Thursday, September 16, 2004

No Exit

From Salon (access requires registration or viewing a commercial):

Retired Gen. William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse -- he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He added: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving [Osama] bin Laden's ends."

Retired Gen. Joseph Hoare, the former Marine commandant and head of the U.S. Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

"I see no ray of light on the horizon at all," said Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College. "The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after World War II in Germany and Japan."

"I don't think that you can kill the insurgency," said W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, the top expert on Iraq there. According to Terrill, the anti-U.S. insurgency, centered in the Sunni triangle, and holding several key cities and towns, including Fallujah, is expanding and becoming more capable as a direct consequence of U.S. policy. "We have a growing, maturing insurgency group," he told me. "We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are X number of insurgents and when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the U.S. presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view."


Gen. Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and senior military officers over Iraq is worse than any he has ever seen with any previous U.S. government, including during Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

And he's running on his record on national security??


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