Why I'm not voting for Bush: The War in Iraq

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I've already stated why I didn't support the war. And in the comments, I have shown why it was Rumsfeld's rationale that I cared about, not Bush's (Rumsfeld's rationale, not Bush's, is the one that determines how the war was fought), and why Rumsfeld's rationale casts a bad light on Bush as a leader.

Now onto the mistakes made during the war.

Rumsfeld insisted on invading Iraq with a very small number of troops. His generals told him that they needed more troops. The generally accepted Powell Doctrine demanded more troops. Whenever the strategists ran best case and worst case scenarios, Rumsfeld always chose to send less troops than was necessary to win in the best case scenarios. But Rumsfeld had a point to prove. He wanted to prove that small, nimble military units were the future of the American military. And you know, he may be right. But that future is not yet now. He sent in too few troops. He did it against all advice. He did it to prove a point. As a result, Iraq is (as far as we can tell) far worse off than it would have been had he sent more troops initially.

As a result, borders were not secured, infrastructure was not secured, libraries and museums were nut secured, weapons depots were not secured. Polling places will be difficult if not impossible to secure.

Insurrections were difficult if not impossible to put down.

We did not have enough staff or training at Abu Ghraib.

Nobody thought that we wouldn't be able to topple Saddam. But the far more important goals were to stop the human rights abuses, to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and to spread democracy. Rumsfeld didn't run this campaign with any of these more important goals in mind. As a result, we will not accomplish these goals to nearly the extent that we would have if we had planned this war appropriately.

This is largely a critique of Rumsfeld. Why should Rumsfeld's failures prevent me from voting for Bush? Two reasons:

1) Rumsfeld will continue to run this war as long as Bush is president.
2a) Bush should have made his vision and goals crystal clear to the man who was running this war. To the extent that he failed to do so, Bush failed to show good leadership. Alternately,
2b) If Bush made his vision and goals clear, and Rumsfeld ignored them or failed to carry them out, then Rumsfeld should have been relieved of his post. Bush's failure to relieve him of his post shows a failure of leadership for he is failing to hold his subordinates accountable for their actions.

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An Encouraged Read. from Honzo, knowing that I know that I do not know anything worthwhile. on November 1, 2004 2:14 AM

I would recomend everyone going over and giving a good read-over to Jeremy and Wink's posts over at Parableman. One is for Bush, the other is for Kerry. Kerry's Legislation of Morality Single Issue Voter Why I'm not voting for... Read More

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Rumsfeld may not even be in the administration if Bush wins. I know these rumor mills are often wrong (they were about Cheney getting replaced before the Republican Convention), but people have been rumoring of Powell moving to Defense and Rice moving to State with Rumsfeld out. When someone asked her about this earlier this week, she didn't deny it. If she knew it wasn't going to happen, she could have. Maybe she wants it to appear a possibility for voters, but maybe she just doesn't want to talk about it because a change is happening but Bush wants it kept quiet.

What you're raising may be a good criticism. If so, and even if Bush has demonstrated bad leadership on this, it's pretty clear now what happened, and I think he's going to do his best to avoid that kind of situation again. I don't think he considers this sort of thing a major decision when compared to the decision to go to war at all or a general policy decision, which is why he didn't get into it when asked if he made any mistakes. It's major compared to daily schedules, but compared to the biggest decisions this is at least one category down.

I don't think that means he hasn't considered it to be a mistake to be done differently if it comes up again. We haven't heard him talk about that, but there's a principled reason why he won't. He has a general political strategy, at Rove's insistence, of unrelentingly emphasizing the things he's done right while downplaying anything that hasn't gone well or any aspects of what he's done that haven't gone well. You might argue that that's a little deceptive, but that's what politicians do, and Rove has apparently convinced Bush that it's necessary not just to get reelected but for the sake of the ongoing war effort. You don't criticize the war as it's going on. He's said that time and again, so it's not as if he hasn't been honest that he's not talking about the problems. He's admitted that he won't talk about them, and he has a conviction about why he won't.

So the fact that he doesn't talk about mistakes or want to let on that he's disappointed with Rumsfeld doesn't mean he doesn't have a bone to pick with him. He may well shift things around in a second term but not if it means looking as if he's doing it for political purposes. Firing Rumsfeld before the election would seem merely political. Doing it afterward would seem much more principled. Simply giving him less priority over Powell, Rice, and Cheney would also be an option.

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