Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 16, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT....A note from the book pile: I've been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincoln book, Team of Rivals, and so far I've failed to see any parallels between Abe and the current occupant of the White House. Just sayin'. But I've still got a few pages to go, so who knows? I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Kevin Drum 2:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Lincoln? The current occupant thinks he's Augustus at a minimum. I tend to think he's Nero - but that's just me.

Posted by: sidewinder on September 16, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

The ending of ToR was heartbreaking. So much tragedy...

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 16, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think of GWB more as Caligula.

Posted by: Disputo on September 16, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK


You appear to have missed the little epilogue, where DKG informs us that this is the first book of two. The book about the Bush Administration will be called Team of Butt-Kissing Sycophantic Bozos.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 16, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps a revival of "Our American Cousin"?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 16, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The closest parallel to the book would be the naming of Colin Powell to his cabinet during the first term since Powell's name *was* mentioned for the GOP nomination in 2000.

Then Bush proceeded to demean him, marginalize him and ultimately chased him out of the cabinet; the utter antithesis of Abraham Lincoln.

Posted by: Cybersophist on September 16, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincoln book, Team of Rivals, and so far I've failed to see any parallels between Abe and the current occupant of the White House.

Abraham Lincoln liberated the slaves from the slave masters while President Bush liberated the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein. Sounds pretty simple to me.

Posted by: Al on September 16, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds pretty simple to me.

That is because you are simple, you simpering Simpleton.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 16, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bush would have made fun of Lincoln - called him "Stretch" or "Green Bean" or something equally vacuous and simple-minded. The Unelected Criminal has nothing in common with Honest Abe, other than being of the same species.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 16, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

other than being of the same species.

I am not even sure about that.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 16, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading that too - were there comparisons between Abe in that book and Shrub? How did I miss those?
And how ridiculous such comparisons would be...

Posted by: S on September 16, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

More petty politically correct rules brought about by liberals - Imagine the Ford Theater not allowing mountain bikes to go up to the mezzanine.

Posted by: stupid git on September 16, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, I just watched The American Presidency on DVD, and they talked about Andrew Johnson, a Democrat who ran with Lincoln. Sounds like he was much more like Bush in style, to the point of being drunk at his inauguration and slurring out a speech. He was also a white supremist.

Ironically, they got Don Imus to read his lines. Perfect casting.

Posted by: KathyF on September 16, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: "I think of GWB more as Caligula."

I see a rather haunting similarity to Benito Mussolini, who plunged Fascist Italy into a brutal conquest and occupation of the Kingdom of Ethiopia in 1935-36, simply for his own political self-aggrandizement.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 16, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

I saw a parallel. After several hundred pages of Doris lavishing so much praise on Lincoln, I just couldn't help thinking of Harriet Myers brown nosing Bush.

Posted by: Wish He Had on September 16, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Lincoln and Bush both had beards, except Bush.

Posted by: Gwailo on September 16, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Lincoln and Bush were great orators, except Bush.

Posted by: Tim on September 16, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Did Lincoln ever strut around, thumping his chest, referring to himself as Commander-in-Chief like he was a Lord of War? I didn't think so...

Posted by: jimbo on September 16, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yah, I had the same reaction when I read it earlier this summer. The comparison really is telling. Hope you are enjoying the book!

Posted by: Chris on September 16, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm reading it now. There is a striking parallel, that between the current breed of Republicans and the political South. Both call anyone who disagrees with them in any way traitors, both disdain compromise even when it obviously is better in the long-term for their position.

Posted by: anoregonreader on September 16, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on September 16, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK


And each was judged by history, how?

PS You forgot the obvious "Lincoln/Douglas debates" to "Bush oratory demonstrated at length in front of an audience not cleared by an advance team" comparison.

Posted by: ThresherK on September 16, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Lincoln DID go around saying "We're kicking ass!"

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 16, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Could you find any passages from, say, David Herbert Donald's biography of Lincoln that weren't in quotes?

Posted by: TJM on September 16, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Lemme think.. differences between Lincoln & Bush.. hmm.. oh yeah, Lincoln was a great and noble leader, and Bush is an incompetent buffoon.

Posted by: Andy on September 16, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Did you see any parallels between what Goodwin wrote, and anything that another historian had already written?

Posted by: SteveK on September 16, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Lincoln with a codpiece -- I can really see that. he really kicked ass, didn't he?

