Polemics & Exchanges

On the Other War

While Ted Galen Carpenter makes some valid points about the situation today in Afghanistan (“America’s Other War,” News, August), his attempt to blame everything on an alleged shift of focus from Afghanistan to Iraq is nonsense.  This is an old, tired charge made mainly by antiwar Democrats in the last election but abandoned when it did not hold up to scrutiny.

Ret. Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, who was deputy commander of Central Command while the Iraq invasion was being planned, states unequivocally in his memoirs Inside CentCom that “We didn’t need to divert a single trooper from Afghanistan to Iraq.  The Afghan war and the anti-terror Coalition did not suffer one bit.  In fact, few people know that the very day we launched our attack against Iraq, we also launched a massive operation in Afghanistan.”  He recalls telling President Bush on March 17, 2003, “We’re ready to go in Iraq. . . . [W]e are not going to jeopardize the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.”

The U.S. military was not overextended by the initial plans for war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Indeed, the original plan for Iraq envisioned sending 300,000 troops, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted the plan be revised downward.  In the end, only about half that number were...

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