Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pentagon doves

There is a recurring myth that the U.S. military regularly advocates the use of force while civilian policymakers are skeptical. That really hasn't been the case since the Vietnam war. If anything, the most hawkish policymakers have usually been civilians in the White House or State Department.

-- The Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed U.S. deployments to Lebanon in the early 1980s.
-- The Chairman of the JCS when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait opposed what became Desert Storm.
-- Gen. Colin Powell repeatedly cautioned against U.S. military involvement in the former Yugoslavia.
-- The JCS were opposed to the Kosovo bombing campaign.
-- The JCS were skeptical of Gen. Franks' campaign plan for attacking Iraq.
-- The JCS and theater commanders were opposed to the 2007 "surge" in Iraq.

And now, the Post reports that senior military leaders have been reluctant to endorse increased U.S> military action in Iraq and Syria.
Top military officials, who have typically argued for more combat power to overcome battlefield setbacks over the past decade, emerged in recent White House debates as consistent voices of caution in Iraq. Their shift reflects the paucity of good options and a reluctance to suffer more combat deaths in a war in which America’s political leaders are far from committed and Iraqis have shown limited will to fight.
I think it's a good sign that U.S. commanders realize that success depends on political changes in Iraq. I wish the chickenhawk warriors running for the Republican presidential nomination  would actually listen to the military for a change.

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