Monday, February 11, 2008
give me courage for my passions and my pain:
Remember 2005, when President Bush said we were winning in Iraq, only to later concede that we weren't (but the dirty hippies who said that at the time were still wrong)? Back then, the Rand Corporation penned a study outlining the now-conventional wisdom that the Bush administration invaded Iraq without a clue of how to occupy it, a central mistake that exacerbated the insurgency. The New York Times's Michael Gordon reports that the Army censored Rand's unclassified report. Why?

The Army's line:
The report on rebuilding Iraq was part of a seven-volume series by RAND on the lessons learned from the war. Asked why the report has not been published, Timothy Muchmore, a civilian Army official, said it had ventured too far from issues that directly involve the Army.

“After carefully reviewing the findings and recommendations of the thorough RAND assessment, the Army determined that the analysts had in some cases taken a broader perspective on the early planning and operational phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom than desired or chartered by the Army,” Mr. Muchmore said in a statement. “Some of the RAND findings and recommendations were determined to be outside the purview of the Army and therefore of limited value in informing Army policies, programs and priorities.”
The likely truth:
A Pentagon official who is familiar with the episode offered a different interpretation: Army officials were concerned that the report would strain relations with a powerful defense secretary and become caught up in the political debate over the war. “The Army leaders who were involved did not want to take the chance of increasing the friction with Secretary Rumsfeld,” said the official, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to alienate senior military officials.
Cowards! In mid-2007, Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling, a hero of Tal Afar, wrote an incisive j'accuse in Armed Forces Journal, blasting the general officer corps for failing to stand up to the daydream believers in the Bush administration. Yingling looks really prescient right now.

It's also worth noting that what the Army did hurt national security. One of the reasons the U.S. possesses the mightiest Army in the history of mankind is because it's an adaptive, learning institution. To deny the Army the benefits of learning from the Iraq debacle in order to insulate George W. Bush from criticism is a betrayal of that institutional mission.
--Spencer Ackerman