Pulse management

Victor Davis Hanson:

...

...The communis opinio goes something like this: too few troops, too little planning, and dilatory democratic reform led us into the present 'quagmire' — as if our present problems were strategic rather than tactical flaws or a condescending misreading of the Arab Street.

In contrast, I think the military campaign was inspired, the proper number of troops was subject for legitimate debate, and the plans to reconstruct Iraq were more or less sound. After little more than a year, we see greater likelihood of success than failure in this most audacious enterprise. But where we have failed is in managing the pulse of the war and the perception of our advance, success, and victory.

Here our greatest weakness has been the half-measure: the need to consult all the ill-informed in the Middle East rather than a few of sound judgment; the good intention not carried out; the threat to thwart evil reduced to lecture and then whine rather than audacious action. We worry too much about the one-day response to our use of force and not the 100-hour gradual appreciation that we are winning. Shooting looters to restore order and save the Iraqi infrastructure would have saved lives and enraged the world for a day. But pictures of subsequent strolls in parks and Iraqis stringing telephone wire and pouring cement would have impressed it far more.

The communis opinio goes something like this: too few troops, too little planning, and dilatory democratic reform led us into the present 'quagmire' — as if our present problems were strategic rather than tactical flaws or a condescending misreading of the Arab Street.

In contrast, I think the military campaign was inspired, the proper number of troops was subject for legitimate debate, and the plans to reconstruct Iraq were more or less sound. After little more than a year, we see greater likelihood of success than failure in this most audacious enterprise. But where we have failed is in managing the pulse of the war and the perception of our advance, success, and victory.

Here our greatest weakness has been the half-measure: the need to consult all the ill-informed in the Middle East rather than a few of sound judgment; the good intention not carried out; the threat to thwart evil reduced to lecture and then whine rather than audacious action. We worry too much about the one-day response to our use of force and not the 100-hour gradual appreciation that we are winning. Shooting looters to restore order and save the Iraqi infrastructure would have saved lives and enraged the world for a day. But pictures of subsequent strolls in parks and Iraqis stringing telephone wire and pouring cement would have impressed it far more.

The communis opinio goes something like this: too few troops, too little planning, and dilatory democratic reform led us into the present 'quagmire' — as if our present problems were strategic rather than tactical flaws or a condescending misreading of the Arab Street.

In contrast, I think the military campaign was inspired, the proper number of troops was subject for legitimate debate, and the plans to reconstruct Iraq were more or less sound. After little more than a year, we see greater likelihood of success than failure in this most audacious enterprise. But where we have failed is in managing the pulse of the war and the perception of our advance, success, and victory.

Here our greatest weakness has been the half-measure: the need to consult all the ill-informed in the Middle East rather than a few of sound judgment; the good intention not carried out; the threat to thwart evil reduced to lecture and then whine rather than audacious action. We worry too much about the one-day response to our use of force and not the 100-hour gradual appreciation that we are winning. Shooting looters to restore order and save the Iraqi infrastructure would have saved lives and enraged the world for a day. But pictures of subsequent strolls in parks and Iraqis stringing telephone wire and pouring cement would have impressed it far more.

...

The only thing worse than the amoral use of force is the failure to act when it is the only right and moral thing to do. In short, I think our sole serious mistake in this war is that we have forgotten the lessons of history, the essence of human nature, and what constitutes real morality. Small armies, whether those of Caesar, Alexander, or Hernan Cortés can defeat enormous enemies and hold vast amounts of territory — but only if they are used audaciously and establish the immediate reputation that they are lethal and dangerous to confront. Deterrence, not numbers, creates tranquility and the two are not always synonymous.

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