They’ve been around the block several times promoting their book, “Cobra II.” What more could they have to say that they hadn’t said already?
Still, it was worth witnessing Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor this morning at the Council on Foreign Relations if only for the frisson of hearing a former three-star Marine general describe Tommy Franks, the four-star Army general who led the invasion of Iraq, as not just “foulmouthed” and “uncouth” but, much worse for a “muddy boots” soldier, one who became “puffed up like a toad.”
Those terms are not the sort usually heard within the walls of the council’s august townhouse headquarters at the corner of Park Avenue and East 68th Street in Manhattan. And you’re not likely to hear Trainor use them on the network news shows, either.
What else did long-retired Lt. Gen. Trainor say? Nothing as pungent as that. But he did point out, probably for the umpeenth time, that during the invasion “field commanders were dealing with reality,” while Franks at Central Command and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon back in Washington “were dealing with assumptions” — most if not all of them wrong.
Gordon, the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, was less irritated. But he made most of the essential points. One of them, the key to everything, is that three people and only three — the Bullshitter-in-Chief, the Shooter-in-Chief and Rummy Boy (my terms, not Gordon’s) — were the critical decision-makers as to “when, why, and how” the United States went to war. The implication, left hanging of course, was that if anyone is to be held accountable, it is that triumvirate.
Rumsfeld came in for the most discussion, naturally, given that he decided the “how” of things — particularly on the issue of insufficient troops both to quell the Iraqi insurgency before it spread and to manage the occupation. He treated troop deployment as a matter of “excess inventory” in “a kind of businessman’s model” for the war, Gordon said. I didn’t see anyone flinch at the remark, even though the audience was made up largely of corporate chieftains, consultants and other business types. Which may be one more measure of how low the bullshitter’s regime has sunk in public opinion.