T Nation

Re-Thinking Military Strategy

It seems that the powers that be are re-thinking their strategies – what worked in Kosovo and Afghanistan has had problems in Iraq. Lest one be too quick to blame Rumsfeld and “the civilians” for the “Revolution in Military Affairs” strategy, note that it originated in the army under Wes Clark after failures of traditional methods in Kosovo.

Still, it seems that the commanders are switching to a strategy more suited for occupation, especially for occupation in a country in which the regime was toppled but the opposition forces never suffered a traditional defeat.


Defining Victory
As Chaos Mounts
In Iraq, U.S. Army
Rethinks Its Future
Amid Signs Its Plan Fell Short,
Service Sees Benefits
Of Big Tanks, Translators
Mock Raids and Reading Lists

By GREG JAFFE
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
December 8, 2004; Page A1

Shortly after the U.S. deposed Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003, the Army kicked off its annual “war game,” a mock battle in which U.S. forces set out to topple another Middle Eastern regime.

Set 10 years in the future, the game featured a force built around a light, fast, armored vehicle that the Army planned to start producing in 2010. The Army attacked from seven dizzying directions and, when the game ended, appeared on the verge of shattering the enemy force.

"We walked out and patted ourselves on the back and said ‘marvelous job,’ " says retired Lt. Gen. William Carter, who commanded U.S. forces in the game. “We didn’t understand that what we were seeing in those games wasn’t victory.”

Today, the exercise stands as a stark example of how senior Army leaders and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the years leading up to the Iraq invasion were guided by a flawed understanding of how future enemies would fight.

Swift Strikes

The Iraq attack was built on the premise that speed and high-tech equipment could radically change the way war was fought. Short, swift attacks against key targets – such as communications stations and headquarters – could confuse enemy forces and isolate them from their commanders, according to both Army and Defense Department doctrine. If you chopped off the enemy’s head, the theory went, the whole body would die. Getting to the fight faster became the focus of modernization plans for the Army and all other U.S. armed services.

Now, the escalating insurgency in Iraq is showing that lightning assaults can quickly topple a regime – but also unleash problems for which small, fast, high-tech U.S. forces are ill-equipped.

“We’re realizing strategic victory is about a lot more than annihilating the enemy,” says one senior defense official in Mr. Rumsfeld’s office. Victory also requires winning the support of locals and tracking down insurgents, who can easily elude advanced surveillance technology and precision strikes. In some cases, a slower, more methodical attack, one that allows U.S. troops to stabilize one area and hold it up as an example of what is possible for the rest of the country, could produce better results, according to emerging Army thinking.

Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledges that the military, which is still organized “to fight big armies, navies and air forces on a conventional basis,” must change in order to deal with guerrilla fighters and terrorists. “The department simply has to be much more facile and agile,” he says in an interview. “We have got to focus more on the post-combat phase.”

But he adds that the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate the “critical importance of speed and precision as opposed to mass or sheer numbers.”

New Standards

Before the war began, Middle East experts, along with some Army officials, warned that stabilizing and governing a fractious and ethnically divided Iraq would be much harder than toppling Saddam Hussein.

A recent directive, prepared by Mr. Rumsfeld’s office and still in draft form, now yields to that view. It mandates that in the future, units’ readiness for war should be judged not only by traditional standards, such as how well they fire their tanks, but by the number of foreign speakers in their ranks, their awareness of the local culture where they will fight, and their ability to train and equip local security forces. It orders the military’s four-star regional commanders to “develop and maintain” new plans for battle, hoping to prevent the sort of postwar chaos that engulfed Iraq.

The Army is discarding or delaying big parts of its longstanding plans. It recently announced it has pushed back introduction of its new lightweight fighting vehicle for several years, to 2014, freeing up $9 billion. Earlier plans had called for all of the service’s combat units to be built around the light, quick, armored vehicle.

The Army now thinks it will need a mix of slower-to-deploy, heavy tanks as well as light fighting vehicles. This will allow commanders to swing quickly between tasks, the Army says, from handing out emergency rations on one block to conducting an all-out battle with insurgents on another. Commanders in Iraq have found that 70-ton tanks, which literally shake the ground as they move, can help ward off guerrilla attacks simply through intimidation.

