Re-do. Sorta.

So, I realize after looking at this again, I wasn't very clear. I meant to seperate the serious thinkers, i.e., the Wolfowitz's and Cohen's, from the idolaters. I didn't do that by any stretch. In a rush to get the thought out of my head, I lumped some men whom I've come to admire, with fools whom I don't.

Really, my rant should have had little to do with the fools who act as little more than an echo chamber, and more to do with what I take to be thoughtful critique.

Here's a few quotes that explicate the gist of what I was feeling. All of the following I take as valuable information on the current administration that doesn't follow the usuall call and response from the White House to pudit. I hope to expand on this, but for now I have homework calling me. Belgravia Dispatch took from this article by Bill Kristol and Gary Schmitt:
"And there is no question that American forces are stretched thin. Having rejected any idea of significantly expanding the size of American ground forces, the Rumsfeld-led Pentagon is on the verge of breaking the backs of the National Guard and the active duty Army. Moreover, there is no question that the U.S. is ill prepared for another serious crisis that might require the use of American military forces.

But the cost of reducing troop levels in Iraq or Afghanistan will be high. Neither Iraq's nor Afghanistan's militaries will be ready to take on the burden of fighting their respective insurgencies in the time frame Secretary Rumsfeld is pushing for. Creating new and effective institutions like an Iraqi or Afghan army takes time, as does fighting an insurgency. Neither task here is at all impossible but, if rushed, we do risk ultimate failure for lack of patience.

Secretary Rumsfeld has time and again said that he defers to his generals in Iraq about the number of troops needed. No one vaguely familiar with how decisions are made in this Pentagon believes that to be the case. And, indeed, as visiting members of Congress and military reporters have repeatedly reported from Iraq, the military officers there know quite well that more troops are needed, not less.

The British memo notes that, while Pentagon officials favor "a relatively bold reduction," the battlefield commanders "approach is more cautious." That is one way to put it. Another would be to say that Secretary Rumsfeld is putting the president's strategic vision at risk, while those soldiering in Iraq are trying to save a policy in the face of inadequate resources."

From Eliot Cohen's article in the Washinton Post (linked above):
"You supported the Iraq war when it was launched in 2003. If you had known then what you know now, would you still have been in favorof it?

As I watched President Bush give his speech at Fort Bragg to rally support for the war the other week, I contemplated this question from a different vantage than my usual professorial perch. Our oldest son now dresses like the impassive soldiers who served as stage props for that event; he too wears crossed rifles, jump wings and a Ranger tab. Before long he will fight in the war that I advocated, and that the president was defending.

So it is not an academic matter when I say that what I took to be the basic rationale for the war still strikes me as sound. Iraq was a policy problem that we could evade in words but not escape in reality. But what I did not know then that I do know now is just how incompetent we would be at carrying out that task. And that's what prevents me from answering this question with an unhesitating yes...

...But a pundit should not recommend a policy without adequate regard for the ability of those in charge to execute it, and here I stumbled. I could not imagine, for example, that the civilian and military high command would treat "Phase IV" -- the post-combat period that has killed far more Americans than the "real" war -- as of secondary importance to the planning of Gen. Tommy Franks's blitzkrieg. I never dreamed that Ambassador Paul Bremer and Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the two top civilian and military leaders early in the occupation of Iraq -- brave, honorable and committed though they were -- would be so unsuited for their tasks, and that they would serve their full length of duty nonetheless. I did not expect that we would begin the occupation with cockamamie schemes of creating an immobile Iraqi army to defend the country's borders rather than maintain internal order, or that the under-planned, under-prepared and in some respects mis-manned Coalition Provisional Authority would seek to rebuild Iraq with big construction contracts awarded under federal acquisition regulations, rather than with small grants aimed at getting angry, bewildered young Iraqi men off the streets and into jobs...

...A variety of emotions wash over me as I reflect on our Iraq war: Disbelief at the length of time it took to call an insurgency by its name. Alarm at our continuing failure to promote at wartime speed the colonels and generals who have a talent for fighting it, while also failing to sweep aside those who do not. Incredulity at seeing decorations pinned on the chests and promotions on the shoulders of senior leaders -- both civilians and military -- who had the helm when things went badly wrong. Disdain for the general who thinks Job One is simply whacking the bad guys and who, ever conscious of public relations, cannot admit that American soldiers have tortured prisoners or, in panic, killed innocent civilians. Contempt for the ghoulish glee of some who think they were right in opposing the war, and for the blithe disregard of the bungles by some who think they were right in favoring it. A desire -- barely controlled -- to slap the highly educated fool who, having no soldier friends or family, once explained to me that mistakes happen in all wars, and that the casualties are not really all that high and that I really shouldn't get exercised about them."

From Seeker Blogs compilation of exit interviews with Paul Wolfowitz:
"What is it like - i.e., decision-making in the real world, and the least-worst-choice problem?

MB: "But how certain do you feel that you are right?"

PW: "I think someone once said that decision-making is usually trying to choose the least crappy of the various alternatives. It does seem to me that so many things we have to decide are fifty-five—forty-five decisions, or sixty—forty decisions. Arrogance is one of the worst failings in a senior decision-maker. I really admire people like President Bush and Harry Truman, who were good at it. Dean Acheson said about Truman that he was free of that most crippling of emotions, regret. Once he made a decision, he moved on. And I think that’s what characterizes really good decision-makers. I think this president is one. He accepts the fact that if he’s batting six hundred, he’s doing pretty well. I was in the Oval Office the day he signed the executive order to invade Iraq, and I know how painful that was. He actually went out in the Rose Garden just to be alone for a little while. It’s hard to imagine how hard that was. And of course you can’t be sure, maybe ten years from now or five years from now, how it will look. We still don’t know how it will turn out, so you can’t possibly be sure you were right.

PW: "I still think it was right. I’d advise it all over again if I had to. There is this sort of intellectual notion that there is such a thing as perfect knowledge, and you wait to get perfect knowledge before you make a decision. In the first place, even if there were perfect knowledge, it would be too late by the time you got it. And secondly, there is no such thing. Accepting the imperfection of knowledge is a very important part of being a great decision-maker. I’m not. I understand the process intellectually, less so emotionally. I feel a lot more comfortable about any decision I make if I feel like I have thought through all the arguments—even if at the end of the day there is not a mathematical formula that tells you which one is right. But at least you won’t discover a factor you hadn’t even considered."

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