Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, October 10, 2003

Last evening’s Frontline War, Truth and Consequences on PBS, I thought, had several news worthy scenes, particularly American soldier’s crushing an Iraqi car with a tank, and several highly interesting sound bites from Iraqi soldiers, Generals, and US government officials that have, somehow, escaped the selective audio intakes of the major media over these last several months.
In the weeks building to war, early this past year, the controlled media buzz fed by selective “highly placed” sources was all about Lean & Mean and Shock & Awe.
Lean & Mean was an important concept as it played directly into the long-range private and governmental concerns of certain “highly placed” sources that vast portions of the military be privatized into lucrative subsidiaries of certain uniquely positioned corporations.
Lean was really paired with Not Quite So Mean, in Afghanistan, and demanded an over reliance upon local warlords coupled with, some think, a refusal to consider more sophisticated weaponry.
Hadn’t the President lamented, “There’s nothing to bomb there”?
In the remote mountains surrounding Tora Bora some wonder why Washington’s tough talk skipped past more historic options for that isolated redoubt as there was something to bomb there.
An over-reliance upon locals and a failure to engage with a more ultimate weapons option, at Tora Bora, in the suppressed opinion of certain elements of the Army and Marine command staff, had allowed the al Qaeda Diaspora, binLaden’s escape and continued foreign belief in weakness at America’s core.
The giddy excitement over burnoosed and enhorsed CIA and robot planes was purposefully infectious wasn’t it?
Sure it was, by gosh!
Hadn’t Rummy, eyes a twinkle, gushed like a school girl and pushed the Lean concept right out of its envelope and over the objections of certain Army, Marine, Defense and State fuddy-duddies and onto the burning Iraqi sands to park next to the pre-positioned Halliburton equipment?

Frontline had sound bites from Lt. Gen. Jay Gardner and Paul Bremer (or, Jerry Bremer as Frontline shows President Bush first calling him), admitting that post war Iraq would have been a different situation with more rational levels of ground forces.

Q: Did you have enough support from the military to do your job?

GARDNER: Initially, no, because they didn't have enough. What happened is we put an incredible requirement on the military when we got there.

Frontline, also, had very interesting interviews with Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, who Frontline failed to identify as the man who replaced Col. Joe Dowdy as the Commander of Marine Combat 1 at the end of the first week of Iraqi war.

The entire Dowdy affair, the Colonel’s battlefield actions and Washington’s involvement in this historic removal of a battlefield commander has simply vanished from the public mind except for the occasional fruitless Google search by truth hungry citizens.
Lt. Gen. Conway, interestingly, admitted to Frontline, that perhaps his troops could have prevented some of the widespread looting that has so doomed post war Baghdad and its recovery.

CONWAY: I think if we had been told to stop the looting and secure key elements of the city, we could have brought a force to do that.

Did he ask the chain of command to modify his orders to confront the mayhem his eyes were witnessing? No he did not.
Frontline didn’t ask but I wanted to know if the vanished Dowdy’s fate influenced this particular command decision by Conway?
Lean & Mean is still in effect as Rummy’s privatization plan was only recently submitted to Congress where it is sure to seem more economically attractive to a nation staggering under the treaty-enforced burden of being an occupying power.

Something, perhaps Frontline, provoked the Vice President to leave his subterranean lair this morning to rattle the vague bones of mass extinction before the receptive ears of the Heritage Foundation and the nitrous oxide inhalers of cable TV news.
According to the Vice President as reported by the AP on the New York Times web site:

The challenges we face today cannot be met with timid actions or bitter words.

Who could not agree with the Vice President as he so artfully misstates the situation?
Some, observing pre Iraq events in Afghanistan and the ongoing Plame Game, would argue that timidity and bitterness are not solely characteristic of the administration’s opposition. I would modify the Vice President statement to say:

The challenges we face today cannot be met with timid actions, bitter words or hidden agendas.

I would urge a visit to the Frontline website where War, Truth and Consequences will be available for online viewing tomorrow.
Transcripts of interviews are available now.

Photos: PBS, DOD and Getty
Logo: PBS

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