2004 December 17 Friday
William Kristol Calls For Donald Rumsfeld Replacement

William Kristol, editor for neoconservative mouthpiece The Weekly Standard, has come out for the ousting of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.

In any case, decisions on troop levels in the American system of government are not made by any general or set of generals but by the civilian leadership of the war effort. Rumsfeld acknowledged this last week, after a fashion: "I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person and I guess that's fine." Except he fails to take responsibility.

All defense secretaries in wartime have, needless to say, made misjudgments. Some have stubbornly persisted in their misjudgments. But have any so breezily dodged responsibility and so glibly passed the buck?

Leave aside the fact that many of the neocons do not want to be called neocons now that their biggest foreign policy initiative has turned into a debacle. They are still a distinct faction and The Weekly Standard is still a major publication for their faction. Kristol's opposition to Rumsfeld represents not just a shift in their position toward Rumsfeld but also a shift in their position toward the war.

What I find especially interesting is what Kristol says about troop levels, essentially taking Eric Shinseki's pre-war position about needed size of an occupation force.

But then, what about his statement earlier last week, when asked about troop levels? "The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that's really out of my control." Really? Well, "the number of troops we had for the invasion was the number of troops that General Franks and General Abizaid wanted."

Leave aside the fact that the issue is not "the number of troops we had for the invasion" but rather the number of troops we have had for postwar stabilization. Leave aside the fact that Gen. Tommy Franks had projected that he would need a quarter-million troops on the ground for that task -- and that his civilian superiors had mistakenly promised him that tens of thousands of international troops would be available.

Before the war Rumsfeld's neoconservative deputy Paul Wolfowitz was projecting an extremely easy occupation and was arguing that the occupation force could be much smaller than the invasion force. So what is Kristol's position on Wolfowitz or on the other major neocon in DOD, the debacle promoter Douglas Feith? Does Kristol think Wolfowitz should be fired as well because Wolfowitz so drastically underestimated the size of occupation force needed for Iraq?

Also, where was Kristol before the war when General Shinseki and Rand Corporation researchers James Quinliven and James Dobbins were claiming that a much larger occupation force was needed for Iraq? I missed hearing the detailed arguments of these Rand Corporation guys until after the Iraq invasion (and am critical of myself for not looking harder for such arguments) and I am unclear why the major media people in Washington DC didn't write more on the size requirements for an effective occupation force. The Rand guys were briefing Washington DC think tanks before the war according to Laura Rozen. So why weren't their arguments given more prominent display in the media? Were there Weekly Standard articles before the war about the need for hundreds of thousands of more troops for occupation? I am guessing the answer to that question is a big fat "NO".

Kristol wants a bigger military and is trying to claim it is Rumsfeld's fault rather than Congress's or the President's fault that America does not have one.

“For me, it's the combination of the arrogance and the buck-passing manifested in that statement, with the fundamental error he's made for a year and a half now,” Kristol said. “That error, from my point of view, is that his theory about the military is at odds with the president's geopolitical strategy. He wants this light, transformed military, but we've got to win a real war, which involves using a lot of troops and building a nation, and that's at the core of the president's strategy for rebuilding the Middle East.

“At some point, his stubborn attachment to his particular military theory had really hurt the nation's ability to carry out its foreign policy.”

Does Kristol really believe what he is saying? Or is he telling a knowing lie to try to give Bush a way to embrace the neocon program for the creation of a much larger army for occupation and additional invasions? Also, is Kristol leading a neocon attempt to do buck-passing by blaming Rumsfeld for a project which was so obviously a product of neocon promotion?

As for the prospects for a military big enough to occupy Iraq: We'd probably need nearly a million more men in uniform to accomplish that goal. We'd need about 300,000 additional troops in Iraq. But they would need to be backed up by 2 times that number in training, logistics, and back home resting between deployments. Plus, we'd need to equip all those soldiers. It would take a time measured in years to build up such a force and a draft would probably need to be instituted to recruit enough people. The cost could easily run upwards of half a trillion dollars or more to do this. So Kristol is deluded if he thinks Rumsfeld is the main obstacle in the way of his foreign policy dreams.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 December 17 07:44 PM  Mideast Iraq


Comments
gcochran said at December 17, 2004 8:39 PM:


Actually, we probably could get by with a consierably smaller army. How hard can it be to take out the AEI building?

commenter said at December 18, 2004 9:14 PM:

Hehe to above post.

