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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, September 03, 2003



Let The Double Axels Begin

No, we are not judging an ice-skating competition; we are going to see how well Bush supporters (hmm, I am one) can spin these two reports:

U.S. rushed post-Saddam planning

A secret report for the Joint Chiefs of Staff lays the blame for setbacks in Iraq on a flawed and rushed war-planning process that "limited the focus" for preparing for post-Saddam Hussein operations.

The report, prepared last month, said the search for weapons of mass destruction was planned so late in the game that it was impossible for U.S. Central Command to carry out the mission effectively. "Insufficient U.S. government assets existed to accomplish the mission," the classified briefing said.


The second report is from the CBO, and tells us that:

Pentagon May Have to Reduce U.S. Forces in Iraq - CBO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration may have to cut U.S. troops in Iraq by more than half to keep enough forces to face other threats, a congressional agency said on Tuesday in a report that fueled calls for more international help for peacekeeping in Iraq.

The Congressional Budget Office said under current policies, the Pentagon would be able to sustain an occupation force of 38,000 to 64,000 in Iraq long term, down from the existing 150,000 that a number of lawmakers said is not enough to confront the spiraling violence.

Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who requested the CBO study, said it showed that President Bush's policies in Iraq were ``straining our forces to the breaking point.''


OK, let's dispense with the first one first. The Pentagon didn't plan for a WMD hunt, or a post-war occupation? Well, then, I think we can quit criticizing the Bush plan, since it hardly seems fair to criticize what isn't there.

Not convinced? I am keeping my eyes out for a serious explanation - one wonders why Rumsfeld and Bush never asked for a plan, and why the Pentagon didn't produce one; surely it did not come as a complete surprise that the war would be followed by an occupation. Typical bureaucratic CYA? Or, maybe they are as dumb as the critics have said. Brrr.

Now, as to the CBO study, I have been mocking TAPPED and Paul Krugman for calling for a larger army. Does this report vindicate them?

NO, I stand by my mockery. My points were that, as proper liberals, they should have different spending priorities; that a larger army is a long term solution to a short term problem; and that they should be calling for fewer missions, not more troops.

So, based on the news report, we see that "The CBO said it would cost up to $19 billion and take three to five years to recruit, train and equip two more divisions with about 80,000 in troops and support personnel. Which strikes me as long term.

We also currently have troops deployed in Kosovo, Bosnia, Liberia, and Korea. Those requirements may vary over time.


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