“The answer to complexity, volatility and uncertainty is always diversity,” says Brig. Gen. David Fastabend, a senior officer in the Army’s Futures Center, which does long-range planning.

The service recently canceled its $12.9 billion program for Comanche helicopters. Instead of spending the money on 121 stealthy Comanches – designed to evade high-tech enemy radar – the Army is spending the money to buy 825 attack and cargo helicopters and planes of the sort being used daily in Iraq.

It’s also investing about $1 billion over the next six years in a new computerized system to speed the flow of intelligence, which today must move up and down a rigid hierarchy. Soon the Army says each of its 800-soldier battalions in Iraq will have immediate access to intelligence reports from units scattered across the country. The system will help intelligence analysts sort through data and identify connections between attacks or terror cells in different parts of the country.

“I’ve said we are a hierarchy trying to fight a network. I still believe that. But I also believe we are getting better,” says Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff.

Perhaps the most striking changes are taking place on Army posts such as Fort Carson, Colo., where the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment is getting ready for an Iraq deployment early next year. Since taking command of the 5,000-soldier regiment this summer, Col. H.R. McMaster, an early critic of the Army’s vision of fast, high-tech wars, has put his troops through weeks of mock raids. He has staged convoy ambushes and meetings with role players acting as local Iraqi leaders. Such training is becoming common throughout the Army.

In a training exercise last month, Lt. Doug Armstrong sat down with two fellow soldiers – both Iraq veterans – who were pretending to be the mayor and police chief of an Iraqi village. Lt. Armstrong, 23 years old, quickly asked where the insurgents in the town were hiding. The mock mayor shrugged and demanded food and water for the people. He chastised the lieutenant for parking his Humvee in the village wheat field.

About five minutes into the meeting, Col. McMaster cut it short. “Be a little more personable,” he told the young officer. “Ask about the mayor’s family. Build a relationship before you ask him where the bad guys are.”

Col. McMaster then asked the lieutenant if he noticed anything unusual in the room where he was meeting with the mayor. The lieutenant shook his head no.

“Who is that dude on the wall?” Col. McMaster asked, pointing to the only poster tacked to the small office’s walls. The lieutenant shrugged. A sergeant standing nearby answered that it was Muqtada al Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric.

“You’ve got to notice those things,” Col. McMaster said.

Trying to win the cooperation of locals is a huge change for a service that until recently saw war primarily as the clash of traditional armies. Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the top U.S. commander in Iraq during the first months of the war, recently told colleagues he recalls watching Iraqis loot chairs, artillery shells and other weapons. Instead of having his troops intervene, he and his commanders were focused on finding senior military and Baath Party leaders. Gen. Wallace now says those leaders had become largely irrelevant to the chaos breaking out around the country.

“There was a point when the regime was no longer relevant, no longer running the country. We were slow to pick up on that,” Gen. Wallace says.

As a result, U.S. commanders missed an opportunity to shift forces to other tasks – such as policing and reconstruction – that would have helped win the support of a deeply skeptical population. Some senior officers were simply overwhelmed by the number of tasks facing them as the country came apart.

“The complexity was much greater than what we trained and exercised for prior to this campaign,” Gen. Wallace says.

The notion of swift, high-tech wars was first championed by the Air Force in the early 1990s. After the 1999 Kosovo war, the Army began reluctantly to buy into the idea.

Kosovo had been a huge embarrassment for the Army. Gen. Wesley Clark, who led the operation, asked the Army to send 24 Apache helicopters to the Balkans to conduct strikes against Serb forces. The helicopters, accompanied by tanks and heavy Bradley fighting vehicles, arrived later than many expected. They were never employed. Two helicopters crashed during training exercises, killing two soldiers. The tanks were too heavy to cross key bridges.

Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army’s chief of staff at the time, came away from the fiasco believing the Army needed to get faster and lighter. New fighting vehicles would rely on information technology and speed to protect them instead of heavy armor. Army doctrine, written after Kosovo, boasted troops using new equipment would “see first, understand first, and act first” allowing them to kill the adversary without being hit.

