Sunday, September 7, 2008

"CINC: Fooling himself and the nation."

Photos: Gen. George Casey, President George Bush, National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, c. 2006.

Credit from Bob Woodward's new book, "The War Within," and the Washington Post extract - in his own words:

By Bob Woodward Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, September 7, 2008; Page A01

During the summer of 2006, from her office adjacent to the White House, deputy national security adviser Meghan O'Sullivan sent President Bush a daily top secret report cataloging the escalating bloodshed and chaos in Iraq.

"Violence has acquired a momentum of its own and is now self-sustaining," she wrote July 20, quoting from an intelligence assessment.

Her dire evaluation contradicted the upbeat assurances that President Bush was hearing from Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the U.S. commander in Iraq. Casey and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were pushing to draw down American forces and speed the transfer of responsibility to the Iraqis. Despite months of skyrocketing violence, Casey insisted that within a year, Iraq would be mostly stable, with the bulk of American combat troops headed home.

Publicly, the president claimed the United States was winning the war, and he expressed unwavering faith in Casey, saying, "It's his judgment that I rely upon."

Privately, he was losing confidence in the draw down strategy. He questioned O'Sullivan that summer with increasing urgency: "What are you hearing from people in Baghdad? What are people's daily lives like?"

"It's hell, Mr. President," she answered, determined not to mislead or lie to him.

Danz View: I have long held that prior military experience, especially combat experience IS NOT necessary for one to serve as CINC, but it damn sure helps in situations described by Woodward above.

SWAG: The well-trained and combat-tested mind (of a CINC) can sort through the BS that Generals, yes, even that Generals sometimes shovel, because they have the experience to see the BS. Gen. Casey was wrong, SecDef. Rumsfeld was wrong, SOS Rice was wrong, and so were many, many others ... Bush, the novice, couldn't or wasn't able to sort through it all and we nearly lost Iraq totally.

So, how prepared are Barack Obama or John McCain to be the next CINC? Who is best prepared to sort through situations like those Woodward describes? Who has been tested in tough situations like those described? And, finally, who is really ever prepared for that awesome task to be CINC?

All this gives pause for one to ponder and wonder ... But, wondering or pondering like an old Chinese proverb says, "Doesn't cook rice."

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