Bush, Iraq and the military brass

September 9, 2008

bush-mullen.jpgWASHINGTON – The Bush administration is often accused of ignoring military advice, using too few troops to invade and occupy Iraq and paying the price with a war that has lasted far longer and claimed many more lives than expected.

Despite that criticism, a new book by U.S. journalist Bob Woodward shows President George W. Bush again went against the advice of top military officers in 2007 by ordering a “surge” of extra troops when violence in Iraq was at its worst.

Moreover, the book says Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney circumvented the military chain of command by using retired general Jack Keane to communicate with Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq.

Bush’s supporters say the dramatic reduction in violence since then has fully justified the president’s actions.

Woodward’s book “The War Within” — and excerpts published this week in the Washington Post — certainly raise some interesting questions.

Was Bush right to overrule the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who worried that committing more forces to Iraq would stretch the military to breaking point and leave the United States at risk if a major crisis blew up elsewhere?

Had military leaders become too risk-averse and too wedded to a failed strategy, losing their sense of perspective?

What do these disagreements between administration officials and senior officers say about the state of civil-military relations in the world’s only superpower?

Should the disputes be a cause for concern? Or a sign of healthy debate and strong civilian control of the military?

7 comments

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so long as israel is safe, we can all sleep well

Posted by Shaul Stein | Report as abusive

The McCain’s speech sounded like a drumbeat to war when he said “come fight with us”, did he mean more Iraq war, war with Iran, the axis of evil, The War on Terror, Afghanistan, any or all of the above? His pick of Vice Presidential nominee Palin is trying to make it seem appealling with her pro gun stance and extreme right Republican politics.
George Orwell warned us of never-ending wars, we should say no to war and yes to diplomacy, dialogue with the U.N. and allied countries. Let’s get these guys out of the White House finally, we survived the last eitht years, now we want to recover.

Posted by Christine Biedul | Report as abusive

So long as Israel is safe Israel is safe. It has got nothing to do with the U.S., and they do not deserve 5 billion a year, no way.

Posted by Christine Biedul | Report as abusive

O this is about a book. Did I miss where it mentioned something about Israel’s $5billion safety net? I think a better question to ask is , Was/is Bush right to invade Iraq and have their leader hanged before the lies of our invasion and occupation fully came out?

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Saddam Hussein was hanged by an international court. But I’m sure you have proof that Bush rigged the trial, huh? What a bunch of sore losers. Just admit it, the troop surge acheived its goal, and now everyone(that means you too Mr. Obama) should just suck it up and admit they were wrong. Which is worse? The president who made a mistake and fixed it as best was possible(Bush on invading Iraq), or the one that made the wrong call and still stands by a bad decision (Obama was/is against troop surge)? I tend to lean towards the guy who learns from his mistakes, more so than towards the guy that thinks he is the Next Coming. Sometimes “experts” can be wrong, and it takes strong-minded individuals to perservere.

Posted by Ptrizzle | Report as abusive

Frankly this administration cannot exit fast enough. Wars are not trial-and-error affairs where you keep trying different things until something ‘works’, with all sorts of state bureaucracies trying to upstage and circumvent each other. Iraqi citizens have been paying for this circus for five long years of death and ruin, and I cannot believe there are still some people out there trying to show nonexistent merit for the criminally ignorant irresponsibility of Bush and his government. The poor excuse that the so-called surge ‘worked’, a highly debatable statement as it is, intended for showing that Bush ‘learned from previous mistakes’ in Iraq is an outrage .. Have Iraqi lives become so cheap to the US government that they are dismissed as collateral damage to its learning process of not bungling into a blood-soaked,ill-conceived disaster of a military campaign against international law? I can only hope that when people go to vote this time, they will vote responsibly and the next administration will be up to the responsibility and help put things right. The world owes it to the Iraqis in particular and the region in general, both those who are directly involved in this disaster and those who did nothing to stop it.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Ptrizel: Hussein was tried and executed by a US appointed Iraqi court. Bush knew that Iraq had nothing at all to do with terrorism well before the invasion. Look, read the Duelfer report, and then read the 9/11 report… These aren’t “experts” they’re people that have been in the thick of it for ages: They know what was happening.

Posted by kmikl | Report as abusive