Turns out in 1999 a simulation of an attack on Iraq suggested that we would need 400,000 troops to get it done — and even then there was a good chance that things would tip into chaos. As a reference point, currently we have 144,000 troops in Iraq, and things are a bit of a mess there right now, as you may have heard (although there was a spot of good news from there today as well).
Despite it being fashionable to pile on Rumsfeld at this time, I do think it’s worth remembering that the actual “fighting Saddam’s army” portion of going into Iraq was indeed done very well by the much smaller invading force that we used; that portion of Rumsfeld’s plan worked fine. Where everything fell down was in everything after desposing Saddam, where it’s clear we didn’t have the troops but more importantly, we didn’t have the plans, to do a creditable job occupying the country. I think not having the plans is clearly the major issue; it’s hard to point to a single thing that was done competently in Iraq after we took control of the place. Without intelligent planning it really wouldn’t have mattered if we had put 400,000 troops in there, or a million.
Of course, as this war gaming document notes, it may simply have been that no matter what, we’d have had a failed state. So here’s some irony for you: It may be that Rumsfeld did us all a favor by committing as few troops as possible. After all, if the end result is going to be a failed state anyway, better to have as few troops on the ground as you can, so you have fewer body bags coming home. But that assumes that Rumsfeld et al, knew from the very beginning that the end result of invading Iraq was going to be failure; I don’t imagine that was really seriously discussed.
The neocons who justified the War in Iraq, incidentally, now explain why none of the bloody mess should be laid at their feet. It boils down to the neocons saying “hey, we’re just the idea guys. You can’t blame us when the implementation fails.” Funny how so many neocon ideas fail in the implementation; at a certain point one has to reasonably wonder if every neocon idea is fated to fail when it hits the real world. This is what you get when the people who build policy are so far removed from reality that Atlas Shrugged is their lodestone for ideal human behavior.
Personally, I think they should all win a delightful expense-paid vacation to Tikrit. Hell, I’ll even cough up for a collection. God knows we’re paying for their accomplishments anyway.
Also, if you have to ask me how I feel about the administration logic that says that people who have been tortured by the US in secret CIA prisons can’t talk about being tortured to their lawyers because those torture methods are state secrets, you’ve really not been paying attention. And no, I’m not going to bother with the polite fiction that suggests that “alternative interrogation methods” are something other than torture, because, see, I’m the sort of straight-talkin, hip-shootin’ fella that tell it like it is. Hi there, I’m from the US, where we torture people now, even if we don’t want them to talk about it. Nice to meet you. I’ll understand if you don’t want to shake my hand.
I’m just glad I’m not to poor son of a bitch from the Justice Department that has to stand up in front of a judge and make that argument, because I’m pretty sure that tearing sound I’d hear in my brain when I made it would be a piece of my soul being tugged right off. Not entirely sure any job is worth that.