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War in Iraq: The Military Objections

Nicholas Johnson*

February 27, 2003

Remarks prepared for delivery at the

International Law Talks: War with Iraq
University of Iowa College of Law
Sponsored Jointly by the International and Comparative Law Program
and the National Lawyers Guild

Other panelists included Professors Adrien Wing, moderator, Burns Weston, John Reitz and Tung Yin

(Last updated April 15, 2003.)

NOTE: Since writing and posting this piece, NPR ran a commentary on March 11, 2003, from someone with similar views who, by contrast, has the education and training, experience, and insights to really know what he is talking about: Retired Colonel Mike Turner. Colonel Turner maintains a web site with a full biography at It discloses a distinguished life of service to his country. Of greatest relevance in terms of these issues is his prior role as a policy planner for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In short, he is exactly the kind of military person I am talking about in my piece. And, as you'll see, he approaches the military aspects of a potential war in Iraq from much the same perspective as I do in this piece and in my Daily Iowan op ed, "10 Questions Before War."  -- N.J. March 11, 2003.

Following the original presentation and posting of this piece, the debate intensified regarding the role of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in, it was suggested by some, overruling the requests of military planners for more troop support. Beginning March 30 I have been updating this piece by citing, and quoting from, some of the news coverage (primarily in The New York Times) regarding this debate. It can be found, below, in the Appendix.

N.J. April 2, 2003.

One of the more remarkable aspects of objections to the proposed U.S. military invasion of Iraq is how many categories of objections there are.[1]
Aftermath. There has been little public disclosure of discussion, planning and agreement among American policy planners even regarding a vision for a post-war Iraq, let alone details of its implementation – and even less from the UN and groups within Iraq.
Allies. America’s post 9/11 global good will has been squandered. Traditional allies have been alienated.

Archeology. There are 100,000 archeological digs in Iraq – called the “cradle of civilization” for its 6000-year-old history. War means irreplaceable antiquities will be destroyed both from bombing and from the looting following lack of security.

Diversion. Threats to national security far more serious than those from Iraq – namely, from North Korea and Al Qaeda – have been moved to the back burner. (See text of note 6, below, regarding the March 1 capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.)

Economy. Consumer confidence, stock markets, balance of payments, value of the dollar, the slashing of federal and state social programs, and a depressed economy already reflect the war’s impact. Historically high budget surpluses have become historically high budget deficits. All before the costs of the war itself are even considered.

Humanitarian. The 1991 war and subsequent sanctions contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children and adults. Today 60 percent of Iraqi citizens are dependent for food on aid organizations. Disruption of distribution channels will produce widespread starvation – and some emigration to neighboring countries.

International law. The impact of our preemptive war doctrine on 50 years of progress in the international law of dispute resolution provides a precedent for any country to attack another. (Ironically, the U.S. will be doing in 2003 exactly what Saddam did in 1990: invading another country without provocation.)

Muslims. Further angering the world’s Arab and Islamic community may be increasing the risk of terrorism here.

Stability. From Turkey invading the Kurds in the north of Iraq, to Iran moving into the south, to the civil war among 60 Iraqi groups for control of whatever’s left, most Middle East governments express concern about the spread of regional instability and the possibility of World War III.

WMD. If Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, common sense and the CIA suggest he’s most likely to use them only if attacked.

That’s quite a range of categories and potential issues. Other members of our panel will explore many of them. I will limit myself to but one, one that is often overlooked: Why this war doesn’t even make sense from a military perspective.

During the 1950s I, and many other Americans, had some apprehension about what appeared to be an excessive willingness on the part of some generals to risk war, even nuclear war. Feature films like “Seven Days in May,” “Failsafe,” and “Dr. Strangelove” didn’t help.

Following experiences in the 1960s[2] with the military’s brightest, however, my opinions essentially reversed. Of course there are still hawks in the military – especially in an all-volunteer force. All are fully aware they may someday be called to war, and they obey orders.

But they also ask questions.

By the time an officer reaches the top of today’s U.S. military you can bet that he or she is bright, extremely well educated in the liberal arts as well as military history and other matters, and possessed of a good analytical mind.

As you know, a central principle of American government is what we call “civilian control of the military.” Of course, I support that principle. Few would deliberately choose life under a military dictatorship.

