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

Monday, October 20, 2003 :::
A Mind That Suits will take a moment to say that this is a beautiful morning in Washington. We have had a week of glorious fall weather. This is such a beautiful city.

If you are tired of hearing about Iraq, A Mind That Suits really is reducing the amount of space spent on that. There is so much else to life, that we have got to move on to other things.

However, this is interesting:

Did you know that all those newspapers that sprang up in Iraq after its liberation were paid for by you and me?

Well, we did, and we know now this because this morning brings a very good summary of Administration war aims from Prof. Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute.

He has pieced together his list from things that have leaked out or been reported over the last few months, as the Administration itself has never offered anything like it. Prof. Novak recognizes you might not want to let the enemy know everything, but, still, it is time an accounting should be offered. This is the second very helpful contribution by a conservative intellectual toward getting the Administration to explain itself a little better, the first being an editorial by Robert Kagan and William Kristol at the Weekly Standard.

As it happens, A Mind That Suits pulled all of Prof. Novak's writings on the war just last night, part of his attempt to rethink the entire war. (There were intended for an Italian audience, and reprinted on National Review Online.) If the Administration had talked a little more like Prof.Novak in March, the Kay report would not have been so embarrassing.

But back to the newspapers, a fascinating point. They were apparently part of the plan from the start. He identifies 16 points, and, with more or less plausibility, says that we have pretty well achieved 15 of them.

Towards the end of the article, he lists all the things that were missing from those plans. It is painful to point out that all the ones that were missing were most of the truly important ones.

Certain things he mentions the Administration had to plan for, even though it turned out they were not necessary, such as protecting the oil fields from sabotage and preparing large refugee camps. And certain things the Administration planned for but screwed up entirely, such as the introduction of a currency. (The first newly minted currency had Saddam's picture on it, let us remember.)

But is it too much to ask that the Administration's feet really get held to the fire over the woefully inadequate military planning?

Prof. Novak's list actually clarifies a lot. What is most clear, alas, is that different offices did their jobs better than others. And the one that did the worst was the one that decided to use a light army to accomplish a big task. That Pentagon study that came out last week got attention for the wrong reason. True, it showed Saddam only used the oil fields as a diversionary tactic, but the more interesting thing is that it may well be that what looked like Saddam's war plan was entirely a diversionary tactic, including the poor schlubs forced into combat at the point of a bayonet. He knew he would lose, and so he has always planned to get his regime back by subterfuge.

In other words, the US never really faced serious military opposition until we took Baghdad and the saboteurs went to work. This may well have included directing the rioters toward government buildings so they would destroy records, as at least one member of another study panel suggested some months ago. Though our plan of attack seems intelligent enough--skip the lesser cities and concentrate on oil fields, Basra, and Baghdad --"Liberation Lite" never really got tested even as a battle plan. Saddam may have used the old tactic of using our own strategy against us by not really starting the war until President Bush declared that it was over. Or perhaps he just had a very effective Plan B.

In either case, Saddam will probably fail. Many of the people attacking us now surely want to run the country themselves. Remember the pathetic turnout for the funerals of Saddam's miserable sons. But that does not mean we are destined to succeed.

Prof. Novak does not mention three important factors: first, the Administration has secured some of its positive goals only by completely abandoning "Liberation Lite." Donald Rumsfeld is still unconscionably an obstructionist on this point.

Second, the Administration acted as if it assumed things were going well through August, and did not prepare the public for its very sudden turn-around. Most of the conservative rank and file were shocked by the $87 billion request. Prof. Novak is somewhat dismissive of the importance of public persuasion at this particular moment, but regular readers know what this blog feels about that, and about the silence of the conservative press when it should have been preparing their readers for the inevitable.

The final issue is the one that Prof. Frederick Kagan covered admirably a month ago in the Weekly Standard: our army is now pinned down, and quite unable to go anywhere else and take on any more tasks. Congress is desperately trying to make our army larger, somehow, according to a report in this morning's Journal. Congress is receiving no cooperation from the Administration, which has apparently forgotten that Congress controls such things, as the Founders intended.

But in the meantime, we are stretched to the maximum.

When Osama bin-Laden or our other enemies are going to take advantage of that is anyone's guess, but it is not much of a guess that they will. Taking that into account should have been part of the war plan as well.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 8:41 AM



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