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October 27, 2004

What Did Andrew Sullivan Expect in the War, Anyway?

A mysterious reader calling himself "vs" drops by to answer.

I love it. All this sweet work done by someone else, and all to the embarassment of Andrew Sullivan.

A few days ago, I asked:

What number, praytell, did Mr. Sullivan expect? When he was so passionately, and so emotionally, making his case for all the wond'rous benefits that would flow from an American invasion, what number of American dead was he envisioning? What number of American dead did he have in his mind as the break-point between a war that was virtuous and necessary and a war that was too painful and not worth fighting at all?

He never told us when he was so stridently urging this nation into war. He can correct this oversight by telling us now-- and telling us, too, why he never informed us of how very conditional his passionate support for war was.

"vs" tells me that during the drive on Baghdad, Sullivan answered my question thus:

The phrase "it seems -- even if the war overall is going well so far" is the qualification only a master blogger could pull off. So's the final sentence. If there's room for doubting the hawks' "grander" rosy scenarios, is there no room for doubting the less grand ones, like, er, that Rummy hasn't obviously screwed up so far? In fact, to the naked eye, he's kicking butt. Surely the best neoliberal criterion should still be Kenneth Pollack's (partly because it wasn't made with any of the current debate in mind):

Probably the most likely scenario would be about one third of Iraq's armed forces fighting hard, limited use of tactical WMD, and some extensive combat in a few cities. In this most likely case, the campaign would probably last four to eight weeks and result in roughly 500 to 1,000 American combat deaths.

To argue that the war has taken much longer than necessary seems to me at this point to be pushing credulity. At the current rate of progress, it looks as if we're going to come in at the lower end of Pollack's estimate. But I guess the anti-neo-cons have got to grasp at something. If things continue at this pace, it's going to be a cluster of von Hoffman awards.

So, it seems that Andrew Sullivan expected some 1000 American deaths, albeit all coming in eight weeks of hard fighting.

Well, that didn't happen; Saddam's forces melted away to fight not hard and in mass but in guerilla -- or terrorist -- fashion. Still, at the end of the day, we're just above 1000 American deaths.

And yet Sullivan now finds such a tally too horrible a toll to bear.

Without doubt, we all would have been grateful had our casualties in Iraq been limited to the 150 brave men and women who died in the first few weeks of combat. We would have been joyous had we lost no one at all. Still, it seems strange that what Andrew Sullivan once thought of as a reasonable under-over for war-dead has now become evidence of Bush's "criminal negligence," or whatever the hystrionic little twit is calling it lately.

It just so happens that the Massachusetts Supreme Court forced gay marriage on a reluctant state in the interim, and Bush, to stop other courts from doing likewise, announced his support of the FMA.

But that, of course, is just a coincidence.


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posted by Ace at 02:50 AM

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