But when I compare the approach to war of some civilian politicians with that of the military’s leadership I have occasionally commented that what we really need is “military control of the civilians” – at least the civilians’ decisions about war.

When evaluating a sophisticated issue involving politics, foreign relations, and the global economy, it is usually the politicians, not the military officers, who are the first to forgo thoughtful analysis for expressions like “send in the Marines,” “let’s kick some butt,” and “nuke ‘em.”

It is the military that modestly suggests the need for prior application of rational thought.

This is not rocket science. It’s “management 101”: analytical tools applicable to any business or marketing plan, school board oversight – even creating and executing one’s own career goals. Given how simple the process really is, it’s remarkable how often citizen politicians fail to use it.

Colin Powell, now Secretary of State, was formerly Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is no coincidence that he is widely regarded throughout the world, as well as this country, as one of the more thoughtful participants in this Administration’s march to war. In the Winter 1992/1993 issue of the prestigious journal, Foreign Affairs, Powell had occasion to reflect on his approach to decisions about war in an article entitled “U.S. Forces: The Challenges Ahead.” The entire article is worth reading.[3] But here are enough excerpts to suggest the approach sometimes referred to as “the Powell doctrine."

When a "fire" starts that might require committing armed forces, we need to evaluate the circumstances. Relevant questions include: Is the political objective we seek to achieve important, clearly defined and understood? Have all other nonviolent policy means failed? Will military force achieve the objective? At what cost? Have the gains and risks been analyzed? How might the situation that we seek to alter, once it is altered by force, develop further and what might be the consequences?
Given the then recently concluded Gulf War, with the subsequent criticism of our failure to capture Saddam on that occasion, Powell’s 1992 response to those critics has special relevance to the current proposed war – as well as providing a useful illustration of an application of the Powell doctrine.
As an example of this logical process, we can examine the assertions of those who have asked why President Bush did not order our forces on to Baghdad after we had driven the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. We must assume that the political objective of such an order would have been capturing Saddam Hussein. Even if Hussein had waited for us to enter Baghdad, and even if we had been able to capture him, what purpose would it have served? And would serving that purpose have been worth the many more casualties that would have occurred? Would it have been worth the inevitable follow-up: major occupation forces in Iraq for years to come and a very expensive and complex American proconsulship in Baghdad? Fortunately for America, reasonable people at the time thought not. They still do.
We will return to this prescient bit of analysis shortly. Meanwhile, his 1992 article continues:
When the political objective is important, clearly defined and understood, when the risks are acceptable, and when the use of force can be effectively combined with diplomatic and economic policies, then clear and unambiguous objectives must be given to the armed forces. These objectives must be firmly linked with the political objectives. We must not, for example, send military forces into a crisis with an unclear mission they cannot accomplish -- such as we did when we sent the U.S. Marines into Lebanon in 1983. We inserted those proud warriors into the middle of a five-faction civil war complete with terrorists, hostage-takers, and a dozen spies in every camp, and said, "Gentlemen, be a buffer."
. . .
The reason for our success[es] is that in every instance we have carefully matched the use of military force to our political objectives. We owe it to the men and women who go in harm's way to make sure that this is always the case and that their lives are not squandered for unclear purposes. Military men and women recognize more than most people that not every situation will be crystal clear. We can and do operate in murky, unpredictable circumstances. But we also recognize that military force is not always the right answer. If force is used imprecisely or out of frustration rather than clear analysis, the situation can be made worse.
. . .
This is not to argue that the use of force is restricted to only those occasions where the victory of American arms will be resounding, swift and overwhelming. It is simply to argue that the use of force should be restricted to occasions where it can do some good and where the good will outweigh the loss of lives and other costs that will surely ensue. Wars kill people. That is what makes them different from all other forms of human enterprise.
. . .
Every reasonable American deplores the resort to war. We wish it would never come again. If we felt differently, we could lay no claim whatsoever to being the last, best hope of earth. At the same time I believe every American realizes that in the challenging days ahead, our wishes are not likely to be fulfilled. In those circumstances where we must use military force, we have to be ready, willing and able. Where we should not use force we have to be wise enough to exercise restraint.
When I bore some responsibility for the sealift to Vietnam, President Johnson asked me to tour Southeast Asia as a one-man investigative team and report back to him. One of the lines in the report I gave him was, “You can’t play basketball on a football field.” What I meant by that was that there are some circumstances in which war is not a very effective strategy. In Vietnam we had no front line, couldn’t tell our enemies from our allies, didn’t know the language or the culture, and were bound to be viewed as just the latest in a 2000-year string of imperialist invaders (following, most recently, the French). I have since broadened the application of the phrase to any situation in which military force is somewhere between inappropriate and counter-productive – for the kinds of reasons Powell has laid out.

