Wednesday, April 16, 2003

General Barry McCaffrey

A lot of people have been rightly mocking all the doomsdayers who just two or three weeks ago were throwing out "quagmire" and "Vietnam" left and right. See, for instance, this column by National Review editor Rich Lowry, detailing all the Chicken Little statements we heard.

Lowry, and others, include General Barry McCaffrey among the naysayers, referring to a statement made by Gen. McCaffrey to the BBC about a week into the war that, "If the Iraqis actually fight, it's going to be brutal dangerous work and we could take a couple to 3,000 casualties." McCaffrey was one of the most vocal critics of the size of the ground force we sent into Iraq.

I don't think the criticism aimed at McCaffrey is warranted, at least to the degree we've seen. On the question of the size of the force, I think he was wrong, and that events have proven so. I agree that it would have been better if we had had more forces at the ready, but non-military considerations made that difficult.

And on the question of casualties, note that he said, "we could take a couple to 3,000 casualties." He didn't claim that it was likely that we would, let alone out-right asserting that it was bound to happen. He merely offered his opinion that we might face that level of casualties. What's the problem with that? Should we mock the president, who warned that this war could last months? No. Nor should we be overly-critical of General McCaffrey, IMHO.

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