Sunday, August 1, 2004
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What does Tommy Franks think?
In Plan of Attack, General Tommy Franks -- the CentCom commander and architect of both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns who retired in the fall of 2003 -- was quoted as describing Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith as "The f***ing stupidest guy on the planet." With a quotation like that, I'm kinda curious what Franks will be saying in his soon-to-be-released book, American Soldier.
Mark Thompson has a Q & A with Franks in Time that suggests a, dare I say it, complex take on the Bush Administration. Some of the good parts (the ALL CAPS are Thompson's questions):
Read the whole thing.posted by Dan on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM
Some hypothetical questions that would have been asked by a real journalist rather than the infotainment complex we use to brainwash the public.
TIME: Do you think a person of privilige, who used his connections to get out of vietnam and go into the national guard, and then had the audacity to go AWOL for months on end (see recent pay stub release -- which surprise, surprise came on a Friday afternoon!) deserves to be president?
FRANKS: "A good military record, like John Kerry's, certainly does not hurt him in the eyes of people in the military. "
TIME: Do you think a man who sat still for 7 minutes, reading a childrens book while our nation was under attack is fit to defend us from another attack (god forbid)?
FRANKS: So John Kerry proved he can lead undner actual fire, so what?. Does that mean you need to have service in the active component of the military in order to be a good President? I don't think so.
posted by: Jor on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
(hypothetical interview continued)
TIME: WHY DO THINGS SEEM TO BE GOING SO POORLY IN IRAQ?
FRANKS: I don't know whether the Administration permitted or encouraged the media in our country to believe that this was going to be easy, but it happened. Thank god for the dumb ass right wing pundits -- especially those who clearly haven't learned anything at all from this experience. There came to be created an expectation that even a superpower can't meet.
TIME: Do you think the fact that people who said more troops were needed, or who had created plans for post-war Iraq were ignored, had a detrimental effect on the outcome?
FRANKS: I think the only thing you can say for sure is that its no one fault in particular. Personal responsibility is a myth. The buck can not stop with any one person.
TIME: How about putting 20 year old unemployed poli sci majors from the Heritage foundation in charge of Iraq, was that really a good idea?
FRANKS: I think you have to remeber that this is an election year. What's more important the outcome in Iraq or Bush's relection? Clearly the latter, and we need people who can spin, spin, spin. Can't just rely on InstaIdiot -- we need loyal soldiers ont eh ground. The fact that these 20 year olds used a single excel spread sheet to account for Iraq's finances, and then accidentily wound up lossing ONE BILION dollars of Iraqi money, is insignificant, and has nothing to do with the way the war is turning out.
TIME: DO YOU FEEL MISLED BY THE PREWAR INTELLIGENCE ASSERTING THAT SADDAM hussein HAD WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (WMD) AND LINKS TO AL-QAEDA?
FRANKS: Well, in case you are stupid enough to believe what I'm saying -- or think my interview is important -- let me make it abundantly clear to you that I'm hear to spout the party line word-for-word. Bipartisan commission reports be damned!. Even if the war wouldn't have happened if the president could have just been bothered to read a newspaper. The thing to remeber is, I do not feel misled at all. Actually, I'm very thankful that he didn't have the WMD. What would you have had us do? Stand by and wait until he did have them? I do believe there were assets inside the Saddam regime who were working with international terrorists, and I believe that al-Qaeda were among them.
TIME: DO YOU THINK BUSH SHOULD BE RE-ELECTED?
FRANKS: Well, since this is politics, and I don't believe in personal responsiblity -- and no level of failure (jobs lost, iraq, etc, etc.) informs my decision -- or should be relevant to anyone electing a president -- I think it's clear we must vote for Bush to save the country. Cause we've turned THE CORNER! THE CORNER! That's right, after four hard years of Bush in office, we turned the corner! So vote for FOUR MORE YEARS!
TIME: What's your p-value for Bush?
