Between the two World Wars, there was a highly successful English soccer coach who had served as a Sergeant-Major during the Boer War. His coaching success was based on his ability to inspire and/or terrorize his players, rather than on any tactical nous. Thus, his players were surprised when, at one pre-match meeting, the coach appeared with a felt board containing 22 figures representing the players lined up in formation. The old Sergeant-Major told his players, “lads, here’s what’s going to happen when the match starts.” He then knocked all the figures down and shook up the board.
I think about this story whenever I hear someone say that President Bush didn’t have “a plan” for the peace in Iraq. My guess is that the administration had multiple plans; that’s how government works. Unfortunately, it could have had 50 plans and none would have been all that useful because no one knew what the situation on the ground would be when the coalition seized power. Yet ever since that moment, ever since the alleged looting of artifacts from the Baghdad museum, the administration has been criticized by Democrats for every mishap and temporary set-back that has occurred in a nation the size of California. At one point, the administration was castigated for disbanding Saddam’s army. This was said to be the reason why order could not be maintained in the Sunni triangle. These critics appeared to reflect not at all on the consequences among the Shiite majority of retaining Saddam army in any form. And now that Baathist elements have been used unsuccessfully in Fallujah, the administration is criticized for trying this approach. As I noted earlier today, John Kerry has engaged in the same kind of second-guessing with respect to our operation in Tora Bora, even though he had said at the time that the administration’s military approach in Afghanistan was spot-on.
All of this makes me wonder how John Kerry expects to be treated if he becomes commander-in-chief. In a different environment, he might reasonably expect that only his major decisions — stay on Iraq or get out; significantly increase troop strength or significantly lower it; follow Bush’s plan to establish a democratic government or discard it — would be the subject of scrutiny. In this environment — the one that he and his supporters have created — that expectation is unrealistic. And given the extent to which Kerry is disliked within the military, there will be even more grist for the mill than there is now. The MSM may try to insulate Kerry from nit-picking criticism, but maybe not — elements of the MSM will want the U.S. to cut-and-run, and if Kerry declines to do so, he may feel the media’s wrath. In any event, as long as American soldiers are dying, allegations of poor decision-making will be heard.
But I’m sure that Kerry has a plan to deal with this.
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