Now I’ve seen a furious debate over the question Spc. Wilson asked Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Both sides have good points: the fact that so many soldiers cheered means that there’s a HUGE morale problem. But it’s also true that there’s a tradeoff in armor versus mobility, and yes, soldiers and marines and sailors get killed in war, and we won’t change that any time soon.
However, one way Rumsfeld completely ducked his and the Bush administration’s responsibility infuriated me, and nobody I’ve seen has commented on it. His reply supposedly included this sentence: “You go to war with the army you have.”
Sure, when Iraq attacked through Cuba and took Miami so soon after 9/11/01, I was shocked and ready to go to war, too, and I think people complaining about timing should complain to Saddam Hussein since he start-
Oh Wait, WE Started This One
We could have gone to war with any army we wanted. We had the luxury of choosing the time and place, and, according to the Bush administration now, weapons of mass destruction weren’t a major reason to go, just an also-ran. So there was no time pressure, and Rumsfeld could have prepared for the contingency of taking Iraq with a “transformed” army (which he did well) and then holding it with a follow-on larger force (which he has failed to even consider until now).
Furthermore, Bush could have actually spent some time bringing the rest of the world along so we had partners in the initial invasion and even more to do the dirty, dull, dangerous drudgery that is occupation. We could have French and Spanish and German and Japanese and Saudi and Yemeni and Egyptian and maybe even Russian or Turkish troops on the ground being shot at along with us, providing some visibility and keeping the pressure on would-be terrorists.
But, Mr. Rumsfeld, you failed to plan, you failed to argue for more time, and you implemented a policy pretty much doomed to this kind of slog. It’s not yet hopeless, but if you had a bit of honor you would have stepped aside and let someone else finish this one.