Less Than Meets the Eye in “Pentagon Story”

SWJ Blog is reporting that the story being trumpeted earlier today that declared the situation in Iraq “a major debacle” is misleading, to say the least:

The Miami Herald piece on a NDU “occasional paper” (Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath), quoted alternately as a Pentagon or NDU study, raised some flags here at SWJ. So we asked the author, Joseph Collins, to provide some context. His reply…

That’s followed by a lengthy quote from Mr. Collins. Here’s the meat of the quote:

…the implication of the Herald story was that this study was mostly about current events. Such is not the case. It was mainly about the period 2002-04.

This is followed by a summary of the actual findings of the study.

Nota bene

4 comments… add one
  • Have you read the study, Dave? I don’t think the author’s “clarification” makes much sense. He mentions his own service from 2002 to 2004, but he does not seem to me to limit his analysis to that period. In fact he opens by talking about 3700 US deaths — a more recent stat.

    And he absolutely lays the blame primarily on Rumsfeld.

  • No, I haven’t read the study (although I’m told it’s interesting). And I don’t give a darn about Rumsfeld one way or another. There’s plenty of directions to point fingers in.

    What I am interested in is the “debacle” point. While that’s a reasonable characterization for how things looked up until the last four or so months, I think the better characterization for how things look now is “discouraging.”.

    My view continues to be what it has been for some time: that the invasion was an error, that practically everything since the invasion was pretty predictable, and that nobody has any idea of how to keep a damper on things other than by leaving a bunch of our soldiers in Iraq.

    I’ve been worrying that last point using every resource I’ve been able to muster, coming at it from every angle, and I continue to end up at the same point: pulling our troops out will have worse consequences than letting them stay in.

    But I continue to be persuadable on this. Lord knows I’d like to come up with a different answer. So far most haven’t tried to persuade me, just browbeat me which by temperament motivates me to dig in my heels. Others express a greater indifference to the outcome than I’m able to muster. Or they deluge me with an enormous torrent of fallacies and counterfactuals.

  • I can’t make a convincing logical argument for pulling out — or for staying in. We’re in the area of intuition, guesswork. All possible courses of action are fraught with downsides.

    My own feeling — and that’s all it is — is that we’re now providing the moral equivalent of a welfare state for Iraq’s government, depriving them of urgency, diluting their responsibility for their own situation. But that’s a 51/49 judgment, not something I’d want to stake my life on.

    Of course we are staking lives on our collective judgment, aren’t we?

  • Right at this moment my belief is that if we pulled out of Iraq rather than motivating the factions to arrive at a political solution it would motivate them to grab for all they could get, with a substantial attendant increase in carnage. I wish there were a better solution than what we’re doing but I don’t see it.

Leave a Comment