How might we summarize, and modestly modify, the “Powell Doctrine” and then apply it to the current proposed war?

Wherever applicable, of course, the following should be subject to (a) numerical measurement, (b) graphically displayed with something equivalent to “project management” software, and (c) reported against at pre-set intervals with some form of management information reporting system.

1. The objective, end or goal must be clearly defined – if, for no other reason, so that we might know whether we'd ever been "successful." As R.W. Apple, Jr., puts it, "How and when . . . will the United States and its allies know they have won the Iraqi war?" "News Analysis: Allies' New Test: How to Define Victory," The New York Times, April 7, 2003 (noting that the British announced in Baghdad in 1917, "Our armies . . . come into your cities . . . as liberators" -- and then stayed until the 1950s).

2. All diplomatic and other non-violent means must first be exhausted.

3. The goal must be one that can be achieved by military force.[4]

4. There must be substantial civilian-military agreement as to the estimated number of personnel, weapons, and other support necessary to achieve the military goal, and a willingness to commit, finance and stick with that level of support -- as well as expand it, if and when necessary to achieve the goal.[5] Indeed, the "Powell Doctrine" is sometimes equated with the requirement of rapid deployment of "overwhelming force."

5. The goal (and its costs) must be both understood and accepted, not only by the military but by the American people as well – a requirement Powell has mentioned elsewhere though not in this article. It must also be accepted by the world community (e.g., the UN Security Council), or at least a majority thereof, as something well within accepted norms of international law.

6. A benefit-cost analysis must be done: the benefits of achieving the goal must be analyzed and quantified; likewise the costs of achieving it (including civilian and military lost lives, ruptured relations with other nations, and greater instability – as well as the full dollar cost (both incremental and fully distributed), especially if the war is to be paid for with borrowed money). Obviously, to justify a military mission that analysis must demonstrate that the benefits substantially exceed those costs.

7. An exit strategy must exist before the war begins, identifying how and when the military will leave -- and what will take its place or otherwise maintain the achievement of the goal.

8. Similarly, a post-war plan must be carefully thought through – identifying, among other things, immediate humanitarian and reconstruction needs, the provision of security, the possible adverse consequences of having brought about change by force – including the unleashing of violent conflict between formerly oppressed factions. If democratization is a part of the plan, some estimate of the time required must be agreed upon regarding the creation of the institutions of a civic society and the the evolution of a new (or restored) democratic society. The proposed role of the U.S (military officers or others) in “governing” the country, even if but temporarily, must be thought through.

As I quoted above, Powell used this analysis to address one of the criticisms of the 1991 effort that is equally applicable to the proposed 2003 war. It bears repeating:
As an example of this logical process, we can examine the assertions of those who have asked why President Bush did not order our forces on to Baghdad after we had driven the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. We must assume that the political objective of such an order would have been capturing Saddam Hussein. Even if Hussein had waited for us to enter Baghdad, and even if we had been able to capture him, what purpose would it have served? And would serving that purpose have been worth the many more casualties that would have occurred? Would it have been worth the inevitable follow-up: major occupation forces in Iraq for years to come and a very expensive and complex American proconsulship in Baghdad? Fortunately for America, reasonable people at the time thought not. They still do.
Unfortunately for America those analytical “reasonable people” are no longer in charge.

I would challenge any of the war’s advocates to walk through the eight requirements of then-General Powell, listed above, apply them to what we’ve been told by the Administration about this war, and then formulate the data to argue that this war is a rational use of military force.

The reader can do this analysis for him or herself. We have neither time nor need to go through it all in this document. So I will do no more than provide some illustrative questions regarding the first point, “The objective, end or goal must be clearly defined” – and, as point three urges, “one that can be achieved by military force.”

