2006 September 25 Monday
Major General John Batiste Denounces Donald Rumsfeld

How can the Panglossian war supporters denounce Major General Batiste? As a pacifist leftist? Doesn't work. As a partisan Democrat? Doesn't work either. As someone without military experience? He's got a great military resume and comes from a multi-generation military family. Batiste wants to win in Iraq but thinks under the current (incompetent) leadership that is impossible.

My name is John Batiste. I left the military on principle on November 1, 2005, after more than 31 years of service. I walked away from promotion and a promising future serving our country. I hung up my uniform because I came to the gut-wrenching realization that I could do more good for my soldiers and their families out of uniform. I am a West Point graduate, the son and son-in-law of veteran career soldiers, a two-time combat veteran with extensive service in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq, and a life-long Republican. Bottom line, our nation is in peril, our Department of Defense’s leadership is extraordinarily bad, and our Congress is only today, more than five years into this war, beginning to exercise its oversight responsibilities. This is all about accountability and setting our nation on the path to victory. There is no substitute for victory and I believe we must complete what we started in Iraq and Afghanistan

Bush, Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz sold us an orders of magnitude easier job in Iraq as compared to what it turned out to be. Either they are incompetent for not foreseeing just how far off they were or they were lying.

Batiste says Rumsfeld's plan has been a disaster.

Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader. He knows everything, except “how to win.” He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq, or the human dimension of warfare. Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build “his plan,” which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace, and set Iraq up for self-reliance. He refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency, which was an absolute certainty. Bottom line, his plan allowed the insurgency to take root and metastasize to where it is today. Our great military lost a critical window of opportunity to secure Iraq because of inadequate troop levels and capability required to impose security, crush a budding insurgency, and set the conditions for the rule of law in Iraq. We were undermanned from the beginning, lost an early opportunity to secure the country, and have yet to regain the initiative. To compensate for the shortage of troops, commanders are routinely forced to manage shortages and shift coalition and Iraqi security forces from one contentious area to another in places like Baghdad, An Najaf, Tal Afar, Samarra, Ramadi, Fallujah, and many others. This shifting of forces is generally successful in the short term, but the minute a mission is complete and troops are redeployed back to the region where they came from, insurgents reoccupy the vacuum and the cycle repeats itself. Troops returning to familiar territory find themselves fighting to reoccupy ground which was once secure. We are all witnessing this in Baghdad and the Al Anbar Province today. I am reminded of the myth of Sisyphus. This is no way to fight a counter-insurgency. Secretary Rumsfeld’s plan did not set our military up for success.

To be fair, Bush appointed Rumsfeld and has failed to go get the force level needed to prevail in Iraq. I happen to think that prevailing in Iraq is not worth the cost. But staying without enough force and with lame strategy is worse than either leaving or changing to a better strategy. But Rumsfeld really is a disaster as a US Secretary of Defense. He's clueless.

Here's another excerpt. It is all good:

Secretary Rumsfeld built his team by systematically removing dissension. America went to war with “his plan” and to say that he listens to his generals is disingenuous. We are fighting with his strategy. He reduced force levels to unacceptable levels, micromanaged the war, and caused delays in the approval of troop requirements and the deployment process, which tied the hands of commanders while our troops were in contact with the enemy. At critical junctures, commanders were forced to focus on managing shortages rather than leading, planning, and anticipating opportunity. Through all of this, our Congressional oversight committees were all but silent and not asking the tough questions, as was done routinely during both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam. Our Congress shares responsibility for what is and is not happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yes. Congress has performed miserably. Few of the Democrats know much about the military. Same is true for most of the Republicans. They've also invested too much in defending a fellow Republican in the White House rather than offer sorely needed constructive criticism.

Batiste's making his own mistake though: He thinks Iraq is worth winning. Worth winning for which faction of religious parties and militias? The Prime Minister of Iraq can't manage the religious parties/militias that are in his governing coalition while they raise hell in the streets. Does this mean he doesn't get to be the George Washington of his country?

Four months into his tenure, Mr. Maliki has failed to take aggressive steps to end the country’s sectarian strife because they would alienate fundamentalist Shiite leaders inside his fractious government who have large followings and private armies, senior Iraqi politicians and Western officials say. He is also constrained by the need to woo militant Sunni Arabs connected to the insurgency.

