If you’re a presidential candidate looking to establish your national security cred with a war-weary American public, who might be the worst frontman you could choose for your cause? How about the guy who oversaw the campaign that lost Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, then bungled planning for war in Iraq? In a news release Wednesday night, Mitt Romney announced the 300-plus members of his “Military Advisory Council,” and that man led the list of endorsements:
“I’m proud to be supporting Mitt Romney in this critical election about our nation’s future,” said General Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.), Past Commander, U.S. Central Command. “Governor Romney is committed to restoring America’s leadership role in the world. Instead of playing politics with our military, he will strengthen our defense posture by reversing the President’s devastating defense cuts. The fact of the matter is that we cannot afford another four years of feckless foreign policy. We need level-headed leadership which will protect our interests and defend our values with clarity and without apology.”
Few living Americans can speak with as much authority about “years of feckless foreign policy” as can Tommy “Rumsfeld’s water boy” Franks, who comes in at No. 4 on a Foreign Policy list of worst US generals ever. As readers of our lie-by-lie Iraq timeline will recall, Franks oversaw CENTCOM from 2000 to 2003 and scripted the initial conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Franks:
- Deliberately concealed from the American public how in 2001, at Bush White House’s request, he was planning an Iraq invasion—while we were still trying to topple the Taliban and find bin Laden in Afghanistan.
- Lost track of bin Laden at Tora Bora in late 2001, then claimed he hadn’t, then was proven wrong.
- Perpetuated the bogus “weapons of mass destruction” myth about Iraq.
- Ignored warnings from his CENTCOM predecessor that Iraq wouldn’t be a walk in the park, and disregarded an earlier series of US war games, titled Desert Crossing, that predicted many of the difficulties of an Iraq occupation.
- Completely failed to plan for any post-conflict cleanup after the predicted fall of Saddam Hussein. “You pay attention to the day after,” he reportedly told the administration, “I’ll pay attention to the day of.” Here are the briefing slides he showed administration officials in which he described “post-hostilities” operations in Iraq as “unknown,” and here’s where he estimated we’d have a mop-up force of about 5,000 US troops in Iraq by 2006. (Actual US forces in Iraq throughout that year averaged about 141,000.)
- Authored one of the most nakedly self-serving, embarrassingly written military memoirs of all time. (“Rumsfeld fixed me in his thoughtful blue gaze.”)
In his retirement, Franks maintains the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum out of a Hobart, Oklahoma, storefront. (They now accept PayPal.) Also, Franks would like to sell you some “high performing mother cows” from his ranch, online at 4StarRanch.net.
So what does Franks’ role in the campaign tell us about national security policy in a Romney administration? Perhaps further overseas adventures would be in store, although given the lack of details from Romney regarding his vision for global affairs, it remains anybody’s guess.