|The Atlantic Magazine & Rummy Amok
||[Jan. 16th, 2004|08:26 am]
I was desparate for reading matter yesterday and went into the Hospital gift shop. The only thing I could stomach reading was "The Atlantic," something my parents subscribed to in the 70s, after the demise of the totally awesome "Saturday Review."|
Even in the days of the Internet, sometimes it pays to read an actual magazine; the current issue has an exhaustive study by James Fallows of how the White House and the Defense Department not only did not plan for what happened after they deposed Saddam Hussein, they willfully ignored a lot of careful work done at the CIA, the DOD, and by NGOs to plan for the war's aftermath.
Every major problem since the "end of fighting" in April -- the looting, the chaos, the difficulties with infrastructure, the ongoing insurgency -- were predicted, and reasonable suggestions were made about how to avoid or minimize them. To quote the article, "The National Intelligence Council, at the CIA, ran a two-day exercise on postwar Iraq. The Office of the Secretary of Defense forbade Pentagon representatives to attend." Rumsfeld ignored all reasonable estimates on the troop strength needed to maintain order after the collapse of the Baathist government. Despite warnings from many quarters, L. Paul Bremer disbanded and sent home the Iraqi Army, creating a huge population of pissed-off guys with automatic weapons and time on their hands.
The Democratic candidates might try some soundbites about how Bush won the war and Lost The Peace, but they have no traction, because the Republicans control the discourse. Rumsfeld gets away with his psycho-babble about known unknowns and unknown uknowns, when the truth is, that he didn't want to plan for the aftermath. He actually vetoed even the most minimal due diligence. The President act like ... well aside from dressing up like Tom Cruise, how does he act, what does he say? He is completely disengaged from what is a truly horrible situation in Iraq. People die there -- Americans and Iraqis -- every day, because his government went out its way to avoid the most elementary planning. His administration's reaction to the deteriorating security situation is to complain that the Media doesn't report on the good things that are happening in Iraq.
Everyone should know by now that complaining about the media is the last refuge of scoundrels. The media doesn't report much on the good things that are happening in Iraq, because THEY'RE NOT NEWS. Things running smoothly and people doing what they're supposed to is supposed to be the baseline. It's nice that some people in Iraq are, against all odds, making a positive difference in people's lives, but that makes them Employee of the Month, not news.
The United States Military does two things really well: Logistical Planning, and Blowing Shit Up. In that order. Hungry soldiers without clean socks can't Blow Shit Up as effectively and our fighting men and women have the cleanest fucking socks in the world.* Postwar Iraq could have been planned, and it was not. Or rather it was, but no one in a position to implement the planning paid it any mind. What would happen if the Park Service ignored good advice about keeping parks safe, and someone died as a result almost every day, for nearly a year. Would the American public be so forgiving?
*Oh, and there are also some serious logistical problems in Iraq among our military too, with some soldiers buying their own weapons and ammunition.