March 31, 2003
If you think back to the late and unlamented dot com hype,
doesn't the whole Rumsfeld/Cheney package sound a bit familiar,
in both style and content?
It was all very high-concept, networked and data-intensive.
In the boardrooms of George W. Bush's self-styled "CEO Presidency,"
the Uniforms, professional soldiers like General Franks and
General Myers who tryed to realistically budget their Armor
and Infantry Divisions for Bush's upcoming priority-one Project
Iraq, were mocked as blinkered traditionalists, patronized,
lectured to on military matters by Rumsfeld and the other
Suits, the civilian appointees, defense contractors and consultants,
many of them Neocon chickenhawks who had never served. Praising
each other as visionaries, the Suits convinced themselves
that they were the only people in the room who really got
The Uniforms fought hard for their carefully calculated
requirments, but their numbers were repeatedly scaled down
by the Suits. "Tanks? Troops? Quaint, 20th century antiques.
Tracks and boots are out, choppers and Special Forces are
in, and that's what Secretary Rumsfeld wants to see on CNN.
Besides - the Iraqis won't even fight. This is just another
hostile takeover, exactly like Afghanistan. Oh all right,
since this obviously upsets you both, I guess we can include
a couple divisions. No, no reserve division. If you don't
have a plan to use it, why ship it there at all? Preposterous,
we couldn't possibly need three divisions!"
If President Bush was engaged with this "technical
stuff" at all, I'm sure he listened patiently to these fine
officers and their old-economy anxieties, perhaps nodding
compassionately. But that's the only thing he did for them.
What the President's fair-haired good-old-boys really "got"
was deeply in touch with their inner Gen-X sharpster. The
same expensive high-tech toys. The same hubris and inevitable
groupthink as they sytematically intimidated or excluded any
dissenting voice that might question their vision or demand
a reality check.
And the same kind of money. Just like the dot com entepreneurs,
the Suits found theselves bathed in a river of other people's
money, empowering all their big, new ideas. Some of it flowed,
of course, into the coffers of the movers and shakers, the
smart guys who put themselves on the inside track before the
gravy train pulled in. Ask Perle or Cheney about it. Under
This wasn't actually supposed to be a war, you see; the
Suits were planning a media event, complete with television
cameras, celebrities and babes - the most thoroughly-hyped
product rollout since Windows95. For Jagger's "Start Me Up"
just dub in "Shock and Awe" and, presto! From BushCo, it's
all-new, compatible, reliable and user-friendly. Introducing
But the Suits' InvasionLite™ Regime Installer turned out
to be vaporware. And despite the special delivery, it seems
clear that Saddam didn't get the script.
And if those dinosaurs in uniform hadn't shipped, as backup,
their legacy of tracks and boots? Plan Chickenhawk would have
led, inarguably, to military disaster.
Right now, CNN and Al Jazeera would be showing week after
grim week of American POWs, downed helicopters and grinning
Iraqi troops. Joy on the Arab street. Panic on Wall Street.
And America, under this CEO President, would be hemorrhaging
a great deal more than cash.