Monday, October 04, 2004

More of the Same

In 1943, if Republicans had argued that nobody had ever won a war through amphibious operations, they'd have been right.

If they'd complained that resources devoted to amphibious operations could be spent on more proven methods of warfare, they'd have been right.

If they'd pointed out that no amphibious operation was strategically decisive and merely permitted further operations against Japan, they'd have been right.

If they'd alleged that the Pentagon and the Roosevelt administration had no real experience in amphibious warfare on such a scale, and that Americans died as a result of their mistakes, they'd have been right.

But if they'd charged that this risky, unproven, expensive and bloody method of war was no way to defeat Japan, they'd have been wrong.

Because as messy and wasteful and slow as island-hopping was, it was effective. The Japanese could not stop making their best efforts to keep us far from their Home waters and skies. They had to fight on Tarawa in the hope that we'd be halted, or delayed, at Tarawa. And Saipan. And Kwalajein. And Iwo Jima. And Okinawa. Because to avoid taking casualties all over the Pacific would be to take worse casualties in Japan.

Iraq is not the Pacific. But a strategy can be accurately criticised yet still be worthy, if that strategy seriously and steadily weakens the enemy's capability to fight.

As for the argument that we're being ruined by Iraq because we're overextended, T. E. Lawrence noted that "full strength" was a quartermaster's fetish which no competent commander permitted to affect battlefield deployments. He knew something of war in Arab countries.

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