Bush, Iraq and the military brass
WASHINGTON – 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.
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?