I've starting down the road of questioning neo-cons assumptions, and I'd just like to say that I have enjoyed reading this blog.

Keep up the good work!

noone said at December 19, 2004 7:28 AM:

2 weeks ago I would have said that the neo-cons were emboldended by the election.
It seems some do realize that Iraq has gone sour on them and a debacle there would destroy the neo-con movement.

Invisible Scientist said at December 19, 2004 8:30 AM:

Now that we are stuck in Iraq, it's time to make a prognosis for what will happen in the future.

I am using the expression "we are stuck in Iraq" because we can no longer get out of there
without causing a chaos that will disrupt the oil trade in the region, for the probability is
extremely high that if the US pulls out of Iraq, the vacuum will be replaced by an Islamic
totalitarian power over there, or at least a diffuse fragmentation that will surely disrupt the
flow of oil. In addition, the loss of prestige for the US will be tantamount to a failure as bad
as in Viet Nam, which will encourage both regional rivals of Saudi Arabia like Iran, as well as
Al Qaeda to overthrow and replace the over Royal Family.

If we are stuck in Iraq, how can we best manage the situation? I would like to hear some comments
because it seems that we have a very long term world-wide issue that will last for the rest of our lives.

gcochran said at December 19, 2004 9:17 AM:


I think we could live with any likely government in Iraq. They would have to sell oil to generate any money at all - they can't produce anything else anyone wants. That's what we want, oil, that's what we care about. As for continuing anarchy in Iraq - usually that doesn't happen. Somebody wins. Look at history: someone always wins. Was Algeria too disorganzied to sell oil after the French left? Was Iran too messed up to sell oil after the overthrow of the Shah? Nope. Look, Angola managed to continue selling oil during a long-term civil war. When we invaded Iraq, oil exports decreased. When we leave, they're likely to increase: it's that simple.

As for loss of prestige: I wouldn't worry about that either. For one thing, we don't have all that much prestige left. What concrete unfavorable event would flow from us skedaddling? Woud the Soviet Union waste money on Mozambique and Ethiopia? Would they invade Afghanistan? Well, probably not, since there is no longer any Soviet Union: but as you may note, when there was, that worked out just fine for us.

As long as we forbid aggressive war, easy enough with JDAMS, I see no real problem. By the way, the Iraqi-collaborator tribunal is talking about charging Saddam with waging aggressive war. He's certainly guilty of that, and I have no trouble with someone being executed on that basis.



gcochran said at December 19, 2004 9:45 AM:


But let us suppose that in fact there is some compelling reason - other then reluctance to admit we're idiots - to stay in Iraq. I don't believe that there is, but suppose it. What is the best course of action, what would maximize the long-term interests of the United States. Constrained, of course, by personnel and other realities: if a suggested course of action would never be performed by the current Administration, then there is little point is discussing it.

If our goal is a politically stable, reasonably democratic Iraq that is favorable to the US we should just hang ourselves. That's impossible. What _is_ possible? Well, we could choose a side. That would most likely be the Shi'ites; we could stomp the hell out of the Sunnis in support of the creation of the People's Islamic Republic of Iraq. That's what we're doign now, in a half-hearetd way. Stomping means Schrecklichkeit - dreadfulness. We'd have to hold hostages, level cities, put families in concentration camps, organize secret police, use torture, etc: act like Saddam, basically. We're already doing some of that, but half-heatededly. Sure, the Administration gets off on that sort of thing, but the Army really doesn't like it. So you have to impurgate the Army: get it nice and dirty.

