Friday, March 31, 2006

Rice: History Will Overlook Administration's "Tactical Errors"

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice conceded today that the United States probably has made thousands of "tactical errors" in Iraq and elsewhere, but said it will be judged by its larger aims of peace and democracy in the Middle East.

The U.S. diplomat met loud anti-war protests in the streets and skeptical questions about U.S. involvement in Iraq at a foreign policy salon Friday, including one about whether Washington had learned from its "mistakes over the past three years."

Rice replied that leaders would be "brain-dead" if they did not absorb the lessons of their times.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure," Rice told an audience gathered by the British foreign policy think tank Chatham House. "But when you look back in history, what will be judged will be, did you make the right strategic decisions."


Rice's words, while likely heartfelt, reflect a belief system pervasive throughout the Bush Administration: that the ends justify the means.

The philosophy stems from a belief that Americans will better appreciate the administration's actions 50 years from now than the hypercritical liberal media they disdain discussing their actions today. The administration also believes that most historians will look at the big picture, rather than the administration's mis-steps along the way.

Are those assumptions valid? Consider that most average Americans look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency and give him high marks. Historians are more mixed. Some point to our military victories, but others would also point to tactical errors, from newly created domestic programs that failed to spur the economy to a failure to prevent Pearl Harbor to denying European refugees -- including thousands of Jews -- the right to enter the U.S. as fled Nazi Germany.

Fifty or 100 years from now, there may be peace and democracy throughout the Middle East. And average Americans may point to the Bush Administration and say bravo. But will historians come to the same conclusion, or will they see an administration that made thousands of tactical errors in the Iraq War, failed to capture Osama Bin Laden or fully dismantle Al Qaeda -- which was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, not Saddam Hussein or Iraq -- trampled on Americans' civil liberties by expanding federal power through the USA Patriot Act and warrantless surveillance, and in spite of a significant propaganda campaign, did little to secure our borders, or improve the security of airports, sea ports, train stations, and chemical and nuclear plants.

Will historians look and say the ends justify the means? Or will they quote basketball coaching legend John Wooden, who once said, "Never mistake activity for achievement."


Anonymous Old Crusoe said...

Note to Condi: Not all historians grade on the curve.
This administration is toast.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Virginia Dare said...

Mmmm mmmm good....

10:42 AM  
Anonymous DUgosh said...

she said hopefully

10:43 AM  
Anonymous sparosnare said...

In other words, the ends justify the means -
In Condi's sick little mind, doesn't matter what was done in process, how many people were killed, how many lies were told.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous tanyev said...

Dear God.
If they are now willing to admit to "thousands of tactical errors", just imagine how much stuff there is that they're not willing to admit.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous yellowcanine said...

If good intentions and eventual outcome were the yardstick, history would judge Vietnam a success for Lyndon Johnson. After all, Vietnam is now a stable and prosperous country and not a threat to its neighbors. Who knows what havoc it would have wreaked on its neighbors had the U.S. not fought them for 10+ years?

Condi Rice knows nothing about history.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous EVDebs said...

Just one more Republican 'Sleepwalking Through History'

Incompetence, the 'plans' this administration have have all had the same result: massive failure.

What was Einstein's definition of insanity ? Doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting the same result ? Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein's definition fits this administration to a tee.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous NCevilDUer said...

If there is peace and democracy in the middle-east in 50 years it will be despite us, not because of us.

That won't keep the repugs from claiming credit, however, just as they claim credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union - no matter that the USSR was self-destructing, and had been since Stalin's purges.

We claim credit for winning WW2 - but it was the Russians that lost 20 million people, and their armies that smashed the huge Nazi forces in the east, while we were fighting relatively weak forces in N Africa, Italy and France. The Chinese tied down 2/3 of the Imperial Japanese Army while we were rolling up the small strongholds of the Pacific Islands.

We won WWI, even though we only had troops on the ground in Europe for a little over a year, before which the Germans, Austrians, English, French, Russians had all lost millions.

We will ignore history, and ignore the reality on the ground and say whatever we like to make ourselves look good.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous lumberjack_jeff said...

Erroneous tactics don't attain strategic goals

They're screwing up because they're screw-ups.

They can't point to a single tactical success, nor can they clearly articulate an attainable strategic goal.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Vickers said...

I thought she was the smart one?

11:03 AM  
Anonymous C_U_L8R said...

Fine .. But what about all the f*ckups??

And all the deceptions and the crimes and the cronyism and and the hate and the profiteering and the racism and the.....


11:03 AM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

it would be fascinating if a reporter were able to sit down with Condi and go over just a handful of "tactical errors," and ask why they happened, and what specifically the administraiton learned. Could Condi find an example of the administration doing something differently -- straying from their original strategy -- as a result of a "tactical error."

GWB wouldn't be able to answer that question. Remember his press conference, when he couldn't think of anything he'd done wrong?

