For all the talk from President Bush about how Congress shouldn’t second guess the military, the truth is, his administration has not only been second guessing the military, they’ve been actively working to increase political micromanagement of the military. In Charlie Savage’s must-read book Takeover, Savage documents how Dick Cheney’s office worked tirelessly to undermine military JAG lawyers on matters like torture, detainment of “enemy combatants,” and military tribunals. The JAGs opposed administration policy on all of these issues, for a variety of reasons. Cheney and the Office of Legal Counsel did everything they could to dispense with objections from military lawyers on these issues, from going around them, to putting more civilian buffers between them and the top brass at the Pentagon, to ultimately concluding that their opinions don’t matter, and keeping them in the dark about what policies the administration would actually end up adopting.
We also now know that when military officers do get it right, are overruled by political appointees, and then are later proven correct, the Bush administration will do everything they can to toss said military leaders under the bus (see Gen. Eric Shinseki for one example).
The latest example comes from Former three-star general and Iraq War leader Ricardo Sanchez, who has a new book. The book doesn’t take kindly to the Bush administration–or to Donald Rumsfeld in particular.
Here’s Sanchez on the administration’s lack of a plan for post-war Iraq, and subsequent efforts to cover up the fact that said plan didn’t exist
That decision set up the United States for a failed first year in Iraq. There is no question about it. And I was supposed to believe that neither the Secretary of Defense nor anybody above him knew anything about it? Impossible! Rumsfeld knew about it. Everybody on the NSC knew about it, including Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, and Colin Powell. Vice President Cheney knew about it. And President Bush knew about it.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that they all embraced this decision to some degree. And if it had not been for the moral courage of Gen. John Abizaid to stand up to them all and reverse Franks’s troop drawdown order, there’s no telling how much more damage would have been done.
In the meantime, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars were unnecessarily spent, and worse yet, too many of our most precious military resource, our American soldiers, were unnecessarily wounded, maimed, and killed as a result. In my mind, this action by the Bush administration amounts to gross incompetence and dereliction of duty.
Let’s also clear up one other thing about this administration. They aren’t pro-military or pro-“the troops.” They’re pro-war. There’s a big difference.