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Thursday, August 18, 2005

You told us what now?

We know about the Downing Street Memo. We know about Richard Clark's ``Against All Enemies.'' We know all about RoveWarLiesDeathGate and the rest.

Now add one more kick-in-the-crotch to the list: newly declassified State Department records of the warnings delivered not simply to the Pentagon but the U.S. Central Command itself. For those of you who don't know, CentCom, based in Tampa, Florida, is the command responsible for the operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the region beyond. It was General Tommy Franks, that patriotboy himself who let his wife listen in on confidential supersecret briefing sessions, who led CentCom when Operation Iraqi Freedom was planned and launched.

In a February 7, 2003, memo to Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, three senior Department officials noted CENTCOM's "focus on its primary military objectives and its reluctance to take on 'policing' roles," but warned that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally." The memo adds "We have raised these issues with top CENTCOM officials."

By contrast, a December 2003 report to Congress, also released by the State Department, offers a relatively rosy picture of the security situation, saying U.S. forces are "increasingly successful in preventing planned hostile attacks; and in capturing former regime loyalists, would-be terrorists and planners; and seizing weapons caches." The document acknowledges that "Challenges remain." (via GWU's The National Archive)

CHB is an optimistic fellow these days on the political homefront. The domestic audience for the Bushanistas is quickly turning into a fraudience -- filled with little more than those paid to ape the commander in chimp's line or those on the lunatic fringes of reasoned political discourse. But the situation in Iraq is perilous. At best, it might seem, Iraq will be absorbed into a greater Iran. At least Iran would provide some measure of stability to this region, which could very quickly become the powder-keg of the Middle East.

Cindy Sheehan is a noble figure, a patriotic symbol even. But there is no nobility in the foreign policy disaster served up by the current administration. There is only shame, the bitter, morbid shame that can turn a private citizen's personal loss into this White House's most potent challenge. Domestic politics are secondary here -- behind the safety of the nation and the world. And on those counts, the optimism is dwindling.


Anonymous garth said...

it's good to hear someone point out that the fate of our nation is in Bush's hands. that's scary.

8/19/2005 2:55 AM  
Blogger strategery4 said...

Well, if you're going to criticize CENTCOM, why stop there? The ur-problem in Iraq from which all others stem -- and the key reason the U.S. blew the post-invasion tasks like providing security, controlling weapons caches, organzining workable detention facilities, and controlling the insurgency so they wouldn't feel the need to torture prisoners for (bogus) info -- was that they didn't have enough boots on the ground.

And that, of course -- as we know from Woodward's Plan of Attack -- goes back to the exchanges between Rumsfeld and Franks wherein the latter started asking for a lot of troops -- 500K initially I think, though the Army's tendency is to overstate their needs at first -- and then got whittled down by Gin Rummy. Of course, now the Bushies say they have enough troops b/c the generals aren't asking for more, but hopefully that Catch-22 set-up is fooling fewer and fewer people over time.

Are Franks and CENTCOM responsible for there being too few troops? In the sense that there's civilian control of the military? No. In the sense that he should have or threatened to resign or at least considered resigning in protest -- and did not deserve the Medal of Freedom? Yes. But let's not shoot from Foggy Bottom to Tampa and overlook the fundamental breakdown in the Pentagon and (as you note) the White House.

8/19/2005 11:42 AM  

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