Kerry on Shinseki

Kerry got some details wrong, but the claim that Shinseki got clobbered by the WH for asking for more troops for Iraq was on target.

Yes, it seems that Shinseki was punished by the White House — not, in fact, retired early, but deliberately undercut by having his successor named more than a year before he was to leave his post — for thinking, and saying, we needed more troops in Iraq. That happened before he spilled the beans in Congressional testimony. The testimony wasn’t the cause of the announcement, though it did lead to Shinseki’s being publicly dissed by the SecDef.

When Shinseki did retire, neither the Secretary nor the Deputy attended the ceremony, an unusual and significant snub.

All in all, Kerry’s complaint was on target, but he was culpably wrong about important details. That seems to have been his only important misstatement last night: not a bad performance under the circumstances, but Kerry should be careful to get the facts right next time.

And just in case you were wondering, Shinseki was right and the people who punished him were wrog. An Army history seems to bear Shinseki out, if the facts on the ground weren’t enough to do so.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: