Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New York Times Backs War Without End

Also at Kos.

Wittingly or not, the New York Times has once again fallen in lockstep with the neoconservative agenda. Its editorial of December 24 titled "A Real-World Army" promotes a recipe for ensuring the United States maintains a permanent state of war.
Military reality finally broke through the Bush administration’s ideological wall last week, with President Bush publicly acknowledging the need to increase the size of the overstretched Army and Marine Corps.

Larger ground forces are an absolute necessity for the sort of battles America is likely to fight during the coming decades: extended clashes with ground-based insurgents rather than high-tech shootouts with rival superpowers…

… Given the time required to recruit and train the additional troops, the proposed increase will not make much difference in Iraq’s current battles. But over time it will help make America more secure and better prepared to meet future crises.

If there's a genuine lesson to be learned from the Iraq fiasco, it's that we don't need to fight any more "extended clashes with ground-based insurgents." We'll only need to fight insurgencies if we conduct more preemptive regime change invasions, in which case we won't be "meeting" future crises, we'll be creating them.

Though we no longer have any "rival superpowers," any future conflicts we engage in with third tier rogue world nations should, in fact, be "high tech" shootouts. The kinds of wars we might need to fight with an Iran or a Korea would largely be naval and air power strike operations, not major ground campaigns to take and hold enemy sovereign territory.

It's true that because of the time required to ramp up the ground force end strength, such action will "not make much difference in Iraq's current battles," but given the trend we're seeing in the halls of power, Mr. Bush intends to maintain a significant troop presence in Iraq through the end of his term, which means the larger force will come online just in time (around 2008) to continue the Iraq conflict beyond Bush's tenure.

Post-Bush, we'll either have a Republican war hawk like John McCain in the White House or a Democrat who will face the unsavory choice of continuing Bush's Middle East policy as a fait accompli or risk being labeled by latter day Rovewellians as the "Defeat-ocrat" who lost the war Bush was "definitely winning" when he turned over the watch even though the new Democrat on the block had sufficient force--thanks to Bush's foresight, of course--to continue the fight.

The Kristol Palace

Not surprisingly, the Times editorial also follows the neocon company line that makes Donald Rumsfeld the scapegoat for Iraq.
…it took the departure of Donald Rumsfeld — the author of the failed Iraq policy and the doctrine of going to war with less than the Army we needed — for Mr. Bush finally to accept this reality.

Rumsfeld has much to answer for--in this life and hopefully in the next--for the tragic embarrassment in Iraq. But to single him out as the "author of the failed Iraq policy and doctrine" is out-and-out mendacity.

Yes, Rumsfeld was a key member of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC), but he was hardly alone in formulating the Iraq policy. Other PNAC luminaries who endorsed a ground invasion of Iraq back in 1998 included recently deposed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, present U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, and PNAC founder Bill Kristol.

Kristol first pushed Rumsfeld on the third rail of the commuter tracks back in 2004 when he lambasted the then SecDef's comment about "you go to war with the Army you have."

If irony were still alive and with us, it would be a funny thing that Kristol and his wingman Bob Kagan thought the Army we had back in 1998 was sufficient to "do this job." In a New York Times article from January of that year, they wrote:
If Mr. Clinton is serious about protecting us and our allies from Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, he will order ground forces to the gulf. Four heavy divisions and two airborne divisions are available for deployment. The President should act, and Congress should support him in the only policy that can succeed.

It would also be funny how in December 2006, Kristol's pet military scholar Fred Kagan (Bob Kagan's brother) justified his call for an immediate influx of troops to Iraq and an increase in ground force end strength by claiming that all alternative proposals "will fail."

It would be even funnier that Kristol now says any troop increase in Iraq must be permanent to achieve success. From a December 24 article by David Edwards of Raw Story:
"There's no point having a short term surge," Kristol said on Fox News Channel. "Especially, if it's proclaimed ahead of time that it's just short term. Then [the enemy] goes into hiding for 3 or 6 months."