Among some senior Army officers, though, there was great discomfort with the notion that the U.S. could ever achieve the kind of quick victories that top Army officials and Mr. Rumsfeld seemed to be promising. Even if high-tech surveillance tools could pinpoint the location of enemy tanks, they couldn’t find fighters hiding in buildings. Technology couldn’t measure the will of shadowy insurgents or the likelihood the populace would resist.

In a paper published by the Army War College and circulated widely within the Army’s officer corps, Col. McMaster wrote in early 2003 that the Army’s modernization program was being built on “an unrealistic vision of future war…that overlooked wars’ human and psychological dimensions.”

The annual war game, conducted at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., is intended to test the Army’s fighting strategies. During the week-long exercise, which involves about 600 officers, consultants and defense-department civilians, the U.S. force makes a mock attack against an adversary modeled on an actual country. Military and regional experts judge U.S. and enemy moves with the aid of sophisticated computer programs. Results are then reported to the Army’s top general and the deputy defense secretary.

This spring, the enemy commanders in the game adopted a strategy similar to what is actually happening in Iraq. “We rapidly decentralized,” says Gary Phillips, a senior Army official who played an enemy commander. “We assigned units areas of operation and told them they were on their own.”

But U.S. commanders continued to attack as if the enemy leaders were trying to control their forces from a central point. The U.S. attacks had little impact. “What’s the point of whacking a headquarters if it is not doing anything?” says Gen. Fastabend, who oversaw the game.

In past war games, Army commanders assumed locals in the Middle Eastern country where the game was set would be supportive or neutral toward the U.S. assault. This year, Gen. Fastabend brought in cultural experts to advise on what local reactions would be. They said that even citizens hostile to the enemy regime would be driven by nationalism to resist a U.S. invasion.

“I had soldiers stand up and shout at me and storm out of the room when I suggested this,” says Jo-Ann Hart, a professor at Brown University and Middle East scholar. “The military has such a strong belief in the purity of its purposes, it has a hard time understanding why others wouldn’t take the same view.”

The game ended with U.S. forces scattered piecemeal throughout the country, controlling only the small bases on which they sat. “The game looked an awful lot like Iraq right now. And I say that with great pain as someone who has two sons over there,” says Mr. Phillips, a senior official in the intelligence section of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

Next year, the Army will re-fight the same war-game scenario. For their hypothetical attack, U.S. commanders are planning a slower approach. They will seize a section of the country, stabilize it and begin reconstruction. “We can use the region as an example of what is possible in the rest of the country,” Gen. Fastabend says.

For the first time, Gen. Fastabend has tapped historians, anthropologists, humanitarian-aid officials, and city planners to take part in the games. “We’re trying to get some insights about how you define a culture,” he says. “We have got to be able to make judgments about what people are willing to die for and what they can tolerate.”

Gen. Wallace, who led Army forces during the attack on Baghdad and now oversees the Army’s officer-education system, is puzzling over the basic skills that officers will need to prevail in future wars. He’s adding a new course on the impact of culture on military operations for midcareer officers at the Army’s Command and General Staff College. To teach it, he plans on importing cultural anthropologists and marketing experts who sell to foreign audiences. “We have to start asking companies like Pepsi how it sells soda on the streets of Baghdad,” Gen. Wallace says.

At Fort Sill, Okla., artillery officers, who until recently spent their careers synchronizing blasts from earth-shaking cannons, are being retrained to coordinate projects by civil-affairs teams, construction engineers and psychological-operations soldiers, who lead propaganda efforts.

At Fort Carson, Col. McMaster’s soldiers, who deploy to Iraq this spring, are learning that even a simple training raid on an insurgent safe house can be fraught with complications.

On a cool November evening, one of Col. McMaster’s units readied for a raid on a three-story building outfitted like a hotel. It was the third time the unit had raided the building that day. The first time, they made mistakes: The unit arrested all 15 of the people playing Iraqis in the “hotel” – including the friendly mayor who had come to offer the U.S. soldiers help. The soldiers also forgot to haul off the insurgents’ computer, which had a roster of other enemy fighters.

