The View From Leavenworth

Speaking of figuring out who to blame, Elizabeth Bumiller has an interesting piece in the Times where she went to Fort Leavenworth, where the Army does its thinking, and spoke to some mid-career officers:

Discussions between a New York Times reporter and dozens of young majors in five Leavenworth classrooms over two days — all unusual for their frankness in an Army that has traditionally presented a facade of solidarity to the outside world — showed a divide in opinion. Officers were split over whether Mr. Rumsfeld, the military leaders or both deserved blame for what they said were the major errors in the war: sending in a small invasion force and failing to plan properly for the occupation.

It seems to me that the idea that the military's senior leadership didn't do enough to warn against this looming fiasco is mistaken. The top brass' opposition to Bush's war plans was, after all, sufficiently well-known to prompt this scathing editorial from the liberal New Republic magazine slamming Bush for leading the country headlong into a disaster that would kill hundreds of thousands of people undue hesitancy to fire dissenting officers.

If TNR what was happening, then so did Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. But this debate capped off an era in which it was widely believed by a bipartisan set of powers-that-be that America's professional military officers were unduly hesitant to commit troops to battle. With the hindsight of years, of course, we can see that they hesitate precisely because they're the ones -- not magazine writers -- who wind up bearing the costs when things go south.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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