The Best Defense

Gen. Shelton (III): Iraq went so wrong because of Bush administration 'lies'

In his new memoirs, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton offers an interesting twist on why Iraq went so badly: He argues that Rumsfeld elbowed aside Gen. Richard Myers and the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also intimidated and flattered Gen. Tommy R. Franks while working directly with him, and so basically went to war without getting the advice of his top military advisors.

The war plan that Rumsfeld and Franks went on to cook up, Shelton concludes, was "a fiasco." (479) (Hmm -- interesting choice of words.)

Shelton also writes that there was no reason to go war against Iraq. "The fact is that we had Iraq contained and they were not a threat." (419) Also, "There was absolutely no link between him [Saddam] and 9/11." (474) No big revelations, but I was glad to see this stated so flatly by a former high official.

His bottom line: "President Bush and his team got us enmeshed in Iraq based on extraordinarily poor intelligence and a series of lies purporting that we had to protect American from Saddam's evil empire because it posed such a threat to our national security." (474-475)

Just in case you weren't paying attention, he elaborates on that charge later in the book. "Spinning the possible possession of WMDs as a threat to the United States in the way they did is, in my opinion, tantamount to intentionally deceiving the American people." (488)

These are pretty serious charges, given that they come from the man who was the nation's top military officer for four years immediately preceding 9/11.

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The Best Defense

Calling Article 88?

A young infantryman based at Fort Hood wonders whether it is a violation of the UCMJ for a soldier to drive on a base in a car with an anti-Obama bumper sticker. He notes, "I'm told that at Fort Leavenworth, home of the CGSC, having such overtly political bumper stickers will get you a ticket from the MPs. Evidently, Fort Hood has no such policy. I find all of this to be very troubling."

I wonder if this is because Leavenworth is officer-heavy, and commissioned officers aren't allowed to dis the president or other senior officials. I remember someone telling me that no such prohibition on "contemptuous words" spoken against senior officials applies to enlisted. It reminds me of what a drill sergeant at Fort Benning once said to me: "We're not like the Marines. You can be a Marxist for all I care. We don't care what you think, we just care if you can hit the target."

I hope Ft. Hood isn't going easy on the anti-Obama stuff just because old George W. Bush clears brush up the road. Remember, fellas, we only have one president at a time.