A good read. Not overly long, either, although if you’re strapped for time the “Failures of Generalship” section is the can’t-miss. I lack the absolute moral authority of veteran status required to critique the article (not to mention the expertise), but his basic point is well taken: how could Bush and the brass have failed to prepare for counterinsurgency given the prospect of a multi-year occupation and the proven success of guerrilla tactics against American forces in Vietnam? Yingling attributes it to a military culture of complacency where senior officers promote institutional men instead of dynamic thinkers and a certain degree of moral cowardice whereby top generals suspicious of the administration’s war plans didn’t speak up for fear of suffering the professional consequences. What he doesn’t address is whether a sustained counterinsurgency, however brilliantly designed, is feasible given the American public’s low (and now, post-Iraq, sure to be lower) tolerance for long campaigns. 400,000 troops would have gone a long way towards containing the jihad, but would it have prevented it altogether? What would four years of more sporadic but still consistent car bombs have done to American morale? I’ll let our military readers speculate in the comments about that.
Speaking of not speaking up when it matters, the Times is breathless over George “Slam Dunk” Tenet’s new buck-passing tome; Henry Waxman, circling overhead and smelling fresh meat, has already swooped. Patterico’s begun to fisk it and I suspect you’ll hear from Bryan about it sometime before next week is through (the book goes on sale officially on Monday), but here’s my favorite part thus far:
Mr. Tenet confesses to “a black, black time” two months after the 2001 attacks when, sitting in front of his house in his favorite Adirondack chair, he “just lost it.”
“I thought about all the people who had died and what we had been through in the months since,” he writes. “What am I doing here? Why me?”
Why him, indeed. He does raise a good question at the end about AQ, though.