In an interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, Bob Woodward discussed his new book, The War Within with reporter Scott Pelley. Woodward revealed the strife between President Bush and the commanders in Baghdad in 2006. The Washington Post posted some transcripts from the book here
Gen. George Casey, the Iraq commander throughout 2006, came to believe that the president didn't understand the very nature of the war. Bush regularly asked about body counts, as if only killing enough of the enemy would lead to victory. The president insisted he understood the nature of the war, whatever Casey might have thought. "I mean, of all people to understand that, it's me," he said.
President Bush: You know, what frustrated me is that from my perspective it looked like that we were taking casualties without fighting back because our commanders are loath to talk about, you know, our battlefield victories.
The president insists he was not preoccupied by body counts, but simply asked for numbers on occasion to be certain that U.S. troops were fighting.
Woodward: And you were asking questions. "Well, how many have we killed?"
President Bush: I ask that on occasion to find out whether or not we're fighting back.
Woodward: Okay.President Bush: Because the perception is, is that our guys are dying and they're not. Because we don't put out numbers. We don't have a tally. On the other hand, if I'm sitting here watching the casualties come in, I'd at least like to know whether or not our soldiers are fighting.<
For George Bush, to insinuate that the US troops weren't fighting (hard enough) is an insult to members of the military who he deployed to Iraq under difficult conditions and flimsier reasoning.
As the mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004, I am outraged that a Commander in Chief, who has never served a day in combat, would question the commitment of our fighting military and their commanders, especially from 6000 miles away. President Bush has frequently stated that he relies on his generals to tell him what they need in Iraq, but this is another example of the president marching to the beat of his own drummer.
The number 2 punch comes from Meghan McCain, daughter of proclaimed "famous war hero", Republican presidential candidate, John McCain. On the Today Show, in an interview, she defends accusations against her father that he doesn't "get it". Meghan responds "No one knows what war is like other than my family. Period." Oh yeah? How about the 4155 US families of dead troops from Iraq? How about the 584 US families of dead troops from Afghanistan? How about the families of troops who committed suicide either while in theater or after their return home? How about the the families of the more than 1.6 million troops who have served in Iraq & Afghanistan since 2001? And how about the nearly 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians or the 4 million displaced Iraqi's?
I have no doubt that Meghan's father's time in a POW camp affected the family in many ways. Meghan, your family is only one family who has been affected by this war- some more than the McCain's, some less, but your family isn't the the only one who knows what war is like. PERIOD.
I'll take my apology now, Meghan, and while you're at it, stay off the campaign trail until you can figure out how to respect the sacrifice made by millions of troops and their families over the years. Playing the POW card isn't any more becoming on you than it is on your father.