Max Boot: I Was Wrong About Easy Victory


Until recently, former Wall Street Journal editorial page editor, now senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and neoconservative fellow traveler was predicting easy victory in Iraq.
He’s now writing “In Our Enemies Aren’t Drinking Lattes” that the Pentagon’s concern with logistics is overwhelming its ability to fight and win:

‘Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.” That well-worn saying, sometimes attributed to Gen. Omar Bradley, contains an obvious element of wisdom. Modern militaries cannot fight without a lengthy supply chain, and the success or failure of major operations can turn on the work of anonymous logisticians.
Yet there is a danger of professional soldiers becoming so focused on supply lines that they lose sight of larger strategic imperatives. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we may already have crossed that threshold.
In the past few months, I have traveled across U.S. Central Command’s area of operations — a vast domain stretching from the deserts of Arabia to the mountains of the Hindu Kush. Everywhere, I have found massive bases fortified with endless rows of concrete barriers and stocked with every convenience known to 21st century Americans.
Some front-line units continue to operate out of spartan outposts where a hot meal is a luxury and flush toilets unknown. But growing numbers of troops live on giant installations complete with Wal-Mart-style post exchanges, movie theaters, swimming pools, gyms, fast-food eateries (Subway, Burger King, Cinnabon) and vast chow halls offering fresh-baked pies and multiple flavors of ice cream. Troops increasingly live in dorm-style quarters (called “chews,” for “containerized housing units”) complete with TVs, mini-refrigerators, air conditioning/heating units and other luxuries unimaginable to previous generations of GIs.

Boot is in as indirect a way as possible admitting he was wrong. He was one of many neocons who egged on the war in Iraq and who failed to question whether our post-Cold War military machine was ready to handle the challgenge of an occupied Iraq — and who saw no downside to America running off into what some perceived to be a crusade with no specified engame.
Now, he’s blaming the logisticians — not those who failed to consider the reality of America’s force structure today. Nothing in Boot’s analysis was not obvious several years ago.
Perhaps he is just on the verge of waking up. Then again. . .
— Steve Clemons


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