Skip to comments.Powell admits errors in war: He says lack of troops impeded U.S. success
Posted on 01/09/2006 7:30:37 PM PST by jmc1969
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday night in the Twin Cities that he harbors no regrets about the U.S. invasion of Iraq but acknowledged wartime mistakes and warned that Iraq's eventual government might not be as broad-based as American leaders had hoped.
In a speech at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, he urged nearly 1,000 people to pray for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the people of Israel. Powell called Sharon, who suffered a major stroke last week, a man of peace.
Powell said that the world is in better shape now than at any point in his life. He said fascism and communism have been defeated and that while terrorists can blow up buildings and take hundreds and even thousands of lives, they cannot remake this country the way Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union would have.
Powell turned serious when talking about Iraq, and many of the audience's questions focused on the war there, which has taken the lives of nearly 2,200 U.S. troops. The mistake in Iraq was not that the U.S. invaded, he said. It was that "we didn't have enough troops to take control on the ground'' and didn't immediately impose martial law in order to protect the various ministries and infrastructure throughout Iraq. And, when given the chance by a questioner to outline the good things being accomplished in Iraq, Powell gave a mixed review.
He noted that local governments are taking over in the towns and that schools and hospitals are being built. But more would have been done to improve the oil infrastructure "if not for the insurgents. If we had smashed the insurgents in the beginning,'' we wouldn't have had to spend as much money now battling them and rebuilding all they are destroying, Powell said. But there will be even more problems if the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis cannot work out an inclusive government, he said.
An audience member asked about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Powell said when he delivered a speech before the United Nations in February 2003, he was convinced by the intelligence reports of the CIA, Israel, Britain, Germany, Spain and others that Saddam Hussein had them.
"Either he got rid of them quickly or Saddam Hussein might have thought he had them,'' Powell said. "We don't know.''
Despite setbacks in Iraq, Powell said, he expects American troops to begin leaving Iraq this year because "we can't sustain it with the troops going there four, five, six times'' and because Iraqi soldiers are better trained. But to much applause, he said, "We can't be weak-kneed. We can't walk away.''
Does it seem like Colin has been all over the map on this one?
Ok Colin go away. Anyone that says we needed more troops is stupid. More troops will nt prevent some idiot from blwoing himself up. If we were facing an organized army then yes more troops would be beneficial. But in this case no. Rumsfeld's shock ans awe campaigns did in 3 weeks wat the Soviet Union could not do in 7 years in Afghanistan and took down a fair powerful army in 3 weeks in Iraq. Rummy is a GREAT Defense Sec. It was Powell that screwed us.
Powell sounds more and more like Jimmah. If I were W, I'd retire him.
No. He sounds pretty good here. Many have long said we needed more troops. Obvious because of Bush's open borders Iraq policy and Rumsfeld's need to prove his small, hightech forces theory. Those failed.
I'll take number 1. Although he didn't need to get rid of them "quickly", Jay Rockefeller gave him a head start and our "rush to war" was many months in the making. More like a slow waltz.
As long as we have to worry about:
what the Germans, Russians, Canadians and Kofi think,
and guys like Murtha and Kerry, the New York Times at home
we could put 10,000,000 troops in there and not achieve 'pacification'.
All that more troops with the current political / diplomatic / pseudo-religious situation there would achieve is to provide more 'targets of opportunity for the bad guys, and more resentment throughout the world, because it would indeed be seen even more as an occupation force... And would lessen the likelyhood amongst the "good Iraqis" that they would be willing to take on any responsibilities of fighting or governing for themselves.
A little less political / diplomatic restraint on the troops, and we could do the job with even fewer troops than we have now.
Truthfully, there has always been mistakes in war. The mistake General Powell and other are making is refighting the last war. And General Powell's last war was Gulf War I. In wich we had one of the most massive build-ups of troops since World War II. Also, please note that the field commander of that war, General Swartzkopf has been very low profile and that is they way it should be once you have left or retired.
Powell, Bremmer and others seem to have less of the frigen facts many of us Freepers have gained over the past few years. I wonder if he is even aware of those 2 million pieces of things our guys are sorting, cataloging, analysising in those Qatar warehouses. The books will be written by those like Hayes. I believe a lot of these high focus people really do not get absorbed in the fine details, only surface details handed to them. And they probably do not retain what they where told a few years back. As for not enough troops. We could have had a million men on the ground and it would not have prevented the insurgency from developing.
One, it was at least a year and over a thousand Americans were killed in post-war Germany. It was only after Truman told Adenaur to get the mess straightened up that it stopped.
Incidentally, we have been German and Japan since before 1945. Oh, we have been in Korea since 1950. That's over 50 years by my count.
We have been in Kosovo since 1991. We were only supposed to be there for a year, I thought. That's the longest year that I have ever witnessed.
We will be in East Asia for a long time to come.
At least he said this, which we can hold him to later if he changes his opinion again.
Sure, we do win when we show up, but we surrender every problem that's not immediately in a crisis state in hopes of not making the problem worse. Which they invariably do. Our military strategy for defeating the Iraqi army was magnificent; it was truly a masterpiece. As far as planning for and combating the insurgency, it was a monument to our own short sightedness and stubbornness.
What we should have done is kept the Iraqi army intact, written and imposed a new constitution onto the Iraqis, and conducted a phased 'de Baathification' over the course of a few years. Instead, we pushed the Iraqis into a 'sink or swim' situation in which they're barely dog paddling. I think that we will win, and that the Iraqis will get their act together, but that we cut it much closer than we needed to. Bottom line; I don't really care for Powell, but he does have some valid points.
It wasn't anyone's "mistake" that we didn't have the 4th Infantry Division going into Iraq. That was the treachery of the Turks. Things might have gone much differently if the 4ID had been there. But no honest person can blame that on President Bush or anyone in this country.
The Anbar campaign we have been fighting for the past year that Bill Roggio detailed quite well has damaged the insurgency badly. But, you are right that we didn't have enough US troops to seed Anbar as we have been able to slowly do over the past year only because we have been getting more Iraqi troops online.
So, I don't think the big mistake was the number of US troops, I believe the fact they planned on a very tiny 60,000 man strong Iraqi Army for the first year of the war was the big mistake.
the only fools are the media and the moron libiots who point the finger and say "SEE!"....
What war does not have mistakes??
What war that takes longer thaen four hours goes exactly according to plan??
If they want to talk about mistakes, misinformation, griping soldiers see what happened on 6\6\44...but you know what?? They stuck with it and kicked azz!
Ah, yes, a moderate to the bone. He can always adapt to any audience.
Hindsight is their constant companion. I could stand before any audience in this country and answer the questions exactly as he would. Anyone who is informed and knows their M.O. could do it.
The problem is that if we had sent more troops, or kept the Iraqi army intact, the insurgency would not exist in its present form. Our failure to get the basic infrastructure of Iraq up and running, and our limp wristed responses to the early advances of the insurgency combined into making their causes a popular one. We've finally gotten our act together, and are grinding the insurgency down, but in all fairness we stood by and let a number of little fires burn into bonfires. We did a lot of things very, very well, but there were a few that we could have done differently. I hope that the next time America finds herself considering a foreign occupation, people benefit from our example.
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