Not only has the Administration failed to “make the case” for this war, not only are its objectives not clearly defined, but even such vague public relations rhetoric as it has provided seems to shift from time to time. I will leave to others the “wisdom” of the following, and other, Administration goals for its war. My question is: Assuming these are, in fact, our goals (until, apparently, replaced by new ones) are they the kind of goals that can most appropriately be achieved through the use of military force? In each case, I think not.
Proposed "Objective" Response
At one point the goal seemed to be to kill Saddam. As the President explained the rationale, “He tried to kill my daddy.” If we wish to reverse our "no assassinations" policy, and start assassinating world leaders, there are much more efficient and effective ways of doing it with small covert teams than with 200,000 soldiers, tanks and fighter planes.
At another time there was more emphasis on “regime change” – even including some suggestion in the President’s February 26th speech that our goal is the spread of democracy throughout the Middle East and world. Assuming it is even possible to impose democracy on other nations, it’s not obvious that the most effective way to do that is by fighting wars against them first, or that having done so the military is then the best choice for "nation building."
Iraq was identified as a part of the “axis of evil” – our objective, apparently, to seek out and destroy “evil” wherever it might be found. The idea of fighting “evil” is so bizarre as to be beyond comment. But whatever it may involve, it’s not a military mission.
Then there was the shift to threats of terrorism from Iraq -- even though Saddam and Osama are enemies and the focus on Iraq was shifting resources away from our "war on terrorism." If we want to go after terrorists, located in clandestine cells in 60 countries, that is a task better done by international, national and local intelligence and police agencies – as we have been doing – than massive military might.[6]
Most recently there has been focus on the destruction of weapons of mass destruction and respect for the process of the United Nations. Weapons inspectors are trained for this job. The military is not. Why will they be better able to find the weapons the inspectors have not? An  unprovoked invasion, violating international law and UN standards, scarcely shows respect for UN process.

No more had this text been prepared than the President seemed to shift once again. The new goal appeared to be the death or removal of Saddam even if he does reveal and destroy any remaining weapons of mass destruction and fully explains prior destruction of WMD. Needless to say, this is not the most useful pronouncement to encourage cooperation from the Iraqi government.[7]

Finally, the week before the war began, President Bush seemed to shift once again; the goal was no longer related to weapons of mass destruction, nor the death of Saddam, it was simply Saddam's immediate departure from Iraq with his family and top government officials. Apparently that was to be the new definition of "regime change."[8]

Whether these shifts are characterized as "mission creep" or "mission retreat" all must concede they involve the kind of shifting mission that is an anathema to any military undertaking -- for the reasons outlined above.

I could go on with this, but I won’t. Hopefully the point has been made.

So I will finish as I began. There is much to object to about this war and other panel members have presented those concerns.

My focus has been much more modest: an analysis of the military mission. Why do I do this? Because I know there are those who don't give high priority to civilian deaths, setbacks to international law, increases in recruitment of terrorists, or other such arguments, and are, thus, unpersuaded by appeals to such values.

And so it is to them I say, this war doesn’t even make sense from a military perspective.


* Nicholas Johnson teaches at the University of Iowa College of law. He formerly served as an FCC Commissioner and U.S. Maritime Administrator (see note 2, below). A Web site with links to much of his writing and other material is at Among other things, it includes links to additional writing about Iraq and terrorism (see note 1, below).

1. For other writing by Johnson on terrorism and Iraq see and click on "10 Questions Before War." It contains links to more. (If, at the time you are reading this, the link to "10 Questions" is no longer displayed on the main page, the article may then be found by scrolling through "Recent Publications.")

2. Nicholas Johnson served as U.S. Maritime Administrator, February 1964-July 1966, with the additional titles of Director, War Shipping Authority (with rank equivalent to three-star admiral), and chair of a classified NATO organization. This involved working with virtually every level of the Defense Department. He has since lectured at the war colleges, participated in a “Midwest Opinion Leaders” tour of NATO, and worked with some of the top officers tapped for military leadership as a faculty member of the WBSI online “leadership forum” during the 1980s.

3. A substantial excerpt can be found at (last visited Feb. 26, 2003). The Foreign Affairs link to information about Secretary Powell's article is .

