July 31, 2006 - Perhaps the most truthful moment about Iraq came recently when a U.S. official said nothing at all. This occurred when Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker was asked at a Capitol Hill luncheon in mid-July whether the United States was “winning” in Iraq. Several agonizing seconds passed before a grimacing Schoomaker finally replied: “I don’t think we’re losing.” One of the most eloquent pauses in recent memory, it gave voice to the U.S. military's most deep-seated fears not only about Iraq, but about America’s entire strategic position in the Mideast.Yes. How dare the General inform the elected members of Congress as to the state of the nation's armed forces.
The general’s honesty has not made Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld happy, military officials tell NEWSWEEK. The temperamental Rumsfeld erupted at Schoomaker after the general revealed the Army’s lack of readiness in painful detail to the House Armed Services Committee.
Obviously, Gen. Schoomaker hates America.
The Army’s budgetary squeeze raises questions about whether the United States can “stay the course” in Iraq even if it wants to. While the world has focused on Lebanon, Iraq has been sliding downhill fast. U.S. officials battling the counterinsurgency who were positive six months ago are now far more skeptical that the center can hold....You know it's bad when the notional (yup) government of Iraq is literally a joke to the soldiers. Then, Michael Hirsch brings it all home:
One U.S. Army officer who is working on police and military training in Iraq, when asked about the prospect of a collapse of the Maliki government, responded in an email: “There's a Maliki government? Since when?” He went on: “Ultimately, I think the deterioration of the Baghdad security situation gives the lie to the U.S. effort. We've stood up X Iraqi army battalions and Y Iraqi police stations, and yet, Baghdad (and much of the contested provinces like Diyala and Anbar) continues to get worse.”
“How do you send the message of strength as Ronald Reagan sent it, that we don't allow these things--you inflict damage. We didn't do anything after the [attack on the] USS Cole. There's a feeling we've got to do something that counts--and bombing some caves is not something that counts.” Behind this lay the view that Arabs respond to force. Some Bush officials also liked to quote Osama bin Laden himself when he said, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like a strong horse."Obviously, I agree.
For Bush and Rumsfeld, the key to a successful anti-terror policy lay in being seen as the “strong horse.” ...
Now Rumsfeld and Bush, by pre-emptively launching a war, have undercut that lesson. Until recent events, the American and Israeli armies were generally judged the most advanced in the world. In the Arab world they were seen as all but invulnerable. Today the failures of those armies against Islamist guerrillas in Iraq and Lebanon have conveyed the very opposite of the message Bush wanted to send. If the current situation continues, with America bogged down in Iraq and Israel mired in its fight against Hizbullah, then the presumption of U.S-Israeli military invincibility--which has kept Arab extremists in place for decades--will be exposed as a myth. That could embolden Islamist radicals for a long time to come. Unless he is prepared to spend a lot more on his military, defense analysts say, the president who so badly wanted to project strength will be remembered mainly for projecting weakness.