The Pentagon think-tank, National Institute for Strategic Studies, has just released a report calling the Iraq war a "major debacle." Here's some snippets from McClatchey:
The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.
The Pentagon report also sounded off on the cost of war:
The report said that the United States has suffered serious political costs, with its standing in the world seriously diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted "manpower, materiel and the attention of decision-makers" from "all other efforts in the war on terror" and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.
The article also says that the report was less than glowing in its assessment of the "surge":
"Despite impressive progress in security, the outcome of the war is in doubt," said the report. "Strong majorities of both Iraqis and Americans favor some sort of U.S. withdrawal. Intelligence analysts, however, remind us that the only thing worse than an Iraq with an American army may be an Iraq after a rapid withdrawal of that army."
The report also appeared to sidestep the obvious criticism of the commander-in-chief, focusing its ire at Donald Rumsfeld and former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice:
The report lays much of the blame for what went wrong in Iraq after the initial U.S. victory at the feet of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. It says that in November 2001, before the war in Afghanistan was over, President Bush asked Rumsfeld "to begin planning in secret for potential military operations against Iraq."
Rumsfeld, who was closely allied with Vice President Dick Cheney, bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the report says, and became "the direct supervisor of the combatant commanders."
" ... the aggressive, hands-on Rumsfeld," it continues, "cajoled and pushed his way toward a small force and a lightning fast operation." Later, he shut down the military's computerized deployment system, "questioning, delaying or deleting units on the numerous deployment orders that came across his desk."
The McClatchey article also suggests political repercussions from the report in that it,
raises fresh doubts about President Bush's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.
That such weak criticism of the handling of the war is viewed as such a significant story suggests internal differences and splits in the military community over the wisdom of continuing the war. It also likely reflects opportunism in the military community sensing a power shift away from the Republican Party.