FRANKS: Off the record, its p=0.99. But I want to appear like a complicated, deliberating man -- and although in this case there is nothing to deliberate, let's just pretend there is, and say my p-value is 0.51.posted by: Jor on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Did General Tommy Franks have anything to say concerning the Turkish government’s last minute refusal to allow the coalition troops to travel through its territory? This factor alone has resulted in much misery and lost opportunities. Thankfully, though, President Bush did not use this as an excuse. We invaded anyway and everything worked out rather well. It is outrageous that some are emphasizing the setbacks while virtually ignoring the great achievements. Their lack of knowledge of military history is simply appalling.posted by: David Thomson on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Putting 20 years in charge of running a government is a great acheivement. Especially when they needed to take an intensive macroeconomics course the week before they started rebuilding Iraq's stock market(still nnonexistant). Fortunately, those America-hating first British, realize we've accomplished quite a bit in the past few years.
"A report by the powerful House Of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has said that American and British military attacks are making the world more dangerous."
Is that what you were talking about?posted by: Jor on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
I was agnostic regarding President Bush prior to the Turkish refusal to allow coalition troops to transit through Turkey. Bush tried bribery and threats to get Turkish oks but never gave in to demands to allow Turkish troops into the Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq. Bush threw the war plan out of the window and increased the burden on coalition troops to protect the young democratic enclave in Kurdish Iraq. That took guts and proved to me his sincerity about democratizing the ME. I am not an American and can only give him my best wishes for his reelection - he has those.posted by: WAB on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
So how long until Democratic spin doctors start taking quotes out of context in the Franks book and claim he's saying the exact opposite?
Okay, some Democratic spin doctors.posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Jor, I think you can still find real journalists of that stripe in Cuba, China, and North Korea. You might want to check that out.posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Next time you consider deploying the trope that Bush used power & priviledge to land a soft nat'l gaurd gig, please consider the following:
First, Air National Gaurd units were engaged in combat operations in Vietnam. Joining the ANG did not mean you wouldn't see combat.
Second, When Bush joined the Texas ANG in 1968, he was assigned to a fighter wing that, at that time, had member pilots engaged in combat missions in Vietnam.
Third, those pilots from his wing serving in Vietnam were flying the F-102 Delta Dart, a fighter/interceptor developed in the 1950's to shoot down Russian bombers. Starting about 1962, the F-102 was being used in Vietnam as an escort for B-52 bombers. Later it was also used for close air-support missions for combat troops on the ground, though it hadn't been designed for that kind of mission. About a dozen F-102 (from various units) were destroyed in Vietnam, in the air & on the ground. The Texas ANG flew the plane until 1974 or '75.
Fourth, the F-102, aka the "flying coffin", was a notoriously difficult jet to fly, with a high accident rate.
Fifth: In 1968 Bush requested flight training the F-102, a tricky jet to fly, at a time when part of his fighter wing was flying the F-102 in combat in Vietnam. By the time he finished training in 1970 the F-102 had been withdrawn from Vietnam & was returned to bomber-intercept duty in the U.S.
Now, being the scion of priviledge & power, maybe Bush was able to forsee that his chosen plane wouldn't be flying in Vietnam once he completed training, and the only combat risk he would face would be from a Russian nuclear attack. But, if he was trying to use his position to avoid a risky military assignment, consciously choosing to fly a dangerous plane at a time members of his unit were flying that kind of plane in combat doesn't seem the best way to avoid dangerous duty.
Of course, maybe Bush's just a supersized blockhead and didn't think about that when he requested duty on the F-102. But still, it's a pretty elaborate way of going about avoiding risk!!
