WASHINGTON – Because the U.S. military is engaged in wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it may not be able to quickly win the new wars the Bush administration plans to start, according to a report given to Congress by Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I think, unfortunately, we’re just stretched too thin,” Myers said, “And when we start these new wars, we’re just gonna have to understand that it’s not gonna be a slam dunk like Iraq. It’s gonna take some time, and some people are gonna die. But they’ll be poor. The ones on our side. And on their side… Well, let’s not pretend it matters.”
At the White House, President Bush was asked to respond to the apparent contradiction between Myers’ report to Congress and alleged statements the president said Myers made to him.
In a response during his April 28 primetime press conference to a question regarding troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan limiting U.S. military options elsewhere in the world, the president said that Myers told him, “’No,’ he doesn’t feel we’re limited. He feels like we’ve got plenty of capacity.”
Asked yesterday about that answer in light of Myers’s report, which appears to say the opposite, the president said, “Listen to what I said. I said that he said that we had ‘plenty of capacity.’ And we do. I didn’t say what kind of capacity. Maybe I meant capacity to win wars slowly once we get into them. How do you know? Are you a swami or whatever it’s called? A shaman? A salami… bami… What the hell is it called?”
Asked by a reporter whether he has considered not entering into future military conflicts to avoid facing the issue of an overstretched military, the president glared at the reporter for what some reports say was seven minutes. Then he said, “That’s not up to me. Don’t you know that? Don’t you know, by now, that simple thing? It’s up to two people: Evildoers and the Lord Almighty. I’ll ask Him, and I’ll let you know what He says. Not the evildoers. The Lord.”
Asked the same question, Myers responded, “Well, we have to do something. I mean, Afghanistan is so 2001.”