November 11, 2006

SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED to thank me for linking Bill Stuntz’s piece on what we should be doing in Iraq that I’m going to link it again, since it’s scrolled down a lot and could easily be missed in the post-election buzz.

I also recommend this post by Armed Liberal. (“Elections are sexy and easy. Infrastructure, institutions and laws are boring and hard.”) And read this by Westhawk, too, on the wider war-on-terror situation.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian and Andrew Sullivan (who are sounding more alike in general these days) are both charging me with a change in positions on troop numbers. It seems to me that neither Greg nor Andrew should be casting the first stones regarding changed positions, but here’s the post that they claim shows “scorn” for the more-troops argument. Here’s what I wrote:

Greg thinks we need enough American troops to physically protect all the polling places in a country the size of California. That strikes me as a very unwise allocation of military assets. McCain and Hagel think we need a bigger army, and they may be right. But as I noted, the way you get a bigger army is to create one, and if McCain and Hagel think the need is that screaming why haven’t they introduced legislation to do that, instead of simply calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation? I don’t think that getting rid of Rumsfeld is likely to yield any additional troops.

So where are they going to come from? The “more boots on the ground” folks don’t seem to be doing much talking about that. (This post from The Belmont Club notes that it’s not as easy as it sounds.) We could enlarge the Army (probably a good idea, but it won’t produce any new combat formations for a year or more, probably more if the new formations are to be any good), or we could send troops from somewhere else. Where? Korea? Europe?

I remain unconvinced that we need more troops in Iraq. Afghanistan saw successful elections with far fewer U.S. troops. I’m not convinced that we don’t, but we’d need a million troops to blanket all the polling places,and we’re not going to have that. So what’s the mission? Just as one seldom wins a war by slapping armor on everything (and no army in history has armored all its soldiers and transport vehicles), one seldom wins a war by dispersing forces to lots of locations in a “prevent” defense. That seems to be what the “more troops” crowd has in mind, but it strikes me as a poor idea.

It’s quite hard for me to judge Rumsfeld’s performance, but it’s not so hard for me to see that a lot of the attacks on Rumsfeld seem to be opportunistic and dishonest (something that Greg freely admits). That has no doubt colored my evaluation of the case for his resignation, but I’d welcome some explanation of why, say, a Secretary McCain would do a better job. Tom Maguire sides with Greg, tentatively, but there are some interesting arguments in both posts’ comment sections.

This is “scorn?” (And see the update at the bottom!) It seems rather temperate to me, particularly compared to the kinds of things that Andrew and Greg are writing today — or, for that matter, the kinds of things they were writing in the other direction, a few years ago. I don’t really think that my link to Stuntz’s post is exactly “breathless,” either.

This pattern of misrepresenting posts is the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect from certain lefty bloggers, but it’s too bad to see it from Andrew and Greg.

MORE: Greg Djerejian emails to note that it’s Andrew Sullivan who says I was “scornful,” while it was Greg who said that I was “carrying water” for Rumsfeld.

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