Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Next War

Retired General Wesley Clark on The Next War:

The Next War -
Surely here is where some of the most salient lessons from recent wars lie: in forcing civilian leaders to shoulder their burdens of ultimate responsibility and in demanding that generals unflinchingly offer their toughest, most seasoned, advice.

Gen. Tommy R. Franks embarked on the 2001 Afghanistan operation without a clear road map for success, or even a definition of what victory would look like. Somehow, that was good enough for him and his bosses.

So Osama bin Laden slunk away, the Taliban was allowed to regroup, and Afghanistan is now mired deep in trouble and sinking fast.

In Iraq, President Bush approved war-fighting plans that hadn't incorporated any of the vital 1990s lessons from Haiti, Bosnia or Kosovo; worse, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld fought doing so. Nation-building, however ideologically repulsive some may find it, is a capability that a superpower sometimes needs.

At the same time, the United States' top generals must understand that their duty is to win, not just to get along.

They must have the insight and character to demand the resources necessary to succeed -- and have the guts to either obtain what they need or to resign.

If they get their way and still don't emerge victorious, they must be replaced. That is the lot they accepted when they pinned on those four shiny silver stars.

Above all else, we Americans must understand that the goal of war is to achieve a specific purpose for the nation. In this respect, the military is simply a tool of statecraft, one that must work in tandem with diplomacy, economic suasion, intelligence and other instruments of U.S. power. How tragic it is to see old men who are unwilling to talk to potential adversaries but seem so ready to dispatch young people to fight and die.