Our Secret Weapon: The French!


So says deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz in explaining why the Army chief of staff is so wrong about the number of U.S. troops that will be needed to occupy Iraq.

Gen. Eric Shinseki told Congress the other day that a couple hundred thousand men would be needed to secure Iraq. Wolfowitz and his boss, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, say that is nuts. No more than 100,000 will do the job.

Wolfowitz asserted that eventually even the French will come around to help rebuild Iraq. He also claimed that unlike the Balkans, there is no evidence that ethnic groups inside Iraq will go after each other as soon as Saddam is gone. Finally, Wolfowitz is quite certain the Iraqi people will embrace a short-term U.S. occupation.

Now even if you think Wolfowitz is some sort of strategic genius, you must admit he is just making stuff up. He has no evidence one way or another on these points and is simply choosing to go with the best possible scenario. Shinseki went with worst-case planning. Here's where things get dangerous.

The last time a cadre of smartest-guy-in-the-room civilians brushed aside uniformed opinion with such obvious disdain Robert McNamara's Detroit whiz kids were certain keeping rice paddies free of punji sticks was just a few slide-rule tics away.

Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld are so close now—mere weeks—to the prize that they aren't going to let inconvenient facts get in the way. The only open question is which one used to be named Merkwurkdigliebe.

NEXT: Who Am I?

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  1. Yep, I’m convinced this is the worst administration since Johnson. It took us 20 years to recover our international prestige. And we were just beginning to get out from under our addiction to the tax and spend habit. Thirty years of recovery blown away like so much dust in the wind.

  2. I believe firmly that this invasion will be paid for just like every other empire did it. Plunder the country and send the loot home.

    This administration has avoided the “O” word like the plague. When it’s over, though, and the bean counters in congress are staring at deficits as far as the eye can see, they will assess a Liberation Tax on Iraq; one they will pay in oil.

    But they can’t say that right now.

  3. just as long as there isn’t a mine shaft gap or that we don’t have to answer to the coca-cola company!

    is there a real reason for attacking iraq? securing the oil so saudi arabia, the “real problem”, can be next? or something like that? This “link to terror” is weaker than airplane coffee. And if it is self defense, who gives what the europeans think, anyhow?

    Warren, I agree with your assessment, but do you think we would have done better with Gore in there? Clinton’s foreign policy was so terrible, his “european kneepads” spiels over there really helped the euros get complaining rights without any responsibilities…. World court? Kyoto? jeez! those are pretty bad, too!

    and Lefty, of course the administration would avoid the “O” word. This is one, after all, whose chief thug, Ashcroft (I’m sayin’ this while it’s still allowed — PATRIOT III will forbid stuff like that, of course) covers up statues because they’re better hung or something. Naturally, “orgasm” would be a naughty word for them!!!

    happy friday!

  4. Hmm. Maybe we can tax their orgasms, too.

    Have a great weekend.

  5. Once again, I have to agree with Warren. I’ve tried really hard to see the upside of this administration, but I’ve given up. There isn’t one. I’ve voted Libertarian in most elections, and viewed Republicans as the lesser of two evils, primarily because I disagreed with them less on tax policy.

    But I never really imagined that we’d end up with a president (Rep or Dem) that would be so hell-bent on an all-out war of aggression, and that matters more than tax policy.

    As to David’s comments, I agree that Clinton’s foreign policy sucked, and that with Gore we might not be any better off…however, I seriously doubt if Gore would have a Rumsfeld or Cheney or Ashcroft in his administration. I don’t wish Gore was in charge in retrospect, but my opposition to the war is enough to cause me to seriously consider backing an anti-war Democrat (probably Howard Dean) in ’04. Hopefully a Republican congress could keep taxes from getting out of control and we could back away from this war madness.

    But by ’04 it might be too late for that.

  6. Lefty, you are giving this administration too much credit.

    After the U.S. liberates Iraq, we will feel sorry for them and the “new” regime will still be a fully-cooperative OPEC regime rather than a free market one as far as oil is concerned, so they will have subsidized oil to help defray the costs of their reconstruction.

    Did we get a Liberation Discount from Kuwait?

    In essence, any Liberation Tax will likely be paid for by Americans.

  7. Four points: First of all, civilian vs. military opinion has a mixed history. The military was right on Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs, but the civilians were right on Gulf War I and pre-Pearl-Harbor support of the UK.

    Secondly, McNamara’s error lay in telling the military how to fight a war. That’s not relevant to this; the scenario under discussion is post-war occupation of a peaceful nation. That dramatically limits the disaster potential, since in a worst-case scenario we just pack up and go the hell home.

    Thirdly, you have no basis for claiming Shinseki went with “worst-case planning”. He didn’t say “hundreds of thousands” was a worst-case scenario; he said it was the LIKELY scenario. Maybe he meant “worst-case”, but if he did he should have said so.

    Finally, the number of troops that will be required is far more dependent on many factors, from military necessity to local politics to international assistance. Of the two men, the one most likely to have the best grasp of all the relevant factors is Rumsfeld, not Shinseki.

  8. hey Brian-

    my brother in law works on the dean campaign. but you’re right — i don’t think that a gore presidency would give us such beauties as USA PATRIOT (although the dems allowed for it to happen), it’s follow-up, TIPS, TIA, etc.

    Lefty- maybe some people would use “tacks” instead of “tax” and sue…..

    great weekend!

  9. “Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld are so close now — mere weeks — to the prize that they aren’t going to let inconvenient facts get in the way.”

    What facts? You didn’t cite any facts.

    You should try to remain at least coherent if you write for a website called “Reason.”

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