Of the Iraq war and "tactical errors"
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George McGovern once said, "I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
Amend men with "and women" and it's just as pertinent as it ever. 72 percent of soldiers in Iraq think the U.S. should leave Iraq in 2006. But what do they know? They're just the folks on the ground fighting the war -- and a Zogby poll is enough input from them.
Leave it to the politicians to frame what we talk about when we talk about Iraq. A Washington Post article today catalogues the back and forth between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It's worth quoting at length just to get a sense of how incredibly vacuous the discussion of this war is within the Bush administration.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.
Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.
"Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics, your techniques and your procedures," Rumsfeld told interviewer Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. "If someone says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about."
Rice said she "wasn't sitting around counting" U.S. tactical errors and instead meant her remark figuratively. "The point I was making . . . is that, of course, if you've ever made decisions, you've undoubtedly made mistakes in the decisions that you've made, but that the important thing is to get the big strategic decisions right."
So, over three years after the war began, with U.S. soldiers saying that we need to get out of Iraq, after intelligence officials warned the president that the presence of U.S. troops will only make the insurgency grow stronger, we have members of the administration publicly disagreeing on the nature of warfare? Maybe someone could take some time out of their busy schedule of speaking "figuratively" and sit down and actually count those "tactical errors," eh?
It's also interesting that we read more about politicians' backpedaling and justifying of this war to each other rather than those in Iraq, the families of those who are dying, or the taxpayers who are funding this war.
America, this just ain't about you.
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is an assistant editor at AlterNet.