‘Many in the US Military Think Bush and Cheney Are Out of Control’
SPIEGEL ONLINE – October 15, 2007, 12:22 PM
SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERVIEW WITH MILITARY HISTORIAN GABRIEL KOLKO
In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Amsterdam-based military historian Gabriel Kolko talks about the prospect of war with Iran and argues that many in the US military now view the White House as being ‘out of control.’
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Kolko, editorials in US papers like the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and the National Review are pushing for military action against Iran. How does the leadership in the US military view such a conflict?
Gabriel Kolko: The American military is stretched to the limit. They are losing both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everything is being sacrificed for these wars: money, equipment in Asia, American military power globally, etc. Where and how can they fight yet another? The Pentagon is short of money for procurement, and that is what so many people in the military bureaucracy live for. The situation will be far worse in the event of a war with Iran.
Many in the American military have learned the fundamental dilemma of modern warfare: More money and better weapons don’t mean that you win. IEDs, which cost so little to make, are defeating a military which spends billions of dollars per month. IEDS are so adaptable that each new strategy developed by the United States to counter them is answered by the Iraqi insurgents. The Israelis were also never quite able to counter IEDs. One report quotes an Israeli military engineer who said the Israeli answer to IEDs was frequently the use of armored bulldozers to effectively rip away the top 18 inches of pavement and earth where explosive devices might be hidden. This is fantastic, as the cost of winning means destroying roads, which form the basis of a modern economy.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are people in the Pentagon getting nervous about how influential voices in the White House continue to push for conflict with Iran?
Kolko: Many in the US military think Bush and Cheney are out of control. They are rebelling against Bush and Cheney. Washington Post reporter Dana Priest recently said in an interview that she believed the US military would revolt and refuse to fly missions against Iran if the White House issued such orders.
CENTCOM [US Central Command, the military grouping whose responsibilities include the Middle East] commander Admiral William Fallon reportedly thwarted Cheney’s wish to sent a third additional aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. One paper wrote that he “vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM.”
Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, in charge of US forces in Japan, told the Associated Press last week that the Iraq war had weakened American forces in the face of any potential conflict with China. He was quoted as saying, “Are we in trouble? It depends on the scenario. But you have to be concerned about the small number of our forces and the age of our forces.”