Belated Dissenters

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 12, 2006; 8:51 AM

You know the administration's argument: We are slowly making progress in Iraq, but the media are so fixated on car bombs and suicide attacks they never get around to reporting that.

I would suggest this line is growing dated. The war has aroused a growing number of critics who have nothing to do with the MSM and can't by any stretch be called liberal.

When Republicans and former military men are ripping the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld handling of the war, I'd say that Houston, we have a problem.

My only question in these matters: What took them so long?

I'm not saying they're necessarily right. I am saying that I'm suspicious when people leave jobs where they can actually do something about a policy, and only then -- in articles, books and TV appearances, unburden themselves of the grave doubts they dared not voice when it mattered.

That's probably a little harsh, but so be it.

Paul Bremer, for instance, writes a book and suddenly tells us the that Unites States did not anticipate the Iraqi insurgency and that he raised his concerns about the size and quality of our military forces with Bush, Rummy and senior military officials. At the time, he toes the line. The rest of us find out when he hits the book circuit. Thanks a lot.

In this week's Time , retired Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold also goes the belated candor route:

"I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon. . . .

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that 'we' made the 'right strategic decisions' but made thousands of 'tactical errors' is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

"What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."

And look who else is off the reservation, according to South Dakota's And look who else is off the reservation, according to South Dakota'sArgus Leader :


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