Andrew Maykuth Online
The Philadelphia Inquirer
February 8, 2004
Analyst's report criticizing Iraq war draws flak
(See sidebars below containing excerpts from the report and background on the U.S. Army War College)
Photo credit: US Army War College
Jeffrey Record

CARLISLE, Pa. -  The folks at the U.S. Army War College 
expected that Jeffrey Record's opinions on Iraq might spark
some debate, even disagreement. They did not expect
a public firestorm.

But since Record's essay came to light last month arguing
that the Iraq invasion was "unnecessary" and a "detour"
from the war on terrorism, the elite military college west 
of Harrisburg has come under an unaccustomed glare.

Antiwar activists, hardly the college's traditional champions, have
embraced Record's commentary as proof that the war was misguided.
Supporters of the invasion have questioned the school's patriotism.

"Why does the U.S. Army War College hate America?" wrote one anonymous
visitor to an Internet chat room where Record's report was dissected.

Such sentiment seems alien at the war college, where the offices are
decorated with paintings of U.S. military heroes and a sign posted outside
the main lecture hall warns students - mostly high-ranking officers tapped
for greater leadership - to guard against leaks of top-secret information.

"We're really not used to this sort of attention," said Douglas C.
Lovelace Jr., a retired Army colonel who heads the college's Strategic
Studies Institute, the think tank that published Record's report. Lovelace,
a Vietnam War veteran with multiple postgraduate degrees, is used to being
branded an "ultra-right conservative" simply because of his military
affiliation. He is not often tagged "an anti-Bush commie-liberal," as one
commentator called him for allowing publication of Record's 56-page
monograph, "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism."

   'Strategic error'

In it, Record, an experienced military analyst and visiting research
professor from the U.S. Air War College in Montgomery, Ala., argues that
the global war on terrorism "is strategically unfocused, promises more than
it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate U.S. military resources in an
endless and hopeless search for absolute security."

He asserts that the Iraq invasion was not integral to the war on
terrorism, and that fusing al-Qaeda and Iraq into a single terrorist threat
was a "strategic error of the first order."

Record, who is spending a year at the Strategic Studies Institute to
research a book about the Iraq war, also wrote that unanticipated
resistance to the occupation has "stressed the U.S. Army to the breaking

The report sat quietly on the college's Web site for a month and might
have gone unnoticed - most of the institute's reports are absorbed into the
defense community debate without much of a public ripple - had the
Washington Post not cited it in a Jan. 12 news story.

Timing is everything. "Dr. Record's paper came out at a confluence of
events," Lovelace said.

Only days earlier, the nonprofit Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace had released a report concluding that Saddam Hussein did not "pose an
immediate threat to the United States, the region or global security." Then
former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill went public with assertions that the
Bush White House was planning to oust Hussein well before 9/11.

   Worldwide attention

No longer unnoticed, Record's report was quoted worldwide. Presidential
candidate Howard Dean immediately borrowed his phrase "strategic error."
The Guardian in Britain ran the report under the headline: "Bush besieged
by war college." Within days, Record was doing interviews with CNN and NPR,
while being lauded and skewered on the Internet.

Critics pointed out that Record had worked in the past as an adviser to
Senators Sam Nunn, Lloyd M. Bentsen, William Cohen and Gary
Hart, saying it was evidence that he must have a partisan motive. Most of the senators
were Democrats, except Cohen, a Republican who later became President Clinton's
defense secretary [corrected from published version]. 

"Some people have imputed to the study some kind of political agenda,"
said Record, 60, who has worked as an analyst for more than 30 years,
mostly from within the military community.

"I'm not a closet political hack with political aims."

He and war college officials take umbrage at suggestions that the
institution would engage in anything less than scholarly work. Though it is
part of the Defense Department, the college jealously guards its academic

"Even though we're the Army War College, we're not pure Army and we're
not pure war," Lovelace said. "This is an honest-to-goodness institute of
higher education."

Though Record's essay carried a standard disclaimer that its views are
those of the author and not the government, it was hardly a rogue document.
All papers published by the institute are circulated for peer review by
civilian and military academicians, checked for facts, and vetted for
classified information.

