, understanding of events.

In a nutshell, the administration had no planning, or even interest in planning, phase four of military operations: occupation and stabilization after defeating enemy forces. For military success, three out of four doesn't cut it. As the late Larry Burkett used to say, "If you don't plan where you want to be, you'll end up somewhere else." That is, you'll end up where you don't want to be. I guess it applies to more than finances.

Semper Fidelis.

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