Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Haditha Coverup

Apparently, there wasn't any.

The general charged with investigating whether Marines tried to cover up the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha has completed his report, finding that Marine officers failed to ask the right questions, an official close to the investigation said Friday.

Nothing in the report points to a "knowing cover-up" of the facts by the officers supervising the Marines involved in the November incident, the official said. Rather, he said, officers from the company level through the staff of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Baghdad failed to demand "a thorough explanation" of what happened in Haditha.
That doesn't mean the Marines are off the hook, it just means that there hasn't been any coverup. Anyone going to hold Murtha to accounts about his statements? I doubt it.


Granted said...

Oh, I suspect the voters in Pennsylvania may call Murtha to acccount this year. I think the current meme comparing him to Grandpa Simpson is WAY to close to reality.

QuestRepublic said...

Suppose we compare the "Mistakes" of Rep. Murtha with the repeated strategic mistakes by this administration in getting us into this war and the execution of Iraq policy?

How about the opportunity cost? What would the resources we expended in Iraq due in Afganistan? North Korea? New Orleans?


Nylarthotep said...

Hmm. Compare the knee jerk foolish proposal to ensure failure in a theater that needs a successful conclusion with the original policy that got us into the situation? Yeah, problems in prosecuting a war are never seen, but advocating a policy that will ensure failure is OK? Maybe a little research into how wars really work may be in order. Hint: international military conflicts rarely if ever go exactly to plan. Military conflicts are won by the side that makes the least mistakes.

And yes, how about those costs? Since you want to wade into conjecture, what would the cost be if Iraq had been let off the hook and Al-Qaeda had moved from Afghanistan to a friendly Iraq? What would the cost-benefit ratio have been at that point? Redeploy the US military to pry a terrorist organization out of Iraq after allowing Iraq to recover it's military structure and potentially its WMD infrastructure? That wouldn't have cost anything. Not to mention the potential loss of further lives with Al-Qaeda having a new stable and more modern base of command.

QuestRepublic said...

Dear Nylarthotep,

Your comments deserve a thoughtful response; here goes:

1)Rep. Murtha's comments, rather than being kneejerk, are ONE side of a debate roiling the Defense Dept. People who speak with him daily, as do lots of my classmates from the Naval Academy, are debating whether and when to redeploy the Iraq troops. Those who are still on active duty are not going to be openly voicing these opinions, so instead you see them voiced by Rep. Murtha.
2)It is just because of the uncertainty involved, as you mention, in prosecuting war, that makes the decision to invade Iraq, as several highly-placed members of the first Bush Administration have called it, the worst strategic mistake of this generation. This administration ignored the recommendations of the senior Army officials. It is because of this misuse of military resources that your have Rep. Murtha and retired Generals complaining. I have had plenty of formal education in how to plan wars. So did Secr. State Powell; witness his reluctance to invade. Lastly, our current difficulties stem, not from the warfare itself, but the occupation since then. The Defense Deprtment shunted aside efforts of the State Department and Secr. Powel to have more impact on post-war planning. I counsel Iraq veterans every week. The security situation in Iraq really does not seem to be improving, at least with the current tactics. So what is wrong with a debate on tactics and strategy?
3) The costs of Iraq are now about one-half Trillion Dollars and expected to eventually be One to Two Trillion. Balance that against a pre-invasion Iraq that our intelligence before the War predicted to NOT be a friendly place for al-Qaeda. As a former Bush-I official said: "..we are now making terrorists faster than we can kill them". Instead of pursueing the Afghan enemy, we invaded a country that had very few active terrorists and wasted our military resources there, instead of in the sixty or so countries that actually did have active al-Qaeda cells in 2003.
4) Good point about al-Qaeda having a base in Iraq; it did not before; now it has one. So much for our present use of resources.
5) I deal with present and former military officers and enlisted every day. Their opinions on this issue and other aspects of the GWOT cover the full spectrum. Most of us who fought for our country, did so because of the rights of Americans to freedom and especially freedom of expression. I hope that never changes.

God Bless,

Nylarthotep said...

1) I have no doubts that there are some in the military that choose not to voice their opinions. That doesn't mean that they are a majority,nor that their opinions are correct.

2) The Iraq war was strategically correct for many reasons, though the tactical mistakes were likely to have had voices that asserted that the path taken was incorrect. As for Powell, his doctrine completely ignores that wars commonly require the victor to clean up and restore some level of stability before leaving. The Powell doctrine wants withdrawal plans before the action, and in war that isn't always possible.

3&4) Costs. Sheesh. So we should have just left Saddam alone and kept our cash and blood and all would have been rosy? What a short sighted vision even in hindsight. Al-Qaeda would have established a stable base in Iraq had we allowed Saddam to go with no further sanction. Al-Qaeda is indeed in Iraq right now, and dying quite frequently. But you're Idea is much better, stable large country to provide bases of training and resources would have been just perfect for them.

As to making more terrorists, that is conjecture with some basis, but ignores that the Islamic fundementalists were continuing to support Jihad against the west irrespective of what the West did to appease them. Are you trying to say that we should have just let the tyrant and the terrorist walk free or maybe appease them? You throw lots of darts on what went wrong, So tell us what should have been done to prevent the terrorists continuing to attack the US.

5) I appreciate anyone that has or is fighting for the US citizenry. That doesn't mean that I will agree with their conjecture or complaints when the action that was taken was the correct thing to do.

QuestRepublic said...

Our containment of Saddam's Iraq through no-fly zones and sanctions, as imperfect as they were, was a workable strategy. The Kurds were thriving and the Shia were surviving better than either before the No-Fly was established or under the last two years.

The feedback i get in counseling returning troops and speaking with current and retired officers leads me to believe that we are not buying a winnable solution with all our resorces. They could be spent on:
a)border and container-ship insections
b)finishing the afghan incursion
c)political capital to isolate North Korea
d)lessening energy dependence on countries like Saudi Arabia, which actually DID provide most of the highjackers and huge financing of the Wahabi Madrassa system, courtesy of US petrodollars. Iraq on the other hand, which was a bosom buddy of ours the first time Rumsfeld met Hussein, sheltered no significant terrorists, at least according to insiders at the CIA and published accounts from the State Department

The biggest flaw I see with the attack on Iraq is the mischaracterization of the enemy. Iraq (nor any other country) is not the "terrorist(s)". Similarly, we cannot truly "..fight a war on terror". Yes, we can deny, on a temporary basis, a base for terror in Afghanistan. We do not have the ability to make large-scale changes over short time spans in most of these countries and we risk blow-back when, for example we armed islamic fundamentalists to drive the USSR out of that country earlier.

I am NOT argueing to a timid, do-nothing approach, but instead to learn from the lessons of Vietnam, to know your enemy and get cooperation from allies when you can and realize the limitations of using mainly military force.

To a significant degree my view is shaped by a lifetime of formal involvement with the US military and a personal practical understanding of the unpredictabiities of warfare. It is indeed an expression of diplomacy and as the other saying goes, often waged more for internal political reasons than for any external bloodlust.

The terrorists, be they al Qaeda or whoever cannot by themselves defeat this country. Only the US can defeat us at present. We are spending almost 40% of the world's total defense budget. Does not look like a good return on investment right now for the world's only superpower. That is money that is not being spent on competing with the EU, China, India or other emergent powers.

Look at an historical comparison: the US appeared to be woefully unprepared for WWII. France with a larger army and air force than Germany quickly crumbled in 1940. When we entered WWII, we had the thirteenth largest army; we used to be fourteenth, but that was before Holland was knocked out.

What made the difference in WWII was the industrial capacity of this country.