"You expect tough comments, a sanity check," Record said.

"This is really extraordinary that Dr. Record's piece got so much
attention," Lovelace said. The institute produces more than 40 major
studies a year, and their impact is usually much more gradual - and quiet.
"I have a feeling that a lot of these people who are commenting did not
even bother to read the report," he added.

Record suggests in his essay that the United States scale back its
ambitions and be prepared to settle for a "friendly autocracy" in Iraq
rather than a genuine democracy that might take years to establish.

He hardly advocates pulling out of Iraq now that the deed is done,
arguing instead for increasing the occupation force by broadening
international representation.

"My objective here was to stimulate debate," said Record, who did his
master's and doctoral studies in international relations at Johns Hopkins
University. "That's the business we're in here at the Strategic Studies

Excerpts from Jeffrey Record's "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism."

"In conflating Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, the administration unnecessarily expanded the [global war on terrorism] by launching a preventative war against a state that was not at war with the United States and that posed no direct or imminent threat to the United States at the expense of continued attention and effort to protect the United States from a terrorist organization with which the United States was at war."

"The war against Iraq was a detour from, not an integral component of, the war on terrorism; in fact, Operation Iraqi Freedom may have expanded the terrorist threat by establishing a large new American target set in an Arab heartland."

"To the extent that the [global war on terrorism] is directed at the phenomenon of terrorism, as opposed to flesh-and-blood terrorist organizations, it sets itself up for strategic failure. Terrorism is a recourse of the politically desperate and militarily helpless, and, as such, it is hardly going to disappear."

"A cardinal rule of strategy is to keep your enemies to a manageable number. A strategy whose ambitions provoke the formation of an array of enemies whose defeat exceeds the resources available to that strategy is doomed to failure. The Germans were defeated in two world wars notwithstanding their superb performance at the operational and tactical levels of combat because their strategic ends outran their available means..."

"What started out as a short conventional war of choice has become an open-ended unconventional war of necessity. Yet by invading and occupying Iraq, the United States assumed responsibility for its future and therefore has no moral or strategic choice but to restore security and establish a functioning economy and stable government. ... Walking away would be catastrophic."

"Analogies to past experiences are misleading. Though the administration has repeatedly cited U.S. success in post-World Ware II Germany and Japan as evidence the United States can do for Iraq what it did for those two former Axis Powers, the differences between 1945 and 2003 trample the similarities. First of all, the United States entered postwar Japan and its occupation zone in Germany with overwhelming force, which precluded the eruption of local resistance. Second, both occupations were almost universally regarded as legitimate.... It is fair to say that the U.S. occupation of Iraq fails the test of legitimacy in the eyes of an overwhelming number of Arabs."

Click here to see the entire report

The Army War College: A Place 'to Preserve Peace' 

The U.S. Army War College was founded in 1901 in Washington in response to the War Department's disappointment with the performance of army commanders in the Spanish-American War. Its founder, Elihu Root, said the college's aim was "not to promote war, but to preserve peace by intelligent and adequate preparation to repel aggression." The college moved to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania in 1951. The fort, 18 miles west of Harrisburg, had been founded by the British in 1757 during the French and Indian War.

Carlisle Barracks has had several incarnations as an educational institution. It became the School of Cavalry Practice in 1838. During the Civil War, when Confederate troops attacked Gettysburg, Confederate cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart returned to his alma mater and burned it to the ground. The post became the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879 - Jim Thorpe was a graduate - before reverting to a military installation in World War I. 

Today, the War College prepares select high-ranking officers for a master's degree in strategic studies, training them in greater understanding of why nations fight, the nature of conflict, and the strategic conduct of war. About 340 resident students are enrolled in the one-year program, including 42 international officers and 28 civilians, primarily from the Defense Department and intelligence agencies. Another 318 students, many of them reservists, are enrolled in a two-year correspondence program. 

Though part of the Defense Department, the War College regards itself as an independent institution where academic freedom is protected and researchers and students are encouraged to challenge and criticize existing practices.

The college's Web site:: home page   
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