Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Choice Between Myth and Reality

Victor Davis Hanson writes yet another great piece in NRO today. Here is a taste:

This war was always a gamble, but not for the reasons many Americans think. We easily had, as proved, the military power to defeat Saddam; we embraced the idealism and humanity to eschew realpolitik and offer something different in the place of mass murder. And we are winning on all fronts at a cost that by any historical measure has confirmed both our skill and resolve.

But the lingering question — one that has never been answered — was always our attention and will. The administration assumed that in occasional times of the inevitable bad news, we were now more like the generation that endured the surprise of Okinawa and Pusan rather than Tet and Mogadishu. All were bloody fights; all were similarly controversial and unexpected; all were alike proof of the fighting excellence of the American soldiers — but not all were seen as such by Americans. The former were detours on the road to victory and eventual democracy; the latter led to self-recrimination, defeat, and chaos in our wake.

The choice between myth and reality is ours once more.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Would that also be the generation that devoted something like 150% of GDP to fight the war, and had general conscription, price controls, rationing, and didn’t ask for or get tax cuts?

If we’re going to be the generation of Okinawa and Peleliu and Pusan, someone had better tell the administration to start treating us like that generation.

If the administration believes that we’re that generation, then why did they lowball the cost of war? Remember, Iraqi oil revenues were supposed to pay for the operations. Why send in a smaller force than necessary to be sure that the transition could be done properly?

I’m sorry, but I can’t help but see this "strengthen our resolve" line as a mere election-year corollary to the "steady leadership in times of change" message. The administration has not shown that it has trust in the American people’s willingness to engage in the sacrifices necessary to pull off a successful transition in Iraq.

Hmmm, let’s see. Conscription -- nope, already got a professional military that’s vastly more effective. Price controls -- well if we can find any inflation, we’ll think about ’em (same goes for rationing of non-scarce commodities). As this is hardly an industrial "total" war against other industrial powers, and we’re a vastly vastly richer nation than in 1941, spending 150% on the war might be a bit showy. Doing "the transition properly" wasn’t and isn’t a matter of troop numbers (or "planning"), it was and is about judgement calls, tactical approaches, and above all the performance of Iraqis in helping/hurting their own cause. Americans are willing and have provided ample resources for success in Iraq, the trick has been and remains applying those resources.

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