War on the Cheap

WAR ON THE CHEAP….Writing in the Telegraph, Stephen Robinson is gloomy about the war:

Let us accept the arguments of the anti-war lobby. Planning for the post-war rebuilding effort was ill-conceived where it existed at all; it was idiotic of the White House to reject the demands of US generals for higher troop levels on the ground. And if, as now seems likely, troop numbers were kept to a minimum so as not to compromise Mr Bush’s re-election in November, that is shameful.

This is a complaint that’s common to a remarkably large swathe of the ideological spectrum: if George Bush wanted to invade Iraq, he should at least have been committed to doing it right. Ignoring Army chief-of-staff Eric Shinseki, who estimated we needed “several hundred thousand” troops, was both foolhardy and hubristic.

But it’s not that simple, is it? After all, we don’t have several hundred thousand troops. I’ve heard some reasonable sounding suggestions that by mobilizing more reserves and doing a few other things we could dredge up another 50-60,000 troops or so, but nothing that would get us up to the 300,000 that Shinseki wanted. They just aren’t there.

So it wasn’t really a matter only of Bush and Rumsfeld wanting to wage war on the cheap. Rather, if they had accepted Shinseki’s advice, they wouldn’t have been able to wage their war at all ? at least, not in the timeframe they wanted.

That’s right, isn’t it? Or am I missing something?