Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions
By Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (Ret.)
Text of testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 18 January 2007.
Good afternoon, Senator Biden, and members of the committee. It is a grave responsibility to testify before you today because the issue, the war in Iraq, is of such monumental importance.
You have asked me to address primarily the military aspects of the war. Although I shall comply, I must emphasize that it makes no sense to separate them from the political aspects. Military actions are merely the most extreme form of politics. If politics is the business of deciding "who gets what, when, how," as Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall in New York City once said, then the military aspects of war are the most extreme form of politics. The war in Iraq will answer that question there.
We cannot have the slightest understanding of the likely consequences of proposed changes in our war policy without relating the role that US military forces can play in that conflict is seriously limited by all the political decisions the US government has already taken. The most fundamental decision was setting as its larger strategic purpose the stabilization of the region by building a democracy in Iraq and encouraging its spread. This, of course, was to risk destabilizing the region by starting a war.
Military operations must be judged by whether and how they contribute to accomplishing war aims. No clear view is possible of where we are today and where we are headed without constant focus on war aims and how they affect US interests. The interaction of interests, war aims, and military operations defines the strategic context in which we find ourselves.
Here are the four major realities that define that context:
1. Confusion about war aims and US interests. The president stated three war aims clearly and repeatedly:
* the destruction of Iraqi WMD;
* the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; and
* the creation of a liberal democratic Iraq.
Text of testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 18 January 2007 Good afternoon, Senator Biden, and members of the committee. It is a - Gen. (ret.) William E. Odom for Antiwar.com Original