Former Reagan Asst Sec of Defense also thinks Bush is an idiot

Discussion in 'Politics' started by bungrider, May 29, 2004.

  1. The list just keeps getting longer and longer.

    How can we prevent Iraq from deteriorating into civil war or worse? Our best chance is to come to grips with the mistakes we've made along the way and then change course.

    The recent eruption of violence by Sunni Muslim insurgents north and west of Baghdad and by Shi'as to the south is a direct result of the failed policies of the Bush administration for the reconstruction and stabilization of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

    President Bush and his advisers relied on the advice of Iraqi exiles - like Ahmed Chalabi, who had not been in Baghdad since the Dodgers were in Brooklyn - that U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators. They belittled the counsel of military professionals like Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003, and Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, head of the Central Command until 1999. These military professionals - who had been in Vietnam, Bosnia and Somalia - warned that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to provide security in post-Saddam Iraq and that the United States would be seen more as occupiers than liberators.

    Instead, we sent in only 130,000 troops, failed to give them instructions about how to deal with the chaos that erupted after the fall of Baghdad, and planned to reduce the number of troops to 30,000 by the fall of 2003.

    The administration compounded the problem by appointing Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, who had no background in the Arab or Muslim world, to head the U.S. reconstruction effort. (He was ambassador to the Hague.) Bremer made a bad situation worse by disbanding the Iraqi army and police force. Then he made himself a lame duck by agreeing to the president's demand that sovereignty be turned over to the Iraqis by June 30, a date dictated more by the American political calendar than events on the ground in Iraq. And he incited part of the present violence by closing down radical young Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's newspaper.

    Still, even those who opposed the invasion of Iraq as an unnecessary diversion from the war against al Qaeda agree that we cannot simply cut and run. That would have severe long-term consequences for U.S. security.

    So how can we increase the chances of creating a stable, prosperous Iraq at a cost acceptable to the American people? There are five steps we must take.

    1. The administration needs to admit to the American people that it was mistaken about the primary reasons for the war , concede that we are not winning and acknowledge that creating a stable Iraq will be a long, difficult and costly endeavor.

    The president should make clear that it will take at least five years and probably a decade of substantial American involvement to prevail against the insurgents. History has shown that most insurgencies are successful not because they have a majority on their side but because they wear down the established government or the occupying power. Neither Mao in China nor the Bolsheviks in Russia started with a majority. Even the successful British military campaign against the Communist guerrillas in Malaysia took 12 years.

    Fighting insurgents will continue to result in American casualties and cost billions. Since the fall of Baghdad, nearly two Americans per day have died, nearly 100 have been wounded daily, and 18,000 have been evacuated for medical reasons. The United States has spent about $1 billion a week for the past 60 weeks.

    History demonstrates that Americans are willing to pay the price for military operations if their political leaders level with them. For example, it was not public opinion that forced us to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 or Lebanon in 1983. In fact, public support increased for the mission in Somalia after 18 Army Rangers were killed in Mogadishu. Support increased for intervention in Lebanon after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut killed 241 troops. But when Presidents Clinton and Reagan made it clear that they had doubts about those missions, public support vanished.

    2. The United States needs to increase the number of troops in Iraq to at least 150,000. By the end of April, the number of boots on the ground is slated to drop from 135,000 to 105,000. To keep troop strength up, the administration cannot allow the 1st Armored Division to leave Iraq this month as scheduled, and it must move up the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division from its planned November date.

    But these are only short-term fixes. To ease the strain on our ground forces, the strength of the Army must be increased by at least 40,000 soldiers as well as peacekeeping forces such as military police and civil affairs units, which are predominately in the Guard and Reserves must be transferred to the active component.

    3. We have to postpone the June 30, 2004, date for transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis. The administration still does not have a plan for what will happen on that date, and it would be catastrophic to turn over sovereignty without the security situation under control.

    Postponing the date may cause some Iraqis to question whether the United States really does intend to make Iraq part of an American empire in the Middle East and could lead to more violence in the short term. However, as Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has noted, the risks of turning over power on June 30 without the right formula in place outweigh the risks of not doing so.

    Moreover, it will give Bremer and U.N. envoy Lakdar Brahimi more leverage with the Iraqi Governing Council and religious leaders; the withdrawal of the June 30 date will give the IGC and religious leaders incentive to strengthen their appeal to the majority of the population not to continue to support the insurgents. The sooner the violence stops, they can argue, the sooner Iraq can get its sovereignty.

