Saturday, July 07, 2007

Broken Army?

According to Joe Klein, our 20 combat brigades in Iraq will be reduced to 15 by August 2008 pretty much regardless of what Bush or anyone else wants. Apparently we just don't have the manpower to maintain current troop levels. The army, in short, is virtually broken. This link and some others here, at Metafilter.

I'm not a big fan of pointing to the alleged inevitability of defeat in Iraq. I've always thought that it was possible to win this war. I've also thought that many on the left have been defeatists because they were opposed to the invasion. Many on the left have been saying that we can't win because they don't like the war. They didn't have sufficient reason to actually believe that we couldn't, but they basically didn't want us to, so they vociferously asserted that we couldn't. Many conservatives, on the other hand, believe (or at least assert) that anyone who voices opposition to or skepticism about the war is a defeatist--that is, someone who is unjustifiably asserting that we'll lose. This, needless to say, is false. But conservatives are fond of attributing the worst motives to their political opponents...and the left is fond of supplying a steady stream of kooks and morons. And conservatives tend to then attribute the views of the lefty kooks to all liberals.

As a non-kooky opponent of invasion, I was strongly against going into Iraq but I thought we needed to win once we were in. And for a long time I thought that the information available to us was consistent with a reasonable possibility of winning. But by this point, the likelihood of victory seems to be diminishing every day. It's probably good if we as a country continue to talk victory until the end...but I think we must recognize that victory is unlikely.

And, on a more domestic note, we have to start gearing up to answer the inevitable charges that the country was "stabbed in the back" by liberals. This task would be easier if reasonable liberals had been harder on the defeatist left from the beginning...but that's a fairly minor point. So far as I can tell, most liberal opposition to the war was about as principled as popular positions ever are in politics. Sure, lots of liberals opposed the war for dumb reasons--but lots of conservatives supported the war for dumb reasons. But our dumb reasons were not as dumb as their dumb reasons, our smart reasons were smarter than their smart reasons, and, of course, we were right and they were wrong.

(And, with regard to the issue of the winnability of the war, by "we", of course, I mean most of you guys. Although the fact that we're probably going to lose doesn't mean that the war wasn't winnable it seems to give at least some support to the claim.)


Blogger Jim said...

Well, if "winnable" means that a stable Iraq could have been created given a sufficient investment of diplomacy, troops, time, and money, then it is quite possible that Iraq was winnable. (Although, given the divisions between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd within Iraq this is not a certain outcome even then.)

If "winnable" means "some significant likelihood that this administration would invest in the diplomacy, troops, time, and money required to have a chance of creating a stable Iraq" then the answer is no, Iraq was not winnable from the onset.

What evidence did we have about the willingness of Team Bush to ask for (and make) the sacrifices required to win?

When the 9/11 attacks occurred the only sacrifice Bush asked of us was to keep on shopping.

When Gen. Shinseki, the Army Chief of staff who had actually commanded an occupation in the past decade stated that Bush was sending insufficient troops for the occupation, he was given the traditional treatment of the bearer of bad tidings.

When it was clear that the war would be expensive (and not paid for by others, as was the Gulf War), Mr. Bush called for more tax cuts, and making his tax cuts permanent.

When Mr. Bush could not find sufficient cause to justify the invasion, he and his administration simply made shit up.

I see no evidence from 2002-3 suggesting that this administration was willing to pay the price and make the sacrifices required for the invasion of Iraq to be "winnable" over the long term.

Perhaps Winston will show me the evidence I have missed.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I got nothin...

11:29 PM  

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