April 30, 2004

ARE WE GOING TOO SOFT IN IRAQ? Some people think so. It seems that way to me, too, though I’m reluctant to make a judgment at this distance. But in my lifetime, at least, the United States has generally erred by not being violent enough, rather than by being too brutal.

UPDATE: “Too soft” seems to be the consensus around the blogosphere. And maybe it’s true — though it’s worth remembering that the daily reports of “explosions in Fallujah” for the past few weeks didn’t involve very much of our stuff being blown up, and that the amount of damage done to the enemy there is probably greater than news accounts suggest — but reader Tucker Goodrich emails:

After reading the article below, one can also interpret this as the Iraqis finally starting to take responsibility for the state of their country.

They don’t like us doing it, but they don’t want these people to succeed. That leaves them with one real choice, and it’s one we have to encourage if our experiment in Iraq is going to succeed. That sounds like the Marines’ attitude.

That’s right. As I say, I’m reluctant to second-guess the Marines on the scene with regard to this sort of thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Barbara Lerner says that it was Rumsfeld’s war, but it’s been Powell’s occupation.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Hohnbaum emails:

I was an officer in the military, and I’ve known a lot of Marines, and I don’t believe for a second that letting the Iraquis handle it was the Marines’ idea. I believe if they had their way they would have gone in weeks ago rather than calling it off and letting the insurgents dig in and set booby traps. To me this whole thing stinks of a real Vietnam analogy: the lack of political will in Washington to let the troops win the war. This is supposed to be a war on terror, and we have a lot of terrorists surrounded. Don’t tell me the Marines just want to walk away, because I don’t believe it.

Dang. I hope that’s wrong.