Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Brent Budowsky: Why Are We in Iraq?

There Are Now Twenty General Eric Shinsekis and They Are All Being Disrespected BY BRENT BUDOWSKY (posted by SusanUnPC; forwarded from Larry Johnson. Mr. Budowsky is a Contributing Editor to the Fighting Democrats News Service.) The execution of Saddam Hussein, carried out by a government friendly to Iran and dominated by Shiite death squads, with war whooping supporters of the Sadr militia cheering and taunting at the hanging, with the President of Iraq disrespected under Iraqi law while the Prime Minister carried out this execution like a religious vendetta; The execution of Saddam Hussein, on the eve of a major Islamic holiday, under the personal direction of the Iraqi Prime Minister, with years to plan and premeditate the event, after a rushed appellate process that was barely more than a legal sham, was not the conduct of a democratic government seeking a national reconciliation, it was the conduct of a militant and violent faction led a Prime Minister using his "government" to aggressively escalate its sectarian civil war. If anyone deserved to die, it was Saddam, but the way this was done, the length of time given to its planning, only dramatizes exactly what the war policy of President Bush has created, and only dramatizes how disastrous it would be, for American troops and casualties to surge for the cause embodied by a government such as this. "Sadr, Sadr, Sadr" the witnesses war whooped at the hanging personally orchestrated by the Prime Minister of Iraq. President Bush appears poised to escalate for what he calls "victory". What kind of victory, and for whom, would be the triumph of a government that conducts itself like this? When this war was so unwisely initiated, the President disrespected the overwhelming military judgment of our commanders, who advised a far larger force at the beginning of this conflict. Four years later, the President disrespects the overwhelming military judgment of American commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who advise against a troop surge pushed by a President determined to escalate, regardless of the judgment of commanders he has always (falsely) claimed to follow on military matters. This war from the beginning, was the triumph of an iron willed President who refused to respect military judgment, the submission for far too long of a Congress and Loyal Opposition that lacked the clarity and courage to check and balance this disaster, and the tragedy for our country and troops who pay the price for these misjudgments and derelictions. The worst case is, in real time, the same grave mistakes are made by the same people, for the same reasons, in the same way, with the same results. Days before the election, the President mislead the American people saying Defense Secretary Rumsfeld would remain, running as a wartime partisan, in a wartime election, believing the voters should be deceived about the Secretary in charge of the war. Immediately upon release of Baker-Hamilton, the President who campaigned as eagerly awaiting it, immediately dismissed it, saying he wanted to hear from his generals whose advice he said he always followed. The generals then weighed in against the troop surge, so the President disrespected their advice. The purported rationale for the troop surge then changed daily, as did the original rationale for the war. The Saddam execution was carried out to aggressively wage sectarian war which deliberately escalated the worst result of the policy. Meanwhile Congress returns with reports that the President has definitely decided to push the troop surge but has not decided on the mission. A Senate which in a secret vote would oppose the surge by 80-20, includes many respected Senators who abhor the surge but publicly say they might support it "if the mission is right", despite the fact that most Generals oppose it because they believe there is no mission that would justify it. The American people just voted for Democrats and Republicans who campaigned in favor of deescalation, are now debating conditions of escalation, saying they support commanders, who oppose escalation. At the outset of this war, General Shinseki warned against the consequences of the war plan pushed through, during a rush to war, with one party using war as a political weapon, while the other party supported it because of political fear, and neither party fought with resolve to send our troops to war with the necessary body armor and equipment until the Marine Corps pathologist said up to 70% of our casualties were preventable. General Shinseki was ridiculed,demeaned, and pressured to leave his post early by an Administration that scorns and removes those who were right, and gives Presidential Medals of Freedom to those who were wrong, under the impotent gaze of a Congress that did nothing to stop this, for four deadly years. And it continues today, an instant replay of those who publicly claim to support our commanders, yet keep their options open to support the very escalation that our commanders risk their careers to oppose. The troop surge is a blunder in search of a rationale. The reason so many commanders oppose it, is there is no rationale. And the greatest disingenuous act of all, is for those who privately oppose the surge to consider publicly supporting, using "the commanders" and "the mission" as their excuse, which is engaging in the same disrespect for military judgment that has created this chaos and carnage for four long years of this. What is the acceptable mission for those who might support the surge? To support the Shiite Prime Minister who pursues sectarian war by masterminding executions with war whooping death squad supporters chanting "Sadr, Sadr"? Is the mission to support one group of Shiites in sectarian wars against other Shiites? Is the mission to support the Shiite militia against the Sunni militia? Is the mission for American men and women to become the Baghdad police? What is the acceptable mission, to those who might support the surge against overwhelming military advice from military professionals and commanders? The one rational mission is what the President apparently is not considering, and does not require a troop surge: substantial upgrade of our training of the Iraqi military and police, and providing them with vehicles and equipment that they desperately need, which can be advanced with redeployment rather than a surge. What is happening today, is that there are twenty General Shinsekis who are being replaced by the President who claims he takes their advice, or threatened by the Administration to toe the line on a policy they abhor, or else. What is happening today is that there are twenty General Shinsekis, now being ridiculed in our newspapers and blamed by the President for his failures, or publicly misrepresented as supporting a surge they advise against, and pressured to say what they do not believe. What is happening today is what happened in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with commanders offering their best military judgment that is often ignored, by a President who wades deeper into the quagmire of chaos believing his will can change the realities of war, surrounded by enablers who say words of support for commanders while they do things they know the commanders advise against. After the Baker-Hamilton report was released the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with the President and it has been reported they unanimously advised against the surge. Whatever the truth, it must come out now, before any escalation of this war. Congressional Leaders should call on President Bush to publicly release the redacted notes of this meeting to determine the true military judgment of our military leaders. At a minimum the bipartisan Congressional Leaders and the Chairman and Ranking Members of the proper Committees should be briefed in a classified session of the full discussion with the Chiefs, including full discussion of contemporaneous notes of that meeting. There should be comprehensive hearings with all of the recent and current commanders and Joint Chiefs of Staff where they honorably and precisely state in public their military judgment, advice and recommendations. Distinguished and genuinely good men and leaders such as Senator Warner, Senator Hagel, and Senator Lugar should do what Senator Barry Goldwater did with President Nixon. Go the White House, look the President in the eye, and say: with great respect sir, this must end, now, we must not escalate this war any further, we will not support this surge, there is a better way. It is high time and long overdue that the United States regain its position of diplomatic and moral leadership in the Middle East and bring in former Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton to explore the opportunity for progress and work with our friends around the world to create Marhall Plan like program for all (including Iraqis) who implement cease fire agreements. While restoring leadership that has traditionally been exercised by American Presidents since 1948, we can implement some form of troop redeployment in Iraq as proposed Rep. Murtha and Baker-Hamilton, increase training for Iraqi military and police, dramatically upgrade the military equipment, vehicles and armor for the Iraqis and test regional diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors. What we must not to, is again ignore the sound military judgment of commanders, the bipartisan judgements of the Baker Hamiltion Group, the private pleadings of our NATO allies, and the true private opinion of the overwhelming majority of both parties in Congress who must stop enabling, and start doing what they know is right. Today there are 20 General Shinsekis. This time, let's listen to them.

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