Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Bush's final repudiation of Rummy
This can only be read as the final repudiation of Rumsfeld by this administration. Rumsfeld advocated a leaner meaner fighting force, heavily reliant on technology and advanced weapons systems in order to dominate the battlefield. His goal was to make the military lighter and more nimble.
This doctrine was reflected in the wars in Afghaninstan and Iraq. We had allies in the northern alliance of Afghanistan so the ouster of the Taliban didn't require a lot of boots on the ground. One may argue however that the lack of manpower allowed Osama to escape Tora Bora, and this was a result of Rumsfeldian thinking. The occupation of Afghanistan by a light force has led to a resurgence of the Taliban and it may well be necessary to rethink our strategy. Afghanistan is the war that has broad international and domestic support, and it is in that theater that we must succeed.
The absolute failure of the Rumsfeldian view is most apparent in Iraq. Rumsfelds approach for light, quick, technologically savvy warfare led to an extremely fast invasion and ouster of Saddam from power. But the occupation was undermanned. Basic political decisions that may have led the citizens of Iraq to support democracy were mismanaged, most notably when we disbanded the Iraqi armed forces. Laser guided bombs and robotic air craft might be fantastic against set piece opponents, but we needed boots on the ground and sage poltical counsel in order to move beyond the initial military success. (Of course this assumes the initial decision to invade was unavoidable. The true blame for the disaster in Iraq ultimately rests on Bush's drive to needless war.) Rumsfelds mistake was not in conquering Iraq, but in trying to apply his new thinking to the occupation.
Bush agreeing to expand the military is the final repudiation of Rumsfeld. It is the right thing to do but I fear Bush may be sending the signals he is now in order to justify a troop increase in Iraq in the very near future. The fact is that expanding military manpower takes years. Any initiative undertaken by the President now won't see fruition until he is long out of office. I do hope he does not send the signal that this expansion means we can then ramp up the occupaiton of Iraq. The two issues simply are not related at this point.
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