One underappreciated subject that came up researching my book was the extent to which segments of “liberal hawk” opinion not only endorsed the invasion of Iraq, but also some of the “incompetent” approach to occupation-management, that they tended to later portray as Bush’s blunders, responsible for screwing up the glorious wars that existed in their head. Here, for example, is the DLC’s Steve Nider on the brilliance of Don Rumsfeld’s light, small force theory of warfare:
The swift three-week victory in Iraq was a vindication of a vision of military transformation that began with pioneers like former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff William Owens, was picked up and championed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and is now being taken up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. What we witnessed was a new kind of warfare based on lightning speed, precise targeting, total information dominance and the adaptability and flexibility to react quickly to changing realities on the ground. [...]
The United States should accelerate the transformation it has pioneered. With the world’s most powerful industrial-age military, we have a buffer of capability that allows us the freedom to change. Even with an accelerated transformation, we could easily sustain and support enough old-era tactics to deal with any conceivable military challenge that might emerge during the transition. And, as the war in Iraq has shown, transformation brings more capability, not less. It might mean somewhat higher defense budgets in the near future to kick the defense establishment into a higher transformational gear. But once acceleration began, savings would emerge that are inherent in transforming a massive, slow-moving institution designed for attrition warfare into a smaller, faster, more agile force designed for quicker, decisive warfare — as we saw in Iraq.
I promise you that there’s nothing in there about how Bush obviously needs to send more troops to Iraq. Ken Pollack and Daniel Bynum, also writing for the DLC, envisioned “as many as 200,000 troops” that “should be replaced by a multinational force of 50,000 to 100,000 troops, including American and foreign forces” within one or two years.
This business, in short, short, about how maintaining security in an Iraq-sized country requires 450,000-550,000 troops, while it was something you could tell from the historical evidence, was ignored not just by Don Rumsfeld, Doug Feith, and George W. Bush, but by essentially all war proponents across the political spectrum. The reason is pretty clear — there would have been no war had its advocates made accurate forecasts about the levels of resources required. Among other things, someone might have noted that the US Army doesn’t have enough soldiers to deploy several hundred thousands troops to Iraq on anything resembling a sustained basis.