The Magazine

Fighting the Wrong War

From the January 17, 2005 issue: What Rumsfeld's defenders don't want to admit.

Jan 17, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 17 • By FREDERICK W. KAGAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Hanson reminds us that American forces in World War II, and in many other conflicts, had to fight with imperfect weapons and under imperfect conditions. All quite true. But in no previous American war has the chief of the military administration refused to focus on the war at hand, preferring programs that could not help soldiers then in the fight to survive and win. Even Robert McNamara, engaged in a "sideshow" war in an otherwise irrelevant theater, did not imagine that he could focus his efforts on preparing to meet the Red Army in the Fulda Gap at the expense of supporting our troops in Indochina.

Rumsfeld's attitude has already led to a series of mistakes that have made a difficult situation more difficult. It has put the administration on the defensive about its conduct of a policy that is vital to America's national interest. It has distracted attention from the problem of winning the current war--our most important priority today bar none. These problems don't result from the liberal media or the antiwar crowd making a ruckus about nothing. They result from Rumsfeld's stubborn adherence to a wrongheaded policy. Surely, with the election safely over, there is no longer any need to protect the architect of these mistakes.

Frederick W. Kagan is a military historian and coauthor of While America Sleeps.