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Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Downing Street Memo 
The left-leaning Michael Kinsley is dismissive of the Downing Street Memo. With good reason.
Although it is flattering to be thought personally responsible for allowing a proven war criminal to remain in office, in the end I don't buy the fuss. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the left's revival. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it.

It takes, in short, what Hillary Clinton once called a vast conspiracy.



It also takes a year to plan a military campaign of that size. The idea that it's somehow a scandal that serious planning was underway 9 months before the war is just laughable.

And I regarded war with Iraq as inevitable by August of 2002, myself. Does that mean I was part of some frigging conspiracy? No. It meant I could read the ti leaves, and I could tell that Bush had staked his very presidency upon the disarming of Saddam, and Saddam was not going to budge, and he was never going to be in compliance with the Security Council resolutions, because his weapons program was just too huge to ever give a full accounting for. Nor would he comply witht the terms of the 1991 cease fire.

And it was clear by then, to any observer who looked beyond the very surface of the news, that Ansar Al Islam was flourishing in Northern Iraq, and neither the Kurds nor Saddam had the power or willingness to crush them. Only the U.S. was in a position to do that.

If I knew that, surely the White House knew that, too, and planned accordingly. It would have been beyond irresponsible not to plan.

Remember, by that time we were getting close to a 120 day window for the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division, the first elements hit Kuwait around October and the main body arrived in November 2003. Planning for the deployment would have been long underway even at the division and brigade levels. The next training cycle would have been planned for it.

It is no scandal that the Pentagon was already planning for the expected order to move as well.

It was that simple.

The breathless kvetching of the left is, as usual, off target.

At any rate, if war could have been avoided, it sure as heck wouldn't have been through a FAILURE to plan, now, could it?

Splash, out

Jason

P.S., Someone's going to write in saying "But...but...but...we managed to attack Afghanistan within two and a half months!"

Yes. But an armored and mechanized corps is several orders of magnitude more complex than a single light division. And that, plus some Air and special forces units, is about what we committed to Afghanistan.

The Army's light units are designed to be deployed quickly - and we can drop a full Airborne Brigade almost anywhere in the world within a week. With a division to follow shortly after that.

A mechanized or armored division, though, needs to negotiate and carefully plan not only for airlift, but for scarce rail space and cargo stock both in the US and at the point of debarkation, as well as extensive shipping. Both the shipping and the ports have limited throughput. And then you need to contract for trucking assets on the far side, or you need to ship your own trucks. Which takes up even more cargo space, and time.

Plus, the amount of ammunition, fuel, and spare parts, that need to be prestocked, even for a mechanized brigade, is mind-boggling.

Most people - most reporters, too - simply have no idea what it takes to move a brigade. Let alone a division. Let alone a corps.

The Administration was absolutely right to be planning for the war a year ahead of time, and planning for the eventuality of war, rather than planning that war would be averted. It was the responsible course of action.

Splash, out

Jason

Comments:
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Curious to your opinion (as an Iraq Veteran of the immediate post-war period) as to the other suggestion of the Downing Street Memo, that post-war planning was inadequate.

I'm of the opinion that there was obviously some planning, though perhaps not "enough" ... though I do not accept the prospect that any post-war difficulty is defacto proof of insufficient planning. Would love to hear your opinion.

=darwin
 
I have only seen one reference in comments somewhere in the blogosphere about the sentence that has everyone's shorts in a knot, about fixing intelligence around the threat of WMDs.

In British English, a very common meaning of the verb "to fix," is the sense of attaching or organize or set soemthing in place. Rarely would you hear a speaker of British English (especially a well educated one), use the term fix instead of "repair."

"Fix" in the sense of to correct or "fraudulently set in place with the intent to deceive (ala "The Sting") is uniquely American.

It is entirely possible, and indeed likely, that the Minister and his staff who composed the text of this memo were in fact referring to the important and necessary step of marshalling arguments for the decision in the making.

Just my two cents. I am not at all surprised that the highly literate anti-war types are conveniently ignoring other possible (and more likely) meanings of the text.
 
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