Proved Fucking Right

Column:

Asked by Congress in 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, how many
troops it would take to win the war that President George W. Bush was
planning to wage there, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki replied,
“I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point – something on
the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know,
a figure that would be required. We’re talking about posthostilities
control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant, with the
kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it
takes a significant ground-force presence.”

Several hundred thousand.

It staggered the senators who were listening. After all, they were
being told by the president and his deputies that the war with Iraq
would be quick and easy, requiring a relatively small force. A
cakewalk, the president’s conservative pundit allies were saying.
Easy-peasy. Now here was this guy, talking about how hard it would be.

“And so it takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a
safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water
is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with
administering a situation like this,” Shinseki told the Senate.

For his honesty and sound judgment, the lifelong army officer, the
first American of Asian ancestry to become a four-star general, was
attacked, marginalized and finally driven into retirement, the subject
of mockery during the early days of the war. Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz said Shinseki’s numbers were “wildly off the mark.” The
chairman of the Joint Chiefs called Shinseki’s statement a
“guestimate.”

Four years later, with Iraq in flames, President Bush was finally
forced to listen to the man he had his small-minded surrogates deride.
In calling for what is now known as the “troop surge” to pacify the
country, Bush said, “Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two
principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to
secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and
insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did
have.”

To which anybody paying attention when Shinseki spoke was shaking his head saying, “No kidding, pal.”

A.

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