May 04, 2005


Some Cakewalk, huh?

Here, from February 2002, is "longtime Rumsfeld friend and lieutenant Kenneth Adelman, appointed by the secretary to the Defense Policy Board," on the "Cakewalk in Iraq":
Two knowledgeable Brookings Institution analysts, Philip H. Gordon and Michael E. O'Hanlon, concluded that the United States would "almost surely" need "at least 100,000 to 200,000" ground forces. Worse: "Historical precedents from Panama to Somalia to the Arab-Israeli wars suggest that . . . the United States could lose thousands of troops in the process."

I agree that taking down Hussein would differ from taking down the Taliban. And no one favors "a casual march to war." This is serious business, to be treated seriously.

In fact, we took it seriously the last time such fear-mongering was heard from military analysts -- when we considered war against Iraq 11 years ago. Edward N. Luttwak cautioned on the eve of Desert Storm: "All those precision weapons and gadgets and gizmos and stealth fighters . . . are not going to make it possible to re-conquer Kuwait without many thousands of casualties." As it happened, our gizmos worked wonders. Luttwak's estimate of casualties was off by "many thousands," just as the current estimates are likely to be.

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.
Here's what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress on Monday:
The U.S. military may not be able to win any new wars as quickly as planned because the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have strained its manpower and resources, the nation's top military officer told Congress in a classified report.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the U.S. military as in a period of increased risk, according to a senior defense official, who described the report Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.

"We will prevail," Myers said when asked about the report. "The timelines (to winning a new war) may have to be extended and we may have to use additional resources, but that doesn't matter because we're going to be successful in the end."
We currently have about 138,000 American troops in Iraq alone (close to the number of troops those "fear-mongering" military analysts predicted we'd need). And, of course, we have casualties in the thousands (1,593 U.S. soldiers dead; 11,664 wounded, "officially"). How many more need to be killed or crippled so we can be "successful in the end?"

Meanwhile, for some strange reason, there's not a helluva lot of kids who are rushing to sign up for this cakewalk:
The U.S. Army missed its April recruiting goal by a whopping 42 percent and the Army Reserve fell short by 37 percent, officials said on Tuesday, showing the depth of the military's wartime recruiting woes.

With the Iraq war straining the U.S. military, the active-duty Army has now missed its recruiting goals in three straight months, with April being by far the worst of the three, and officials are forecasting that it will fall short again in May.
So is anyone, ANYONE???, going to be held accountable for this mess we're in? Perhaps we should start with Captain America...

Rummy's Super Friends

Adelman's statements are transparent in retrospect, but they were no less so at the time. "Playing for keeps" obviously meant keeping a large force in Iraq for several years. Yes, fast light armor was enough to subdue the tenth rate Iraqi army; but the numbers required to face an insurgency which was almost certain to follow were enormous, and unavailable. And they knew that.

We sent Americans to die for a political calculation. Taking the time to build a coalition, or to increase available troop strength to necessary levels (which might have included a draft) was not in the Bush playbook. There'll be accountability long after the fact, just as with Vietnam, but there won't be any justice meted out to those who deserve it.
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