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The Bush administration violated several of my rules of war in Iraq:
- Do not let politicians make military decisions; do not let generals make political decisions.
Tommy Franks has admitted that the declaration of the end of major combat operations was his idea. He hoped that by convincing President Bush to make that public declaration, our former “allies” would jump in to help rebuild Iraq. As a result, we stopped aggressive fighting before we had killed enough enemy. That enemy is responsible for the fighting since then.
While Presidents since Nixon have carefully avoided doing what Johnson did in Vietnam, generals have not learned their Vietnam lesson: fight the battle and shut the *** up.
What Bush and all future presidents must learn is tell the generals to shut the *** up. Franks knows no more about French politics than I know about designing clothes.
- Fight for unconditional surrender of the enemy.
While we may have fought until there was no “official” Iraqi government to surrender, we did not fight until the enemy was broken. Obviously. Instead, we paused to allow him to regroup, rearm, rebuild communications infrastructure, and kill Americans by the score.
Next time, we keep killing until there is no one looking sideways at us. We kill everyone who looks, smells, or talks like the enemy. The Iraqi people would be better off if 500 innocent Iraqis had been killed by overly aggressive American forces than by leaving 5,000 enemy combatants around to carry out car bombings. Aggressive action in May of 2003 would have received scant criticism from human rights groups, but any attempt to throttle the enemy now will be treated like a war crime. In May 2003, America was the liberator–today we are the occupier. We should have used our goodwill to defeat the enemy.
If there is a second Bush term, he must direct his generals to kill every last Iraqi and foreign enemy in the country by any means necessary. Collateral damage should be avoided, but not fanatically so.