The problem is that if we really succeed, if the Sunnis submit, the Shi'its kick us out pronto. They don't like us, see? The only conceivable reason that they'd want US troops around is beacuse of a great threat - either an internal one from the Sunnis, or an exterior threat like Turkey or Iran. Turkey is no looking for that kind of trouble, and really Iran isn't either - so the only way to _stay_ in Iraq is to not win: be careful not to actually defeat the Sunnis and we're doing fine on that so far.

If the goal is to stay in Iraq indefinitely, we're on the right track. I don't quite see why anyone (other than China) would want that, but we are. Of course there are a few costs I forgot to mention, like the disintegration of the National Guard, the corruption of the Army and Marines, ~75 billion simoleons a year, rapid degradation of traditional alliances, yad yada yada.

Concerning increased troop levels: no point, since we get expelled by the Shi'its if we ebat the Sunnis. But since plans with no point are evidently in vogue this year, let's talk about that. There is not going to be any draft: Congress knows that's more than the public will stand, barring something like the Reichstag fire. Could we expand the Army without a draft? Sure. it was twice as aig back at the end of the Cold War. At what cost? Considerable but affordable, if there were any reason for it. Would it take a long time for newly raised units to be useful? Eighteen months, perhaps - maybe less - msot of the Marines on the Canal hadn't been in the Corps long and they did just fine.




Commenter said at December 19, 2004 10:18 AM:

About the public’s feeling about the war, I think that a lot of conservatives were not exposed to a good conservative critique of the war (paleoconservative) when the case was being made. Maybe, I say this because I was one of them. I listened to a lot of Rush Limbaugh and read some of the Weekly Standard and the National Review, so I didn’t hear many paleoconservative ideas (I don’t mean to be too hard on Rush, I think he’s still good for the movement in some ways, without him I might still be clueless). But now conservatives are starting to question the war more and more just from common sense as time goes on. I think this is a very good opportunity to spread the message of paleoconservatism and to take the opportunity to talk about things like immigration.

This may all be old to you guys, but I just wanted to share my point of view which may be somewhat typical of conservatives.

gcochran said at December 19, 2004 11:28 AM:


Call us whatever you want. Most of the people I once in defense never believed in the notion that Iraq was any kind of threat. One close friend did support it but turned out to have an excuse for poor judgement - a brain tumor. A few, basically reasonable people, simply didn't know enough (in the proper specialized fields) to automatically recognize the "Iraqi Peril" stuff as the nonsense it was.
For example, someone in a closed list I frequent started talking about Iraq's new 'super-scuds', one piece of the (non-existent) WMD threat. I knew that was not true. How, you may ask? The DSP satellites use infrared to detect launches - and Iraq hadn't launched a single missie since the first Gulf War - so those that knew told me. How, I ask, could there be a live missile development program, how could there be a new working missile, if there had never been any launches? Also you had to consider that Iraq was stony broke, due to sanctions, and had nobody but dumb-shit Iraqis to work on the program.

Much of the Administration story was like that: nonsense if you knew the tech stuff. Other parts were possible, but A. not very threatening, say mustard gas, a WWI weapon and B. somehow never had hard evidence to support the claim.

Just out of curiosity, Commenter, if you _had_ known that stuff (and I'm not saying that everyone should, anymore than everyone should know how to soup up a '57 Chevy) what would your reaction have been? And Randall, what would you have thought?




Randall Parker said at December 19, 2004 12:24 PM:

Greg,

If I knew then what I know now I would have been vociferously opposed to the war. I thought ahead of the war that creating a democracy in Iraq was not feasible. Heck, even in the ranks of the neocons a few more realistic and more knowledgeable among them said this wasn't practical. Stanley Kurtz said so and I linked to him and to other realists on that question.

What I did not know much about before the war was about weapons tech. I figured (wrongly) that former weapons inspectors like Charles Duelfer and David Kay knew what they were talking about. I don't have the kind of knowledge or connections to make the kinds of judgements you can make. Also, when former Clinton Administration NSC official Kenneth Pollack made such a confident argument and some other Democrats agreed with him I figured they lent additional credibility to the argument that Saddam really was working on all sorts of nasty stuff.

