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thedrifter
04-13-06, 08:49 AM
Protecting the Left Flank
By FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 13, 2006

You can get a sense of the full extent of the Left’s desperation in who it is beginning to adopt as heroes: military men.

The latest effort to co-opt the Armed Services for the Left is Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who wrote an editorial for Time on Sunday entitled, “Why Iraq Was a Mistake.” Although the media latched onto Newbold as the one thing in limited supply on the antiwar Left – a straight-shooting, patriotic war critic – he testified before Congress that Iraqi terrorism could be blamed on our “occupation” and supposedly “one-sided” policy of favoring Israel, demanded we “address the root causes of terrorism,” and, despite his protests to the contrary, has favored announcing a public timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

In his article, which the magazine calls “a full-throated critique,” he declares, “a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, al-Qaeda, became a secondary effort.” As director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Newbold writes, “I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense.” Worse, these zealots “had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy.”

In one paragraph, Newbold recycles all the Left’s clichéd arguments against Iraq, including invocations of Vietnam and the “chickenhawk” charge:

Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions – or bury the results.

While these pampered Republicans were destroying the world, military brass “acted timidly when their voices urgently needed to be heard.” He grudgingly acknowledges, “A few of the most senior officers actually supported the logic for war.” But he adds ominously, “Others were simply intimidated.”

His solution? To start with, fire Don Rumsfeld. “We need fresh ideas and fresh faces. That means, as a first step, replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach…It is time for senior military leaders to discard caution in expressing their views and ensure that the President hears them clearly. And that we won't be fooled again.”

The media have emphasized that three retired military leaders have called on Rumsfeld to resign this year: Newbold, Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, and Gen. Anthony Zinni. Zinni, the mastermind behind Bill Clinton’s 1998 destruction of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan and a tent in Afghanistan, once described the fact that Jewish neocons pushed the War in Iraq to benefit Israel as “the worst-kept secret in Washington.” (For this, the Huffington Blog wants him to run for president.) They have not covered Newbold’s history of public misstatements, flawed analyses, and Congressional testimony casting America – and Israel – as responsible for the Iraqi “insurgency.”

Like all good leftists, Newbold blamed Muslim terrorism in part on Israeli Jews. He testified before Congress on February 1, 2005, “Our regional policies are almost universally viewed as one-sided, and our credibility on almost every other issue is undermined by this fact.” To bring peace in our time, we must throw Israel overboard. “The U.S. must implement regional policies that bring due credit to us, and we must see the conflict in ways that can address the root causes of terrorism and the clash of cultures.”

The Jews in Tel Aviv don’t bear full responsibility; American troops in Iraq are also responsible for their own murder:

[T]he root cause of violent opposition to our forces, is our forces. To legions of Iraqis driven by what we would call nationalism, the cause is simple – they are an occupied country.

Elsewhere, he stated, “The irony of our occupation is simple but profound – there is no stability without us, but our presence inflames the insurgency that causes instability.”

This echoes Ted Kennedy’s view, “The war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation.” Or Michael Moore’s comments: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?” After all, who could blame a patriotic “nationalists” for liberating their country from an occupational force?

Like Messrs. Moore, Kennedy, Murtha, and Kerry, Lt. Gen. Newbold is doing his part to make sure America withdraws, whether or not Iraq is stabilized first, testifying, “In my view, closed mindedness about discussing anything except that our withdrawal is wholly ‘condition based,’ fuels the perception that we have no intention of withdrawing.” He told Congress, “To be sure we don't need or want precise timelines.” Then he proceeded to lay out a scenario in which we would announce to the Iraqi public: “if the insurgency were to be assessed as ‘controlled and of minor consequence’ by the end of 2006, there would be no reason for continued U.S. presence in Iraq.” Further, “We should set goals for how long we want to sustain this effort, and take the actions that provide a real opportunity for making them achievable.” Finally, “No matter whose strategy is adopted, it ought to set at its goal a termination [of U.S. presence in Iraq] within two years.”

Has he changed his view in the last 14 months? He wrote in his Time piece:

[M]y view – at the moment – is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists’ message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position.

It’s nice to have a broad, vague exception that allows you to change your public stance at a moment’s notice. This is exactly the position John Kerry laid out in his recent op-ed calling for withdrawal from Iraq next month.

As for his call for Rumsfeld’s resignation, there is a more pedestrian explanation: Newbold retired in the summer of 2002 after a series of personality clashes with Rumsfeld, backstage missteps, and one major public blooper.

After Newbold successfully oversaw and announced a joint U.S.-UK strike in northern Iraq in February 2001, he began to brief the media more frequently – especially after the invasion of Afghanistan. That is when he made his biggest mistake.

On October 16, 2001, Lt. Gen. Newbold told reporters that ”the combat power of the Taliban has been eviscerated.” The media took this as an announcement of the war’s imminent end. If the U.S. sustained serious casualties in even a single encounter after this, it would be interpreted as a major setback, the onset of a “quagmire.” Secretary Rumsfeld quickly took to the airwaves to set the record straight: the Taliban still had airpower, and though he was confident of victory, it was not yet at hand.