    Bremer also needs to be replaced as soon as possible with one of the career "Arabists" from the State Department. When sovereignty is returned to the Iraqis, he or she can become our first ambassador.

    4. Working with the governing council and leaders like the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the United States must disband militias loyal to various Iraqi leaders - such as Sadr - and slow down the rush to create a large Iraqi security force on an unrealistic timetable.

    The leaders of these militias must be given an ultimatum to disband these groups within a short time on their own, or have it done for them. Instead of disbanding the Iraqi army, the United States should have eliminated these militias. Even before this recent outbreak of violence, the continuation of these militias was a recipe for civil war.

    In addition, the United States must ensure that the new Iraqi security forces are properly trained and vetted. In its rush to create a new Iraqi security structure of over 200,000 by mid-March, the United States has sent inadequately trained men into the streets. In Fallujah and Baghdad, these poorly trained individuals simply cut and ran and even handed over their equipment to the insurgents. Moreover, the insurgents were able to infiltrate the security forces, and four members of the Iraqi police actually killed Americans on March 8, 2004. No more than 5,000 of these security forces are fully trained and equipped.

    5. We need to try to internationalize this occupation as soon as possible. Given the way in which we trashed the United Nations and the major powers in NATO in the run up to the invasion, and given the deteriorating situation on the ground, this will not happen anytime soon. But if we admit to them that we were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's ties to al Qaeda, and if we are willing to cede political and financial control to the United Nations, this can be a long-term solution.

    This assumes that the United Nation will get its own house in order by punishing those who profited from and acquiesced in the kickback scandal related to the Oil for Food program and who failed to provide proper oversight of security management at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad last August.

    Even taken together, these steps may not work. But if they are not taken, we will surely fail, and the consequences of that failure will be far worse than Somalia, Lebanon or even Vietnam. As Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) noted this week, "We are dangerously close to losing control on the ground."

    Lawrence J. Korb is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

    This story originally appeared in the Star-Ledger on April 11, 2004.

    Bush is No Reagan

    by Lawrence J. Korb
    February 7, 2004

    President Bush and many of his advisers revel in comparing his administration's approach to foreign policy to that of President Reagan. For example, his referring to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the axis of evil in the 2002 State of the Union address is likened to Reagan’s branding of the Soviet Union as the evil empire.

    Leaving aside the issue of whether the comparison of Bush to Reagan is apt (having worked for President Reagan I believe it is overblown) if Bush really wants to emulate President Reagan, he ought to follow the former president's approach to handling foreign policy disasters. If Bush can deal with the burgeoning controversy over the specious reasons he gave for going to war in Iraq in the same quick and decisive way Reagan dealt with the terrorist attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 and the Iran Contra scandal of 1986, his administration and the country will be better off.

    On October 23, 1983 a large truck laden with the explosive equivalent of over 12,000 lbs. of TNT crashed through the perimeter of the Marine compound at Beirut International Airport, penetrated the headquarters building and detonated, destroying the building and killing 241 military personnel. Within two weeks President Reagan appointed and convened a commission to conduct a broad ranging inquiry that not only focused on the attack but also on the mission of the U.S. forces in Lebanon.

    By December 20, 1983, less than two months after the attack, the five member commission, headed by retired Admiral Robert Long, and which included a high level official from the Carter administration, issued its report. It criticized the administration and the Department of Defense not only for lack of preparedness for dealing with terrorism but also called into question the mission itself, the rules of engagement for the troops, and the effectiveness of the chain of command. On December 27, 1983 President Reagan held a press conference to address questions on the report and by the first week in February, the President withdrew our forces from Lebanon and the Secretary of Defense had implemented several of the report's recommendations including rebukng the on scene commanders, and their superiors in the chain of command and providing more antiterrorism training. Some two years later, Congress used the Long Report as one of the reasons for passing the Defense Reorganization Act which enhanced the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the combat commanders.

    The biggest foreign policy disaster of the Reagan administration was the Iran-Contra affair. But here again President Reagan acted promptly. Within 10 days after being informed by the Attorney General, on November 22, 1986, that proceeds from the arms sales to Iran were directed to the Contras in Nicaragua, the president appointed Republican Senator John Tower, former Democratic Senator, presidential candidate and Secretary of State, Edmund Muskie, and Brent Scowcroft, President Ford’s National Security Adviser to investigate the situation.

