August 27, 2004

The Abu Ghraib Report
Posted by Dale Franks

Former career soldier Ralph Peters takes a critical look at the report on the Abu Ghraib Abuses. He's not happy. He's especially unhappy with the senior leadership at the pentagon, who shouldn't've have created the situation that led to it.

he problem isn't that we did the wrong thing. We did a great thing by ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. But we did it needlessly badly. Because we tried to do it on the cheap. Well, the truth is that you don't always get what you pay for but you never get what you don't pay for.

Why was our military prevented from conducting its standard, detailed planning processes? Why were troop levels held artificially low?

Because ideologues in the Bush administration feared that, if the American people were given honest answers about the potential cost, it might be politically impossible to go to war...

The administration clutched at the straw that the Schlesinger report didn't call for Rumsfeld's resignation (the Army's internal report could not have done so). Cold comfort: The report damned his performance. Besides, the Schlesinger team was drawn from the Washington old-boys' club, of which Rummy is a long-term member. The old boys never call for each other's resignation. It's remarkable they were as critical as they were.

The fact that the same bloodstained civilian leadership remains in place in the Pentagon is an insult to our troops and a prime cause of our occupation stumbles.

Keep in mind, that Peters is a bush supporter.

I could write a book on everything the Bush administration has done wrong in Iraq. If there was any possible mistake the Bush Administration could make in being too tentative, or too risk averse, they made it. For example, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Moqtada al-Sadr. If I had been president, al-Sadr would've been dead or in prison a year ago.

And, while we're on the subject, Fallujah would be nothing but a very wide, flat place on the highway out of Baghdad, because, as soon as the trouble started there, I'd've evactuated it, razed it to the ground, leveled the rubble, and sowed the earth with salt.

And I'd've had enough troops in Iraq to do it, even if I'd had to empty out Germany to do so.

But, where were we? Oh. Yes. Abu Ghraib. Nasty business that. But apparently, though the senior leadership committed enough sins of omission to fill a book, they can't bear the blame for Abu Ghraib directly. That lies on the heads of the perpetrators. That doesn't mean the penatgon's leadership should be held blameless, though.

Whatever the sins of omission and commission at the top of the chain of command, the thugs in uniform at Abu Ghraib were self-starting criminals. Which is why they're pleading guilty, one after the other. No sympathy for those devils...

The reports also found officers in the Abu Ghraib chain of command derelict in the performance of their duties. They need to be court-martialed.

The easiest link in the chain of command to sympathize with is Lt.-Gen. Rick Sanchez and his staff in Baghdad. They had a growing insurgency to fight with too few troops, too small a staff, too few resources and indecision in Washington. It's easy to grasp why Sanchez and his deputies concentrated on the combat situation and slighted other matters. As a former soldier, I can easily imagine a sweating general snapping, "Look, I'm busy fighting a war, colonel. Just handle that prisoner business, all right?"

In the military, it's always the issue for which you don't have time that bites you on the backside.

And sometimes they take a big bite.



He may be a (by default, it seems) Bush supporter, but he's a Rumsfeld loather - by his lights, Rumsfeld can do no right. Everything that goes wrong in the war is Rumsfeld's fault, nothing that goes right is Rumsfeld's credit.

It's a consistent pattern in his articles that even slightly touch on the Pentagon - if it can be blamed on Rumsfeld, even if Rumsfeld is only involved by due of being SecDef and had nothing to do with actual events, Rumsfeld will be blamed.

Posted by: Dave at August 27, 2004 01:49 PM

I like much of what Peters has written but he seems to look for disaster at every point these days. If the standard is set that everything should be moving along perfectly (Ozzie and Harriet visit Bhagdad) then anything that contributes to the lack of such a perfect outcome is bad. We needed more troops, better planning, a whole systems analysis of "winning the peace", more money, better stratgies, we should have anticipated.....blah blah blah blah blah. It sounds like a leftie demo saying we have to pour more money into this program or that because because....shock...someones life is NOT perfect. Peters has become the left wing of the retired military constituancy and we will always need more of this, that, or whatever. And he looks for blame in the same way. "Those damn civilians interfering with their crazy ideas in a military man's world." The reality of the decision making was such that the costs were underestimated. But nowhere has there been a real assessment of the benefits. If you want a strong presence in the Middle East because you are concerned that the loonies there might truly go off the deep end then Iraq, people, is exactly where you want to be. Peters would bail because the job seems too tough to him for the US military to cake walk through. Get a grip, Peters, and stop loosing sleep because a few prisoners went to bed without their dessert. I visited the Tower of London recently which makes the Abu Gharib whiners look like they need get over it and find a frickin life.

BTY: I think you guys have the best blog on the block. Great ideas - great writing.

Posted by: JingoJim at August 27, 2004 02:06 PM

You are right about the administration making mistakes in Iraq, but you are dead wrong about Sadr.

I, too, think he should have been killed, but someone somewhere realized that the Shi'ites would have risen up with him as their martyr. He may be very dangerous alive, but he would be far more dangerous dead.

Just a thought.

Posted by: Little Big Man at August 28, 2004 03:00 PM

Would it have been better with a force, comparable
to the original Iraq War compliment, before mobilizations. It would have had twice the number
of reservists like Englund, Graner, et al; a shortage of Arab speaking translators, we would
have had twice the number of casualties, and twice
as many complaints about an occupying army

Posted by: NARCISO at August 28, 2004 07:32 PM