Newbold’s overstatement was the last in a series of flawed analyses for the Department of Defense.

At the end of 2000, in the waning days of the Clinton administration, he drafted a plan to topple the Taliban. However, as the 9/11 Commission reported, “Much of it was beyond the scope of the Defense Department to implement.” That is to say, he drafted plans his department had no authority to put in place; it was unworkable. “Newbold said he briefed this plan at the end of 2000 to General Shelton and NSC counterterrorism coordinator [and media darling Richard] Clarke…this plan too was eventually given back to the Joint Chiefs with no direction for further action.” The American people simply would not accept large military entanglements pre-9/11. “Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz warned that it would have been impossible to get Congress to support sending 10,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan to do what the Soviet Union failed to do in the 1980s,” the commission noted. Newbold’s unworkable plan went nowhere.

After 9/11, Newbold got another chance. He drew up CENTCOM contingency plan 1003-98 for invading Iraq, but his final plan called for half-a-million troops – the same number of American soldiers in combat at the height of Vietnam. Rumsfeld reportedly wanted no more than 125,000 troops. Ultimately, Rumsfeld was upheld by the military. The Associated Press reported after Paul Bremer called for 500,000 troops in 2004, Rumsfeld asked the military brass for their recommendations – the exact opposite of “McNamara-like micromanagement.” AP reported, “Gen. Richard B. Myers consulted with senior military commanders to consider changes. They then told Rumsfeld that they preferred to stay at the existing level of 18 brigades, or about 145,000 troops.” Since 2003, the highest number of troops in Iraq has been 160,000 – to secure Iraqi elections. Perhaps a larger force could have been useful at times; a 400 or 500 percent increased troop level would have been unsustainable.

Between this and virtually declaring the war in Afghanistan won, Newbold’s promising career hit a tailspin. U.S. News and World Report revealed after his press briefing faux pas, Newbold was “rebuked and his job at the Pentagon podium nixed for his clumsy statement.”

Rumsfeld, perhaps unwisely, referenced the mistake when Newbold retired the following summer. In what was supposed to be a humorous farewell tribute, Rumsfeld played a videotape of the “eviscerated” briefing, “followed by the ribbing he took from Mr. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Meyers.”

The lieutenant general reacted graciously at his send-off – then began portraying Rumsfeld as an ogre in the media.

When asked by one national report if Rumsfeld was “abusive and brash,” Newbold said that was “an accurate description,” adding the environment at Rumsfeld’s DoD was “intimidating and suppressive.”

He also displayed his acumen for poor analysis and erroneous intelligence. In the same interview, Lt. Gen. Newbold said, “I think Saddam Hussein was a paper tiger.” The Duelfer Report told another story – a tale of a man hell-bent on acquiring WMDs, weapons he had already showed a propensity for using on civilians.

Newbold also lied the Bush administration “argued that all the things they saw meant that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the United States, a principal reason for the terrorism against the United States, and had to be taken out.” But Bush repeatedly stated Iraq was not an “imminent” threat – and could not be allowed to become one.

Newbold’s “new” charges are but more of the Left’s hoary calumnies dressed in military fatigues. Two high-level U.S. reports refuted his contention that the Bush administration intimidated the military into producing flawed intelligence on Iraq; the intelligence community blundered into incompetence on its own. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence “did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.” The Silberman-Robb report found “no evidence of political pressure…analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments.” If anything, Bush understated the threat intelligence reports suggested.

This president has been noted for his continual consultation with the military and his refusal to micromanage the war. He did, indeed, dismiss the Iraqi Army, many of whose members served Saddam Hussein and were deemed security risks in the newly liberated country. And France, Germany, and Russia stood to gain too much economically from their collusion with Saddam to support overthrowing the Ba’athist dictator, even if Bush had signed a hundred Kyoto treaties.

Although the media are now hailing Newbold as a hero, they had a different opinion in the immediate past. Just last November 21 – less than five months ago – Washington Post columnist William Arkin used Newbold as a case-in-point for his column, “When Stupidity Isn’t Staged.”

His title would be a good summary of Newbold’s Congressional testimony. Supporting the Middle East’s oldest democracy and creating its second in Iraq is not the “root cause” of terror but its antidote. Announcing the exact date America would withdraw from Iraq if the terrorists were “controlled and of minor consequence” would allow al-Qaeda to lie low for a few months, then come raging back to create Iraqi killing fields. And leaving Iraq before it is an established democracy capable of defending itself would not only give foreign jihadists the home for their long-awaited new Caliphate but would also assure the 2,000 soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq would have died for nothing. Newbold served his country admirably for decades; his recent pronouncements on Iraq serve only the interests of demagogues and jihadists.

Ellie