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Hanson’s questions

Posted by Richard on November 21, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson’s November 17 column is a must read. He asked the kind of questions and raised the issues that ought to be at the heart of the public debate about Iraq, but that are being largely ignored. Regarding the suggestion that we need more troops in Iraq, Hanson countered that first someone needs to explain exactly how they would help the situation. He doubted that they would unless the rules of engagement were changed — and if those rules were changed, Hanson argued, more troops wouldn’t be needed. He noted that in Vietnam, the U.S. military successfully fought a force well over twice it’s size, and in Iraq:

Even generous estimates of the number of insurgents in Iraq conclude there are about 10,000 active killers — a fraction of just the irregulars in the south of Vietnam alone. Why then, when the numerical disparities are so much more favorable to our cause than during the Vietnam War, are we, rather than our vastly outnumbered enemies, lamenting the paucity of troops? That we have not secured the country may be due to the limitations put on our soldiers rather than their number; and to our preference for conventional rather than counter-insurgency fighting.

Hanson had some tough questions for the proponents of "redeploying" troops, too:

Are Americans ready to accept tens of thousands of refugees into the United States when those reformers who believed we’d stay and protect them are targeted for death? And what would we do if Turkey threatens Kurdistan with invasion once its patron has abandoned it?

And where, in a new region of jihadist ascendancy, are troops to be redeployed to? Other Middle East countries? What Middle Eastern illegitimate autocrat would want to host a retreating and defeated American army, a sort of modern version of Xenophon’s orphaned Ten Thousand? Indeed, the problem would not be redeployment to a nearby host kingdom, but just maintaining Centcom forces where they are now, once the Arab Street smells blood and adjusts to an Islamic victory. If IEDs worked in Iraq, why not also in Kuwait and Qatar?

But perhaps most importantly, Hanson thought we should consider the nature of and reasons for the "unbalanced reporting" of this war. He wondered if it was just the American media’s desire to hurt Republicans and the Europeans’ desire to take the U.S. down a notch, or if there was something deeper:

Or is the bias a more general result of a Western elite so deeply conflicted about its own culture, and so fundamentally unable to define its own civilization, that it either doesn’t care whether it wins, or in fact wishes that the West lose in Iraq?

One can grasp that generic hypocrisy by reviewing all the journalists’ charges leveled against Gulf War I — too much realpolitik; too much pay-as-you-go war thinking; too much Colin Powell and James Baker and not enough Paul Wolfowitz; too much worry about stability and not enough about millions of poor Kurds and Shiites; too much worry about empowering Iran. Then compare those charges to those leveled against Gulf War II — too much naïve idealism; too much expense in lives and treasure; not enough Colin Powell and James Baker and too much Paul Wolfowitz; too little worry about regional stability and too much given to ungovernable Iraqis; and too little thought about empowering Iran.

Whatever the U.S. does, Hanson observed, it’s going to be deemed wrong by the liberal media elites. He had some interesting thoughts about the reasons for that, but it’s something that should be discussed and explored further. As should all the issues and questions Hanson raised.

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One Response to “Hanson’s questions”

  1. VRB said

    I would say there should be more troupes, so there could be more rotation, to shortened the combat tour.

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