I have come by a letter from former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Jim Jones and frustrated conceptualizer of the military’s “shock and awe” strategy Harlan Ullman to the editor of the Washington Post that has not yet been published — but which probably will be in several days.
Ullman, a close associate of Colin Powell for many years, conceived “shock and awe” — and watched the combined civilian and military leadership misapply this doctrine during the invasion of Iraq. For some time, Ullman has been a regular, passionate critic of the Bush administration’s incompetent management of America’s national security portfolio.
This letter from Jones and Ullman responds to a column by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post last week.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
from James L. Jones and Harlan Ullman
April 4th, 2007
Writing in last Friday’s Post, Charles Krauthammer summoned the proverbial “man from Mars” to make the case that Iraq, not Afghanistan, was the central front in the war on terror. Krauthammer argued that while Afghanistan was a “totally just war,” Iraq was strategically the more important.
Krauthammer’s argument however is myopic. One reason is his failure even to mention NATO. For the first time in its history, NATO is engaged in a ground war, not against a massive Soviet attack across the northern plains of Germany or in Iraq against insurgents and al Qaeda, but in Afghanistan. In committing the alliance to sustained ground combat operations in Afghanistan (unlike Kosovo in 1999), NATO has bet its future. If NATO fails, alliance cohesion will be at grave risk. A moribund or unraveled NATO will have profoundly negative geostrategic impact.
Defeat in Iraq or Afghanistan obviously will have dire consequences. In both places, political not military solutions will bring success. As we have argued before, where we are losing in Afghanistan is in the battle to create a fair and just legal and judicial system; overcome rampant corruption; build a police force; control the drug production epidemic; and bring jobs and employment opportunities to the Afghan people.
Whether any well-meaning Martian would choose Iraq as the more important war or not is unimportant. What is important is that to prevail in Afghanistan, more than military force is needed. Until Washington, Brussels and Kabul address these glaring deficiencies, as in Iraq, the outcome will be too close to call.
For the past four years, General James Jones, USMC (Ret) served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe overseeing Afghanistan. During that period, Harlan Ullman, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, served on General Jones’ advisory group.
A lot of folks are not acknowledging the serious structural damage to major institutions like NATO from America’s crusade in Iraq and the festering problems in Afghanistan. Ullman and General Jones suggest that there is serious structual fatigue that can’t bear the weight of further bad decisions and incompetence.
And yet Cheney keeps singing the same delusional tunes.
— Steve Clemons