A historian's comments on current events, foreign and domestic.
Professor Thanks for this note. I am really rather an outsider, in technically military political affairs, so cannot contribute much to the discussions here, but most grateful for such a reference and review.all the best
That was excellent. Thank you for leaving it here for us to find. Well worth reading, and I would have never seen it without your efforts.Jim
Both Bacevich and Bolger are correct, so far as they go, in assigning blame to the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bacevich maintains that failure was not just about the generals. Certainly the senior civilian leadership, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice own a great share of the blame for limiting resources to finish the fight in the justifiable, moral war in Afghanistan by undertaking an unwarranted, illegal war of aggression in Iraq; through this, defeat came in both places. The generals during Gulf War II contributed by shoddy planning for “consolidation on the objective” as it is known tactically, or Phase IV, operationally. After the results of the first Gulf War, who besides our generals thought that the Iraqi Army would stand and fight rather than take off their uniforms and go to ground as insurgents? What general, besides then Army CoS Shinseki, thought that enough forces were present after Bush declared victory to secure vital facilities, guard Iraqi military installations and ammunition dumps, and provide safety for ordinary Iraqi citizens? Which general officer, besides retired LTG Garner, opposed the idea to fire all Baathists, even those who were such because “if you weren’t Baathist under Saddam Hussein you weren’t anything”, including the technocrats that made the government and critical facilities run? We expected too much of generals whose military educations and ethos was based on fighting a conventional war, and got too little from them when the conventional war they thought they were fighting became unconventional, even though most were Vietnam veterans. Americans were let down by generals who failed to vigorously oppose the civilian leadership when they proposed a second war, and to correct arrogant SECDEF Rumsfeld’s decisions concerning required forces and operations. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen paid for these failures, even though they struggled mightily, and sometimes successfully, to make up for them. You may want to look at LTG (ret) Bolger’s article in Harper’s. http://harpers.org/archive/2014/09/why-we-lost-in-iraq-and-afghanistan/
Abroad as at home, bad management, dissing the population, treating citizenry as serfs reaps the whirlwind and so fell Rome.
Many of the failures in the recent & current wars of the 21st century differ little from those of the Cold War. History may not repeat, yet sure rhymes alot. Read "Reckoning:" by Neal F. Thompson
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