Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In Praise of Thanatos?

Via Billmon, here's Michael Ledeen talking about the Iraq War - then in its early days in late March 2003 - as the initial signs of the trouble looming ahead were emerging. Ledeen unabashedly echoes some of the sentiments expressed in this post about the complex interplay of the human condition and war - in particular, that, on some level, humans enjoy war:

"I think the level of casualties is secondary. I mean, it may sound like an odd thing to say, but all the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war. . . . What we hate is not casualties but losing...."

Certainly, Ledeen's writings are consistent with this acknowledged affection for war. There are some other interesting tidbits from the March 2003 article as well. Here are Ledeen and William Kristol on the criteria for judging victory:

[Ledeen] argued [in March 2003], "if there is not a democratic government in Iraq in a year or so, we will have failed."

Kristol, in contrast, identified three tests of success or failure: victory over Hussein, discovering weapons of mass destruction and being judged as a liberator.

Not exactly a high batting average for the AEI Sluggers. Then again, Paul Wolfowitz thinks that the Iraqi people are just waiting for the right moment to shower us with the flowers and candies that they have been stockpiling in secret:

At the Pentagon...Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, argued earlier this week that the people of Iraq will voice their enthusiasm for the attack when they no longer feel threatened.

..."The Iraqi people are still not free to speak for themselves. Until this regime is gone, until the fear of Saddam and the other kinds of terrorists are gone, they're not going to be able to speak."

So, gratitude pending I guess. Still, the award for excellence in prognostication, analytical thinking and policy advocacy goes to Kenneth Adelman. Behold his genius:

Kenneth Adelman, a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, who in February 2002 wrote in The Washington Post:

"I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: 1) It was a cakewalk last time; 2) they've become much weaker; 3) we've become much stronger; and 4) now we're playing for keeps."

Hmmm. Cakewalk?

...Adelman defended his analysis. "I was not being casual," he said, contending that he was rebutting warnings that there would be thousands of deaths, that Scud missiles would rain down on our troops and on Israel, and there would be "an eruption of terrorism. . . . I think those things are refuted."

Adelman is right. The claim that Scud missiles would take out our troops and land in Israel has clearly been refuted. The "thousands of deaths" and "eruption of terrorism" parts? Not so much. But hey, one out of three ain't bad right. And when pondering the import of Scud attacks on Israel vs. close to three thousand US military deaths, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and a scourge of terrorism that has been spilling across Iraq's borders and touching Europe, I think it's safe to say that Adelman got the important things right.

But he saves the best for last:

Adelman said he stands by his 2002 assessment of the pros and cons of an assault on the Hussein government: "Measured by any cost-benefit analysis, such an operation would constitute the greatest victory in America's war on terrorism."


Keep in mind, these same guys have a plan for Iran they want to sell you. Wait till you hear the product specs:

It's gonna be cheap, easy, democracy will flourish, the Iranian people are going to love us for it and it will constitute one of the greatest victory's in America's war on terrorism.

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