Miscalculation?


The pundits have made much of the fact that the administration, while its military surprisingly quickly defeated the Iraqi military, apparently had no clue with regard to the handling of post-battle Iraq. Their barbs have not been without some justification, particularly since both the intelligence and military planners at least seemed to think the Iraqis would welcome their liberators with open arms and high-fives (or manly kisses, a la Arab-style) and join them in speedy reconstruction efforts at self-government and constructive efforts regarding physical infrastructure.

There was an initial modicum of welcome by probably the vast majority of Iraqis, especially Shi'ites and Kurds, but that welcome grew thin in short order, not least because of the almost genetic hatred that Muslims have for everyone else, as well as for each other often (accruing to what Baptists in this country might call doctrinal differences). As has been the case in Iraq, they count killing the infidel, especially an American, as the only act of murder more gratifying than killing each other (making them at least a bit different from the Baptists).

The pundits err in making such a big thing of the miscalculation by the administration vis-à-vis what the Iraqis consider occupation, not liberation. They are joined in this election year by the democrat leaders, who will play upon any theme, appearing even to wish for American failure, to win the presidency from the hated Bush. They also rose up against Bush's father regarding Desert Storm, so Bush I just bypassed them and went to the UN, where he put together a magnificent coalition and engineered the freedom of Kuwait. The UN did not accommodate Bush II, due in large part to the vested interests in Iraq of Security Council holdouts such as France and Russia, thus requiring a reversal by Bush II in bypassing the UN and getting authorization from even congressional democrats, John Kerry among them.

The notion that calculations regarding armed conflict, both during and after its waging, can be determined with specificity is foolish, as found in the lessons of history. In the Civil War, Lincoln went through generals like a knife though hot butter before finding one, U.S. Grant, who had both the will and the skill to fight. Southern General Lee might have done better at Gettysburg, except that his eyes and ears, the cavalry of Jeb Stuart, was unavailable and could not tell him where the Union army was. The bloody battle of Perryville, Ky., was sort of accidental as each army was searching for water. These facts, among a plethora of others, are examples of unintended consequences, notwithstanding all efforts at making accurate calculations.

Perhaps the worst miscalculation of World War II was simply that no one expected the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning, especially since Japanese representatives were in Washington that day dealing with an agreement/ultimatum or whatever. In the fall of 1944, American troops in Europe talked of being home by Christmas, but then came the "Battle of the Bulge," the Germans mounting a magnificent offensive that caught the Allies completely by surprise and eventuated in a horrible loss of lives and extending the war deep into 1945. Despite a ferocious bombardment designed to wreck Japanese forces on the island of Iwo Jima, American troops suffered 6,821 deaths in the 36-day battle in February 1945. The Japs, surprisingly, were totally dug in, hardly fazed by the incessant shelling, and nearly all the more than 20,000 of them were killed in the deadly fight to the finish. Who would have thought it?

In 1950, most commanders in Korea shared General MacArthur's confidence during the fall that the Korean Conflict would be over by Christmas. Then came the Chinese, who MacArthur thought would be used for defense only. He miscalculated and the war dragged on until August 1953, with great loss of American lives. With members of Congress predicting American deaths in the thousands in 1991 in the fight to free Kuwait, the ground war was over in 100 hours, with few casualties. Who would have thought it?

The main-media pundits, most of them in the Kerry camp, bewail an alleged absence of DETAILS with regard to the Iraq conflict, even though the president set out as recently as his speech at the War College on 24 May his five points of transition from the current circumstance to Iraqi sovereignty, with a dedicated date of 30 June as the initial turnover of critical systemic operations from the USA to a governing Iraqi council. The pundits are joined by leading democrats who seem to exhibit foolish notions that wars are fought on computers, predictable right down to the number of bullets used, casualties, etc.

This is probably the only armed conflict this country has experienced in which an entrenched political party has engaged in a rancorous partisanship that undermines the military effort, masquerading its rationale for same as some sort of lack by the administration of a PLAN. The nadir in this propaganda barrage was reached when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared that (paraphrased) Bush is inexperienced and as dumb as a gourd. Besides making herself look foolish, she discredited her party and the House…and, of course, furnished no details, calculations, or predictions of Iraqi behavior, computerized or otherwise. Even worse, she trivialized the work of those who, unlike her, are voluntarily in harm's way. Disgusting!

May 2004