Monday, April 10, 2006

The myth of George Bush' s national security "leadership"

For months I have used my blog to criticize the Bush Administration's disastrous decision to invade Iraq and its subsequent mismanagement of the occupation. I have also argued that the Administration is wasting billions of dollars to deploy a ballistic missile defense system, which most prominent scientists believe is worthless, and to develop highly-advanced weapon systems whose requirement is questionable. Meanwhile, it has failed to sufficiently supply the troops in Iraq with such an obvious item as armor for military vehicles.

Growing numbers of top-level military officers, who are no longer on active service, are now confirming my argument about the Bush Administration's military blunders. For example, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the former director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this week that he regrets not challenging the decision to invade Iraq "whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--Al Qaeda." He retired, he said, because he opposed "those who used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy."

"A fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, Al Qaeda, became a secondary effort," Gen. Newbold wrote in a Time Magazine essay. "We must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one [harking back to Vietnam] and then mismanage it."

Gen. Newbold's criticism is echoed by other high-ranking retired officers such as Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who formerly led the military's Central Command, which was responsible for Middle East operations. These critics regard the Iraq invasion as a strategic mistake that took the focus off the real war on terrorism.

I claim no professional military expertise, unless I can take the liberty of citing my experience as an Army staff sergeant during World War II. But I have credentials that do give me some credibility to critique the Bush Administration and its disastrous decision to invade Iraq and its subsequent mismanagement of the occupation.

For a decade during the 1950s and early 1960s, I was a journalist specializing in defense affairs. I covered the Pentagon as a Business Week correspondent, reporting on Secretaries of Defense Charles Wilson, onetime CEO of General Motors; Neal McElroy, former CEO of Procter & Gamble; and Robert McNamara, onetime CEO of Ford Motor Co.

Donald Rumsfeld, the current Defense Secretary, was formerly CEO of G.D. Searle & Co., a major pharmaceutical company, and of General Instrument Co. His performance overseeing the operations in Iraq reinforces my belief that former CEOs of major corporations are not necessarily the best candidates to head the Pentagon. Perhaps the U.S. ought to emulate Israel, whose ministers of defense are invariably retired generals.

The greatest political irony of the past decade is that George W. Bush was elected twice to be President largely because he was viewed as being "strong on defense." Those who voted for him apparently regarded his opponents, Al Gore and John Kerry, both Vietnam war veterans (in contrast to Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, both Vietnam draft-dodgers), as being "weak on defense." I never could figure out the basis for this foolish assumption.

In any event, our commander-in-chief has brought us to a situation in which young Army officers are leaving the service at a high rate, where recruitment of enlisted personnel is slowing, where increasing numbers of top brass are calling for Rumsfeld to resign as Defense Secretary, and our military capabilities have been seriously diminished. This is the record of a President who is "strong on defense"?


Blogger georgepollock said...

Just found your blog through the Times article and will be back. I'm doing a blog about longevity and how best to attain it ( will be using your blog as a resource. You write like the young fellow that you are,a mere 81, which makes you a prime candidate for real longevity -- but don't forget to keep moving. Sincerely, George Pollock

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 8:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with everything you've stated in this post. Well said.
--a psychologist, and concerned Bush observer, concerned for the security of our country, and the good or evil we do abroad. - MTO

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Klein, M.D. said...

Enjoyed your NY Times audio. A mere baby at 65 blogging AND trying for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination because the 60s are the new 30s for folks like me. Physically I'm slowed but I've never been emotionally or intellectually stronger than I am today. Interested in chatting my home phone in Oakland, CA phone is 510-339-6700.(I'm also Jewish, Hag Samaach!!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Jack Wilson said...

Glad to hear there is life after BW and to read your thoughtful comments about the ghastly mess the Bush regime has created. As a one-time Army officer, I have some hope that Newbold and Zinni will be joined by enough officers who value their country over their careers to force real change. Jack Wilson

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous charles gardner said...

Hello, Mort. I'm sure mine will not be the only familiar name among your correspondents today. I just scrolled through your essays to date and looking forward to catching up with what's on your mind. My first reaction is that not being Jewish, I couldn't possibly write anything as interesting myself, but I agree with a lot you are saying. Regarding your latest column, I would have thought that the BW cover story that I am proud to have promoted to Jane Cutaia a few years ago that was written largely by Herb Cheshire on the anti-missile missile nonsense would have settled that issue. Strangely, it didn't.

very best, Charlie Gardner

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Claude said...

Hi Mort, just saw the article in the New York Times! Congratulations!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 5:16:00 PM  
Blogger Chancy said...

Mort I too saw the article in the NYT that quotes and mentions you Ronni and Milt. It is good that we elder bloggers are being recognized. Isn't this a fantastic hobby. And I found you via Ronni's Time Goes By. She has such an interesting blog roll.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006 9:52:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin Thomas Lehner said...

I was very enlightened and intrigued by the criticism of President Bush. For years he has been promising the end to this war in Iraq and yet every day we see soldiers drop dead like flies. I think that everyone should know the real truth about a President whose intentions are to fatal to this country and unfortunatly world.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin Thomas Lehner said...

I was agree in all sense. The war drags on and on yet we are told day by day that the war in Iraq should be coming to an end. In my opinion I think we still have another good five years, hopefully not. President Bush is just what this counrty doen't need especially in a time and place of war that American shouldn't be in.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 7:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mort, send you email address to me, My email to you bounced back.... DON

Thursday, April 13, 2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Nigel Vossap said...

Mort, I just learned about your wonderful site. While I am far from being a senior citizen, I am new to blogging and its vast technologies. As a thirty-something, even, there is a huge learning curve that someone 10 years younger than I has mastered to perfection. While my little blog is just getting up and running, I am enjoying the freedom to write and share with everyone everyday. My writings probably have not been this prolific since early in my college years, and Blogger has certainly allowed me to open up again. Happy Passover!

Thursday, April 13, 2006 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob Henkel said...

Hey Mort! Jack Wilson just passed along Times piece talking about your blog et al. Congratulations. Also was amazed to see an email from Charlie Gardiner, who I had lost track of.

Now I'm a republican that isn't as fanatic as you Dems are about George. But this "war" has slipped into the same rut as the Vietnam episode. I shifted against that war, and now I'm feeling the same about the Iraqi war. This war is similar in that it is impossible to win.

I'm up on the Maine coast and loving it. I'm still writing a weekly column for an Internet site. I'm delighted you also are keeping active. Give'em hell, Mort. Best regards, Bob Henkel

Thursday, April 13, 2006 2:12:00 PM  
Blogger goldenlucyd said...

Mazel Tov on the Times article. Now many more folks will find out what your fellow Elderbloggers have known all along: the Octogenarian is outstanding!
Chag Sameach,

Monday, April 17, 2006 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous joared said...

Glad to see you receiving recognition as an elderblogger in the NYT as have been enjoying your writing and your stories.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 2:55:00 AM  
Blogger Aarjav said...

Congrats on being featured in NYT Morton. It is sad to see America weaken under Geroge Bush - and it is not just in defense. Some portion the money that is being spent on the futile war is being pulled from funds that would have gone to Research. I have seen the effects of funds drying up for academic research first hand in grad school. To an extent, industry sponsorship covers for this deficit, but companies rarely sponsor 'pure' research and I am afraid if this continues, United States will lose it's edge in technology as well.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 3:11:00 AM  

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