In the second raid, Capt. Jay Watkins, the unit’s immediate commander, asked the friendly mayor for help identifying insurgents in the hotel. But once again, his men, who had to contend with doors booby-trapped to explode and simulated sniper fire, forgot to grab the computer. Finally, on the third raid, the unit worked with the mayor to get him to identify and arrest five insurgents. They fended off sniper fire and snatched the computer, which they hoisted over their head like the Stanley Cup as they marched back to their headquarters.

Before the last raid, Capt. Watkins offered a case of beer to whoever remembered to grab it. It was 1 a.m. Most of the soldiers had been up since 4:45 a.m. the previous day.

In addition to putting them through months of mock raids, the colonel also gave each officer about a dozen books on Iraqi culture and counter-insurgency operations that he expects them to read in their spare time. The Army doesn’t have a standard reading list for troops to read before deploying to Iraq, so Col. McMaster, who has a doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, prepared his own.

Col. McMaster gave his troops a quick pep talk, noting how their months of training were preparing them. “Can you feel it building?” he asked.

The exhausted soldiers stared straight ahead. A few nodded yes. Then they climbed into their sleeping bags for a few hours of sleep. A new set of practice raids and meetings began at dawn.

Write to Greg Jaffe at greg.jaffe@wsj.com

More on how Rumsfeld and co. are thinking about the future of military operations:

Rumsfeld’s Gaze Is Trained Beyond Iraq
Defense Chief Focuses on Reshaping Military
To Fight Unconventional Foes in Post-9/11 World

By GREG JAFFE
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
December 9, 2004; Page A4

WASHINGTON – Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to stay on as defense secretary seems to have a lot less to do with transforming Iraq than with transforming the Pentagon.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s public face remains largely associated with the Iraq war, and yesterday, the Pentagon chief found himself on the defensive as troops preparing to move into Iraq from Kuwait challenged him over the length of their tours and the lack of armor for their Humvees.

But inside the Defense Department, the secretary has generally delegated major decisions about Iraq to commanders on the ground. Instead, he seems more engaged in reshaping how the services fight and what weapons they buy for the next four years.

Key to that effort is a major review conducted every four years and scheduled to be delivered to Congress by early 2006. If successful, the review will drive the military away from an almost all-consuming focus on wars against conventional military forces toward a future in which it will be more prepared for guerrilla fights, like the war in Iraq, as well as catastrophic terrorist attacks using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

“The enemy is operating in smaller cells with every bit as lethal capabilities as we have, but they can turn on a dime,” Mr. Rumsfeld says in an interview. “We’ve got to find ways to be much swifter and more adept” at everything from attacking enemy fighters to spending money to build local security forces and reconstruction projects.

Congress requires the Pentagon chief to take a thorough look at the Defense Department every four years. In the past, these reviews haven’t produced big shifts in what the Pentagon buys or how it plots strategy. When the Bush administration began, there was hope that the most recent review – completed within days of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – would drive major changes in Pentagon weapons spending. But the review didn’t produce a consensus around a new direction.

“You didn’t hear yelling and screaming from the services and industry because their ox was being gored,” said Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an influential Washington think tank that does consulting work for the Defense Department.

This time around, the outcome could be different. Mr. Rumsfeld had barely eight months under his belt when the last review was conducted. Today, he knows the Pentagon much better and has had an opportunity to promote generals he trusts.

At the same time, the soaring cost of personnel and the heavy use of equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan – which has caused weapons systems to wear out faster than anticipated – add up to a big budget crunch that will create pressure for change. In addition, the Pentagon’s struggles to tame a guerrilla insurgency in Iraq have spotlighted serious deficiencies in a military that was built to fight more-conventional wars.

At the core of the current review is a controversial effort to create a list of potential 21st-century real-world crises that the services must be prepared to address. Explicitly defining the possible problems the Pentagon faces will force the services to figure out which competing programs can best deal with the threats and which are anachronisms.

“If we are successful, we will have a top-down competitive planning process with winners and losers,” said one senior defense official involved in the review. “We need a new range of defense-planning scenarios that look radically different from the past scenarios we have used to build the force,” the official said.

