George W. Bush likes to say that he listens to the generals and commanders and makes his decisions, based on what they tell him.
· The troop levels in Iraq will be decided by commanders on the ground.--9/12/05
· “I'm going to be listening to the people that know what they're talking about, and that's the commanders on the ground in Iraq. They'll make the decisions.--1/23/06
It is more accurate to say that Bush heeds the advice of generals and commanders who say what he wants to hear. If they don’t, they are soon replaced.
Before the invasion of Iraq, Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki warned that the U.S. force was too small to control post-war Iraq. He said it would take several hundred thousand troops to maintain security in a country of that size. The Bush Administration ignored Shinseki’s advice, and now the Iraq War is now in its sixth year, 4000 American troops have died--tens of thousands more have been wounded and maimed; and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed in chaos that continues to this day.
In Fall 2005, Chief of Central Command (CENTCOM) General John P. Abizaid and Commander in Iraq General George W. Casey Jr. told Congress that a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq was imperative. They said that the American presence was “stoking the insurgency, fostering dependency among the Iraqi security forces and proving counterproductive” in the war against Islamic extremists. Their advice was ignored by the Bush Administration, and Iraq is now a training ground and recruiting tool for al Qaida and Islamic extremists of all types.
In Fall 2006, as George W. Bush and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) began to push for an escalation of the Iraq war (the “surge”). General Abizaid told Congress that he had asked all the commanders “on the ground” in Iraq-- if an increase in the number of American troops in Iraq would significantly improve U.S. prospects for success--and they all said “no”. Abizaid’s testimony was ignored, and the Bush/McCain surge strategy was implemented.
It wasn’t practical to replace all the commanders in Iraq who disagreed with his decision to increase the number of troops in Iraq, so Bush settled for replacing the top two commanders, Generals Casey and Abizaid. Bush needed a couple of good yes-men at the top--Commanders who would support the surge, so he replaced General Casey with Lt. General David H. Petraeus, as the top military commander in Iraq; and he replaced CENTCOM Commander General Abizaid with Admiral William Fallon, who was the top commander in the Pacific.
General Petraeus has turned out to be the commander of George W. Bush’s dreams. Having risen through the ranks by serving as an aide to senior Generals, Petraeus was already well-versed in how to be a yes-man. When Bush tells him to put lipstick on a pig, General Petraeus salutes and asks, “What color lipstick, Sir?”
On the other hand, Bush’s choice of Admiral William Fallon to be the Chief of Central Command is a mystery. Oh sure, he came highly recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates described him as “one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today” (CNN, 1/5/07); but it was pretty clear that he was not going to be Bush’s yes-man--in fact, he hated yes-men.
Inter Press Service (9/12/07) described the March 2007 meeting of Bush’s new commanders:
· “Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be ‘an ass-kissing little chickenshit’ and added, ‘I hate people like that’... That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.”
Fallon was skeptical of the Bush “surge” and began to develop his own plan for Iraq, which included a withdrawal of 75 percent of U.S. forces by the end of 2009 (The Washington Post, 9/9/07)
A recent article in Esquire magazine, by a former professor at the Naval War College, Thomas P.M. Barnett, expressed the widely held view that Admiral Fallon may be the only thing preventing the lunatics in the White House from starting a war with Iran before they leave office.
· “... well-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up [spring 2009], maybe as early as this summer, in favor of a commander the White House considers to be more pliable. If that were to happen, it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way.”--Esquire, 3/11/08
In February 2007, Fallon refused to go along with the Bush Administration’s plan to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf because it was not militarily justified and he considered it an unnecessary provocation directed at Iran. Privately, Fallon is said to have vowed that there would be no war with Iran on his watch, “implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy” (IPS, 9/12/07).