June 4, 2004

Bizarro World

The ever provocative Dave T posted this quote

To make a long story short, the results of a second Bush administration would be as follows: A bankrupt United States possessing a broken military -- as Phillip Carter has recently reported for the Prospect, it will take years to reconstitute the supplies that have been cannibalized for the Iraq venture -- faces off against a nuclear-armed Iranian regime that’s seen its two regional adversaries replaced with failed states in which Iran-affiliated warlords wield disproportionate influence.
This is a sort of Bizarro World where everything is the opposite.

We've seen this so many times. Left-leaning Westerners believing the propaganda of totalitarian experiments long after the people living there ceased to believe it, long after the "People's Paradise" has become a hollow shell, ready to collapse into the impoverished mess it really is. Saber-rattling, parades and mass demonstration are not signs of strength—except to comfortable Westerners wistful for orderly places without the mess and confusion of freedom and capitalism.

Iran is the failed state in that neighborhood. The Mullahs have to import foreign thugs because they don't trust their own police and military to put down demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands (some estimates are in the millions) of Iranians are in Iraq right now to find jobs and start businesses. They seem to have a different idea of what constitutes a "failed state." Iran is a place where decent women turn to prostitution to feed their children. Me, I'd risk car-bombs in Iraq to escape that sort of "successful state." And I, (and I'd guess most Iraqis) would prefer the risk of bombs to the risk of a secret-police dungeon.

And nuclear weapons won't make Iran strong. We will just have to be more careful, but regime-change is coming. The world isn't going to put up with much more Kim Jong Il nonsense. Too late for that. Madeleine Allbright isn't coming back.

And two million Afghan refugees have returned home. They don't seem to see a "failed state." They see many traditional problems plus some huge new opportunities and real economic growth. It was the Taliban that was the "failed state." And those warlords are losers. Dead-enders. "Moustache Petes." They may well wreck things for the Afghans, but they will never build anything. they aren't for anything. Sooner or later they're gone. Like those other Iranian hopes Al Sadr and the Falluja rebels. Losers.

And pace Phil Carter, our military is only low on supplies by our own internal standards of what we would like to have. We could burn half our equipment tomorrow, and still be better supplied than any other nation's military. We could sink 90% of our ships and still have the world's strongest navy. Our military budget is roughly equal to all the other countries on earth combined, BUT, it is not, by our historical standards, particularly high! Far from being bankrupted, we aren't even working up a sweat yet.

US defense spending as a percentage of GDP

Our military has its problems, but they are in many ways problems coming from being too strong! It would probably be useful right now if we could swap an armored division for an equivalent number of Civil Affairs troops and MP's. After the Cold War ended we kept thinking a big bad foe would turn up sooner or later. And ignoring the fact that all our military operations now seem to be in places where enemy divisions are not the problem, and "unconventional" is the only game in town.

We built the world's best tanks, and now we wish we had built more up-armored Humvee's. Well, bad call. But, we are cranking them out as quick as we can, and will soon fill the backlog. But if this kind of thing is lamented as a crushing problem, then you can see why lefties always want to discourage the study of history. Big supply problem is when your recruits drill with broomsticks, and are issued real weapons on the way to the troopships. Problem is like at Midway, with torpedo bombers not much faster than the ships they were chasing! Problem is Americans storming the Argonne Forest without tanks.

And focusing on equipment is shortsighted anyway. Human skills and morale are at least as important. We could give half our gear to the Chinese or the "European Union" but that would not make them foes that could come close to beating us. Fighting skill is more important than supplies.

We are right now grinding up equipment in exchange for the priceless asset of experience. It's a good trade. The old Soviet army looked formidable partly because they rarely trained...so all their equipment was always in beautiful shape. (And information is now much more important than any of the other things. We can see any building on the globe by satellite, and destroy it with pin-point accuracy. KaBoom! But that doesn't help if we don't know which one al-Zarqawi is hiding in.)

Posted by John Weidner at June 4, 2004 10:20 PM
Weblog by John Weidner