January 02, 2007

General Scapegoat

Another top US General gets rotated out of Baghdad:
General Casey repeatedly argued that his plan offered the best prospect for reducing the perception that the United States remained an occupier — and it was a path he thought matched Mr. Bush’s wishes. Earlier in the year, it had.

But as Baghdad spun further out of control, some of the president’s advisers now say, Mr. Bush grew concerned that General Casey, among others, had become more fixated on withdrawal than victory.

Now, having ousted Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush sees a chance to bring in a new commander as he announces a new strategy, senior military officials say. General Casey was scheduled to shift out of Iraq in the summer. But now it appears that it may happen in February or March.
How long before the guy writes his post-service Op-Ed criticizing Bush?

UPDATE: Arianna Huffingtonchimes in with a timely quote or two:
"You can't fight a war from Washington. You can't make the tactical decisions necessary to win. It just won't work."
- George W. Bush, October 2006.

"What I want to hear from you is how we're going to win, not how we're going to leave."
- George W. Bush, as reported in the NYT.
UPDATE 2: From TPM, some very embarrassing quotes in support of General Casey. This is probably the most damning:
BUSH: We just moved a Stryker Brigade from Mosul, as you know, to Baghdad. I think we’ve now got 147,000 troops in the theater. The answer to that question is, if General Casey feels like he needs more troops, we’ll send them.

You know, it’s interesting, I guess if you’re 60 years old you tend to be a product of the Vietnam era — you are a product of Vietnam — not tend to be, you are a product of the Vietnam era. I remember the tactical decisions being made out of the White House during that period of time. I thought it was a mistake then and I think it’s a mistake now. And, therefore, a President must have confidence and faith in the people who are actually there determining whether or not our strategy — our tactics are going to achieve the objective, which is a free country that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself. General Casey — I’m constantly asking General Casey that question. I’ve got direct contact with him through secure video.

Q: What if he’s wrong?

BUSH: Then I picked the wrong general.

Q: You wouldn’t override his decision in any instance?

BUSH: Well, how — I mean — I query him thoroughly. I’m certainly not a military expert, nor am I in Baghdad. I talk to Zal [Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador] all the time. In other words, we get — and I ask for data. So I know how to ask questions. I think I’m pretty good about filtering out which is real and which is not. I mean, in this job you tend to get the cook’s tour. And if he’s wrong, I’m wrong.
You have to wonder how this scapegoating will look to the US troops in Iraq, who have already expressed their scepticism about any escalation. A demoralized Army is a losing Army. Sacrifice? You must be joking.

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