Friday, November 17, 2006
Since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time:
Hey, Frank, great editing, buddy. You really are a credit to the magazine, and I'm a total dick. Here's what you let Bob Kagan write for you this week:

Some claim that we don't have 50,000 troops to send to Iraq. In fact, the troops are available. Sending additional forces to Iraq means lengthening troop rotations, as the United States has done in previous major conflicts. Sustaining such an increased deployment, however, will require a substantial increase in the overall size of the Army and Marines. This increase, which does not require a draft but does require money, is necessary regardless of what we do in Iraq. It is stunning that this administration has attempted to fight two wars and has envisioned other possible interventions with a force clearly inadequate for these global commitments.

And here's what he wrote with Bill Kristol this very week:

Those who claim that it is impossible to send 50,000 more troops to Iraq, because the troops don't exist, are wrong. The troops do exist. But it is also true that the Army and Marines are stretched, and that this new deployment needs to be accompanied by rapid steps to increase the overall size of American ground forces. For six years, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld refused to acknowledge that his vision of the American military of the future did not match the present reality of American military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. We trust the new secretary of defense will understand the necessity of dealing urgently with the manpower crisis in our military.

Hey, I didn't know you wanted to turn TNR into a Weekly Standard clip service. You're totally up there with Kinsley and Hertzberg!
--Spencer Ackerman
Sigh. Kagan considers himself a "realist", which means his arguments are slightly more difficult to refute than a flaming neo-con's.
Blogger Alexander Wolfe | 6:28 PM

Actually, this is known as economizing, and should be done more often. All the war pundits can have the same piece copied and published in their usual places, and then, every six months, they can change it, usually to find somebody to blame for the total failure of what they have been advising. The Perle-to-Krauthammer stretch (I wanted a war with more closet space! A-and a jacuzzi! This war is really yucky and old. When are we going to get the war on Iran, Daddy!) is fascinating to watch - mindless irresponsibility seguing into dyspeptic irresponsibility.

So Foers might be on to something.
Blogger Roger Gathmann | 8:04 PM

Christ, that's just embarrassing. Ugh.
Blogger Thers | 8:31 PM

It would be very expensive to pay Kagan to develop fresh thoughts about Iraq, no?
Blogger t.s. | 9:44 PM

Wow. At this point, I'm ashamed to say I ever subscribed to TNR. But I swear it was better back then. I guess it wasn't so necessary to bury their heads in the sand back when the war was still so abstract.

And I agree with Roger and think that TNR has been the flipside of the Weekly Standard coin on too many issues anyway. So it just makes sense that they consolidate. All they have to do is add their token hand-wringing about the unnamed bad stuff their policies are bringing about, and go full steam ahead. Perhaps they could just have it as a disclaimer on the contents page as a time-saving measure.

Heck, The Weekly Republic has a nice ring to it and is somewhat symbolic regarding the temporal nature these people are leaving our political system in. But I suppose The New Standard works too.
Blogger Doctor Biobrain | 9:49 PM

Well, heck, those dopes at the Weekly Standard let the "six years" thing go by when it's clearly been five since the Afghan invasion. Way to go TNR!
Blogger Righteous Bubba | 10:21 PM

Mr. Ackerman,

Congratulations! I don't know if you were fired or quit, but there's honor for you eitherway. Good luck on your new blog! I've tracked mud all over Beinart and company for the last few years and have come to believe that as long as Kagan has head firmly rammed up Marty's butt, FF is window decoration.

The magazine is a disgrace under Marty's misrule. The only real question remaining is how many good folks have to leave before Marty is squeezed out. Doesn't Soros have some spare change to buy Marty out?
Blogger sixviews | 12:16 AM

OT -- can you syndicate this? (Blogger makes it really simple...)
Blogger william | 4:05 AM

A few months back, some DLC guy said "Let's increase the numbr of troops!" Folks like me pointed out that the Army was already making heroic efforts to do just that with stop-loss orders, lowering the minimum score on intelligence tests, recruiters engaging in unethical conduct, etc. The Joe Lieberman got the "bright" idea to suggest more troops, then John McCain got the same "bright" idea, now I see the TNR had the same "inspiration."
Frickin' blooody idjits!!!
Blogger Rich Gardner | 5:55 AM

Following up on what Rich said. If I was an Army recruiter and was faced with the reality that the minimum wage was going to bump up $2 an hour next January I would be locking up all the sharp objects prior to taking that first chug from the bottle.

Base pay for an E-2 is $1427 a month. Which works out to $8.10 an hour for a 40 day week. Friends there may be an Air Force billet here or there that only requires 40 hours a week, but a sailor at sea on a smaller ship averages 16+ hours per day on a nominal 6 1/2 day work week. And has workhours, berthing and food ten times better than that soldier in Baghdad or that marine in Anbar.

I am ex-military from a military family (that Webb thing kicking in) but the reality is that I joined because it was better than a job flipping burgers. Well except when it is not.

Look if you are a bright kid but for whatever reason not at this moment in time college material by all means consider a hitch in the military. As long as that means the Air Force, Coast Guard or Navy and a guaranteed school training for a job that will ensure that you are not riding side-gun in a Humvee in Ramadi in six months.

But if the directive came down tomorrow "We need 100,000 more volunteers above replacement numbers for combat arms. Get cracking!" and I was a recruiter I suspect I would be getting my crack from a pipe.

Shinseki testified before the fact that this would take "several hundred thousand" troops to have a chance. The 1999 war game for Iraqi invasion invisioned 400,000 troops and came up badly in most cases:

The notion that surging 5000 marines here or even 100000 soldiers in theatre there is going to magically turn this around is crazy thinking. Even if we had the troops (which we don't) or could elevate pay to the levels necessary to raise those troops (hint companies deploying mercenaries earning six-digit figures are bailing from Iraq) we are never ever going to be able to get the troop levels needed.

Staring at the chessboard after you are a queen down and are pinned into a corner thinking "hmm maybe I can just get a pawn into position" is lunacy. Nobody likes losing. Which is why some people (like Chief of Staff of the Army Shinseki) said not to pick this particular fight. But we did and we lost. And saving the pride of the pricks who decided to play this game anyway is not the cost of a single additional death.
Blogger Bruce Webb | 7:29 AM

Yep, it's lunacy all right. I don't know where, exactly, these troops are going to come from or what, exactly, they're going to do when they get there, except maybe provide some more masturbatory fodder for Bill Kristol's BDSM fantasies.

Roger: That's an ingenious idea, esp. in the current era of media consolidation. Hell, the same people own local papers and TV stations and use the same reporter for everything; why not do the same with editorial writers? It's not like they require training, education or fact-checking.
Blogger The Author | 11:55 AM