Before I get to the article, I have to say this isn’t exact new. This information comes from Woodward’s book _Plan of Attack_.
The Bush Administration was convinced they were going to play hardball with Hussein’s regime from the day they set foot in the office. The President was not at all pleased with the constant flaunting of the various UN Resolutions and wanted to turn up the heat. This is about the early timeframe according to Woodward:
11/21/01 President called Rumsfeld aside and asked about the Iraq warplan Op1003.
12/01 early in the month timeframe Rumsfeld asked Franks to start taking a new look at the Iraq warplan Op1003
This book has been out since 2004.
And now the article itself…Couple snippets that intriqued me:
On or about 9/20/01:
Gen. Clark: “I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in”
He goes on to talk about how this General told him about how we were already going to war with Iraq and later he talked about a plan to take down a bunch of countries in 5 years.
Woodward doesn’t mention any of this from the top folks so I’m left to wonder if one of Gen. Clark’s staff was caught in the ever present and powerful rumor mill that is the Pentagon. Who knows really. I’m not denying that the unnamed General said this. If Gen. Franks is calling for a complete overview of Op1003 and that’s trickling through the ranks it would make sense that the story would grow among the more junior Flag ranks.
One bit from the article I completely agree with is:
But they’re[Iran] building up their own network of influence, and to cement it, they occasionally give some military assistance and training and advice, either directly or indirectly, to both the insurgents and to the militias. And in that sense, it’s not exactly parallel, because there has been, I believe, continuous Iranian engagement, some of it legitimate, some of it illegitimate. I mean, you can hardly fault Iran because they’re offering to do eye operations for Iraqis who need medical attention. That’s not an offense that you can go to war over, perhaps. But it is an effort to gain influence.
There is no disputing that Iran has been active in Iraq for quite a while and as Gen. Clark says, some of that assistance is legitimate. Just like UBL building roads and schools in Afghanistan and Somalia. That’s how you get cred in the country you are trying to take over.
and then there’s this bit:
The real danger is, and one of the reasons this is so complicated is because — let’s say we did follow the desires of some people who say, “Just pull out, and pull out now.” Well, yeah. We could mechanically do that. It would be ugly, and it might take three or four months, but you could line up the battalions on the road one by one, and you could put the gunners in the Humvees and load and cock their weapons and shoot their way out of Iraq. You’d have a few roadside bombs. But if you line everybody up there won’t be any roadside bombs. Maybe some sniping. You can fly helicopters over, do your air cover. You’d probably get safely out of there. But when you leave, the Saudis have got to find someone to fight the Shias. Who are they going to find? Al-Qaeda, because the groups of Sunnis who would be extremists and willing to fight would probably be the groups connected to al-Qaeda. So one of the weird inconsistencies in this is that were we to get out early, we’d be intensifying the threat against us of a super powerful Sunni extremist group, which was now legitimated by overt Saudi funding in an effort to hang onto a toehold inside Iraq and block Iranian expansionism.
He says this immediately after the statement “We haven’t exactly proved our competence in Iraq.” which isn’t some thing I necessarily agree with but…blind squirrels and all like that, he hits a homerun with the above paragraph. Withdrawing from Iraq suddenly would likely bring about exactly what he says here. If the Sunnis line up behind the Saudis in the aftermath of the US withdrawal I would bet that Iran will line up behind the Shia. Then you have an overt regional war which would most likely drag Israel in…skipping and jumping rather than kicking and screaming…and that would put us right back in the middle of it again. So…let’s just stay and finish the job.
On the question about Generals retiring should we decide to move on Iran, Gen Clark goes into a slight rant about the Haiti operation in 1994. Shalikashvili was CJC at the time and he had just returned from the meeting with President Clinton.
He looked at me, and he said, “Wes,” he said, “this is no drill.” He said, “I’m not authorized to tell you this. But,” he said “the decision has been made, and the United States will invade Haiti. The date is the 20th” — I think it was this date — “of the 20th of September. And the planning must be done, and it must be done now. And if any of you have reservations about this, this is the time to leave.” So I looked at Jack, and I looked at Walt. They looked at me. I mean, we kind of shrugged our shoulders and said, “OK, if you want to invade Haiti, I mean, it’s not illegal. It’s not the country we’d most like to invade. The opposition there consists of five armored vehicles. But sure, I mean, if the President says to do it, yeah, we’re not going resign over it.” And so, we didn’t resign. Nobody resigned.
I’m not sure why he tossed in the “its not illegal” comment. Haiti had not attacked the US so under the current thought any move on Haiti WOULD be illegal. That aside, the Generals and staffers around that desk made the right decision. They serve under the Commander in Chief and if he says go here and break something…you go there and break something. If we were to decide to move on Iran, I don’t think many, if any at all, Generals would resign in protest. But I don’t think we are there yet. I’d almost guarantee we have people inside Iran right now. There have been a lot of “bandits” doing things in Iran lately and I just don’t think this would be happening if those “bandits” didn’t have some level of support for an “outside” influence…ahem.
The rest of the interview is all over the board. His discussion on some of the targeting decisions in the Balkan fight was interesting. I’m not sure that’s what Ms. Goodman wanted to hear but it was the truth. I’m sorta surprised one of them didn’t tie this in with the GWoT…but I guess I shouldn’t be.
Good link and an interesting read. I still think Gen. Clark could have been Gen. McClellan in 1864 however.