Posted by: Kenji on September 16, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

I am reading Dallek's Nixon and Kissinger and sadly there are parallels. I am only a third thru but there is the sleazy way he was elected, Nixon's treasonous interference with the Paris peace talks. Then he realizes early that there is no way to win the war but escalates it anyway. Eavesdropping on the press and peace groups. Insecurity masked with bravado, Nixon wanted the enemy to think him CRAZY. Not listening to anyone.

Posted by: maryc on September 16, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

I had some modest hopes for W at the beginning of "his" first term: with luck, I thought, he might live up to the standard set by Warren G. Harding (who, aside from being a truly awful judge of character when it came to those who he thought were his friends). Much of Harding's cabinet was made up of solid, able and even insightful men (Hughes, Hoover and maybe Mellon)and Harding himself understood his own limitations. Bush's cabinet has lost the best of his initial appointees (and, to be fair, the worst, too--adios, Alberto y Rummy too) and seems to have no sense of the need to hire or listen to any but the "usual suspects."

Give me an honest mediocrity who knows it as president any day, rather than a self-assured preppy who thinks that he's the smartest chimp in the monkey cage.

Posted by: dware on September 16, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ya Know, the Amazon site says you should buy 'The Year of Magical Thinking' by Joan Didion to go with that book Kevin.

I think Sen Byrd already covered the inexperienced angle in 'Losing America'

Posted by: Ya Know.... on September 16, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Suspension of habeas corpus?

Posted by: doug r on September 16, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds pretty simple to me.
Posted by: Al on September 16, 2007 at 2:47 PM

AL,Al,AL...Lincoln imposed Martial law after civil war started a month after he wasr sworn in and was still in office when the civil war ended.

George wont be ending any civil/sectarian war in Iraq.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on September 16, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

The Kearns' book is so pro-Lincoln you wonder about her objectivity. Bush is unlikely to ever be as highy regarded as Lincoln, who I think deserves to be considered a great man. However, Lincoln's image was immensely inflated by his assassination on Good Friday a few days after the winning of a war.

Kevin's anti-Bush blindness is showing again. To say there are not "any parallels" is silly. Lincoln and his generals mismanaged a war for three plus years, which presumably is just what Kevin thinks of Bush.

While one could argue the stakes were higher on Lincoln's watch (preservation of the Union), he was villified by democrats at the time and, in today's world, he would not have stood a chance. He oversaw a war in which over 600,000 Americans died at a time when our total population was about 31 million (13% of whom were slaves). It was about as abject a failure of politics and politicians as was probably possible in 1860 and, while certainly not entirely Lincoln's fault, he did preside over the tragedy.

Posted by: brian on September 16, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

brian, you realize, of course, that fully 2/3rds of the 600,000 casualties died of disease in the camps or wounds and infections in the hospitals. Muzzleloader tactics in a rifled war made a substantial contribution to the toll.
You could have pointed out that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation after a "victory" at Antietam, not to free the slaves (the only slaves freed were in territory not controlled by the Union) but to keep England out of the War. Combined with the suspension of habeas corpus, this fact may seem a parallel to GwB.
Then you read the Gettysburg Address and compare it to any speech by GwB and all thoughts of comparison are swept away.
Oh, and read the history of the Mississippi campaign not just the Union Army and the Army of Northern Virginia. It might change your view of Lincoln and his generals.

Posted by: TJM on September 16, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

The great attraction of the DK Goodwin book is her description of the other members of the Lincoln cabinet. I never knew that much about Seward and Stanton's portrait is far more sympathetic that most. Interesting that you would feel the need to descend into Bush Derangement Syndrome in a review of this excellent book. The only similarity I can see is the fact that Lincoln kept changing generals until he found one who could win. You criticize Bush for doing the same thing. I highly recommend this book but, of course, you are not interested in my opinion. I only write history. And teach it.

Posted by: Mike K on September 16, 2007 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

GWB sez: "Well, I drove a Lincoln once..."

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 16, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Brian, assassination sure boosted Lincoln's stock, just as it made the reps of Garfield and McKinley!

And of course, while the failure of politics in 1860 was "not entirely" Lincoln's fault, we should never let him off the hook for all the mistakes he made while sitting in his Springfield law office. I'm impressed you are holding his feet to the historical fire!

Brian - remember Crash Davis' suggestion: don't think, it only hurts the team.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on September 16, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

"...but, of course, you are not interested in my opinion. I only write history. And teach it."

Pretty full of yourself, it seems to me.

