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Forget Clausewitz. Newman's the One

One of the most appropriate quotes that can be used to characterize the administration's approach to the war in Iraq was coined by no less an august figure than Alfred E. Newman. Regardless of the situation that Mr. Newman found himself in, all was handled with hands uplifted, a shrug, and the immortal remark: "What me worry?"

Remember when then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld observed, "You fight a war with the arm you've got, not the one you want to have"? That, in effect, was a "What me worry?" statement. Here was the man who is in charge of creating the army he'd want but who went to war with one that evidently was not the one he wanted. Yet did he do much to change it? Presumably, there are a whole bunch of people who are serving multiple tours in Iraq who'd answer "no." Has there been a massive initiative to change the makeup of the U.S. armed forces—by, say, the institution of a draft, or a significant increase in offered pay and benefits—or has there been pretty much the status quo? "What me worry?"

Last night, in something of an echo of Rumsfeld's words, President Bush said in his State of the Union Address, "This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in." Which sounds suspiciously like either "What me worry?" or "Shit happens." Arguably, we entered Iraq with the army we didn't want to have, and now find ourselves enmeshed in a situation that we didn't expect. Go figure. So the plan is to add some 21,000 additional people and see how that works out. The women and men over there in uniform are not pasta, yet it seems as though this "surge" strategy is along the lines of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing whether it sticks. If it doesn't? "What me worry?"

Admittedly, President Bush did state that he wants to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by 92,000—but in the next five years. Let's not underestimate the size of that task. But is a five-year horizon a sense of urgency? Five years from now, Citizen Bush will be back on his ranch in Crawford. "What me worry?"



Without a draft and with each branch of the military struggling to meet current recruiting goals it's hard to see how in the hell the US is going to expand its military by an additional 92,000. Maybe some sort of free long distance calling minutes or something would work?

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