4. This requirement (that the goal be one attainable through military force) is sometimes not met because the goal, or mission, is totally incompatible with military force. In other cases, the problem may arise from the conditions imposed on the military operation that make a "military victory" very much more difficult to achieve. For example, in this Iraq war bringing democracy to Iraq in particular and the Middle East in general, not to mention easing the post-war military occupation, dictates a need to appeal to Iraqi "hearts and minds." Rising levels of Arab and Islamic hostility around the world will make those tasks more difficult. Destroying Iraq's water and power facilities, telephone services, and bridges not only further angers Iraqis, it also increases the costs and time for rebuilding after such basic infrastructure has been destroyed. The Coalition is endeavoring to keep to absolute minimums not only losses of its own forces, and Iraqi civilians, but even the Iraqi military "enemy" that may be needed to help fashion a post-war Iraq society and government. The imposition of such conditions -- designed to win the appreciation and support of the vanquished -- at some point create a "war" so totally at odds with the concept of "winning" as to raise questions regarding the wisdom of trying to use the military for these purposes at all.

5. News reports during March 2003 (and the prior year) indicated that the Joint Chiefs were overruled on two counts by Secretary Rumsfeld: 1. their opposition to the Iraq War (for at least some of the reasons itemized in this paper, among others; and see NPR commentary of Retired Colonel Mike Turner, below), and 2. their insistence that, if there was to be a war anyway, that there be an Administration commitment to support roughly twice the number of troops and equipment ultimately sent. By the end of the first week of the war (March 26, 2003) the author's asserted need for "military control of the civilians," explained earlier in this paper, had been demonstrated on both counts. Clearly, the troops appreciate the yellow ribbons, prayer meetings, waiving American flags, letters from home, and "we support the troops rallies." But true "support the troops" efforts should probablly also include the civilian leadership giving a little more deference to the advice and requests of those troops' commanders. The primary article on the subject is Seymour M. Hersh, "Annals of National Security: Offense and Defense, The Battle Between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon," The New Yorker, April 7, 2003, p. 43. For many additional citations and quotations from the media, too long for this endnote, see the Appendix, below.

6. The capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on March 1, 2003, only reinforces, rather than rebuts, this point. Characterized as the "CEO" of Al Qaeda, his capture may have been the result of increased resources flowing from continued Administration focus on Al Qaeda. That's possible. But it is also possible that it was the result of blind dumb luck, with most of the credit going to the Pakistan police. If the latter is the case, it is simply one more example of why we must encourage the support, rather than the hostility, of Muslim nations. However, for present purposes, in either case what is clear is that it involved someone's investigative, intelligence and police resources -- not armies, tanks and fighter planes. It was a classic example of a goal incapable of achievement through military means.

7. In the same spirit, there is also vague talk on some occasions that the goal is "disarmament" (that is, all weapons, not just WMD). Apparently Iraq has, and disclosed to inspectors, missiles -- which the UN has insisted be limited to a 93-mile range -- that can, when not fully loaded, sometimes go 10 or 20 miles further than that. So we demanded that the 50 of them Iraq possesses be destroyed. Putting aside the question of going to full-bore war over such a discrepancy (they may actually comply when loaded; what's the magic in 93 miles when ours can go thousands of miles?), there is something surreal about the world's largest super-power insisting that one of the world's weaker nations totally disarm itself on the eve of an announced U.S. attack.

8. It now appears that the Administration's real missions may have always gone well beyond Iraq. Maureen Dowd wrote in the April 9, 2003, New York Times ("Dances with Wolfowitz"),

"The former C.I.A. director James Woolsey . . . bluntly told U.C.L.A. students last week that to reshape the Middle East, the U.S. would have to spend . . . maybe decades waging World War IV. . . .

"He identified America's enemies as the Islamist Shia who run Iran, the Iranian-supported Hezbollah, the fascist Baathists in Iraq and Syria, and the Islamist Sunnis who run Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups.

"Mr. Wolfowitz . . . gliding past Tim Russert's probing on whether the neo-cons' drams of other campaigns in Syria, Iran and North Korea would come true . . . said, 'There's got to be change in Syria as well.'

"And the Times's David Sanger reported that when a Bush aide stepped into the Oval Office recently to tell the president that the hard-boiled Rummy had also been shaking a fist at Syria, Mr. Bush smiled and said one word: 'Good.'"

As the Times had presciently editorialized on April 8th ("After the War"), "Winning the peace, and turning Iraq from tyranny to democracy, may be more difficult than waging the war."

