A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Friday, June 29, 2007

Things We Got Wrong...

in the theater of the War on Terror that is the debacle in Iraq. There are many, but one of the biggest things, imho, was Donald Rumsfeld who was completely unwilling to commit sufficient troops to the conflict and resistant to listening to most of the commanders in Iraq. Part of that blame lies with the president, as he should have fired Rumsfeld much earlier and instead gave him a medal. Loyalty trumped competence.

But I think another huge problem was the complete bungling of the media. President Bush's inability to look anything but stilted and uncomfortable in front of the cameras compounded his near total incapacity to effectively explain his vision and plan. The media needs to take some, likely much, blame on its own shoulders here as well. They revelled at times in the misery of some Iraqi's after the U.S. liberation, they rarely if ever talked to actual U.S. soldiers, and they covered Abu Ghraib extensively while showing very little of the improvements in living that followed the fall of Saddam.

Here's an interesting bit from a U.S. War College instructor and expert on terrorism and counter-terrorism:
Because terrorists know that killings and kidnappings will capture the media's attention, Buse said, most high-level plans about how to deal with a terrorist situation include discussions about what to do with the media.

"The key terrain on the battleground is the TV screen," he [Buse] said. "I would never want the press not to print something, but they need to be careful."
The most interesting bit about those comments? They were written in a newspaper article in 1986. Perhaps the easy times of the '90's caused us to forget, but we knew better what we needed to do against a terrorist enemy in 1986 than it seems we do in the 21st century. How odd, considering many of Bush's closest advisors cut their teeth during Reagan's presidency in the 1980's.

How soon we forget.

I'll end this post with another nugget from the 1986 interview with Colonel Buse:
He [Buse] said the United States has three ways to deal with international terrorism.

The U.S. can infiltrate organizations-- which is nearly impossbile he said-- and pre-empt the strikes, stop the acts as they happen, or retaliate.

Without some sort of response, which can also include political and economic sanctions, the attacks will continue, he said.

"But (with retaliation) you have to accept the deaths of some innocent people, the destruction of non-governmental property, possible loss of your allies' support and risk future reprisals by terrorists," he said.

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