Unlike past scenarios, which were oriented around conventional wars in places such as North Korea and Iraq, the new scenarios will force the military to prepare to fight messy counterinsurgency wars while simultaneously dealing with potentially catastrophic attacks by terrorists or rogue nations on the U.S. and allies using nuclear weapons.

Because some of the scenarios involve U.S. military action in countries considered U.S. allies, they have triggered diplomatic blowback. Some State Department officials worry that planning around possible crises like the takeover of a nuclear-armed ally, such as Pakistan, by Islamic extremists could alienate important friends in the war on terrorism. Pentagon officials counter that the scenarios spelled out and addressed in the defense review must be detailed if they are really going to force change. “The more the scenarios hit a nerve … the more I know I am onto something,” a defense official involved in the effort says.

The military services worry that new defense scenarios could lead to big cuts to their modernization programs, most of which were hatched well before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Major weapons systems, such as aircraft carriers, fighter jets, artillery cannons and submarines are likely to be much less useful in unconventional wars.

Instead, the Pentagon will focus more on training indigenous military forces. Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander in the Middle East and Central Asia, has spoken recently about making these training missions a top priority for the Army. “It’s not fun, it’s not sexy, and the military doesn’t want to do it,” says one military officer, recently back from Iraq. But the officer says that raising the profile of these missions is necessary if the Army is going to become an effective counter-guerrilla force.

Amid such conflicting priorities and warring interests, Mr. Rumsfeld says he sees the quadrennial review as useful and “unifying the senior-level leadership in the department. … If the Defense Department goes out into the Congress and out into industry divided … we don’t go anywhere, because it is so easy in this town for someone to stop something.” In particular, he says that both Congress and the defense industry have vested interests in “keeping on doing what it is they are doing.”

Even if Mr. Rumsfeld can’t engineer change from above, a revolution from below is brewing. A generation of junior officers is “coming home from Iraq with a phenomenal amount of experience with these kinds of war. I wouldn’t trade that for the world,” said the senior defense official involved in the review.

Write to Greg Jaffe at greg.jaffe@wsj.com

Hey, I remember claiming that the reality of today requires soldiers to do more than simply fight… and being ridiculed for it.

Glad to see the reading list concept, translators and other ways to figure out what the hell is going on over there are coming up on the radar.

Fighting until the organized resistance is gone is important, it always will be, but that obviously isn’t the end game is it?

Yep, guess I’m just a naive idealistic ultra-liberal with no idea what the hell is going on.

Give it time, you’ll hear about other non-combat strategies being employed as well – once people realize you can’t easily win just because you have the military might to destroy anyone that is willing to stand up and face you.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Hey, I remember claiming that the reality of today requires soldiers to do more than simply fight… and being ridiculed for it.

Glad to see the reading list concept, translators and other ways to figure out what the hell is going on over there are coming up on the radar.

Fighting until the organized resistance is gone is important, it always will be, but that obviously isn’t the end game is it?

Yep, guess I’m just a naive idealistic ultra-liberal with no idea what the hell is going on.

Give it time, you’ll hear about other non-combat strategies being employed as well – once people realize you can’t easily win just because you have the military might to destroy anyone that is willing to stand up and face you.[/quote]

Amazingly, many seem to still think otherwise. If military muscle was that much of a consideration for our “enemies” they wouldn’t still be trying so hard. We severely underestimated their belief system and the thoughts of forcing democracy on them make me wonder if the general public truly thinks the average Iraq-native thinks like they do. Propoganda tactics and public relations should have been employed heavily long before now…but that is a little hard to do when you rush into war…especially one that we supposedly already won but are still fighting and losing soldiers in. I also liked the part about how our soldiers in the field don’t have the needed armour to shield against attacks…but we have more than enough resources to make sure Barry Bonds doesn’t break any more records.

vroom stated: “Yep, guess I’m just a naive idealistic ultra-liberal with no idea what the hell is going on.”

True…so very very true :slight_smile:

Zeb,

I guess that would imply the top brass of the military and high level administration officials that you cheerleaders place so much faith in share this problem with me… :wink:

Hahahaha… how ironic is that!

