Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Defense incompetence from 1984

Dick Cheney was on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer last night.You can view it here. Here's a snippet:

JIM LEHRER: Stuart Vaughn, the inspector general I was just talking about, said, again on our program, that the reason reconstruction is going so poorly or hasn't gone any better -- let's put a different kind of phraseology there -- is confronting an insurgent -- we're having to confront an insurgency we didn't anticipate. Is that correct?

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I think that's fair. I don't think anybody thought --

JIM LEHRER: Why didn't we anticipate it?

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Well, you can't anticipate everything. You know, we did anticipate a lot of things that didn't happen.
I’ve heard Rumsfeld say the same thing, and at first it made sense. For example, they had to anticipate and prepare for a protracted land war, though one never materialized.

Wait! Who in their right mind was predicting a protracted land war? Hadn’t we defeated a much stronger Iraq a decade earlier in a victory that was achieved in less time than it takes to rotate the tires on your car? In the intervening years hadn’t we had exclusive control of their airspace? If I recall right, the main thing that slowed us down in this war was the speed limit on our tanks.

Okay, bad example.

Didn’t we have to prepare against the use of WMD’s by Saddam? That’s another possibility that never materialized. Now there are two possibilities. One is that the sachems in the War Council actually believed that Saddam had WMDs. They would have had to be dopes. That’s a heckuva defense: we didn’t prepare for the difficulties we encountered in Iraq, because we screwed up the intelligence. But let’s look past that.

The administration had dismissed the nuclear weapons threat before the invasion, even though they continued to claim, falsely, that Saddam had engaged in “nuclear program activities.” What about chemical and biological? The thing is that before any battle, American troops prepare against the possibility of gas attacks. It starts during the first week of basic training.

Then there’s the possibility that the administration didn’t believe that Saddam had WMDs. And why would they? There has never been any evidence made public of chemical and biological weapons, notwithstanding the “artist’s conception” of mobile chemical labs that Colin Powell presented to the U.N. When British intelligence looked at the evidence that the U.S. possessed, they were unimpressed. So, if the administration didn’t believe there were WMD’s then, how hard could it have been to be prepared for them?

Okay, then. What about the break down of civil society? Oops, didn’t mean to bring that up, seeing as how nobody was preparing for it in the War Council. What about a defeated and discontented Iraqi army? Not much preparing for that, either.

But there was one thing that the geniuses in the White House did prepare for, which didn’t materialize. We were prepared to be greeted with candies and flowers.

Nest time you hear someone say, “we were prepared for problems that didn’t materialize,” be clear. It’s Orwellian newspeak. It means: “We were completely wrong about what was about to happen. Basically, we didn’t know our ass from a hole in the ground.”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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