Somewhere in Condi, there's honesty screaming to pour out. But she's too disciplined to allow more than the occasional crack in the surface -- her comments today are probably the limit to what we can learn about what she has learned.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous karynnj said...

They get an "F" even on a curve - who was even close

11:07 AM  
Anonymous spindrifter said...

BushCo Incompetence, C*ndi--that's what historians will judge.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Old Crusoe said...

Hi, karynnj. Sad to say, you're absolutely right. This administration lied about the motive for assault, bungled the invasion and occupation, and now is fidgeting like 3-year olds to find a way out.

And all along they blamed the liberals, the press, and Old Europe.

Let the historians have at them.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Warren Stupidity said...

"hey its not our fault" where have I heard that before. It is never their damn fault.

A moment to deconstruct her little thesis.

"the United States probably has made thousands of "tactical errors" in Iraq and elsewhere, but said it will be judged by its larger aims of peace and democracy in the Middle East."

thousands of "tactical errors" - it is not the fault of Great Leader, it is the fault of the fools executing Great Leader's plan. Blame the troops. Blame the media. Blame the Democrats. Blame Bill Clinton's Penis. Great Leader is above reproach.

larger aims of peace and democracy in the Middle East - uh sorry but I call bullshit on that. That is not their aim. Their aim can be found in the PNAC documents. The veneer, the cover story of 'bringing democracy', is a sideshow to the overarching goal of establishing an American Hegemony, of establishing a permanent military presence in the Middle East, of having military control of the dwindling supply of Cheap Oil as we enter the Peak Oil Crisis.

And finally Ms Rice, peace is not obtained through wars of aggression. War is obtained through wars of aggression. It is always the excuse of the belligerent aggressor that his goal is peace. You achieve peace by practicing peace. Peace over war.

Now go back to your Beatles pilgrimage and pretend that you share something in common with the spirit of the 60's, you miserable excuse for a human being.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

that's their MO

blame everyone else. Don't consider that you've done anything wrong.

Like I said, remember Bush's press conference when he was asked to name a mistake he'd made, and he couldn't think of -- or he was too afraid to admit -- one?

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Old Crusoe said...

True. It really is the way they do business. Wrong to start with and then stubborn about it.


11:23 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Seale, Jr. said...

C'mon, fess up - you guys just don't like what Conde said because she's a black woman who was appointed to powerful position by a Texas Republican. It just makes your Liberal brains hurt.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Ditto said...

Bob Seale;
Are you really serious?

The GOP never mis-underestimated your type. Their success depends on guys like you...

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Angelina's Evil Twin said...

Bobby Seale Jr.:

C'mon, fess up -- you just wrote what you did because you get a rise out of spouting FALSEHOODS from Sean Hannity. You DON'T have an ORIGINAL thought on politics, and you think NAME-CALLING is a substitute for debate. Right?

My liberal brain HURTS when MORONS like you have nothing intelligent to say.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think history will look upon Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Condi as what they are -- war criminals. History will be confused as to why Americans succumbed to Republicans and a mainstream press in failing to form a strong movement to throw them out of office and bring them up on charges.

7:08 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Al Gore warned during the 2000 campaign if Bush were to win, his utter lack of foreign policy experience would result in an incompetent "learn-as-you-go" foreign policy, to the detriment of all Americans.
I think Gore's prophecy has more than proven to be correct.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Nice blog.

Iraq has nothing to do with democracy. Nothing whatsoever. Consider this fact: we are buidling 14 permanent bases in Iraq. Consider this fact as well: oil prices have risen since we went there. I read a recent article that suggests that we went in because Sadaam wasn't playing along with OPEC and was potentially going to LOWER his prices. American foriegn policy only serves the corporations and we are sacrificing our young people to their ends.

Lowell Gilbertson

8:52 PM  
Blogger The Xsociate said...

2327 'tactical errors' and counting.

1:49 AM  
Blogger Disgusted in St. Louis said...

My initial response to Rice's "tactical errors", Condi's Blame Game: Troops' Fault?, which General Zinni echoed on Meet the Press yesterday saying "Don't blame the troops":

Everyone has been writing a lot about this statement from Condi, but I think they have misread what she is actually saying (via WaPo, 'Tactical Errors' Made In Iraq, Rice Concedes):
"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure," Rice said. "But when you look back in history, what will be judged is, did you make the right strategic decisions."

BushCo has repeatedly claimed that commanders on the ground are reponsible for the tactical decisions. Rice may be blaming tactical errors on the commanders and troops on the ground because they planned and carried out the tactical decisions.

Following the right wing smear machine, she probably would like to shift blame to the media for tactical failures because they embolden the enemy, as if Boy King George never issued the challenge of "Bring 'em on!"

Condi is claiming the right strategic decisions were made by the Cheney misadministration because they were responsible for the strategic planning.

10:41 AM  

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