Commentary of Retired Colonel Mike Turner
NPR Morning Edition
March 11, 2003

Bob Edwards: Retired Colonel Mike Turner was General Norman Schwartzkopf’s personal briefing officer during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. As part of Morning Edition’s on-going series of commentaries on a possible war in Iraq, he outlines a worst-case scenario for a US-led invasion.

Retired Colonel Mike Turner: There’s a saying in military circles, “We always fight the last war.” It means that too much focus on past enemy behavior can easily lead to misjudging an enemy capability in the future. So I ask myself today, “Which war will this be? Desert Storm? Or Somalia?”

In 1991 we had four ironclad pre-requisites for war with Iraq:

In Somalia, we ignored the most critical of these lessons. Mission creep turned our original objective of humanitarian aid into simply getting [General Mohammed Farah] Aidid, the Somali factional leader we were battling. We committed US troops to a high-risk military operation in an urban area with extraordinarily dangerous variables in play on the battlefield and with insufficient firepower, thanks to then Secretary of Defense Les Aspen.

Now we’ve firmly committed ourselves to war with Iraq.

And our political objective? To get Saddam. The Uniform Joint Staff in the Pentagon strongly opposed this plan early on. It requires an attack with a force half that of Desert Storm against an entrenched urban enemy renown for its ruthlessness in defending its own survival. The Uniform Joint Staff was overridden, yet in so many horrifying ways this operation resembles Somalia, not Desert Storm — only with nerve gas and biological weapons.

And without Turkey as a base to launch a Northern assault, a dual-pronged attack will be all but impossible.

Perhaps we can pull this off, but here’s a far-worse scenario that’s at least as likely:

The war ends within a few weeks, but the crisis deepens: These are not remote possibilities, but in my view, reasonable — possibly even likely outcomes. Thousands of American sons and daughters are about to go to war with Iraq. They will do their duty. They are, without exception, the finest, bravest people I know.

May God bless them. I hope their destination is Baghdad and not Mogadishu.

Bob Edwards: The comments of Mike Turner, retired colonel and former policy planner for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Mid East and East Africa.

Appendix to Endnote 5, Above

In fairness to the Administration, (a) no one who did not actually participate in the war planning can know the extent to which Secretary Rumsfeld ignored (or downplayed) warnings from the CIA and DIA, or overruled the best judgments of the Joint Chiefs, (b) some of the delay was occasioned by the necessity of redirecting forces originally intended for northern Iraq, by ship, to the south (as a result of decisions by the government of Turkey), and (c) a two or three-day sand storm. Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks have recently insisted that they are, and were, in total agreement. Accord, Thom Shanker and John Tierney, "Top General Denounces Internal Dissent on Iraq," The New York Times, April 2, 2003 (General Myers, Chair, Joint Chiefs, "denounced critics [as] misinformed, inaccurate and harmful").

However, here are some samples of quotations from media reports from a few days in late March and early April that appear to take issue with those assertions -- and the wisdom of the present plan.

"Quiet complaints from some senior ground-forces commanders, echoed by retired Army officers, broke into the public debate in recent days over whether Mr. Rumsfeld micromanaged the specific deployments of forces to the region, creating hardships for commanders that are now playing out on the battlefields." Thom Shanker, "Rumsfeld Defends War Planning," The New York Times, March 31, 2003.

"President Bush's aides did not forcefully present him with dissenting views from CIA and State and Defense Department officials who warned that U.S.-led forces could face stiff resistance in Iraq, according to three senior administration officials." Howard Kurtz, "A Sea of Second Guessing," Washington Post, March 31, 2003 (quoting The Philadelphia Inquirer). "Several senior war planners complained [that Rumsfeld] insisted on micromanaging the war's operational details [and that] Rumsfeld repeatedly overruled the senior Pentagon planners on the Joint Staff . . .. 'He thought he knew better,' one senior planner said." Ibid (quoting Sy Hersh's article in the April 7, 2003, New Yorker Magazine). (Note that the latter comment tends to be supported by the commentary of Colonel Mike Turner, immediately above.)