"We pull back and we're in the same situation," the Weekly Standard editor said. "Bush will commit--I believe, when he speaks in a couple of weeks--to doing this. That this is a strategy for victory and that he's willing to do this for the remaining two years of his presidency."

I suspect Kristol is correct that Bush will go for a permanent escalation, because I think Dick Cheney is on board with Kristol, and you-know-who is on board with anything Cheney has to say.

We are witnessing a covert form of deliberate strategic mission creep. From the outset, the PNAC neoconservatives' goal was to establish a permanent military footprint in the geographic heart of Middle East and to set America on a course of ever increasing militarization.

The longer I watch events unfold, the more I fear they'll get away with it, regardless of what the electorate demands, and with the hapless assistance of the so-called "liberal media."


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous11:15 PM

    NYT had said,

    Larger ground forces are an absolute necessity for the sort of battles America is likely to fight during the coming decades: extended clashes with ground-based insurgents rather than high-tech shootouts with rival superpowers…

    … Given the time required to recruit and train the additional troops, the proposed increase will not make much difference in Iraq’s current battles. But over time it will help make America more secure and better prepared to meet future crises.

    Now read this story in today's Boston Globe - http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/12/26/military_considers_recruiting_foreigners/

    The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.

    Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country. Other analysts voice concern that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize national security or reflect badly on Americans' willingness to serve in uniform.

  2. Foreign nationals in the service is not new, but recruiting overseas is. That's kind of a shocker.

  3. Anonymous9:55 AM

    I'm afraid you are correct Jeff. With the scapegoating of Rumsfeld aided by the tacit approval of the media in pushing the meme that now that the architect of the failure is Iraq is gone we can "get serious" we are now in the next phase of the PNAC dream. I just wonder how long the American people are going to buy into this failed effort. Granted it has taken this long for the majority to see the futility of Iraq but I just can't wonder how much longer they can run. I am not encouraged though by the direction this is all heading. Thanks for the post.

  4. FM:

    Yeah, now that Rummy's gone, we can get serious.

    I'm kind of surprised that Rummy's letting this happen without pushing back.

    I'm also kind of surprised the NYT editorial staff would write something like this. It sounds just like the type of nonesense the neocons typically put out.

  5. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I agree the recruiting of foreign nationals into the US Army is not new. However, at some point where the recruitment of foreign nationals exclusively to enlarge the military does run counter to our cultural perception of the American citizen-soldier stepping up in the time of need. Where are all the pro-war folks, and why are they not pulling their share of the load?

    My personal view is that this goes to show another pitfall in both the "go strong" and "go long" plans. Both plans need the military, especially the marines and army, to be built up. That is hard to be done when there is lack of funds to either repair/rehabilitate or purchase new equipment (Schoomaker's budget fight with the White House and OPM to get more funding ), as well as a lack of people to bring into the military as a whole.

    Wasn't it Omar Bradley who had said, "logistics, logistics, logistics" was the need to win a war? Where is our logistics? Contracted out?

  6. I believe that we have always needed larger forces if for no other reason than to get back to a reasonable optempo and turnaround between deployments. The money to pay for this is there-the government just needs to go get it. When corporate CEO's can get 400 million dollare retirements, I know the money is out there.

    Even if Iraq ended tomorrow the pace of operations is not going to diminish. We are committed to presence world wide for the so called long war. ( Although I agree with James Fallows that we need to get rid of the war analogy).

    Plus China and India are not going away-both are potential enemies.

    Also I take issue with your assertion about Korea-it will be a ground campaign, on which the diproportinate burden will fall on the ROK army.

  7. Skippy,

    Do me a favor and look at the CIA factbook stats on miliary spending, then come back and discuss this.


  8. Skippy,

    Sorry if that sounded dismissive, by the way. I have to go through comments and replies a little faster than I'd like to these days, and often type faster than I think.

    Yet, if you talk China, India, and N. Korea, I still say those potential wars are not land power-centric conflicts.