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Boys of the Brass vs. Boys in the Hood
May 28, 2002
By Sheila Samples

According to a Washington Post article last week, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are crowing that they've "diffused" the Bush/Wolfowitz cabal's panting eagerness to invade Iraq--at least for now. Unfortunately, Post writer Tom Ricks obediently adheres to the rigid White House policy of quoting only "informed sources," "Pentagon officials," and "administration insiders," so we remain at a loss as to "who" is saying "what" on this matter.

My money's on the boys in the "Hood" over the brass at the Pentagon, in spite of the fact that part of the brass' behind-the-scenes campaign included a "secret" briefing to President Bush by the Army's four-star Tommy Franks. Now, Franks has quite a bit on his plate right now, what with Operations Anacondoleezza, Condor, Snipe-Hunt and Iron Mountain over in Afghanistan--and playing straight man to little Donnie Rumsfeld, the Pentagon's top banana, in their daily media dog-and-pony show.

It's easy to understand the Joint Chiefs' reticence about barging into Iraq without a clear-cut plan to address Saddam Hussein's possible use of biological and chemical weapons and the very real possibility of massive U.S. troop and Iraqi civilian casualties. As head of the Central Command, Franks will have to oversee any invasion of Iraq, and "officials in the know" say Franks supposedly told Bush he would need at least 200,000 troops to oust Saddam Hussein. Anybody who believes that thinks we still have the authorized 600 troops on the ground in Colombia...

Ricks points out any final decision is Bush's, and "Pentagon insiders" say intense pressure is being brought by advocates of military action within the administration (those pesky boys in the Hood) to get the Joint Chiefs--who have long questioned the wisdom of a military confrontation with Hussein--on their side.

"Officials," in the understatement of the year, say it's premature for the uniformed military to declare victory. They note that Rumsfeld has so far distanced himself from the debate, leaving the dirty dealing to dirty dealers Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary; and Douglas J. Feith, the Pentagon's top policy official--both proud, unyielding Iraqi hawks.

Oops--I knew there was a catch to this "brass" victory...

In War 101, most generals learn that you can win a battle and still lose the war. However, I can't see that they've come close to winning even bragging rights to this battle. Unless it would be getting it on record--historical record--that, before the war in Iraq, they were shoulder-to-shoulder against such aggression.

Their commander-in-chief, who has been totally obsessed with ousting Hussein--the Bush family nemesis--since Campaign 2000, danced on the international stage last week, rattling his saber, looking for the Grand Alliance, while spreading his hands and declaring innocently, "Really. I don't have a plan to attack Iraq...on my desk right now. Trust me. Really..."

Let me get back to you on that, Mr. President. After I check Cheney's desk...and Rummy's desk...and Condoleezza's desk...and Wolfowitz's desk...and Pearle's desk...and...

Because--in spite of the fact that the administration "Greek Chorus" is caroling with mind-numbing regularity--"It's not on his desk...not on his desk...not on his desk right now"--I know that damned "Attack Iraq" plan is in there somewhere.

Trust me...Really.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer.

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