"[I]t is unclear how Mr. Bush made . . . the choice, recommended by Mr. Rumsfeld over the objections of many at the Pentagon, to commit a relatively small number of troops to the . . . start of the war. Although Mr. Bush ultimately agreed with the plan, what is not yet known is how involved he became in the intense debate leading up to it." Elisabeth Bumiller, "President Keeps the Battlefield Close at Hand," The New York Times, March 30, 2003.

"There are the Central Intelligence Agency analysts, quietly complaining that their warnings that Saddam Hussein's government might not crack like peanut brittle were dismissed. There are ex-generals on nightly television, expressing unease about a plan that relied more on speed than on numbers, and that seemed overly dependent on welcoming cheers from the Iraqis. There are field commanders like Lt. Gen. William Wallace, whose public complaints of an enemy that was 'different from the one we'd war-gamed against' set off alarm bells and denials at Central Command.  . . .

"[A]s one senior administration official conceded, 'We got ourselves in the bind that before the president decided to go to war, he couldn't dwell much on the risks. And after we were at war, it seemed a little late.'" David E. Sanger, "As a Quick Victory Grows Less Likely, Doubts are Quietly Voiced," The New York Times, March 30, 2003.

"Long-simmering tensions between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Army commanders have erupted in a series of complaints . . .. 'He wanted to fight this war on the cheap,' [one] colonel said. 'He got what he wanted.' . . . Even after the war, some experts argue that it could take several hundred thousand troops to hold and control a country the size of California, with about 24 million people. . . . Even some of Mr. Rumsfeld's advisers now acknowledge that they misjudged the scope and intensity of resistance . . . [that] forced commanders to divert troops already stretched thin to protect supply convoys and root out Hussein loyalists . . .. Many in the Army thought the defense secretary had declared war on them . . .. [Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki, testifying before Congress] said several hundred thousand troops could be needed. 'Wildly off the mark,' was how Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, dismissed the Army chief's comments." Bernard Weinraub with Thom Shanker, "Rumsfeld's Design for War Criticized on the Battlefield," The New York Times, April 1, 2003.

[A]fter nearly two weeks of war with Iraq, a chorus of critics have charged that Mr. Rumsfeld's principles [a military of "precision weapons at vast distances"] have been applied and found wanting in Iraq. . . . [S]ome of the leading former Army commanders from the last war with Iraq, say the force the United States has deployed is not large enough . . .. Pentagon officials say that Mr. Rumsfeld was an important influence on the current war plan. As debate over the plan has intensified, Mr. Rumsfeld has insisted that the plan was devised by Gen. Tommy R. Franks [Chief, Central Command]. Michael R. Gordon, "The Test for Rumsfeld: Will Strategy Work?" The New York Times, April 1, 2003.

"The fact is that more ground troops are needed . . . The relevant [question is]: . . . why weren't these troops there when the war started? . . . [L]ast summer . . . the Defense Department's civilian leadership turned down a request from the Senate that officers like Gen. Tommy Franks . . . or any of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify. . . . [M]any military officials have reported . . . that there were serious disagreements between the uniformed military and the civilian leadership. . . . Last winter, Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, and Gen. James L. Jones, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, both veterans of ground combat, expressed reservations about the paucity of Army and Marine divisions in the plan." Joseph P. Hoar [retired Marine General and former commander in chief, U.S. Central Command], "Why Aren't There Enough Troops in Iraq?" The New York Times, April 2, 2003.

In my op ed, "Ten Questions for Bush Before War," question 9 asked:

"Assume the improbable: a war that’s quick, cheap, decisive and contained. What then? Why will Saddam’s successor be better? How can he prevent civil war among Iraq’s factions, let alone Middle East chaos? Our man in Afghanistan is still under attack even in Kabul. Why will our man in Baghdad do better? What will it cost us to rebuild Iraq? . . ."
By April 9, 2003, the "chaos," taking the form of anarchy, rioting and looting, had begun. For details see, AP, "Lawlessness and Looting Spread in Baghdad" (in the New York Times), April 11, 2003 (with contributions from the AP's Chris Tomlinson, Miko Price and Jerome Delay). This prompted the New York Times' Nicholas D. Kristof to write on April 11, 2003:
"Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, infuriated the Pentagon's civilian leaders by saying that several hundred thousand troops might be needed to police postwar Iraq. But General Shinseki knows this subject -- he commanded peacekeeping forces in Bosnia -- and he looks smarter each day."

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