Monday, June 27, 2005

Press the Meat

If hot air won wars, we'd be in great shape, because we got plenty of it from Rummy and his Central Command Yes Man on the Sunday talk shows.

Arianna Huffington rightfully blasted Tim Russert for his weak performance with Donald Rumsfeld on Meet the Press.

But I was more dismayed watching Face the Nation 's Bob Schieffer feed straight lines to General John Abizaid, the four-star in charge of Central Command. Lou Costello never had it so good. To read the transcript, you'd swear Abizaid's people wrote the entire interview.

Schieffer's cooperation was no more obvious than in his timing of questions about public support for the war. He saved them for last, allowing Abizaid to finish with the administration's favorite exit patter:

"The public support for out troops in the field has always been important... They don't want to be looking over their shoulder wondering what folks back home are thinking. They want to know that people understand what we're fighting for, why we're fighting, and how we can win this thing."

Little makes my blood boil more that listening to generals blaming their failures on lack of public support. Especially generals like Abizaid who tell the public it has to "understand what we're fighting for," and yet:

"It's hard for us to be able to talk about this most complicated region this most complicated war and put it in the common sense necessary for folks back home to talk about it."

A junior high school teacher once told me that you don't really understand anything unless you can explain it. If the head of Central Command can't explain what we're fighting for and how we can win, who can?

And if nobody understands what we're fighting for and how we can win, what are we fighting for?

Rumsfeld, Abizaid, and the rest of senior Pentagon leadership appear to have no specific end state in mind, no coherent strategy for achieving one, no metrics by which to measure their progress, and give no visible indication that they have the slightest grasp of the basic tenets of military art.

I'll start supporting this war the second the generals in charge start sounding and acting like professional military officers.


  1. So in other words, "Trust us."

    Nothing makes my blood boil more than someone telling me I'm too stupid to understand complex issues when the person slighting my intelligence can't explain the issue himself!

    bastards, the lot of them.

    cyber cookie for you, jeff. thanks for documenting the atrocity so I didn't have to.

  2. Well, we have one of two things going on. If he really can't explain the issue, he's clueless, and he's the guy in charge.

    On the other hand, he may understand it perfectly, and is afraid to tell us the truth.


  3. Why do I suspect the latter?

  4. As in--we never had an exit strategy because we never planned on exiting from the git-go?

    Yes, that's exactly what I think.


  5. Yeah, basically. I think they figured it would be realtively simple, and then we'd be fast friends with the Iraqis and asked to stay.

    I will note, however, that last week the Iraqi Prime Minister said this was not the time for the U.S. to leave. As long as things are so tenuous there, and as long as the Iraqi government wants out help, I think we are obligated to stay and help due to the fact that we created the situation.