|Bush: Maybe U.S. Military 'Just Not Very Good'
June 27, 2007 | The ONION | Issue 43•26
WASHINGTON, DC—Departing from his usual hopeful rhetoric during a
question-and-answer session with reporters in the White House Rose
Garden, President Bush suggested Tuesday that the war in Iraq has not
been successful because the nation's armed forces are "just not very
"When the decision was made to liberate Iraq, I was going on what my
advisers were telling me and what everyone has said for nearly a
century—that the U.S. military is the best in the world," Bush said.
"But if that were the case, and we did have the most powerful army,
navy, marines, and air force on the globe, we would be winning,
The president admitted that he'd been toying with the idea that a
thorough lack of quality in personnel, from the top U.S. commander to
the lowest-ranked private, is the only way to account for the colossal
failure in Iraq, given that everything on the administrative side of
the war has been carried out with the utmost care and precision.
"I know the folks on our end didn't drop the ball," Bush said. "The
civilian oversight of this war and the plan of attack has been
brilliant. There's no doubt about that in my mind. Hate to say it, but
maybe our men and women in uniform just aren't what they're cracked up
Bush conjectured that U.S. servicemen and women thrust into the
horrifying chaos and violence of Iraq's Sunni Triangle may simply lack
the proper perspective and cool detachment needed to implement an
effective strategy against the insurgency. The commander in chief also
wondered aloud why, for all their vaunted competence, American forces
become disillusioned while fighting "for such a just and noble cause."
"I know I should support the troops, especially in a time of war, but
if they can't handle the pressure, maybe they don't deserve my
support," Bush said. "They're making me look bad."
"On the occasions I've met our troops, most of them didn't seem like
they had much going for them," Bush added. "I don't think very many
went to college or anything."
Bush said that in the past year he has had much occasion to think
about the U.S. military's role in history, which, he recently was
forced to conclude, is "overrated." He traced the roots of the
misperception back to the nation's victory in World War II.
"We haven't really flat-out won a war since then, and you have to
admit even that one was pretty close," the president said.
Continued Bush: "We pretty much have a 3-4 record in terms of
important wars, and that's being generous, because I'm counting the
Civil War as a victory. We got absolutely killed in Vietnam, which was
another war where the leadership at home did a fine job, only to be
let down by the troops. Not quite sure what happened in Korea. And I
thought we won the first Gulf War, but apparently we didn't, because
we're still there."
Shortly after the press conference, the White House announced that an
advisory panel comprised of former officials from both Bush
administrations and of private military contractors would be formed to
devise effective solutions to problem areas in the nation's defense,
namely the quality of the soldiers. Some of the likely recommendations
include toughening recruitment standards so that not just anyone can
enlist, and offering swift advancement opportunities for troops who
show less dependence on the support current forces seem to constantly
require from the American people. The panel is also expected to
recommend that the nation enter into additional costly overseas
conflicts as a way for the U.S. military to hone its uneven combat
Yet even the most optimistic administration estimates acknowledge that
these transformations are years, if not decades away from being
implemented. Meanwhile, Bush still appears determined to maintain the
American military presence in Iraq, telling reporters that the only
way to improve the armed forces isn't to quit, but to "keep plugging
away and hope they'll get better at this war business before they all