Thursday 28 October 2004

How would Kerry do in Iraq?

If you've got the time to read it, look at this huge post at Belgravia Dispatch about what Kerry could have done differently in Iraq up till now and what he could do differently from now on, and about the many examples of Bush recognising his administration's fuck-ups and redressing them.

Review Kerry's long voting record (his hyper-reticence to use American forces (or even proxies) overseas whether Desert Storm, Bosnia, Central America and so on--save the uber-safe Kosovo vote and disingenuous Iraq position). Think of how his Vietnam stance reveals much about his worldview. Think of wrong war wrong place wrong time. Ask yourself, will he see Iraq through given such rhetoric? Given his voting record over the decades? Given, as best we can espy it, his worldview? Given his snub of 'parrot' Allawi? I could go on. But I think the answer is pretty clear. It's, much more than likely, a no.

... does anyone believe Kerry is more likely to increase our troop posture in Iraq than Bush? Or really 'train and equip' better (someone smart on T.V., if there are any anchors so capable, needs to dig in the weeds with a Susan Rice about how, precisely, a Kerry team will train and equip Iraqi forces better than currently underway).

Would the party of Howard Dean go for this? Would John 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time' Kerry authorize the deployment of an extra 50,000 GIs to Iraq (recall, he explicitly mentioned that any increases to the size of our military did not entail increases to our force posture in Iraq). Bottom line: the most critical mistake of the Iraq war, namely that we never had enough forces in theater, is more likely to be effectively redressed by Bush than Kerry.


Bush has shown flexibility in his war tactics. He did so with Sadr (successfully, so far). He did so in Fallujah. He's adjusted forces levels up and down via rotation schedules and the like. He's tried to remedy supply chain issues and getting enough body armor and gear to theater. He make midcourse changes too by bringing in Brahimi to help with electoral modalities. He did so by bumping Garner for Bremer and than expediting Bremer's exit. Some of these changes were forced by events. Some were thought through. Some make sense. Some might prove to have been ill advised. But, again, Bush is not some raging Messiah who believes he possesses the Truth--facts be damned! (There's some pragmatic Harvard MBA in all that born-again evangelicalism!)

Read this piece from Mr Godsavethequeen too.

A contemporary army, especially the American, is utterly dependent on a continuous and massive flow of equipment, spare parts, specialised supplies of all kinds, fuel (again, of specialised types), etc. That has to be brought in from somewhere, usually from the US itself. A lot of it could be brought in by sea - but Iraq only has very limited capacity for unloading. A lot has been done to get Umm Qasr and Al Zubayr up and running ... But they still require a massive effort before they're working properly.


Hence the criticality of the airlift.

He links to this:

The airlift operation that has sup-ported US forces in Southwest Asia over the past three years now ranks among the most extensive in history. Taken together, the efforts in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom can be put in the same general class as US airlifts to Berlin (1948-49), Israel (1973), and the Persian Gulf (1990-91). And Air Mobility Command leaders expect no letup for at least another 18 months.

At the same time, the Air Force faces an acute airlift shortfall. The capability of the fleet used in the 2003 Iraq War was well short of requirement; the gap was at least 10 million ton miles per day. Today, AMC leaders say, the gap is wider—at least 15 MTM/D, perhaps 22 MTM/D.


It all adds up to an airlift fleet that is too small to carry the load and personnel who cannot maintain a breakneck pace forever.

This doesn't get Bush off the hook entirely, but it should be remembered that military investment is a long-term thing, and that therefore current American airlift capabilities are largely the responsibility of the Clinton administration — and probably Bush the Elder's reign, too. The question is: is Dubya doing anything to fix the situation? And the other question is: would Kerry? I'm not sure about the answer to the first question, but the answer to the second is a clear and resounding "No."

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