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Time for new leadership

Dear Editor:I make a living by developing forecasting software for Fortune 500 companies. The basic principle of forecasting is that people tend to be consistent in the way they behave. A person’s future behavior will be very similar to his or her past behavior.I have been greatly surprised at recent opinion polls that indicate that President Bush is the best choice on issues of leadership. I wonder if my fellow Americans have forgotten the events that led up to the current mess in Iraq. Consider the following:Unlike Desert Storm, in which foreign countries paid 95 percent of the military cost and our traditional allies joined us on the field of battle, the cost of the recent invasion of Iraq has been financed almost completely by the American taxpayer, and the battlefield losses have been sustained almost entirely by American soldiers. The Bush administration went to war without obtaining the support of the world community and our traditional allies. This was a serious failure of leadership.Our military generals planned a campaign that involved three divisions: two attacking from the south and one from the north. When Turkey refused to provide a staging area in the north, we rushed to war with an entire division sitting on ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Bush and Rumsfeld attacked with only two-thirds of the forces that our best military minds had requested. Our troops won a quick and decisive military victory but quickly learned that they did not have sufficient forces to hold and control the land they had conquered. We did not have enough troops to prevent looting and widespread chaos. This was a serious mistake.After standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in front of a sign, “Mission Accomplished,” Bush set plans for reconstruction that forbade participation by the Europeans who had not participated in the war. Little effort was made to engage Iraqi citizens in the reconstruction effort. Most of the reconstruction money went to American companies. Bush and Rumsfeld also decided to disband the Iraqi army, turning thousands of young men loose to roam the streets with no jobs and no prospects. These decisions almost guaranteed that we would alienate our potential allies, create a large group of unemployed, unhappy Iraqis and be unable, with our limited forces, to maintain order and security. Today we face serious problems in Iraq. No one appears to have a reasonable exit strategy.Professionals are forecasting a very dismal future. Given these realities, I find it difficult to believe that the men who created this disaster are the ones we can expect to make good decisions in the future to solve the problem. The devil is in the details, and the Bush administration has consistently failed to get the details right. Being resolute and decisive is not an advantage if your decisions are consistently wrong. “If what you are doing is not working, try something else.” It is time for new leadership.Peter FreyBasalt


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