As for the pay-stubs, you can have that point.posted by: Twn on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Feh. The F-102 was the "Delta Dagger", not the "Delta Dart". The Dart was introduced later.posted by: Twn on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
As much as I agree with the big vision that Bush and, to a lesser extent, Rumsfeld have crafted, these guys have demonstrated a high degree of incompentence. I may vote for Bush (doesn't make much differece since I live in DC), but I will always think of the missed opportunities. Instead of Feith, they had a great guy with serious credentials as the runner up. In several other positions, Rumsfeld opted for ideologues over serious principled neo-cons. In all cases, we would have had a more competent and skilled person in the Pentagon. Why have so few McCain supporters been appointed? Pettiness to the detriment of the country.posted by: Craig on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
"As much as I agree with the big vision that Bush and, to a lesser extent, Rumsfeld have crafted, these guys have demonstrated a high degree of incompentence. "
Here's the rub, and i cant say its an invalid pov. There have been many mistakes made. The real question becomes, concerning Iraq, has there been an _inordinate_ amount of mistakes compared to any other campaign in military history. We at the moment suffer from a huge degree of shortsightedness. If there has been another campaign in military history/occupation that has suffered fewer casualties and a faster rebuilding I would love to hear what it was.posted by: mark buehner on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
General Frank says it is a blessing when an Army melts away. I'll bet he does not believe that. Sometimes it is a blessing; sometimes, no blessing at all. Surely General Frnk knows how hard Sherman worked to keep the Confederate Army from melting away in 1865--so as to head off just the kind of problem we have run into in Iraq.posted by: Buce on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
TWN, The fact that the national guard was a refuge for the privelged from vietnam is well known. You can flounder around it however you want. The fact that Bush went AWOL has now been hammered home with the release of the pay stubs. So we have Kerry, a guy who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- vs. Bush, AWOL, who sat still for 7 minutes while the country was under attack. I suggest watching Bush reading the children's book while the country is under atttack a few times. I think that will bring the message home.
AVI, given how the media bought the utter crap that sent us to war, from such reliable sources as an alcoholic named curve ball and Ahmed Chalabi -- I think it's safe to say that if anyone operates a propoganda machine like China, Cuba, etc. -- Its Karl Rove. You gotta cocmmend the man for a job well done.
MB, This is not in dispute anymore. C.F. Neocon mea culpa up the wazoos. Everyone has said the country is f'd. Also, c.f. anyone who actually served at the CPA and was some miraculously older than 20 and had some experience. These are still die neocons.
And to part, remeber, America has turned the CORNER! IF you want "change" vote G.W. Bush!
posted by: Jor on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
I am glad to see that someone else possesses at least a modest background in military history. President Abraham Lincoln, if you follow the logic of the Bush bashers, was a true wartime failure. Many lives were wasted on the battlefields because he was unable to find a competent general until U.S. Grant appeared on the scene. Lincoln’s troops blew countless opportunities to put away the vastly outnumbered and far less affluent Confederate forces. And have I mentioned his “attacks” on the Constitution? Abraham Lincoln made George W. Bush seem like an ACLU flaming liberal. The United States forces have lost around a thousand soldiers during the Iraqi campaign. Lincoln’s armies sometimes lost that many lives in less than a single hour.posted by: David Thomson on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
When Dubya can prononouce Abolitionist -- then the analogies to Lincoln are called for -- until then, its pure crap. And I don't think Lincoln ever put a 20 year old who never watched CNBC before in charge of rebuilding a countries stock market -- but if he did, let me know!posted by: Jor on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
BTW -- The Civil war and an unnecessary war of choice make for a pretty bad comparison. And I feel sorry for you, I mean to compare someone like Lincoln to Bush is the highest sign of desperation. I think Obama said it best when he alluded to the contrast -- Lincoln hope he wason God's side -- Bush know's God is on his side.posted by: Jor on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Lincoln's military had a series of intelligence failures too. Like, near the start of the war they got a set of confiderate supply details that implied the rebels had a giant army. It took awhile before they figured out that a lot of those were garrison troops who wouldn't be involved in opposing union armies. So there they were, being too cautious.
I guess if 140 years from now iraqis are loyal american citizens we can figure that Bush did a lot better than Lincoln did.
Jor, I dont know how to break this to you, but just because you say something doesnt make it true. No matter how many times you parrot it.posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Question for David Thompson:
You are comparing Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War--where the fighting took place on AMERICAN soil--to Bush's role during a pre-emptive war against a FOREIGN state that had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11!
