Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Dick Cheney's So-Called Competence

It's become conventional wisdom that Dick Cheney is, for all his flaws, a highly competent manager with a deep background in defense and military affairs. Well, check out this gem, by infantryman Ambrose Beers, from back in 2000, wherein we learn:

In his book It Doesn't Take a Hero, retired U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf describes the evolution of the plans he and his staff made following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As his mission to defend Saudi Arabia quickly grew into an offensive plan to drive Iraqi troops out of everyone's favorite oppressive rococo emirate, Schwarzkopf developed a four-step course of action intended to grind his enemy down into miserable fighting condition before finishing him off with an overwhelming and elaborately staged ground attack. Problem is, all of that grinding and staging took time - and quite a few of the people Schwarzkopf worked for wanted to see the lion eat the fucking gladiator already. Following one White House meeting at which he'd asked for more time and more troops, Stormin' Norman reports, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell called to warn the Desert Storm commander that he was being loudly compared, by a top administration official, to George McClellan. "My God," the official supposedly complained. "He's got all the force he needs. Why won't he just attack?" Schwarzkopf notes that the unnamed official who'd made the comment "was a civilian who knew next to nothing about military affairs, but he'd been watching the Civil War documentary on public television and was now an expert."

And then, twenty pages later, Schwarzkopf casually drops the information that he got an inspirational gift from Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney right before the air war finally got under way. Cheney was presenting a gift to a military man, and he chose something with an appropriate theme: "(A) complete set of videotapes of Ken Burns's PBS series, The Civil War."

The remainder of the essay has several other juicy bits. And they aren't just cheap shots: consider that the complaint of military planners, from the very beginning, has been that we didn't have enough troops in Iraq to win the peace. Cheney's had a hard-on for ill-planned, undermanned military escapades involving the deaths of other people for years. His central role in the Iraq war, and its disastrous outcome, reflects Cheney's thorough incompetence as a civilian commander of military efforts.


  1. Actually this article's stuck out in my mind ever since I read it, back in the days when Suck still walked the Earth and I read it every weekday. Ah, those were the days...