Reader Ken Larson comments on our post, The US in Iraq. Can’t stay, won’t go.
You make many good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:
I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.
The Pentagon is a giant,incredibly complex establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.
How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be – Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?
Answer- he canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.
From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.
This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.
This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.
We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.