The way the Bush administration operates
"By their deeds shall you know them."
Yes, I mean incompetence. Although the troops have performed admirably, this war has not been led well. Bush may boast loudly about his war on terror, but his actions show incompetence. Do you remember 1 May 2003 (local version; the event used to be mentioned on the WhiteHouse website but was removed) when Bush flew onto the carrier, with a giant sign "Mission Accomplished" on it, and told us that "major combat operations have ended" and that we have prevailed --implying the war was won? Did that show any understanding of the situation? (Six months later, Bush disavowed any connection with that sign, but the White House later said that the White House asked a private vendor to produce it. See this article (local version)) And two weeks before, on 16 April 2003, Gen. Tommy Franks was telling commanders in Baghdad that it was time to make plans to pull forces out of Iraq. They simply did not understand the situation. (See this article (local version).)
Below are some points about the war. Some of them show that the Bush administration did not listen to advice. Others show that the Bush administration did not care about important issues and that they simply did not plan properly.
1. No plan for rebuilding Iraq. This article (local version)says that post-war planning was non-existent. It talks about a meeting of war planners and intelligence planners in March 2003 (the month the Iraq war started) in which a lieutenant colonol who was giving a briefing on the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war could say only, "To Be Provided".
A veteran State Department officer involved directly in Iraq policy said, "We didn't go in with a plan. We went in with a theory." The report was, "based on official documents and on interviews with more than three dozen current and former civilian and military officials who participated directly in planning for the war and its aftermath." Search the web, and you will find many articles reporting that there was no plan for rebuilding Iraq. To top of page
2. Warnings about preventing looting ignored. After the US troops took Baghdad, the looting began (local version). Hospitals, schools, university buildings, and more were targets. The worst looting was at the Iraq Museum, which contained the largest collection of Near East artifacts in the world. For two days, the looting went on, with no one trying to stop them. Not only the collection but computers, furniture supplies everything was taken. This looting of so many places showed complete lack of planning by the Bush administration.
The Bush administration was warned about looting! This site (local version)says that archeologists and others spoke repeatedly to the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Pentagon about the need to protect musuems. Further, the U.S. is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, which makes clear that the protection of mseums, hospitals, etc., are the responsibility of the occupying force.
This website (local version) says that the only sites that the US Forces guarded were the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Interior, and oil fields. The Bush administration respected and protected oil, but not the Geneva Convention or the people of Iraq. To top of page
3. Inadequate planning, wrong expectations. The administration did not expect the Iraq war to last this long. Remember when Bush landed on a carrier and declared victory, saying, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."? (From his speech on 2 May 2003) Paul Bremer said (local version), "There was planning, but planning for a situation that didn't arise." The Bush administration simply did not forsee what would happen.
On 1 April 2003, Rumsfeld sharply rebuked (local version) a senior battlefield commander for telling reporters that Pentagon planners failed to anticipate the fierce level of Iraqi resistance, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Myers complained that remarks by retired generals on TV was not helpful. These people were voicing rational but dissenting opinions, which the Bush administration did not want to hear.
In November 2003, John McCain criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the war and challenged Rumfeld's assertion that the 132,000 American troops in Iraq can defeat the insurgency in Iraq. "The simple truth is that we do not have sufficient forces in Iraq to meet our military objectives," said McCain.
An article in the Antagonist says that, "Prior to the war, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, said publicly that he thought the invasion plan lacked sufficient manpower, and he was slapped down by the Pentagon's civilian leadership for saying so," and that "During the war, concerns about troop strength expressed by retired generals also provoked angry denunciations by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." Paul Bremer, administrator for the U.S.-led occupation government, has also said that there were not enough troops in May 2003.
The above paragraphs reinforce my opinion that this administration does not take criticism of its views easily and is swayed more by their ideology than by reason. To top of page
4. Disbanding the Iraqi army the worst mistake. In May 2003, a month or so into the war, Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army. The order was reversed a month later, but then it was too late. Retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni called the move the Bush administration's "worst mistake" in postwar Iraq. This mistake left a vaccuum. It left hundreds of soldiers with no work. This article looks at the poor planning and follow-through that caused this mistake. To top of page
5. Inadequate troop support. An article in washingtonpost.com says that Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez wrote to the pentagon in winter 2004 that "I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low." He complained about lack of spare parts for helicopters and tanks. Also, "his soldiers still needed protective inserts to upgrade 36,000 sets of body armor but that their delivery had been postponed twice in the month before he was writing."
This comes on the heels of reports that a group of soldiers refused to go on a mission because their vehicles were dangerously out of repair and didn't have proper armour on them.
On 1 October 2004, Bush said (local version), "When America puts our troops in harm's way, I believe they deserve the best training, the best equipment, and the whole-hearted support of our government. " His actions are not consistent with his words. To top of page
6. Rumsfeld doesn't act on advice. This 30 September 2004 (local version) says that a study commisioned by Rumsfeld says that "the military doesn't have enough people for its current pace of missions." But Rumsfeld is not acting on the commissions recommendations. What is more important, having enough troops to carry out all missions or postponing any such actions until after the election? To top of page
7. The Abu Graib fiasco. We have all seen horrible pictures of Abu Graib, and we know that prisoners were tortured and humiliated. I don't know whether officers were involved or whether orders came from the top to torture in this manner. But at the least, this fiasco shows incompetence at all levels. We storm Iraq as "liberators"; why weren't there procedures in place to ensure that prisoners would be treated properly, so that the Iraqis would see us as friends and not enemies? Why weren't all soldiers and civilians told to respect all Iraqis and their customs, even prisoners? How do you expect to be viewed as friendly liberators if you don't treat people respectfully?
The blame for this fiasco, in my mind, falls squarely on the Bush administration for not preparing soldiers and civilians properly.
8. 380 tons of explosives missing. We are just learning (late October 2004) that 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives have been missing since April 2003, after the U.S. invaded Iraq. A NY Times article (local version) of 25 October 2004 says that the facility was supposed to be under U.S. military control but is now a no-man's land. The U.S. was warned about this stockpile of explosives before the war. Only incompetent planning could have led to such a fiasco, which puts the whole world in danger. To top of page
9. Washington Post cites Bush's failure to listen to advice. On 24 October, the Washington Post Editorial (local version) endorsed Kerry for President. The Editorial found good and bad things to say about both Bush and Kerry. But the Editorial says essentially the same thing I do: Bush's character and ethics did not let him listen to advice, in particular, in planning for postwar reconstruction. The Editorial, says that, "the damage caused by that willful indifference is incalculable." The Editorial also says that "the administration repeatedly rebuffed advice to commit sufficient troops. Its disregard for the Geneva Conventions led to a prison-torture scandal ...."
Bush talks a good game; he has everyone believing that only he can handle the terrorists. However, the facts say that he has been incompetent in leading the war effort.
10. Republican and Democrat Senators accuse Bush administration of incompetence. An article in USA Today (local version), 16 Sept. 2004, says that several Senators, including the two top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar of Indiana and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, accuse the Bush administration of incompetence in its efforts to rebuild Iraq. Of $13 billion pledged by other countries to rebuild Iraq, only $1.2 billion had been spent. The article goes into more details.
Transferring full sovereignty. On 24May 2004, Bush said that (local version), "The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens ...." It was a lie, and everyone knew it. He knew he could not transfer full sovereignty, and he has not done so. Why does he lie so purposely? And it was not an error, for he repeated it at least in one other instance. To top of page