I just went back thru my Inspections and Sanctions archive and found all sorts of pre-war arguments by notables who obviously did not know what they were talking about.

Now I think this war was as Steve Sailer suggested: A Perfect Storm. While the neocons certainly helped make it happen Bush was already for an attack on Saddam as early as 1999 (as reported by that biographer who wrote a bio on Prescott Bush). Bush did not care about evidence. But 9/11 added a level of fear on the part of the American public that made it possible for Bush and the neocons to pull it off.

Invisible Scientist said at December 19, 2004 12:47 PM:


GCochran wrote:
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
"Look at history: someone always wins. Was Algeria too disorganzied to sell oil after the French left? Was Iran too messed up to sell oil after the overthrow of the Shah? Nope. Look, Angola managed to continue selling oil during a long-term civil war. When we invaded Iraq, oil exports decreased. When we leave, they're likely to increase: it's that simple."
-----------------------------------------------------------

You have an excellent point, and I would like to agree overall, but in the case of Algeria, Iran, and Angola, there was no expansionist
Islamic movement, in the sense that once the foreign influence from Iran, Algeria, etc were removed decades ago, these countries
did not start building weapons of mass destruction to attack the West at that time.

BUT THIS TIME, both Iran and Libya (and to some extent even Algeria) have tendencies to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Under the threat of
US intervention, Kaddafi surrendered his nuclear project, but overall, in the absence of military pressure and threats from the West, the NEW
GENERATION of Islamic extremists are interested in acquiring the WMD for the purpose of using these against the West, which is not the same story
as a few decades. Like you said, there will be a winner, and the winner will certainly sell the oil at the fair market price, but what the winner
will do with the money, is the issue. Instead of squandering that money on luxury equipment like the Saudi Royal Family, the Al Qaeda would use
47 % of the oil money in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, to acquire the most unimaginable weapons in another 15 years.

Commenter said at December 19, 2004 1:31 PM:

I agree with Mr. Parker that there were many credible experts saying that Iraq had dangerous weapons (more so than just the mustard gas, etc.). And I agree that if I knew that Saddam most likely did not possess and would not soon possess these more dangerous weapons that I would have been against the war. That was the primary argument for war (others were given too of course, but in my opinion, they were not enough without this). I think that a good many conservatives saw it in a similar light. It was a matter of trust with the administration and with the experts. In my opinion, it is still an incredible fact that they were most probably (sorry, see below) so wrong.

I have gathered from the whole experience to be skeptical of what the government claims with regard to intelligence in the future. After all, a healthy skepticism of government is warranted considering the incentive systems involved.

Hardliners please forgive:
I am so skeptical of our intelligence in the Middle East, that there is a small chance that he could have hauled off some weapons. But it is not reasonable to assume this of course. The onus would be on the administration to show this to regain credibility.

On another note, it is important for paleoconservatives to start finding a realistic presidential nominee for 2008. We shouldn’t ask for everything, remember progressivism is how things got screwed up in the first place. We should find someone that will be tough on illegal immigration and who perhaps wants a better way of choosing legal immigrants (again maybe, being tough on illegal immigrants would be a great start). Buchanan can’t win, sorry. Tancredo? Other thoughts? My fear is that if paleoconservatives don’t start finding a good candidate and then push him, increasing his name recognition, then we will be left with the status quo of who ever seems the most popular at the moment. I think we need to be more proactive then just reactive in this regard.

