A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, September 08, 2003 :::
The President last night went a long way toward admitting that things have gone awry Iraq, and that the US must act more decisively, now that we have committed ourselves. As this blog has supported "more troops, NOW" for quite some time, this is welcome and long-overdue news. Not so welcome is the pleading for more UN involvement, as it only provides the opportunity for Germany and France to gloat. The "new coalition" strategy made sense, as many of our older alliances do not make sense anymore, or, at the very least, want rethinking. What did not make sense was the way that the strategy was carried out. What makes even less sense is reverting to the alliances that are quickly wearing out their usefulness.

The speech inspires a number of thoughts.

First, there now needs to be an open and thorough rehashing of the doctrine of "Liberation Light" espoused by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with such fervor that people who disagreed publicly were publicly castigated. In one case, a retired General suddenly stopped serving as a special envoy to trouble spots. But now we need to focus on why the critics were right, and "Rummy" was so wrong: we went in with too few troops, in violation of longstanding American military doctrine. The conservative press, for reasons that are still very hard to fathom, conceived of itself as the Administration's defender. That should not have been. The conservative press should have analyzed what was going on, from conservative principles. If they are going to do their bit, now would be a good time to start.

The particular impetus for the tone of the President's speech appears to have been a scoop by a conservative paper that was doing its job: The Washington Times found an internal Pentagon document that says exactly that war planning was done hastily and without proper concern for the stated aims of the Commander-in-Chief. The search for weapons of mass destruction was not even inserted into the plans until very late in the process.

The speech itself had been planned for some time. There were rumors that the US had in fact found evidence of WMDs and was going to compile an overwhelming case in order to silence the critics. This speech was going to be another bravura performance by W. This will not happen, apparently, and, if it had, it would hardly have been good governance. The failure to find the weapons did great harm politically to the leaders of the many smaller countries that supported us. A deliberately delayed announcement might have had a big effect, but the delay itself would have been an uncoscionable betrayal of those leaders. As it is, unless something turns up, many opponents of the US will eat lunch for years off their jokes about our intelligence services, and conservatives need to start thinking about what that means for us in practical terms.

As this blog has maintained from the start, there is a distinction between a war and a battle. The US romped through the initial battles, and assumed that the war was over. Our troops are spread mercilessly thin, and are presiding over a festering situation in which a few foreign troublemakers can do a great deal of harm, making us look even worse in the process. The Washington Post yesterday ran a lengthy and believable account of how quickly the much-weakened al-Qaeda has regrouped and refocused on destabilizing Iraq. The war continues apace, and will not go well until the US adjusts its tactics to the reality. The President promises now to put us on the right course. It is up to all good conservatives to pressure him to stay the course.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:24 AM



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