And definitely a point-of-view in the package. A point-of-view that seems to be that tyranny is the best form of government yet devised.

I should think any history you write would be suspect & not worth the paper it was printed on. And any history you teach probably includes the phrase "Intelligent Designer".

Posted by: sidewinder on September 16, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: Interesting that you would feel the need to descend into Bush Derangement Syndrome in a review of this excellent book.

Interesting that you pretend not to have noticed that "The Wartime Bush: A Modern Lincoln" has been the a meme pushed hard by winger pundits for at least a year now; this post didn't take form out of thin air but is a correct response to that nonsense. There's certainly some derangement going on in the matter of Bush vs. Lincoln, but it's not coming from us.

but, of course, you are not interested in my opinion. I only write history. And teach it.

Kind of funny that you, a retired MD who may have landed a part-time gig at some undiscerning continuing ed program or hospital auxiliary luncheon enrichment series, and who, IINM, had to self-publish his "book," would attempt a smug appeal to authority like this when we have a number of professional historians posting here. Especially funny that you'd try it after having been slaughtered on so many points of historical fact; perhaps most recently, you fled in a snit when challenged to produce a shred of evidence to back up your insistence that Kennedy explicitly ordered Diem's murder.

You were more accurate when you referred to yourself as an amateur historian...emphasis on the amateur, not so much on the history.

Posted by: shortstop on September 16, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are too sensitive. Mike K offers intelligent comments (albeit with a little jab about Bush Derangement Syndrome) and you start attacking him personally.

Seward in particular came accross very well in Kearns' book and I think much of the praise probably was warranted. Stanton I am not so sure about.

And Friend of Labor, I don't see how you could dispute that the assassination helped make Lincoln into the revered figure he became. I went to a lecture by the fellow who wrote the most recent highly acclaimed Lincoln book (sorry, can't remember his name), and when I asked the question about the effect of the assassination on his image, he said there was no doubt that it vaulted him upward. He pointed out that Lincoln was shot on Good Friday and, in a very religious time in our history, it was likely that on Easter Sunday in just about every church (in the north) pastors were comparing Lincoln to Jesus Christ. It is true that assassinations did little for Garfield or Mckinley, but how about Kennedy? And regardless of the others, the circumstances of the Lincoln assassination undoubtedly made him into a more greately revered figure.

As to your jab about my comment about "not entirely" the fault of Lincoln, I was referring to the tragedy of the four years of war, not the political failure of 1860, which Lincoln cannot be greatly faulted for.

And TJM, if by the Mississipi Campaign you mean Grant's successes in the West, you are right that Lincoln had one general with an amazing record. He, and the north, were lucky to stumble onto Grant and he was both an excellent general and a bit lucky himself. I did not think he was as good and as lucky when he came east, but he got the job done.

I don't think it is accurate to attribute broad similarity to Lincoln and Bush, but there certainly are some similarities. It is interesting how 145 years later, the Civil War still is so much of our thinking and a source for such comparisons.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Lincoln and Bush........both closet homosexuals.

Posted by: R.L. on September 17, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

R.L.: "Lincoln and Bush........both closet homosexuals."

Oh, please. That's a nonsensical assumption that has no substantive basis in fact. Why is the matter of their sexuality an issue with you?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 17, 2007 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Donald, R.L. is kidding.

Posted by: Friend of Labor on September 17, 2007 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin missed the point here. He shouldn't be looking for parallels between Lincoln and Bush; he should be looking for "parallels" between Kearns-Goodwin's Lincoln biography and Stephen B.Oates' Lincoln biography and David Herbert Donald's Lincoln biography and William E. Gienapp's Lincoln biography and ...

Posted by: howie on September 17, 2007 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

...and Classics Illustrated's Lincoln biography (#142).

(A tip of the hat to TJM who thought of this angle earlier in the thread. I didn't notice that post until after I made my first one.)

Posted by: howie on September 17, 2007 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

You need to go back to Gilbert and Sullivan--specifically, "Iolanthe". Bush's presidency is the most unlikely elevation since Strephon went to Parliament.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on September 17, 2007 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

It is true that assassinations did little for Garfield or Mckinley, but how about Kennedy?

TV did more for Kennedy than the assassination itself did.

The South also had it's share of bungling generals as I recall, however Jeff Davis was far less adept at handling his military than Lincoln was. Robert E. Lee was the best general in the war, his fatal order to Gen. Pickett at Gettysburg aside, but in Grant the Union had a general who realized how to strategically beat Lee by accepting high casualties in order to pin Lee down on the defensive around Richmond. Lee knew this to be the case as well.

