The following is a guest article by retired Army Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, written from his modest retirement mansion in Bel Air, Calif.
It’s time to clear the air and close the books on two conflicts that we’ve been fighting for more than a decade. It’s time for the truth to be shouted from the opinion section of The New York Times and the front page of Amazon.com. You guys lost Iraq and Afghanistan, and I’m boldly hitting the prime-time news circuit to talk about it.
I know that I’m skewering a lot of sacred cows here: Even today, with ISIS in firm control of half of Iraq and much of Syria, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t think the Iraq War was an overwhelming success. Well I’m here to tell you otherwise.
It’s the kind of story that I’m sure comforted William Westmoreland, after he’d retired on his pension and published his own account of Vietnam titled “A Soldier Reports.”
Our politicians and generals came up with a bunch of gross oversimplifications on how to win in Iraq. And as you’ll read in my book — conveniently available in both hardback and Kindle versions — my gross oversimplifications have the benefit of hindsight, plus a snazzy book jacket.
Like my peers, I thought the war was worth it. Like my peers, I wanted to stay the course instead of cut and run. And like my peers, I’m here to cash in on my experiences with a book deal.
I thought long and hard about potential changes to the critically flawed U.S. strategy every day of the 35 years that I that was in uniform. After the invasion of Iraq, with the insurgency rising, I told my personal diary about the problems happening in Baghdad and vowed I would eventually write about it in my hopefully best-selling book, “Why We Lost.”
The American people should demand an accounting from their generals, and my account is the best.
During those bloody years of 2006 and 2007 I knew about all the inherent problems of the surge strategy while better men than me were already mentioning them on CNN.
But I’ve held my tongue for too long these past 13 years, watching as the generals above me made asinine mistakes that any lieutenant out of school would recognize. It was hard to sit back and let those ignorant fools continue to promote me to higher and higher ranks while the Army suffered through its most protracted and mismanaged campaign since Vietnam.
You cannot know how it pains me when I cash my monthly pension check while remembering all the mistakes they made. But now that I’m safely retired, with my monthly $6,563 safely in hand, I can finally become the modern-day Billy Mitchell that I know that I am inside. I will stake my safely ensconced academic reputation and career on it.
The truth hurts, but there are ways to make it profitable for me.
Do you know why you lost? You lost in Iraq and Afghanistan because you didn’t have the spine to immediately withdraw your forces after utterly destroying the governments of two sovereign states like I would have done had I been in charge. You lost because you didn’t stand up to the politicians and their insidious mission creep. You lost because you followed orders. You lost because you didn’t recognize a quagmire before it became one. You lost because you didn’t have the incredible luxury of crystal-clear hindsight that I am exercising right now.
We need something like the 9/11 commission, which of course I would be totally happy to sit on, as long as we can schedule testimony between my appearances on Fox News and MSNBC.
In short, please buy my book.