Bush thinks the Prime Minister of Iraq isn't up to the job. Well, such an important shared characteristic could serve as the basis of a friendship between them.

But diplomats who deal with the Bush administration on Iraq issues, and recently departed officials who stay in contact with their colleagues in the government, say the president’s top advisers have a far more pessimistic view.

“The thing you hear the most is that he never makes any decisions,” said a former senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. “And that drives Bush crazy. He doesn’t take well to anyone who talks about getting something accomplished and then refuses to take the first step.”

But the Iraqi government is a coalition of Shiite religious parties that have their own militias. How can a prime minister rule them?

Mr. Maliki has little obvious leverage over Mr. Sadr, who controls at least 30 seats in Parliament and six ministries, making him one of the most powerful figures in the government. Mr. Sadr has no intention of disbanding the Mahdi Army, because it is now part of the government, said Bahaa al-Aaraji, a senior legislator allied with him.

“They are just volunteers defending their country,” Mr. Aaraji said.

Mr. Maliki is also tiptoeing around other powerful Shiite leaders with militias. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Parliament’s Shiite bloc, has ignited a political firestorm by calling for the legislature to approve a mechanism to create autonomous regions. Many are opposed, and the move threatens to splinter the government. But rather than rein Mr. Hakim in, Mr. Maliki has kept quiet.

Iraq's democracy is a failure.

Retired officers aren't the only ones disgusted with the Bush Administration. Army Chief of Staff General Pete Schoomaker has refused to submit a budget because the Army can't afford to carry out all its assigned tasks.

WASHINGTON — The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.

The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials.

Schoomaker wants another $25 billion for the Army. Makes sense. The equipment is wearing out. Forces are too small. But Bush wants to hide the real cost of the war.

Bush does not question his original decision to invade Iraq.

Yet the private Bush comes across differently in the accounts of aides, friends, relatives and military family members who have met with him, including some who do not support him, such as Halley. The first question Bush usually asks national security briefers in the Oval Office each morning is about overnight casualties, aides say, and those who show up for the next round of meetings often find him still stewing about bad news from Iraq.

Bush seems to separate these aspects of war in his mind, advisers say. He expresses no regret even in private for his decision to invade Iraq, they say, while taking seriously the continuing consequences of doing so. "Removing Saddam, he never revisits that in his mind or his heart," said one adviser, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because Bush does not want them to discuss his feelings. "Sending troops into harm's way, that's something that weighs on him."

He apparently also does not question his decision to fight a half-assed war which harms US national interests. Soldiers are dying so that he does not have to admit to himself or to us that he has made massive mistakes.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 September 25 09:46 PM  MidEast Iraq Military Needs

John S Bolton said at September 25, 2006 11:58 PM:

It seems difficult to share these peoples' idea of what would constitute victory in Iraq.
One could see Iraq as a reprisal, as a punitive raid on the moslem, or a series of them.
In that case, the more the Iraqi factions kill each other, the better it is for us.
It is understandable that officials can never admit to such a policy;
but how else can America come out better-feared from this involvement?
When Russia is attacked by wild Chechens, or Israel by Palestinian suicide bombers, they go and lay waste to moslem settlements; this is a law of life.
Moslem aggressors are not to be sent pussy-footing diplomats, but we send armies to slay their people, or set them up to kill each other in their pursuit of power; which, in a moslem land, is won by conspicuous atrocities.

Daniel DiRito said at September 26, 2006 1:52 PM:

As Senator McCain has said on numerous occasions, Rumsfeld serves at the Presidents behest...and in that regard it seems to me that the President bears the responsibility for the failings of those he appoints. Unless the judgment of the President were to improve, the firing of Rumsfeld may provide some momentary sense of satisfaction...but it likely wouldn't alter the strategies that have led to the intense criticism of Secretary Rumsfeld.

While Republican leaders attempt to paint Democrats as weak on defense...going so far as to question their patriotism...their own Party leadership, apparently motivated by partisan political considerations, is willing to submit our military to lowered recruiting standards, expanded tours of duty, poor training, a lack of functional equipment, and the undoubtedly declining moral that comes with each. If that is how we measure patriotism, then we no longer understand its meaning.

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crush41 said at September 29, 2006 6:49 PM:

Al-Sadr has said he strives to emulate Hezbollah in Lebanon. If he can bring the rogue elements back under his wing, it appears he's doing a pretty job in becoming Iraq's Nasrallah.

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