Monday, November 08, 2004

Fat chance

Slate's Fred Kaplan wonders whether the president, having won re-election, will finally admit he made some mistakes in Iraq.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly, my job entails telling people what this administration has done wrong in Iraq. But what about some of the things that Rummie got right? If you believed the mainstream columnsists before the war, U.S. troops expected a rain of chemical and biological weapons, cut supply lines, a "Stalingrad" sort of battle in Baghdad, and the enflaming of tensions throughout the region.

Instead, you got one of the swiftest military victories in human history, very light casualties (a reality that's held, by the way, despite some people's notion that 700 or so combat deaths over 1 1/2 years is "high") and the relative stablility of the region (except in places that already faced ongoing strife, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia).

Everyone seems to forget that Seymour Hersh and R.W. Apple, darlings of the journo jetsetters (but who have never seen actual combat), breathlessly reported that the U.S. had "bogged down" in "Vietnam" like "quagmires" in Afghanistan and Iraq weeks before U.S. troops took both capitals.

Kaplan has written about this.

But you can't have it both ways, you know. You can't portay U.S. war planners as inept, criminal or toadies to the Bush White House and then blast them for being too efficient, too honorable or too independent later (a commonplace in the American press).

Kaplan, of course, isn't the most respected voice in DC on military issues (ironically, that honor goes to the boys at USA Today and Gannett,and Galloway at Knight-Ridder). But he's more often right than wrong, unlike Sy and "Johnny" Apple.

Another thing Rummie got right (good idea, good war, wrong occupation) was the need to transform the U.S. military into a leaner, meaner and greener ground force that's technologically tough and intellectually nimble.

12:41 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I guess it's a question as to whether the good has outweighed the bad. Most of the specific mistakes Kaplan references pertain to post-war planning. It's a bit ironic that you mention the media's belief that U.S. troops would fall victim to biological and chemical weapons when it was the administration who insisted the Iraqis possessed these.

Kaplan has praised Rumsfeld's plans to create a meaner, leaner fighting force. But he also has noted that while such a military is ideally suited for 21st century warfare, we still need plenty of boots on the ground for good old-fashioned occupations.

12:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Kaplan on this, but not his outright hatred of Rummie. I should say that actually my position is closer to Galloway's, and they're all together at the Military Reporters & Editors convention in DC now anyway. So everyone is agreeing to disagree about agreeing.

You really should read Galloway, who has more street cred than Kaplan and Sy, considering that he's been shot at.

4:39 PM


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