Rumsfeld vs. The Military: Part II — Why?

Old Blog Import

Here is a good piece by Slate’s Mickey Kaus about why Rumsfeld would want to send less troops than the military thought was necessary (Scroll down to Sunday, March 30, 2003″):

If regime change” in Iraq were the only goal, there’d be no reason not to provide plenty of soldiers to do the job, with an ample margin of safety. But regime change in Iraq isn’t the only goal. Rather, neocons in the Bush administration see the Iraq campaign as the opening move in a series of potential power plays that might involve at least credibly threatening military action against Syria, North Korea, Iran, and maybe even Saudi Arabia. The first two threats have already, in fact, been issued (and I’m not saying there aren’t good reasons to want to be able to intimidate some of these countries — e.g. North Korea — even while fighting an Iraq-sized war).

If we can take Iraq only with a huge, heavy force –or if the Powell Doctrine that we should use overwhelming force even if we don’t need it still applies — well, we can’t very credibly claim that we can take on (or take over) all these other countries at the same time, or even in rapid succession, can we? But if we can topple a heavily-defended government in Iraq with a light, quick non-Powellesque force — using but a small portion of our strength — then taking on multiple targets suddenly becomes a real possibility, and a real threat to regimes in Tehran, Damascus, and Pyongyang.

That&#8217;s why the slowdown in Iraq (and the coming furor over &#8220;troop dilution&#8221;) is a <b>bigger blow to the neocons than the actual military situation on the ground, which doesn&#8217;t seem that bad, might indicate</b>. </blockquote> 

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