Posted by: David W. on September 17, 2007 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush is the new Buchanan: lazy, unprincipled, and willing to leave his problems to his successors.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 17, 2007 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK


I don't think Lincoln can be accurately viewed as adept at handling the military, because it was such a mess for the first two years of the war. He won because he had superior resources and, ultimately, a general in Grant prepared to use them.

I think Lee was good, but overrated as a general. I think he is underappreciated with respect to his role in bringing peace at and after Appomatax. I think Lee effectively lost the war with bad generalship at Gettysburg.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

"Lincoln and his generals mismanaged a war for three plus years, which presumably is just what Kevin thinks of Bush."

Today, of all days (the anniversary of Antietam), it'd help if you knew WTF you were talking about, Brian. A more ignorant statement would be hard to make.

Lincoln did HIS job. He fired generals who could not do theirs. He got it right early, and stuck it out, changing everything BUT his objective.

Lincoln's original and ultimate objective for the war was to save the Union. He exalted that goal by making the war about emancipation ONLY because it was the only way to save the Union, and the manner in which he did that massive achievement was EXCLUSIVELY within the law.

It is unfair to Lincoln, IMNSHO, to blame him for the mismanagement of the Union's military effort in 1861-1864. No one anticipated the bloodstorms of Civil War battles, if only because the weaponry was so far ahead of the tactics. That is how the war went so badly wrong -- generals who lost thousands of men understandably pulled their forces back.

It was Lincoln who over-ruled them, but not on purely military grounds: he didn't create Upton.

Lincoln understood the STRATEGIC imperative of destroying Southern armies long before his generals did, and of keeping border states in line, which is what the Commander in Chief "of the armed forces" (Lincoln was always very careful never to claim more than he was authorized) needed to do.

That McClellan's generalship in particular was wrong, not to mention was based on a usurpation, isn't something to blame Lincoln for. Sure, Lincoln hired the guy, but it is precisely a fake insight that blames Lincoln both for hiring his generals and for firing 'em: it begs the question just who the hell Lincoln COULD have hired? Upton was too young, and Lincoln DID finally promote Grant.

Focus on the guy's responsibilities, and you see it more plain.

It was Lincoln who set the policies for the military -- and if he'd had his way, McClellan would have caught Lee on the Maryland side of the Potomac after Antietam. The war might have ended in 1863, before First Wilderness or Gettysburg.

From the strategic point of view, it is hard to fault any of Lincoln's major judgments, and most minor ones: 1) he let the South start the war, 2) he sought to keep the border states, 3) he ordered the Missippi cleared and the ports closed, 4) he kept Britain from recognizing the Confederacy, and 5) he ordered the Southern armies destroyed as fighting forces.

Name ONE strategic move Bush has done that compares to ANY of these.

When the Union found the war exponentially harder than anyone thought, Lincoln ensured that Great Britain, among others, could not recognize Southern independence (at least, not then) by emancipating slaves in rebel areas as of January 1 1863 -- which made the war ABOUT slavery, while remaining strictly within Lincoln's legal authority.

But Lincoln couldn't overturn Dred Scott, he couldn't abolish slavery in any Union territory. He used his strictly LEGAL authority for a political effect.

The contrast with Bush POLITICALLY is damning: he was WINNING the war, when Saddam fell. THAT is when -- in a fit of absence of mind -- he exponentially expanded his objective to 'democracy'.

In that debilitating effort, Bush has used every extra-legal device he could think of in the war against an emotion.

Unlike Lincoln -- whose Emancipation, issued at a low point and however unpopular at the time, was ultimately the key to the Union victory -- Bush's expansion of his war aims came when he had achieved his primary objective, so support for the war has steadily dropped ever since.

Lincoln understood the ghastly arithmetic of the Civil War after Shiloh, and he instantly grasped the strategic imperative as early as September 17th, 1862. What mismanagement?

Contrast Bush in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 17, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK


A lincoln fan. But he "hired" McClellan twice and, if I remember correctly, replaced him the first time with Pope and the second time with Burnside, each of whom was a bad choice. If Lee had been a better general in Pennsylvania, the south probably would have won.

As to Bush comparisons, you are giving Lincoln credit for final victory, which he mostly deserves, while the story about Iraq has not yet been finished.

