hearings on Iraq, ignore Congress, and never mind our laptop
bombardiers. How many of these guys have ever been anywhere near a
battlefield? Instead, listen to what the US military is
saying about the prospect of Gulf War II
[August 1] Washington Post reports
"an increasingly contentious debate
within the Bush administration" over the
Iraq question, with the divide between gung-ho civilian leaders and top military
officers who smell a rat:
of the senior uniformed military, with the notable exception of some top Air Force
and Marine generals, opposes going to war anytime soon, a stance that is provoking
frustration among civilian officials in the Pentagon and in the White House."
Post paints the same picture that we've been drawing here on Antiwar.com
for the past few weeks: it's Dick
Cheney and Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz versus Colin Powell and the Pentagon. Defense
secretary Rumsfeld is cited as saying: "The discussions that take place, the process
that's been established, have been working as well as I have ever seen," but Capitol
Hill Blue portrays a qualitative
escalation in the war of the Policy Wonks and the Generals:
differences over Iraq mark the sharpest disagreements among senior staff since
the Bush administration took office with the Cheney and Rumsfeld calling those
who oppose military actions 'cowards.'"
getting nasty,' says one White House source. 'Meetings over Iraq now turn into
the reason for the increasing acrimony? It's the attack
of the chickenhawks on the Pentagon's prerogatives,
the invasion by civilian policy wonks into the realm
of military strategy. While the dialogue reported in
the Capitol Hill Blue piece has a docu-dramatic
feel to it, I have no doubt that there really is some
shouting going on. A rather startling New York Times
story about a purported "inside
out" plan that would seize Baghdad right off the
bat and proceed outward to take the rest of the country
must have driven the decibel level even higher
[UK] Guardian, far more informative than the Post, lets us in on
contingency plans include: heavy air strikes combined with a relatively small
invasion force of 5,000 troops; a force of some 50,000 troops which could be deployed
quickly deep inside Iraq; and a massive ground force of 250,000 US troops supported
by 25,000 British soldiers."
Pentagon is for plan number three, The hawks oppose this because it seems to be
a self-canceling proposition. To begin with, where will an invasion force of 250,000
be launched from since most of the countries bordering Iraq, including
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, refuse to let us use their territory? Turkey may be pressured
into hosting some, but surely not all 250,000. The Pentagon plan requires the
cooperation of our Arab allies, who aren't about to give it.
ultra-hawks are pushing plan number one: the "inside out" option, and it's no
wonder they're having screaming fits over at the Pentagon. This hare-brained plan,
involving what the Post describes as "minimal numbers of Americans on the
ground," essentially consists of dropping five thousand of our elite troops in
the middle of hostile territory, amid a firestorm of bombs.
American kids off on suicide missions is especially
galling coming from those popularly known as "chicken-hawks"
the largely civilian advocates of a war of conquest
in the Middle East who never served a day in the military.
As columnist Jack Mabley of the Chicago Daily Herald
of the people in position to make war have never fought one."
Bush and Cheney topping the list, virtually the entire government is without military
experience: this includes not only the White House staff chief of staff
Andrew Card, political advisor Karl Rove, super-hawks Paul Wolfowitz and Richard
Perle -- but also most of Bush's War Cabinet. Congress is similarly AWOL. Out
of 535 members of Congress, only 167 served in the active, guard or reserve forces:
7 Senators served in World War II, 4 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 9 members of
the House of Representatives: 8 Republicans and a lone Democrat.
lack of direct experience with the horrors and risks of war, far from restraining
their militaristic impulses, seems to have precisely the opposite effect. The
[UK] Guardian, reporting the dismay of military figures on both sides of
the Atlantic, notes:
Perle, a Pentagon adviser and an advocate of an assault on Iraq, rejected the
anxiety voiced as irrelevant. The decision to take on Saddam, he said, was 'a
political judgment that these guys aren't competent to make'".
the post-republican, post-9/11 era, which resembles the inverted madness of Bizarro
World, Prince Perle, who never risked his life for anything, is privileged
to sit in judgment over those who have. To add insult to injury, he also feels
free to mock the American military in the foreign press, arrogantly disdaining
them as a bunch of incompetents. I ask you: are we to be spared nothing?
civilians make the policy, and the grunts are sent to implement it and die in
the process. Now, dying for one's country is what soldiers do, but the vehement
opposition of the American military leadership to the War Party's plans is being
expressed in terms that show a widening gulf between the generals and the empire-builders.
Capitol Hill Blue cites a Pentagon source as saying:
really is odd. We want to weigh our options carefully and the political types
over at the White House want to go in and bomb Saddam out of existence."
it isn't really so odd. As the military leaders of a formerly republican state
now in transit to Empire, America's top Pentagon brass are being told to take
on a task they know full well to be militarily impossible. Furthermore, they can envision the horrific results, and fully expect to
be blamed when it goes sour. The Post article focuses on the aftermath
of the war, which would surely be "won" by the US: but what then? How many years
of a military occupation will it take before Iraq is transformed into a Jeffersonian
heard Morton Halperin say at the Senate hearings that it would take 20 years to
implant a democratic government, but even that is optimistic. The seeds of liberalism,
in the classical sense, that were planted and flourished in the West never did
make it to Mesopotamia. It could be centuries more before the Iraqi Thomas Jefferson
is born, if ever: and, even then, I doubt he would live beyond his early twenties.
then, the US military will be used to babysit Iraq's aspiring democrats, caught
in the crossfire of competing clans and factions, an Afghanistan writ large. Not
only that, but the US occupation force will be surrounded on all sides by enemies,
active and potential: the Iranians, the Saudis, the nuclear-armed Pakistanis
and growing dissent on the home front. This is the Pentagon's biggest nightmare,
a recurring dream of yet another ultimately unwinnable war on the Asian landmass.
But the new "best and the brightest"
are determined to override the best judgment of the military experts, in pursuit
of their goal enunciated in the
infamous Wolfowitz memorandum which demands US dominance of every
continent, including Asia.
is yet one great obstacle on the road to Empire, and that is sorry, lefties!
the Pentagon. They have the power to obstruct the War Party, effectively counter
all this war talk and, ultimately, to put a stop to it in a lot less than
seven days in May.
Founding Fathers, especially Jefferson, opposed a standing army as a possible
threat to our republican form of government, because they feared it would give
rise to a professional officer class inherently warlike and therefore hostile
to the idea of strictly limited government. It is one of the great ironies
of history, however, that this Jeffersonian suspicion has been stood on its head,
and, instead, it is the officer class that defends the last vestiges of our old
Republic, while the civilians work ceaselessly to undermine it.
As the American military is increasingly expected to
achieve the impossible, to risk the lives of
American soldiers in pursuit of ever-more-grandiose delusions of grandeur, the
conflict between the generals and the ideologues of American hegemony will come
increasingly out into the open. In ancient Rome, the Emperors came to fear their
own Praetorians, and with good reason.
If I were a chick-hawk, I wouldn't be too contemptuous of our military leaders
-- and I'd be awful careful whom I called a "coward." Never sneer at an armed
man, unless you've already got him covered. In the war between the thinktanks
and the barracks, the former hold the reins of power, but the latter are source
of all power and Richard Perle had better not forget it.
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