Day by Day

Thursday, November 20, 2003

David Warren has a thoughtful piece about the path behind and the path forward in Iraq.

Much balderdash has been written about the failure of Pentagon post-war planning. Three points about that:

First, while there were innumerable tactical plans, it was understood from the beginning that the U.S. would be facing an unprecedented situation in the occupation of Iraq, and that all such plans would have to be adapted by trial and error. This is the American strength, not weakness. The U.S. military learns lessons faster than any other in the field.

Second, the strategic plan has not been amended. It is on a scale larger than Iraq. The deposition of Saddam Hussein, the occupation, and the rebuilding of Iraq as an open society, are a means towards the end of changing the whole Middle East. This may be wildly ambitious, but it is what the Bush administration is attempting.

Third, far from having failed, the Pentagon tactical approach -- annihilating the enemy takes priority over winning "hearts and minds" -- has been vindicated by events in Iraq. Last May, it was the Pentagon arguing that the war wasn't over yet. Though I am simplifying for clarity, it was the State Department arguing that it was then time for the civilian types to take over from the military types and "win the peace" through the usual distribution of candy.
Read more here.

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