Thursday, December 21, 2006

Help Wanted - Trigger Pullers and Yes-Men Generals Needed, No Experience Necessary

What do you do when you've screwed everything up? Why not try more of the same?

George Bush has finally acknowledged that America is "not winning" in Iraq. His answer is to send in a few thousand more troops. It was all going so well until his generals went public saying it would be helpful if he first identified a mission for these new troops. Tough to argue with that one so now George has gone back to the drawing board to dream up some reason to order a troop surge to Iraq.

Back when George Bush insisted America was winning in Iraq he also routinely claimed he was deferring to the judgment of the professionals, his generals. Now that he's given up the business about winning it seems he's not reluctant to substitute his genius for the generals' either. After all, who would know best how to fight terrorists and insurgents, all in the midst of a civil war - Bush or a bunch of generals? According to the Washington Post, it's all very confusing:

"At a Chicago news conference in July, for instance, Bush said he would yield to Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Iraq commander.

"'General Casey will make the decisions as to how many troops we have there,' Bush said, adding: 'He'll decide how best to achieve victory and the troop levels necessary to do so. I've spent a lot of time talking to him about troop levels. And I've told him this: I said, 'You decide, General.'

"By yesterday, however, Bush indicated that he will not necessarily let military leaders decide, ducking a question about whether he would overrule them. 'The opinion of my commanders is very important,' he said. 'They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot.' He added: 'I agree with them that there's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops before I agree on that strategy.'

"A senior aide said later that Bush would not let the military decide the matter. 'He's never left the decision to commanders,' said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so Bush's comments would be the only ones on the record."

Bush's "go to guy", General John Abizaid has announced his retirement only days after stating that more troops wouldn't help in Iraq. His departure leaves the way for Bush to sidestep his critical and inconvenient service chiefs and find himself a nice "yes man" to fill Abizaid's shoes.

Still, growing the military by 30-40,000 combat soldiers, "trigger pullers" in modern parlance, will take at least five years to achieve, even after lowering standards for enlistees.

"It's so frustrating to me we have to be four years into a war with the Marine Corps and Army on the verge of breaking that we decide we need more Army and Marines," said retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, former commandant of the Army War College.

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