The Right Coast

May 10, 2004
Tom Ricks on Iraq
By Tom Smith

Here is an interesting article in the Post by Tom Ricks, who covers the Pentagon for them.

I spoke to Tom twice, once on the record and once off, back we he covered the White House for the Wall Street Journal. This was shortly after the Battle of Hastings. I don't know what his politics are, though it's safe to assume they are the usual enemy of all that is good left liberalism. Nevertheless, I was very impressed with the guy. He seemed to have read the entire four volume legislative history of the Glass-Steagall Act for instance, and act of fanatical self-education in the area of securities regulation, one of the things he covered for the Journal. In other words, the sort of deeply-informed person a journalist should be, and almost never is. Rumsfeld reportedly hates him. Tom doesn't get invited to love-fests with the Secretary as other Pentagon reporters do. He is good at seeking out disaffected sorts who want to get something off their chest, so his depiction of military dissent from the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz approach may be somewhat exagerated, but probably not entirely.

I am somewhat in agreement with the pro-wars sorts who are observing that there is a mismatch in Iraq between our stated objectives and our level of resources and commitment. I even agree with some of the left-wing critics who put this down to intellectual arrogance on the part of Wolfowitz, who appears to suffer that fault, very common among intellectuals. He's also rather disingenuous-- see his quote at the end about junior military officers unwilling to criticize him to his face. Why on earth would they be unwilling? What's wrong with guarding radar stations in Alaska? You see some really beautiful sunsets, and they last for days at a time.

We probably need to both scale up resources and scale down objectives in Iraq until they are in line with each other. And do so without being too obvious that that is what we are doing.