Hmmm, if the current strategy was working so well, and all is going as planned, why the need to change strategies? How odd.

Part of the reason they still fight hard is the belief that we, as a society, don’t have the will to carry on the fight. It’s standard propaganda from OBL and crowd to claim the U.S. is a paper tiger, and that the public at home will demand a pull out if there are casualties.

On the other hand, you had the Pentagon endorsing a strategy intended to minimize destruction of enemy forces while taking down the administration/command centers.

In hindsight, not a good combination – especially when the neighboring states are succoring the terrorists fighting against you.

No major war has ever been fought that didn’t involve setbacks, or the need to improvise and change strategies. The Romans took a generation to figure out the proper strategy to defeat Hannibal – Hannibal, unfortunately for him and Carthage, never did nail down how to really defeat Rome, despite decades of success. Robert E Lee had great success against the Union for years – but not at the end.

I’m glad to see those in charge are being flexible with their thinking and are changing their strategies based on what has worked and what hasn’t – that will allow them to avoid future casualties on our side. And allow them to achieve what they set out to achieve.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:

No major war has ever been fought that didn’t involve setbacks, or the need to improvise and change strategies. The Romans took a generation to figure out the proper strategy to defeat Hannibal – Hannibal, unfortunately for him and Carthage, never did nail down how to really defeat Rome, despite decades of success. Robert E Lee had great success against the Union for years – but not at the end.

I’m glad to see those in charge are being flexible with their thinking and are changing their strategies based on what has worked and what hasn’t – that will allow them to avoid future casualties on our side. And allow them to achieve what they set out to achieve.[/quote]

Now, could you explain why, when Kerry claimed being flexible was an asset, many conservatives claimed that this was why they were NOT voting for him? Amazing, a man gets voted into office because he is “unwaivering” only to become “flexible” within the next month…yet you all don’t see the irony? I am in awe.

Yeah, ditto on what the good Prof said.

I’ve noticed an awful lot of “adjustments” coming out of the administration all of a sudden when everything was already “perfect” right before the election.

Do our resident cheerleaders realize they are now cheering for courses of action the left was calling for a few months ago?

Two big items… that were ridiculed when proposed by the left right before the election:

Bush is about to try to improve international relations which started with a warm up visit to Canada.

Rumsfeld and Co have figured that strategic changes are required for situations like Iraq.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

Now, could you explain why, when Kerry claimed being flexible was an asset, many conservatives claimed that this was why they were NOT voting for him? Amazing, a man gets voted into office because he is “unwaivering” only to become “flexible” within the next month…yet you all don’t see the irony? I am in awe.[/quote]

Because that wasn’t what Kerry claimed at all. “Unwaivering” described Bush’s commitment to winning – the fear about Kerry was that he would pull out before victory was achieved, not that he would be flexible in figuring out how to achieve victory.

vroom:

I’m sorry, but you’re incorrect. No one made fun of the idea of allies, or of international relations. I know you like to caricature the Republican position as being against allies, but that’s not the case.

The idea that was rejected was bending to the will of the countries that were actively working to subvert U.S. efforts in Iraq. I don’t see how this is changed by the President’s trip to Canada.

Secondly, I don’t think there has ever been a problem with adaptive strategy. Again, it doesn’t go well with your caricature of the Republican position, but it goes quite well with the actual Republican position, which is more concerned with winning.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Professor X wrote:

Now, could you explain why, when Kerry claimed being flexible was an asset, many conservatives claimed that this was why they were NOT voting for him? Amazing, a man gets voted into office because he is “unwaivering” only to become “flexible” within the next month…yet you all don’t see the irony? I am in awe.