    After interviewing 50 people, including President Reagan several times, and examining all the White House files, including the President's diary, the Tower Commission completed its report in three months. The report which was completed on February 26, 1987, criticized the initiative, the president’s role in it, his own management style and the conduct of several of his top officials including his chief of staff and the director of central intelligence. Within days of issuance of the report, the president named a new chief of staff and Director of Central Intelligence and spoke to the nation acknowledging mistakes and accepting full responsibility.

    President Bush, on the other hand wants his commission that will investigate the alleged intelligence failures in Iraq to take a year to report and not just to examine the reasons for the disaster in Iraq but how the intelligence community has dealt with North Korea, Iran and Libya. This is too long and too broad. America's credibility and our national security are in imminent danger because of his handling of the invasion of Iraq. If Reagan could deal with Lebanon and Iran Contra within a few months, surely Bush can do the same on Iraq. If he sets a quick deadline and cooperates fully with the investigators maybe then he can really claim to be the heir of Reagan.

    Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information, was Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.

    This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on February 7, 2004. Reprinted with permission.

  3. Maybe.

    I'd just like to point out that the foreign policy changes Bush Jr has faced are ten times greater than those faced by Reagan, so maybe there's a limit to how much good would come from emulating Reagan's approach.

    I think we should wait until the end of Bush's second term to evaluate whether the Bush-Reagan comparison is a good one. :D
  4. Bush has not perpetrated a single fuck-up anywhere near as bad as Reagan's War on Drugs.

    As for ending the Cold War, Mr. Gorbachev deserves many times the credit people give to Reagan.
  5. maxpi


    The insurgency in Iraq has about 10% support there from what I hear. Democracy is working in Turkey and Algeria, can work in Iraq. Maybe we can turn the govening and the insurgency problems over to Iraqis and they can succeed where we never will?

  6. I think Korb has it basically wrong, to the extent his article has any concrete suggestions. I feel we should observe the first rule of getting out of a hole you find yourself in--stop digging. Putting even more troops into a shaky situation where we obviously have no viable plan and seem to be desperately making things up on a daily basis does not strike me as a good idea. At the same time, we cannot just accept defeat and turn it over to the thugs. I also do not think that the American people will accept casualties indefinitely when it becomes clear that we are not fighting terrorism but instead are engaged in nation-building.

    The first imperative should be to stop casualties. Our current plan seems to be to engage insurgents in small unit action, while avoiding the use of bombing or artillery so as to avoid collateral damage. In short, we are sacrificing American lives to protect mosques. I would end this tactic. We should either decide to end the insurgency by obliterating any site where we take fire, particularly any mosque OR we should put our troops in secure garrisons and let the Iraqi's sort out the security situation. We do not particularly care what happens in Iraq as long as a regime that provides support and sanctuary to terrorists is not in power.

    We should allow the June transition to take place, but make clear to all that it is for show only. We control Iraq and will control it until we are satisfied with the regional situation. We should make a push to reduce the cost of the occupation, first by eliminating the nation-building component and secondly by taking control of oil sales.

    We should begin to apply more pressure on Syria and Iran, first by border skirmishes, then by incursions and bombing raids if they don't get the message. Those two countries have sponsored terrorism for 20 years with no repercussions. It becomes a lot harder to fund, shelter, train, equip and transport terrorists when your government offices are being hit by cruise missile attacks on a daily basis. The cost/benefit equation changes. Ask Qaddafi. They should be told privately that ANY terror attack in the US will result in devasting attacks on those countries.
  7. See

    I couldn't agree more. Which is precisely why Clinton's foreign policy actually worked in the Middle East, whereas Wolfowitz's has been a complete and total failure.
  8. Problem is, that none of your suggestions address the growing root of the whole problem -- the fact that this whole thing has done the exact opposite of what was intended -- to bring down al queda.

    Instead, al queda has had record levels of new recruitment.

    The fiasco over the weekend in saudi arabia is testament to that fact, as it has been suggested that the source of the gunmen was most likely from al queda cells that have been operating in that region of anarchy formerly known as Iraq.
  9. Pabst


    Well that REALLY flies in the face of the popular liberal argument that states Al Queda was NEVER in Iraq. Nonsense. Iraq is merely a starting off point. Syria is next.

    You seem to extrapolate Al Queda expansion as systematic of U.S. military policy in Iraq. Big mistake. I suggest you observe Al Queda involvement in terror activities in SE Asia.

  10. Oh come on! Don't try to bullshit me on this -- al queda only arrived in iraq after the baathist regime collapsed.

    The whole case for al queda "collaborating" with saddam was based on a senior al queda leader going to baghdad for a leg amputation. Last time the CIA looked, that guy still had both legs...
    #10     May 31, 2004