Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Tommy Franks Statement

Buried deep in a Boston Globe article mainly devoted to John Kerry's denunciation of President George Bush's handling of Iraq is a riposte by retired CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks.

Kerry, who in October 2002 voted in favor of a congressional resolution authorizing the war, said Bush rushed into Iraq without the backing of allies, preparing a postwar plan, or properly equipping US forces -- ''None of which I would have done."

''Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell," Kerry told a supportive audience assembled at New York University, downtown from where Bush is to address the United Nations General Assembly today. ''But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

He blamed Bush for ''colossal failures of judgment." ''This is stubborn incompetence," he said.

Then there's the rebuttal by Franks. The Globe quotes Franks as saying: "General Tommy Franks, who commanded the 2002 invasion of Iraq, criticiz(ed) Kerry directly. ''Senator Kerry's contradictions on Iraq are the wrong signal to send to our troops on the ground, to our coalition partners, to the Iraqi people, and to the terrorists seeking our destruction," Franks said." But the Globe omitted the more important part of Frank's statement, whose text can be found at FreeRepublic.

ARLINGTON, VA – Gen. Tommy Franks (Ret.) today issued the following statement on Senator Kerry's speech today on Iraq:

"Senator Kerry's contradictions on Iraq are the wrong signal to send to our troops on the ground, to our coalition partners, to the Iraqi people and to the terrorists seeking our destruction. On the eve of Prime Minister Allawi's visit to the United States, Senator Kerry today said that America and the world are 'less secure' now that Saddam Hussein is out of power.

"The American people disagree and last December, so did Senator Kerry. At the time he said that those who believe the world was safer with Saddam Hussein in power 'don't have the judgment to be president.' I agree."

The Globe casts Frank's disagreements with Kerry as procedural -- "sending the wrong message" But Frank's critique goes deeper: they are substantive disagreements with the assertion that the removal of Saddam Hussein did not make the America and the world safer. It is a strategic appreciation diametrically opposed to that of Senator Kerry's.

The problem with arguments from authority is that one can find citations to suit any book. This is often the last resort of those who argue that Iraq, in despite of statistical evidence to contrary, has trapped the US in a strategic cul-de-sac. In that respect Tommy Franks is to those unimpeachable sources as the critics of the 60 Minutes expose were to CBS's document experts. Not the last word, but planters of the first seed of doubt in the Anybody-But-Bush faith. In the end, the truth of a proposition comes not from assertions of authority, but the thing in itself. People will judge Iraq from its effect on their own lives and render their verdict accordingly.

Update: The Enemy in Iraq

Dan Darling has more detailed breakdown of the enemy order of battle in Iraq. A sample:

Zarqawi's coalition

In addition to his own al-Tawhid wal Jihad organization, Zarqawi has also formed an impressive coalition of Iraqi and foreign Islamist groups under his direction to challenge US control of Iraq. Ansar al-Islam is a nominal part of this coalition, but they are far more autonomous than these others that I'm about to list because they've been established in Iraq longer and have equal or greater clout with Zarqawi's erstwhile allies in the IRGC. Based on what I know, Zarqawi's coalition is made up of Jaish Ansar al-Sunnah, Jaish-e-Islami al-Iraqi, Jaish Mohammed, Harakat al-Salafiyyah al-Jihadiyyah, Takfir wal Hijra, Kateebat al-Jihad al-Islamiyyah, Islamic Resistance Front, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, Kateebat al-Mujahideen, Kateebat al-Zilzal al-Mujahid, Kateebat Salah al-Din, and Jund al-Sham as well as the international brigades of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat ul-Jihad-e-Islam, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

It would be good to diagram.