Thursday, September 13, 2007

Overarching observation of the Petraeus testimony--"The Decider" refuses to do his job.

Here's my "general" observation about the testimony of Gen. Petraeus before Congress: he is well practiced in the art of never giving a direct answer to questions. I will likely discuss that further in a subsequent post, but for now I want to focus on one sentence from his written testimony which highlights the problems not just with his testimony but with the Bush administration's Iraq policy as a whole.

Before quoting the "one sentence," I want to make two things clear. First, the responsibility for this country's Iraq policy lies with the Bush administration. Not Congress. Not the Democrats. Congress granted Bush the authority to wage this war--which was one of the dumbest things Congress has ever done--but what was done with that authority was solely left to the discretion of the Executive Branch. All future policy decisions regarding Iraq are the responsibility of the Bush administration. And when I say "policy" I mean what objectives to pursue and how those objectives are to be accomplished. Second, the problems exemplified in the "one sentence" have been present since before the war started, and they have NEVER been resolved.

With the foregoing in mind, here is the "one sentence:"
As a bottom line up front, the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met.
(emphasis added). Let's assume, arguendo, that this statement is true. It still does not come close to determining whether there will or can be overall success in Iraq. Why? Because overall success cannot be accomplished solely through military actions. Plenty of folks--Wes Clark is one example--have been saying since before the war started that success in Iraq would have to include significant political and diplomatic efforts, and I challenge anyone to claim that not to be the case now. And yet Petraeus is not talking about anything but military efforts. What makes this significant is that for months the Bush administration told us that the entirety of future policy decisions would depend on what Petraeus would report to Congress. Read all of Petraeus's prepared testimony, and you will find no discussion of political or diplomatic objectives. If Bush's policy decisions are dependent upon this report, there will be no diplomatic or political objectives.

And that, my fellow Americans, has always been the problem with Bush's Iraq policy. The Bush administration has never defined diplomatic and political objectives and has never engaged in any meaningful diplomatic and political efforts. Instead, these delusional morons were convinced that everything would just magically work out once Saddam was ousted.

But let's get back to the "military objectives." I maintain that Petraeus's statement is not and cannot be true. And the reason for that is found in some of my earliest posts on this blog. It comes down to a matter of military campaign planning. For all the details, go to the Cosmic Wheel Index, main heading "Iraq," subheading "Planning for the Post-war Period," and check out the first five posts listed thereunder. The following excerpts from the Executive Summary of that official doctrine explain the basics of my position:
Guidance from civilian and military policymakers is a prerequisite for developing a military campaign plan. Military campaigns are not conducted in isolation of other government efforts to achieve national strategic objectives. Military power is used in conjunction with other instruments of national power— diplomatic, economic, and informationalto achieve strategic objectives.

Campaign planning generally applies to the conduct of combat operations, but can also be used in situations other than war. Combatant commanders and other JFCs may develop campaign plans for peacetime, conflict, or war.

While deliberate planning is conducted in anticipation of future events, there are always situations arising in the present that might require US military response. Campaign plan design begins with strategic guidance in the form of military strategic aims or objectives that define the role of military forces in the larger context of national strategic objectives. The thread of continuity that ties the strategic objectives to the operational and tactical levels is commonly referred to as the desired “end state.” The desired end state should be clearly described by the NCA before Armed Forces of the United States are committed to an action; they should address both the desired political and military conditions after the military strategic objectives are attained. Although it has often been the case in past military operations other than war (MOOTW) situations that end state and supporting military conditions defining success were ill-defined or even absent, it is imperative to have a clearly defined end state here as well.
(bold type in original, italics added). Under this official doctrine, military force is one of several elements needed to make any military campaign successful, and those other parts include political and diplomatic efforts. More to the point, the use of military force must be designed to achieve the political objectives which make up the "desired end state." In other words, the "desired end state" has to be clearly defined in order for the "military objectives" to be met. Furthermore, as explained in the indexed posts referenced above, the definitions of the desired end state--the policy decisions--have to come from the National Command Authorities, and those are the President and the Secretary of Defense. In other words, the Bush administration--not Congress, not the Democrats, not the military generals--has to give those definitions. AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS UTTERLY FAILED TO DO SO.

I know this is redundant, but here is how I summarized the campaign doctrine in a post on May 15 of this year:
Under the official campaign doctrine in place prior to the Iraq war, the National Command Authorities (Bush and Rumskull) were to provide the objectives and desired end state for the war, and they were supposed to provide strategic guidance that would define the role of the military in achieving the desired national strategic objectives--which were also to be determined by Bush and Rumskull. Not only that, but Bush and Rumskull were supposed to provide the termination criteria for the campaign (which would include the reconstruction/occupation phase). The military's job was to then come up with a plan that would accomplish all the foregoing things. Put simply, the military was to figure out the means by which it was to accomplish the goals as set by Bush and Rumskull and within the role for the military as defined by Bush and Rumskull. [See Official campaign planning doctrine and the post-war period for the detailed explanation.]
So the real questions to be answered involve the definition of the "desired end state" and how that is to be accomplished. Some of those questions involve political and diplomatic components. Until those questions are answered, there is no way to determine whether "the military objectives are being met" and whether there has been or will be "success" in Iraq.

And these questions cannot be answered by Petraeus. Why? Because he is not authorized to define the "desired end state" or any diplomatic or political objectives. Those decisions are expressly left to the President and the Secretary of Defense. Petraeus's duty is to use the military to help achieve those objectives, but unless he is told just what those objectives are, how can he use military force to achieve "success," and how can he claim that the "military objectives" have been or are being met?

As I alluded to earlier, what is disturbing about Petraeus's testimony is that Bush and every hack and flack in his administration has been telling us that Bush listens to his commanders, that no decisions would be made until Petraeus testified, that Bush would do what his commanders recommend, etc. This is all bass ackwards, people! Bush is supposed to decide what the objectives are, and then his commanders are supposed to listen to him. Bush is trying to pawn off his responsibilities to the military commanders. Those policy decisions are not part of their job duties. They are part of Bush's job, but "The Decider" doesn't want to do his job.

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