December 16, 2004


One interesting question as we debate the future of the world is the following -

Was the Iraq war doomed from the beginning?

By that I mean were the well-documented screw-ups of this administration responsible for the mess we are in now or was there no way to get Iraq right? Would we still have the bloody mess if Bushco made all the right moves? Peter Beinart is making the case that is was possible to get Iraq right:

But it wasn't inevitable that toppling Saddam would create widespread Iraqi anti-Americanism and a raging Sunni insurgency. Polls suggested that, in the immediate aftermath of Saddam's overthrow, Iraqis were far more grateful for the war--and far less hostile to the U.S. occupation--than they later became. The rapid souring was caused, above all, by Rumsfeld's refusal to provide enough troops to ensure security--a failure illustrated most dramatically in the spasm of looting that followed the U.S. victory. As the Rand Corporation's James T. Quinlivan has noted, at the beginning of the fairly successful Bosnia and Kosovo nation-building efforts, nato boasted more than 22 troops for every 1,000 local civilians. In Iraq, when Saddam fell, there were six.

Beinart wants to salvage the idea of the Liberal Hawk from the wreck of Iraq, which is an enterprise that I can totally get behind. But the troop ratio that he is talking about would mean over 480,000 troops in Iraq. We don't have the troops to do that. So, what would it have taken to get Iraq right and could we have done it with a non-feckless Defense Secretary?

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