Interesting post by Matthew Yglesias on the Iraq war:
The past week saw a lot of “what did I get wrong”-type articles about Iraq and they frequently put me in the mind of the incompetence dodge. I note that one frequent way in which people argue for the proposition that poor execution, rather than an underlying flawed concept, are at the root of the Iraq disaster is to simply observe that mistakes were made in Iraq. For example, here’s my colleague Jeffrey Goldberg:
What the world is confronting five years after the invasion—the mess that Gen. David Petraeus is attempting to clean up today—was almost entirely preventable. It’s not only my encounters, inside Iraq and outside, with senior figures of the Bush administration that have convinced me of this; the investigations conducted by George Packer, Tom Ricks, Bob Woodward, and Michael Gordon, among others, have unearthed thousands—literally thousands—of mistakes made by this administration, most of which were avoidable.
What I wonder is what kind of evidence could disprove this line of reasoning. Suppose we were looking back on some military venture that was doomed to fail. Now suppose some supporter of that venture were arguing to us that, no, it wasn’t doomed at all — the trouble was the incompetence. The supporter can even find all these examples of incompetence — why here are all these decisions that got made! And the decisions worked out poorly! How inept! How dare you say it was doomed to fail? I mean of course a group of people who set out to do something unreasonable are going to wind up implementing their agenda poorly. What would a flawlessly-executed but doomed-to-failure war look like?
My argument would be that almost all wars seem “doomed to fail” from the outset (almost, since I can’t believe any honest individual thought we couldn’t win in Iraq). Who would of thought, in the late 30’s, that Hitler could of accomplished so much and taken over much of Europe? Most people would of said it was doomed to fail from the beginning. No way the man could take over almost all of Europe and driven deep into Russia. But everyone was proven wrong. Yes, he was eventually beaten, many years later, and AFTER he had taken all the terrortority no one thought he could take.
Wars are never neat and tidy affairs seeing as how your opponent also wants to win and will adapt to your strategies to gain the advantage. Having hindsight is always nice, in the real world we don’t have the luxury of it. You plan for what you think will happen, when it doesn’t then you need to adapt. One thing they beat into our heads while in the Marine Corps was that you always “adapt and overcome,” which is exactly what happened in Iraq.
One other point….who in their right mind would of thought that Iraq was doomed to fail? The best trained military in the world with the best soldiers in the world carrying the best weaponry in the world was going to get beat by Iraq?
Come on…..if we want to win there is no doubt we will win.
Our enemy understood they couldn’t beat us militarily (well, they did after getting their asses handed to them) and they adapted. They used the North Vietnamese method of turning the peaceniks loose hoping we lose the will to win……hasn’t worked yet, thankfully. But its a neverending battle making sure the Democrats and their cohorts in the MSM are not allowed to dictate what the truth is, as they were able to do in Vietnam.