Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...Turn and Face the Strain...

Interesting. The President sits for an interview with the WaPo and acknowledges, for the first time, we aren’t winning in Iraq.

President Bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the "stressed" U.S. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.

More interesting, to me, is Dubya’s acknowledgement that the military is “stressed” and needs to grow to meet current and future challenges.

A substantial military expansion will take years and would not immediately affect the war in Iraq. But it would begin to address the growing alarm among commanders about the state of the armed forces. Although the president offered no specifics, other U.S. officials said the administration is preparing plans to bolster the nation's permanent active-duty military with as many as 70,000 additional troops.

A force structure expansion would accelerate the already-rising costs of war.

There’s a lot in this article that’s speculation, but there’s more than a little bit of substance, as well. One of the issues the military establishment had with Rumsfeld was his insistence on transformation as he visualized it: “light and mobile,” as opposed to “strength in numbers,” or brute force. There is a middle ground, but apparently Rummy resisted any increase in permanent end-strength of the Army and Marines. That appears to be changing with Rumsfeld’s departure. It will take time to build up the Army, and it’s gonna take a lot of money, especially when one factors in the costs of replacing worn out or blown up equipment. And that’s not even considering the aging inventories of combat aircraft in the Air Force and Navy, a substantial problem in its own right.

The cost is the sticky bit. How do we pay for this expansion? I submit it’s past time to recognize war has costs above and beyond normal government expenditures. We’ve been doing this war on terror thing on the cheap for the past five years, and Dubya ain’t doing us any favors by prosecuting the war in this manner. It’s time for additional revenue, whether it’s in the form a ten cents per gallon “temporary” gas tax, war bonds, or an income tax surcharge. Pay as you go… Ya know?

Rich Lowry wrote a column yesterday at National Review that is getting a LOT of comment from the right side of the ‘sphere. Here are a couple of reasons why:

The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit. It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives.

In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances. Being primed to consider any military conflict a quagmire and another Vietnam is a drawback when covering a successful U.S. military intervention, but not necessarily in Iraq. Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.

Partly because he felt it necessary to counteract the pessimism of the media, President Bush accentuated the positive for far too long. Bush allowed himself to be cornered by his media critics. They wanted him to admit mistakes, so for the longest time, he would admit none. They wanted him to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so for too long he kept him on. They wanted him to abandon “stay the course,” so he stuck to it. In so doing, he eroded his own credibility and delayed making the major strategic readjustment he needed to try to check the downward slide in Iraq.

Lowry makes some danged good points and I agree with his premise, for the most part. A couple of perceptive folks on the right provide some needed balance and perspective to Lowry’s comments, though, and Jules Crittenden is one of those guys:

He (ed: Lowry) is talking about trees, and a couple of thickets. What he misses is the forest. The pervasive underlying assumptions and perspective that taint many Associated Press reports and those in other major newspapers and broadcasts.

Chief among them is the notion that we remain a nation at peace, with a bit of a global crime problem, engaged in elective wars, and the notion that adversarial reporting should proceed full steam ahead regardless of any immediate or potential consequences (google New York Times treason).

Another example is the pervasion disinformation campaign that suggests Saddam Hussein was an manufactured threat, ignoring the actual history, what was believed by every major intelligence agency at the time, the image he was successfuly projecting, and the very real consequences of the collapse of sanctions. Another example is the fast and loose use of terms such as "torture," eagerness to amplify any U.S. misdeed, and the unequal standards of coverage applied to matters such as harsh U.S. interrogation techniques, as opposed the relative lack of horror and matter-of-fact coverage of true atrocities committed by Islamic terrorists.

All of that said, an important point Lowry makes is that you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Every one of the news organizations that are routinely bashed by me and others also provide important information.

Captain Ed adds: “I suspect that Lowry has it more right than many of us in the blogosphere would like to admit.” I agree.

All three articles are worth the read. And by the way…I agreed with Laurie when she said Jules Crittenden gets her vote for “Best New Blog” in the recently concluded 2006 Weblog Awards. The guy’s good.

Picked this link up from a commenter at Lex’s place. I think I’ll do a bit of shopping here… (Note to SNs 1&2: When it comes to Christmas gifts you could do much worse than selecting an item or two from this site.)

The weather has changed considerably since I put the photos up this morning. Those crystal-clear skies have been replaced by a wooly gray overcast and almost-howling winds…on the order of 28 mph or so, steady, with gusts in the 30+ mph range. It’s not warmed up a lot, but enough so that I’m being alternately entertained and startled by the tink-crack-THUNK sounds of ice falling on the roof of El Casa Móvil De Pennington. Looks like an entertaining sort of day, weather-wise.


  1. In a news conference that I saw, Bush said that we are not winning the war, but we are not losing it either. It is sort of double-talk, but most of the media left off the last part of his statement and focused on the first part - which probably means little, but I thought I would point it out.

  2. We heard loud thunks all day here. Thought one of my barn cats had snuck into the garage. Finally figured out it was ice falling onto the roof. The wind this morning was a pain to drive the kids to school in. At least now school is out for a couple of weeks.

    Thank you for the welcome. Next time I see you (or someone that looks like you), I will say hi. Actually, I'll say "Buck" and if that person doesn't turn around, I'll assume it wasn't you. LOL!

  3. I saw the same news conference, too, Lou. And you're right. If you read what Captain Ed wrote, he mentioned Dubya was dabbling in double-speak, which is sorta dangerous for someone of Dubya's limited linguistic abilities. I love the guy to death, but dang, I wish he were more articulate...

    Jenny said: I'll say "Buck" and if that person doesn't turn around, I'll assume it wasn't you. LOL!

    That'll work! I hope we run into each other soon!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.