Apparently the idea that the Iraqi military simply melted away is spin.
Word on the street is that the US was in touch with commanders who could have gotten the troops back together, but chose the extreme purge all Ba'athists route for ideological reasons instead.posted by: praktike on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Always nice to see some folks just won't let their agenda get in the way of the story.
I guess we need the comic relief.
As I read Franks interview:
* He acknowledges that, in hindsight, doing things differently post-war might've made it go more smoothly.
* He wishes Rumsfeld's lines of communication were more open and varied, so a field commander like him had more direct access & communication.
* He believes Bush is honest and values that very, very highly in a commander in chief.
* And even if hindsight suggests mistakes were made, he values the honesty of Bush enough to prefer him - however tentatively - over whatever Kerry brings to the table right now.
And just for you, Jor - I suspect he doesn't give a crap about the Air National Guard or John Kerry's 4 months in Viet Nam.
Because, Jor, it's been over 30 years since then -and the passage of 30 years makes it quite certain that neither Bush nor Kerry are the same men they were then.posted by: BradDad on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
"TWN, The fact that the national guard was a refuge for the privelged from vietnam is well known. You can flounder around it however you want."
Thanks for the liberty. I would, in return, grant you the liberty to avoid new information, no matter what it might suggest. But you've already taken it!!
"Word on the street is that the US was in touch with commanders who could have gotten the troops back together"
And everybody knows how reliable the word on the street is...posted by: Mark Buehner on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
Franks also told Time his "feelings were hurt that I was not invited to the Democratic National Convention."
Sounds like the Democrats missed a golden opportunity.posted by: Dan Spencer, California Yankee on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
'First, Air National Gaurd units were engaged in combat operations in Vietnam. Joining the ANG did not mean you wouldn't see combat.'
The chance of seeing combat in the ANG involuntrarily was minor. COlin Powell has said that in his book. And Bush said he didn't want to be sent to Vietnam.
'Second, When Bush joined the Texas ANG in 1968, he was assigned to a fighter wing that, at that time, had member pilots engaged in combat missions in Vietnam.'
Again, it was only people who chose to go there. Bush did not, and he has said that he did not want to go to Vietnam.
'Now, being the scion of priviledge & power, maybe Bush was able to forsee that his chosen plane wouldn't be flying in Vietnam once he completed training, and the only combat risk he would face would be from a Russian nuclear attack. But, if he was trying to use his position to avoid a risky military assignment, consciously choosing to fly a dangerous plane at a time members of his unit were flying that kind of plane in combat doesn't seem the best way to avoid dangerous duty'
Bush has specifically said that he did not want to go to Vietnam. He also wanted to learn how to fly and thought he could do so when in the Nation Guard. Some string pulling enabled him to jump the line to fly, although his grades were well below average. As for the possibility of a Russian nuclear attack, it would have made no differnce in terms of safety whether you were a pilot or not (since it would almost certainly hav come from ICBMs and SLBMs).posted by: erg on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
In the absence of actually answering the objections, I guess y'll can just repeat yourselves louder.posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
'In the absence of actually answering the objections, I guess y'll can just repeat yourselves louder. '
Well, if someone who has said that he did not want to serve in Vietnam (but was not willing to go to Canada(, indicated in his enrollment forms that he didn't want to, and served in a group that almost never had someone sent to Vietnam involuntrarily at that time and was in a group (Air National Guard) that was infamous at that time for containing people of wealth and priviliege who did not want to serve, I think the suggestion that said person was actually in the ANG for any other reason is absurd.
posted by: erg on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
John Kerry went, saw combat, under regulations was sent home early, and protested and misrepresented the war. George W did not go, but completed service sufficient to satisfy regulations and put it behind him.
Neither achievement makes either a better or worse potential US president. Regarding character, what matters is not the men they were in 1974 but the men they are in 2004.posted by: lrC on 08.01.04 at 02:05 PM [permalink]
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