Bush Says War’s Outcome ‘Will Merit the Sacrifice’
President and Petraeus Discuss Strategy as the U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Rises to 4,000
By Karen DeYoung and Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 25, 2008; A01
As the American military death toll in Iraq reached 4,000, President Bush conferred yesterday with top U.S. officials in Washington and in Baghdad and vowed in a public statement that the outcome of the war “will merit the sacrifice.”
Bush held a two-hour videoconference with Gen. David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. Petraeus reiterated his plan to halt U.S. troop withdrawals, begun late last fall, at the end of July. At that point, he has said, he will “evaluate” whether Iraqi forces and a reduced number of U.S. troops can maintain the lower levels of violence.
“We have every desire to continue with the withdrawal of forces” at some time after July, one military official said. “The issue will be once we remove over 25 percent of combat power plus other associated units . . . we let the dust settle . . . and look to see where we’re at,” he said, adding that the evaluation period would probably be at least six weeks. Petraeus has offered no guarantee that conditions will allow further withdrawals before Bush leaves office.
One can but wonder to whose sacrifice the president is referring. Certainly he is a man who has never sacrificed anything in his comforted, coddled, protected and excused personal and public life.
Petraeus, a man Admiral Fallon (his commanding officer) termed “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” is going to ‘evaluate’ the most under-evaluated war the United States has ever fought. Fallon evaluated it more than once and found, as public opinion has it on a seven to three margin, that the war is not only unwinnable, but puts ourselves and Iraqis in a constant and never-ending meat grinder.
That grinder has just dispatched its 4,000th American soldier on its way to ‘meriting the sacrifice.’ Admiral Fallon disagrees and Admiral Fallon is gone, fired for his opinion, joining others fired or retired for their opinions, including
- General Eric Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff
- Major Gen. Paul Eaton, who helped revive the Iraqi army, described Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically” and called for his resignation.
- Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency and now a Yale professor, said in a speech covered by the Providence Journal that America’s invasion of Iraq might be the worst strategic mistake in American history.
- Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a four-star former commander of the Central Command, describes administration behavior that ranged from “true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility” to “lying, incompetence and corruption.”
- Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, has written in Time magazine that the Iraq war was unnecessary
- Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor describes a willfully self-deluding planning process.
- Maj. Gen. John Batiste turned down a third star and a tour in Iraq as the second-ranking U.S. military officer there. He retired rather than continue to work for Rumsfeld.
This is what President Bush means when he says (repeatedly) that he listens to ‘commanders on the ground‘ and that they, rather than ‘politicians‘ will determine our Iraqi policy.
Not to beat the man to death with his own words about listening to the ‘professionals’ and his vice-presidents famous response of “So?,” but there are a few others out there to be heard from, specifcally the Foreign Service and military officers making up ‘Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change,’
- Avis T. Bohlen, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and Ambassador to Bulgaria
- William J. Crowe, Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Bill Clinton and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan
- Jeffrey Davidow, former Ambassador to Zambia, Venezuela, and Mexico.
- William DePree, former Ambassador to Bangladesh and Mozambique
- Donald B. Easum, former Ambassador to Nigeria and Upper Volta
- Charles W. Freeman, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
- William Harrop, the first President Bush’s Ambassador to Israel
- Arthur A. Hartman, Ambassador to France under President Carter and to the USSR under President Reagan
- Joseph Hoar, former Commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East
- H. Allen Holmes, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and former Ambassador to Portugal
- Robert V. Keeley, former Ambassador to Greece, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius
- Samuel Lewis, former Ambassador to Israel
- Princeton N. Lyman, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, and Ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria
- Donald McHenry, former Ambassador to the United Nations
- Merrill McPeak, former Air Force Chief of Staff
- Jack F. Matlock, Jr., a member of the National Security Council under Reagan and Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991
- George Moose, former Ambassador to Senegal and Benin
- David D. Newsom, former Ambassador to the Philippines and Indonesia
- Phyllis Oakley, former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research
- Robert B. Oakley, former Ambassador to Pakistan, Somalia and Zaire
- James D. Phillips, former Ambassador to Congo and Burundi
- John Reinhardt, former Director of the United States Information Agency and Ambassador to Nigeria
- William Y. Smith, former Chief of Staff for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
- Ronald I. Spiers, Under Secretary General of the United Nations for Political Affairs and former Ambassador to the Bahamas, Turkey, and Pakistan
- Michael Sterner, former Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates
- Stansfield Turner, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
- Alexander Watson, former Ambassador to Brazil and Peru
These are men and women who have served their country as ambassadors to more than thirty countries, chaired the Joint Chiefs, directed the CIA and USIA. These are not lightweights, partisan politicians or anti-Bush factions, they represent (only in part) the most vocal and wide-ranging opposition to a United States foreign policy ever assembled.
These voices are the most compelling support for the 70% American opinion that this war’s outcome will never merit the sacrifice.
Indeed, the sacrifice has been borne disproportionately by what Donald Rumsfeld left us of a mostly-destroyed military. That downsizing decision (so appropriately based on Rumsfeld’s experience at G.D. Searle pharmaceutical) for the first time in American history put us in the position of fighting a full-time war with part-time soldiers.
The 4,000th soldier and (arguably) millionth Iraqi have gone to their graves for one man’s vision of sacrifice.
Leaving Iraq will leave a vacuum in which tribes will fight it out for power and influence. Staying the course in Iraq will support an endless vacuum in which tribes fight it out for power and influence. The only difference is our flailing and misguided hope of influencing the outcome, along with continued profiteering and an effort to control both oil and politics in the cesspool we have created.
There is no one left to believe in that but George and Dick.