There seems to be yet another explanation for why the Pentagon sent a fighting force into Iraq which was both smaller and less armor-laden than one conventional military doctrine seemed to call for. And this isn't coming from some pundit or talking head, but from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs himself, General Richard Myers.
They had to undergun the force for the sake of diplomacy. Here's a snippet from the transcript of today's briefing ...
You know, we went in there with some very sophisticated objectives. We had diplomacy under way at the United Nations; we wanted to deploy a sufficient force, but not the kind of force that would make it look like diplomacy didn't have a chance to work. So we had to work that piece.
On the one hand he's saying there was a "sufficient force." But he's also at least implicitly conceding that it was not an overwhelming force, or
at least not as much as you might have wanted. (What you always hear from war-planner types is that this isn't football. You don't want to win 21-7. You want to win 100-0. You want overwhelming
It seems to me that there are at least two problems with this new argument.
Problem number one is that this is precisely the opposite of the model we were supposedly working on. Going into this, the idea was that we hadn't decided on war. But we wanted to make the threat of war as credible as possible. Why make it less credible with an insufficient fighting force? Or why would a larger fighting force be a problem, since the theory of our diplomacy was to make the threat of war as credible as possible? It's hard for me to see how this argument doesn't fall short just on grounds of simple logic.
Now, let's grant that it was an insufficient fighting force, or at least one that lacked the sort of overwhelming power we wanted. If it was an insufficient fighting force, why didn't we wait a few weeks to bring it up to speed after we'd made the decision for war? Especially with the surprise of no northern (i.e., Turkish) front?
I can imagine a possible response to this argument. The window of time between when you declare your intention to go to war and when you actually do it is a very dangerous period. That's when you run the risk of preemptive attacks and so forth. Still, why pull the trigger with an insufficient force on hand? The argument either doesn't make sense or the policy is really irresponsible.
There's a backdrop problem in play here too. This new rationale leads us to the conclusion that the very structure of the fighting force was rigged, at least to some degree, to suit the needs of diplomacy. And yet pretty much everyone thinks we didn't really quite have our hearts in the diplomacy at all. Or, perhaps better to say, our diplomacy was geared toward getting us into war on the most favorable terms. If that's so (and I think it is) why would we under-gun our military force to serve diplomatic objectives if the purpose of the diplomacy was to get us into war on the best possible footing? It just doesn't make sense. It's a logical contradiction.