Gen. James Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, was quoted in Bob Woodward’s State of Denial as believing the Iraq war is a “debacle” and that “the Joint Chiefs have been systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld.” Jones is also quoted as cautioning Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace: “You should not be the parrot on the secretary’s shoulder.”
To the dismay of Rumsfeld and his supporters, Jones has stood by the criticisms reported in the book. He recently said, “I don’t challenge Bob’s characterization of it, except that had I seen [the book], I probably would have suggested that the tone was more critical than I intended it to be. … I did talk about Iraq with a concern that Iraq deserves.”
Jones now finds himself the target of a smear campaign at the hands of Rumsfeld’s allies:
“Military and civilian officials close to the secretary are taken aback by Gen. Jones’ comments,” said the former aide, who asked not to be named. “Rumsfeld certainly takes a very different view of how he has empowered the Joint Chiefs by involving them in every decision. James Jones is highly political — a real Washington operator. He of all generals to claim that the chiefs have become political is highly ironic if not laughable.“
The anonymous aide said Rumsfeld is particularly upset because he believes Jones owes him gratitude for recommending Jones to become the first Marine general to head the NATO Command in Jan. 2003. “Rumsfeld bent over backwards to accommodate this guy,” said the former official.
Before the war, Jones criticized Rumsfeld’s plan to topple Saddam Hussein by using special forces in a repetition of the tactics that succeeded in Afghanistan. “It would be foolish, if you were ever committed to going into Iraq, to think that the principles that were successful in Afghanistan would necessarily be successful in Iraq. In my opinion, they would not.” Now, Rumsfeld and his allies are determined to ruin the reputation of a general whose assessments have been proven correct.