Jewish World Review Dec. 17, 2004 / 5 Teves, 5765
What Rummy should be answering his critics
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld doesn't lack for critics. But his critics
often lack sound judgment.
Rumsfeld long has been a punching bag for Democrats and journalists, who
wish we had not gone to war with Iraq at all. Lately they have been joined
by right-wingers who want someone to blame because we haven't won yet.
The most recent spate of Rumsfeld bashing was triggered when a reserve
soldier asked him why his unit had to scrounge for armor to put on its
humvees and trucks.
Rumsfeld was "passing the buck" when he indicated it was the Army's
responsibility to put Specialist Thomas Wilson in an armored truck, said the
Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol in a snarky editorial, and "arrogant" when he
told Wilson that "you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the one
you'd like to have."
Does Kristol think there are no generals in the Army competent enough to
whom to delegate responsibility for putting armor on Army vehicles? Is
Rumsfeld derelict because he himself isn't welding rivets at the Hess-O'Gara
plant outside Cincinnati?
The real burr under Kristol's saddle is that Rumsfeld and then CENTCOM
commander Gen. Tommy Franks attacked Iraq with what he thinks were too few
troops. This complaint is shared by many who have more military experience
than Kristol, which is zero. Sen. John McCain declared he has "no
confidence" in Rumsfeld.
But the complaint is mostly bovine excrement. U.S. and British troops
swiftly defeated the Iraqi forces, with very few casualties. This would
have been true even if some of the Republican Guard formations which
mysteriously melted away had stood and fought.
The invasion force would have been larger had Turkey not forbidden the 4th
Infantry Division to stage from its territory. Kuwait's ports are not large
enough to sustain a (much) larger buildup. Trying to build up a larger
force which was (obviously) not necessary for victory would have meant
postponing the invasion to the fall of 2003. That would not have been a
Another frequent complaint that the U.S. should not have abolished the
Iraqi army is entirely bovine excrement.
To begin with, there was no Iraqi army to keep on hand for peacekeeping.
The poorly paid and horribly treated Shia conscripts all had deserted.
Loyal Sunnis in the Republican Guard had left to prepare for guerrilla war
against the Americans.
We couldn't trust Saddam's officer corps, and if we had tried to turn
peacekeeping over to them, we'd have incurred the enmity of the Shia and the
Kurds, together 80 percent of Iraq's population. We had no choice but to
rebuild the military and police from scratch.
America made a few big and many small mistakes in Iraq, as we have in every
war we have ever fought. But the biggest mistakes were intelligence
failures, for which the CIA is far more to blame than is the Pentagon.
The CIA gets more grief than it should about the failure to find weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq. Every other Western intelligence service, and
most of Saddam's generals thought Saddam had such weapons, so it is not
unreasonable that the CIA would think so, too.
What was really bad was the CIA's inability to detect that Saddam had a plan
for protracted guerrilla war. Plans for the occupation would have been much
different had this been known.
The third intelligence failure was the CIA's failure to detect, until very
late in the game, that Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress was an
Iranian agent, leading us down the primrose path.
The failure to detect Saddam's plan for protracted guerrilla war was largely
responsible for Rumsfeld's big failure, the failure to have more
peacekeeping troops. Former Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki and others
had warned that roughly twice as many as we had on hand were required, even
if a guerrilla war hadn't been in the offing.
It isn't Rumsfeld's fault that the Army is too small to provide many more
troops we can thank the Clinton administration for that or that
Kuwait's port facilities were inadequate. But we could and should have sent
three or four more brigades into the country shortly after Saddam fell.
As retired Army LtCol. Ralph Peters, a Rumsfeld critic, put it: If you
don't pay the butcher's bill up front, you pay it, with interest, in the
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
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