crush41 said at December 19, 2004 5:14 PM:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On another note, it is important for paleoconservatives to start finding a realistic presidential nominee for 2008. We shouldn’t ask for everything, remember progressivism is how things got screwed up in the first place. We should find someone that will be tough on illegal immigration and who perhaps wants a better way of choosing legal immigrants (again maybe, being tough on illegal immigrants would be a great start). Buchanan can’t win, sorry. Tancredo? Other thoughts? My fear is that if paleoconservatives don’t start finding a good candidate and then push him, increasing his name recognition, then we will be left with the status quo of who ever seems the most popular at the moment. I think we need to be more proactive then just reactive in this regard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Four years away and it's probably already too late. Hillary has a ten point "favorability" lead on Bush and if the Iraq situation still appears a quagmire come 2008 the gap is only going to widen (I believe it unrealistic to think we might be out by then). It will be near impossible to dissassociate Bush with the GOP nominee on a national scale, so the current Hillary lead will probably transfer. There's little to drop her--New York has not improved by any measure under her Senatorship yet she remains immensely popular and the Clintons obviously have the money-machine to build her up at a "grassroots" level for the next four years as she steadily moves towards the center (while wink-winking at fringe groups like Moveon.org) Giuliani conceivably could overcome her, but there's no way the Republican Party is going to nominate a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action candidate. I suppose he could have a change of heart, but he's certainly no paleoconservative. I don't see anyone else who has a chance. As a kicker, Hillary is not going to lose any ground on tough immigration policy.

A wrench in all that could be Dean stealing the DNC head, but the Clinton network has too many far-reaching tentacles to keep Ickes out. I predict the fragmented party will make a remarkable recovery in three-plus years under the Clintonians. Also, Social Security privatization will artificially pump up the stock market at the growth phase peak of the economic cycle if it becomes reality.


noone said at December 19, 2004 6:05 PM:

The thing about Rumsfeld is that he's so into his "Transformation" project that he subordinates all to that.Money for armored humvees or more or better flak jackets for the troops means less money for his project now.In trying to create a military for the next conflict,he's shorting the current conflict and the troops fighting it.

I accepted the neo-con claims that the war would be swift and dazzling,as the US military does what it does better than anyone in history(basically hi-tech blitzkrieg).
I did NOT accep the neo-con's casual claim that post-war Iraq would be a cake walk,that they could turn Iraq into a mideast version of Wisconsin in a year or less,as they clearly had no knowledge of the various historical blood feuds and rivalries between sunnis,shia's,kurds,arabs,turks and persians.They also clearly "misunderestimated" the reaction from Turkey,Iran and Syria,not to mention the Iraqis.

Shinseki is a loon,from his silly black beret episode,to to running roughshod over people in the Stryker contraversy to endorsing tungsten cored bullets from China(!!!) to replace lead cored bullets(eniviromentally unfriendly).(Only a radical free trade,globalization idiot like Stephen Green might consider it a brilliant idea to close our ammo factories to buy "cheaper" bullets from China,because China would never refuse to sell us bullets,of course,because that would be bad for business,of course(and a horse is a horse,of course,of course).His call for more troops was about the only thing Shinseki got right as Chief of Staff.

Commenter,there will not be a serious paleo-con candidate for the simple reason that paleo-cons simply do not have the infrastructure,from think tanks to magazines to fund raisers that the neo-cons have,for which they have only themselves to blame.

Even a debacle in Iraq won't help them as they do not have the resources,organization or candidate pool the neo's have.Until paleo's get serious about building such things the neo's will remain in control.

Invisible Scientist said at December 19, 2004 11:26 PM:

NoOne wrote:
-----------------------------------------

Stryker contraversy to endorsing tungsten cored bullets from China(!!!) to replace lead cored bullets(eniviromentally unfriendly).(Only a radical free trade,globalization idiot like Stephen Green might consider it a brilliant idea to close our ammo factories to buy "cheaper" bullets from China,because China would never refuse to sell us bullets,of course,because that would be bad for business,of course(and a horse is a horse,of course,of course).His call for more troops was about the only thing Shinseki got right as Chief of Staff.
----------------------------------------------------

Here is some information about Tungsten:
http://www.amm.com/ref/tung.HTM
-----------------------------------------------------------
TUNGSTEN INVENTORIES: Although found in numerous deposits throughout the world, nearly 42 percent of the world's 2.1 million tonnes of tungsten resources are in China. Russia and Canada each have 13 and 15 percent, respectively, of the world's reserves. Other significant tungsten deposits are in Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, North Korea, Peru, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. The U.S. governments' stockpile includes a total of 65,231,770 pounds of contained tungsten.
------------------------------------------------------------------

