Day By Day

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The blame game escalates -- Bacevich takes on Sanchez

I suppose it was only a matter of time.... Andrew Bacevich, writing in the WaPo, argues that the problems we face in Iraq are primarily the fault of military, not civilian leadership.
Critics fault the Bush administration for not having provided U.S. commanders with enough "boots on the ground." This, they say, accounts for the current stalemate. Such an interpretation conforms nicely to the reigning demands of political correctness, absolving the military of any responsibility for its current predicament. But it will not wash. The principal defect of the war effort is not that field commanders have lacked sufficient troops. The real problem is that they -- and [Lt. Gen. Ricardo] Sanchez in particular -- have never devised an effective strategy.
Read it here.

Bacevich, I think, is wrong to brand the Iraq operations a failure. They aren't. But he is right on in his scepticism regarding the military command. We see this in every conflict. Things inevitably go wrong and when they do the military blames civilian leaders for the problems. Sources in the Pentagon, and even in field commands, leak to a willing press, political opponents of the incumbent administration trumpet the charges, and as political pressure grows, the pace and critical content of the leaks increases. Other agencies, like the intelligence services, pitch in. The administration counter-leaks. And so it goes, and so it goes....

Is the public adequately informed in the process? Of course not. The fog of leaks distorts and blurs everything.

And don't expect historians to sort it out. The sad truth is that professional scholars are just as partisan as the political operatives themselves. In today's profession advocacy trumps objectivity nearly every time.

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