On ABC’s This Week, Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aggressively urged the Senate to ratify the New START treaty, which Senate Republicans are threatening to obstruct. Mullen stressed the urgency of getting the treaty ratified, as US inspectors haven’t been on the ground monitoring Russian nuclear weapons for almost a year now.
MULLEN: This is a national security issue… From a national security perspective this is absolutely critical.
AMANPOUR: …Is the Senate playing politics with American national security?
MULLEN: You would have to ask the Senate … What I think is – there is a sense of urgency with respect to ratifying this treaty that needs to be recognized. Historically this has been bipartisan. This is a national security issue of great significance and the sooner we get it don the better.
AMANPOUR: In a lame duck session?
MULLEN: As soon as possible.
AMANPOUR: In In a lame duck session?
MULLEN: The potential is there for lame duck.
AMANPOUR: And you would want that?
MULLEN: That’s the soonest possible time, absolutely.
Republican Senators, led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), are deliberately bucking the military leadership of the United States and, according to editorial boards across the country, are playing politics with US national security. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, wrote this weekend:
Suppose that during the previous administration, the Democrats had opposed President George W. Bush’s efforts to protect airplanes from would-be bombers and had blocked his strategy to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorists’ hands… Republicans would no doubt be running ads juxtaposing Democrats with Osama bin Laden, or alleging, as they did then, that Democrats are giving “comfort to America’s enemies.” Yet right now, Republicans are providing the comfort… they are blocking a Senate vote on a treaty with Russia that is critical to securing loose nukes and keeping Iran from gaining the bomb… Republicans seem to have entered a post-post-9/11 era, in which national security is no longer a higher priority than their interest in undermining President Obama.
Last week during his book/legacy polishing tour, President Bush tried to absolve himself from responsibility for the downward spiral that became the war in Afghanistan by the end of his presidency. Host Candy Crowley challenged Bush on Afghanistan saying that Americans are “weary” that U.S. troops are still being killed there after nine years and that Bush “ventured off into a war that began at least on one great false premise unknown at the time.” But instead of taking responsibility, Bush blamed NATO:
BUSH: What happened in Afghanistan was that our NATO allies turned out — some of them turned out not to be willing to fight. And therefore, our assumption that we had ample troops, U.S. and NATO troops, turned out to be a not true assumption and so we adjusted. And I completely disagree with the take eye off the ball. I found that to be empty political rhetoric.
Today on CNN, when Crowley asked Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen — whom Bush appointed to in 2007 — about Bush’s version of history Mullen contradicted Bush entirely:
MULLEN: We really, from my perspective fought Afghanistan for years from an economy of force standpoint and I have said for a long time that we didn’t have enough forces there. We didn’t have enough U.S. forces and we didn’t have enough NATO forces that was from my perspective because we were heavily focused on Iraq and I was literally looking at the resources that were headed in both directions and so as we have changed the strategy, focused and gotten the resources right over the course of the last year. This is the first time we really are where we need to be in terms of executing a comprehensive strategy.
CROWLEY: Would you agree with the premise that some NATO forces did not perform in the way you expected them to perform in terms of combat?
MULLEN: I’d actually come at it from a different point of view. We’ve worked with a lot of our NATO forces, our NATO partners over many years now and in fact we have increased forces over the course of the last year, they have also added an additional 10,000 forces. So while it was sort of across the board I think now we have the resources and the unity in NATO that we just didn’t have before.
Indeed, on Dec. 11, 2007, Mullen said that he and Defense Secretary Robert Gates ignored an urgent request from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan for 50,000 more troops. “In Afghanistan, we do what we can. In Iraq, we do what we must,” he said.
But Bush may have to revisit his version of history because the U.S. Army’s official history of the war coincides with Mullen’s view. Reporting on the report, the New York Times noted that American forces were “hamstrung by inadequate resources” and thus “missed opportunities to stabilize Afghanistan during the early years of the war.” The Times added that “the invasion of Iraq was siphoning away resources. After the invasion started in March 2003, the history says, the United States clearly ‘had a very limited ability to increase its forces’ in Afghanistan.”
It’s also quite ironic that Bush would blame NATO for his incompetence seeing that members of the Atlantic Alliance wanted to be more involved in the war at the beginning but Bush rebuffed their offers:
Aside from letting a handful of NATO’s AWACS radar planes come help patrol American skies, Bush’s response was a shockingly terse: Thanks, but no thanks; we’ll handle it by ourselves. Marc Grossman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, later admitted to the Washington Times that the United States initially “blew off” the allies. Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said that the United States, in the Times’ words, “was so busy developing its [Afghanistan] war plans that it did not have time to focus on coordinating Europe’s military role.”
The effect, of course, was to alienate the allies just as they were rediscovering their affections. As London’s conservative Financial Times later put it, “A disdainful refusal even to respond to a genuine offer of support from close allies, at the time of America’s most serious crisis in decades, spoke volumes about its attitude to the alliance.”
So it seems Bush has no problem revising history by throwing America’s closest allies under the bus in an effort to make himself look good.