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Friday, April 30, 2004

Webb Jumps Ship

Hey, I get to link to my old college town paper, the Lawrence Journal World. Former Navy Secretary to Ronald Reagan, James Webb, gave a talk earlier this week at the University of Kansas and sounded off on Iraq.

He's a pretty strong critic of the war -- like Generals Zinni and Clark.
The Vietnam War was "more justifiable and more defensible" than the war in Iraq, Webb said Wednesday night.

He called the ongoing war "a palpable strategic error" and "a strategic mousetrap" that arose from "a breakdown in group ethics."

It's disingenuous, Webb said, for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to say that problems in Iraq weren't foreseeable. Webb alleged the Pentagon ignored or brushed aside qualified aides who painted a realistic picture of the problems of occupation.

"There is literally nothing happening in Iraq that was not fully predictable," Webb said.

Webb cited two main problems with the war. One, he said, was that instead of focusing separately after Sept. 11 on three important issues facing the country -- terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict -- the Bush administration mingled them in the public mind with the war against Iraq.

Another problem, he said, was that the invasion put the military into a weaker position. Too many U.S. soldiers are either in Iraq, preparing to go there or coming back from there, he said.

"This endangers our posture elsewhere," he said.
Webb refers to Dick Cheney as "The Godfather" and says the neocon "minds were programmed" to attack Iraq before 9/11.

There's really nothing new here, but the message may seem more credible to the average Joe coming from the mouth of a Republican. Webb is quite concerned that the administration has no idea of how troops could be withdrawn -- no "exit strategy," as the Powell/Weinberger Doctrine used to call it.
"What are the conditions?" Webb asked a crowd of more than 300 people in Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. "If you can't answer the question, then you shouldn't have been there in the first place."
Too bad we can't have a mulligan and move on.

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