Sunday, March 23, 2003

Today was apparently the moment of truth for Donald Rumsfeld's strategy of military calibration--a sort of postmodern rehash of "flexible response". Given that U.S. forces suffered setbacks in Nasiriyya, there will no doubt be many at the Pentagon calling (privately) for a reconsideration of the current strategy favoring speed and the precise use of force, in favor of something approximating the Powell Doctrine, which means overwhelming force.

There is some irony here: Rumsfeld, who is regarded as a reactionary fire-eater in the Middle East, emerges as the moderate--someone who wants to use force sparingly to avoid casualties and advance postwar political interests by diminishing Iraqi resentment. The Powell-ites, who by association with the ever reluctant warrior Colin Powell are regarded as moderates, instead favor a carpet-bombing technique which ensures few U.S., but probably quite a few more Iraqi, casualties

Should the Iraqis hope Rumsfeld wins out?

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