Because that wasn’t what Kerry claimed at all. “Unwaivering” described Bush’s commitment to winning – the fear about Kerry was that he would pull out before victory was achieved, not that he would be flexible in figuring out how to achieve victory.[/quote]

Gawd, I don’t even want to start this argument again because Kerry lost and we know it, but not once did Kerry state that this was the goal and no one thought that was what he was going to do. The same mode of action that I predicted he would take…focus on relations in that country instead of just rifle fire…seems to be what he was criticized for. I mean, you can dig up the old posts because they are still on the forum. We have been through this.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
vroom:

I’m sorry, but you’re incorrect. No one made fun of the idea of allies, or of international relations. I know you like to caricature the Republican position as being against allies, but that’s not the case.[/quote]

I’m sorry, but maybe you skipped those threads on this site. MANY here laughed at the idea of international relations with the attitude that we don’t need the approval of anyone else to do what we want to do. When it was explained, even by Kerry, that his goal was not to rely on the permission of other countries to make decisions, he was still criticized for it…now it is OK? You all are funny as hell. Anything Bush does, even if it was what you laughed at the other guy for, is fine…as long as Bush said it.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

Gawd, I don’t even want to start this argument again because Kerry lost and we know it, but not once did Kerry state that this was the goal and no one thought that was what he was going to do. The same mode of action that I predicted he would take…focus on relations in that country instead of just rifle fire…seems to be what he was criticized for. I mean, you can dig up the old posts because they are still on the forum. We have been through this.[/quote]

You’re right, we have been through this. Kerry was criticized for claiming to have a plan while never somehow wanting to let anyone know what the plan was. He was criticized for proposing to rely on allies who didn’t want to supply troops or money, and who specifically said they weren’t going to do so, he was criticized for claiming he could somehow magically and quickly increase the number of special forces troops we had available, and, of course, he was criticized because people thought he would cut and run. Sound familiar?

[quote]Professor X wrote:

I’m sorry, but maybe you skipped those threads on this site. MANY here laughed at the idea of international relations with the attitude that we don’t need the approval of anyone else to do what we want to do. When it was explained, even by Kerry, that his goal was not to rely on the permission of other countries to make decisions, he was still criticized for it…now it is OK? You all are funny as hell. Anything Bush does, even if it was what you laughed at the other guy for, is fine…as long as Bush said it.[/quote]

The idea that Kerry wanted to get the permission of the U.N. when the U.N. was corrupted was criticized. The idea that Kerry wanted to get permission from other countries was criticized, and people didn’t believe Kerry when he said that wasn’t what he meant. He, in a very lawyerly fashion, distinguished that he wouldn’t ask “any country” for permission to defend the US – he didn’t say anything about the UN, and people noted that.

The only thing that comes close to what you two are alleging is when Kerry was criticized for saying he wanted to wage “a more sensitive war,” which people took to mean wimpy on the terrorists rather than culturally sensitive to the Iraqis. Poor word choice by Kerry, and he never did come back and defend it well.

Kerry ran a horrible campaign concerning the Iraq issue. He vacillated on being for or against; he had a secret plan that never got aired; he wanted to shift the burden on allies who didn’t want the burden; etc. His positions (plural on purpose) on Iraq and the GWOT probably did more than anything else to cost him the election.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
The idea that Kerry wanted to get permission from other countries was criticized, and people didn’t believe Kerry when he said that wasn’t what he meant. He, in a very lawyerly fashion, distinguished that he wouldn’t ask “any country” for permission to defend the US – he didn’t say anything about the UN, and people noted that.[/quote]

So, what makes you think now that we are looking to allies but NOT asking for permission? I don’t understand what you were basing disbelief of Kerry on but now that Bush is recommending similar action, you ASSUME that it is a completely different action than Kerry would have taken? From what you have written, it seems no matter what Kerry said, you had already made up your mind…not that what he said bothered you so much. You would flip anything into justification for your vote. The bottom line is, this war is OBVIOUSLY not going as smoothly as is being relayed to the general public so the plan needs to be changed. Yet many of you criticized anyone who said this just two months ago and nearly called us stupid or “against most americans”. None of what you wrote justifies that line of thinking.

I don’t think anyone is even saying that Kerry ran a great or flawless campaign, just that for many, it didn’t matter what he said or did, they simply thought Bush was more manly. Now that we are making changes, was the addition of a non-scaled down Patriot Act, the united intelligence community (which in my humble non-political opinion seems to remove any checks and balances), and the all out war on minor supplements worth it (going as far as McCain stating that federal legislation of pro baseball is a threat)?