But the price of Tungsten is about $52 per metric tonne unit( one metric tonne unit is 1 % of a tonne, meaning
that the price of on ton of Tungesten is $5200) which is much more expensive than lead. But stil, the Chinese
tungsten is probably cheaper than tungsten from elsewhere, and so this makes it possible for China to export
this metal. But the reason tungesten bullets are useful is not that lead is environmentally polluting, it is that
tungsten has a density of 19.25 which is much heavier than lead (which has density 11.35), and this is why
tungsten is used in armor-piercing ammunitions. However, this is still an expensive ammunition, and it is used
for armor piercing purposes, sometimes as an alternative to depleted uranium bullets or shells...

There are rumors that Russian arms dealers are selling exotig armor piercing bullets to terrorists, meaning
that the advanced ceramic body armor that the Marines are wearing in Iraq (15 kg extra weight) will soon
be useless. THEN the dead/wounded ratio will rise dramatically, possibly changing the outcome of the war.

Pico said at December 20, 2004 10:17 AM:

American conservative magazine made the paleoconservative case against the iraq war last year.

Whose War?
A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest.


http://www.amconmag.com/03_24_03/cover.html

david said at December 20, 2004 9:28 PM:

great blog and discussion -- seems to me we're paying the price that the neocons never knew much about vietnam and were not compelled to come to an understanding of why THAT project failed.... the problem is in pursuit of goals which, no matter how desirable in the abstract, are utterly unachievable, and the failure to know that such goals are unachievable because of an almost total ignorance of the historical and cultural realities of other societies.... Tariq Ali, in BUSH IN BABYLON, opens with the question (paraphrased, not verbatim) "how could otherwise intelligent people not understand that citizens of another country would resent foreign troops as occupiers?" To me, the irony and tragedy that makes the present morass more explicable is that virtually all those in the neocon war party and their cheerleaders (neanderthals like Zell Miller) were also, to a man, wrong on Vietnam. NOT saying that Iraq is another Vietnam, simply that the carefully drawn lessons and wisdom of the so-called Powell Doctrine, painfully learned by the Army from the Vietnam debacle, have been thrown away by people who know nothing about the Army or why Vietnam was a failure for the US

Randall Parker said at December 20, 2004 10:12 PM:

David,

The Powell Doctrine was tossed aside because using it resulted in too high a price calculated for an invasion and occupation. The neocons wanted to invade Iraq and weren't about to let an accurate up-front calculations of the costs prevent them from doing so. Though some were likely sincerely deluded as to the occupation costs and other downsides.

Foreign troops as occupiers: I think there is a very big flaw in their model of human nature. This flaw shows that the neoconservatives are not truly conservatives. The neocons are lefties who want an activist military policy. So out of necessity they look to the hawkish conservatives to form alliances. They want a militarily aggressive America partly for Israel's benefit but also partly due to a utopian internationalism. Their motives are therefore an odd mixture of ethnic interests and a universalist ideology.

At this point Bush doesn't want to admit to how big the problem is because that would end up being an admission of a large error. So we go along with the debable continually unfolding and have to hear nonsense like Kristol's article about how Rummy is the problem. Well, Rummy certainly has his limitations. But Rummy is more a symptom. The problem I think is a mixture of Bush and the neocons. Though the liberals are also part of the problem because they labor under a partially overlapping set of misconceptions about human nature. So we have to let the disaster unfold until enough people come to realize the size of the mess.

I wonder how this is going to play out. Will Iraq be a big issue in the 2006 Congressional elections? Will votes in Congress eventually be held over continued US presence in Iraq? Will Britain withdraw leaving the US there alone?

Also, will the DOD come up with any neat technological band-aids to at least somewhat better deal with the problems of urban insurgency? Or will the US soldier casualty rate continue at somewhere in the neighborhood of where it is now?


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