Your articles states that our men in the field are not getting the equipment they need. WHY is that not the focus? Why does this administration seem more interested in giving the government even more power than helping the men fighting for it?

[quote]vroom wrote:
Zeb,

I guess that would imply the top brass of the military and high level administration officials that you cheerleaders place so much faith in share this problem with me… :wink:

Hahahaha… how ironic is that![/quote]

Gee vroom I just like it when you call yourself an “ultra-liberal.” LOL

[quote]Professor X wrote:

So, what makes you think now that we are looking to allies but NOT asking for permission? I don’t understand what you were basing disbelief of Kerry on but now that Bush is recommending similar action, you ASSUME that it is a completely different action than Kerry would have taken? From what you have written, it seems no matter what Kerry said, you had already made up your mind…not that what he said bothered you so much. You would flip anything into justification for your vote. The bottom line is, this war is OBVIOUSLY not going as smoothly as is being relayed to the general public so the plan needs to be changed. Yet many of you criticized anyone who said this just two months ago and nearly called us stupid or “against most americans”. None of what you wrote justifies that line of thinking.

I don’t think anyone is even saying that Kerry ran a great or flawless campaign, just that for many, it didn’t matter what he said or did, they simply thought Bush was more manly. Now that we are making changes, was the addition of a non-scaled down Patriot Act, the united intelligence community (which in my humble non-political opinion seems to remove any checks and balances), and the all out war on minor supplements worth it (going as far as McCain stating that federal legislation of pro baseball is a threat)?

Your articles states that our men in the field are not getting the equipment they need. WHY is that not the focus? Why does this administration seem more interested in giving the government even more power than helping the men fighting for it?
[/quote]

Prof –

I can’t claim to explain the posts of everyone who voted for Bush, but I can explain mine. I didn’t trust Kerry w/r/t his commitment to Iraq because of his wavering in his statements on whether we should be there at all. So when he said something to back up that belief, and said it in a specifically “nuanced” manner that I am trained to pick up on (and he’s a lawyer and a politician – he knew precisely how he was phrasing things), it backed up that belief.

Now, as to going to allies, you’re comparing apples to oranges. Kerry was criticized for the idea that he would go to allies to get some sort of permission ex ante before allowing action that he believed would be in the best interests of the U.S. He was also criticized for his contemptuous put downs of the allies who went with us into Iraq (“coalition of the coerced”).

Bush is going in ex post and talking to allies. He talked to allies ex ante, built the best coalition he could given the circumstances and the massive conflicts of interests some of our putative allies had, and acted as he believed was best for U.S. interests. He’s opening dialogue on other issues, and trying to get more support for actions we are taking and will continue to take with or without the extra support. See the difference there?

As for equipment for the men in the field, this should be the focus. I hope they are getting them equipment as quickly as possible, and if there is any shortage of equipment that it is employed in the most logical and efficient manner, with the greatest number of armored vehicles inthe most dangerous areas, and not in Kuwait.

As for McCain and the steroid thing, McCain’s agenda does not affect the President’s policy on Iraq. Separate issue – and McCain’s always been someone to pursue his own agenda, as witnessed by that affront to the First Amendment, the McCain-Feingold Bill.

As for the Patriot Act, I will be interested in seeing what is introduced – the original act was passed with sunset provisions on purpose so they could revisit the issues and see how things had worked, and add and subtract based on experience. I will follow this with interest.

Boston,

You are being ridiculous. Kerry wasn’t criticised for “wanting to ask permission”. The republicans characterized his stance as “wanting to ask for permission” when it clearly wasn’t that.

You are merely replacing Kerry’s stances with your preferred interpretation of his stance so that you can knock it down.

All this happens at the same time while you are willing to swallow any statement “as made” by the current administration, as if they aren’t a bunch of politicians themselves.

The fact of the matter is that Bush is now implementing many of the planks in Kerry’s platform, probably because he didn’t really have any ideas other than continue doing what he was already doing.

Now that you are cheering for these ideas because the Bush administration is carrying them out, while you were denouncing them as unreasonable a few months ago, you have become transparent.

Pretending that democrats were not ridiculed and decried for proposing these very same actions is obscene.