Posted by: brian on September 17, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Brian: the key to being a "Lincoln fan" is KNOWING something about the history, which sorta leaves you out of it.

Serious students of the history recognize that McClellan's great achievement was training the Army of the Potomac. That's what he did when Lincoln hired him the first time, and it's why Lincoln hired him the second time: there was no other choice. It isn't like the Union Army had a deep bench.

Serious students of the history also recognize a distinction between the President's job, as chief executive and commander in chief of the military, and the responsibilities of the military commanders themselves.

So by any serious historical standard, making the distinction between Lincoln and his generals makes Lincoln look good, BECAUSE his generals were so bad: to criticize Lincoln for hiring 'em, you have to look at who else was available -- which, again, is what serious students of the history DO. (Insert obligatory reference to the attempt to hire Lee first.)

Somebody pointed out once that Lincoln is one of the few characters in American history (a pointed contrast with Jefferson, and a similarity with Washington) that, the closer you look, the more you find to admire.

I don't know ANYBODY who makes that claim about Bush. Making fun of a woman on death row? Mocking the search for WMDs? Who would DARE to compare this guy to Honest Abe?

I already noted the contrast between Lincoln's transformation of the Union's objective at the low point of the war by adding the MEANS of preserving the Union through emancipation, with Bush's astonishing strategic error of essentially winning the war by knocking off Saddam, then utterly screwing everything up since.

So consider just this smaller piece of evidence: Butler arrested Vladigham (sp? nobody can spell it) overstepping his authority in an outrageous Constitutional violation. Lincoln faced a political dilemma of the first order -- should he piss off his base, by countering Butler and releasing Vladininohiahhgham? But how could he, under the Constitution, keep the guy in jail?

So Lincoln simply released the guy -- to the Confederacy. He might as well have dropped him down a well -- by the time Vlad got back through Canada, he was a political cipher. Lincoln took a very serious domestic threat (the Copperheads), forced on him by a major political force (Butler and his base), and resolved it beautifully.

In the end, any attempt to evaluate Lincoln has to rise or fall on his political skills as President. Look at Bush, who has proven again and again to be a political dolt: besides saving the Union, Lincoln created the land grant university system.

Besides Iraq, Bush gave us, what? -- bankrupting tax cuts, then the social security fiasco and the comprehensive immigration reform debacle, and after the most divisive Presidential elections since 1860, he lost his party's "permanent majority" in both houses.

Ya gotta stand by people to measure their size: Bush doesn't get past Lincoln's boots.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 18, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Just to add a bit re McClellan, Lincoln and Grant. McClellan (Petraeous) was adored by the soldiers he had trained and he loved his troops. This was, however, his flaw. At Antietam, no less than in the first Peninsular campaign, McClellan, despite numerical superiority, refused to commit his reserves because of the casualties around the sunken road. At the stone bridge, despite a breakthrough, George just couldn't commit the reserves, his last, to finish off Lee.

Lincoln recognized that McClellan had an army that would follow him anywhere but George couldn't finish the deal for fear of damaging his creation.

This is the biggest contrast with Grant. Grant used the army as the weapon with which to pin down Lee and just wear him out. Look at the tactical mistakes at Petersburg but Grant just pressed on despite the casualties.

This strategy of attrition won the Civil War (and WWII) but cost Westmoreland his job in Viet-Nam.

Posted by: TJM on September 18, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

LOL -- if you REALLY want to get weird about comparisons and analogies, McLellan wanted to be MacArthur: the guy with the numerically and technologically superior force, who won without enormous casualities because he was strategically nimble.

Trouble was, that was exactly what McLellan was not.

As horrific as Civil War casualties were, it's important to remember that they were never strategically pointless, however TACTICALLY criminal they were. Grant won Shiloh because he fought the second day, after all. He won Second Wilderness because he moved toward Richmond after it was over. In the larger sense, you can't second guess the strategy, cuz even the men who died at Cold Harbor served the cause: saving the Union.

That's Bush's problem: it is difficult if not impossible to show how these Americans dying every week are serving the cause.

Petraeus doesn't want to be Westmoreland, and the comparison is unfair. He wants to be Abrams -- and THAT comparison is not only fair, it's accurate: counterinsurgency isn't about attrition, exactly.

Nor was WWII a true war of attrition: the Germans overextended at Stalingrad, they were outmaneuvered in France, MacArthur bypassed Japanese strongholds all over the Pacific. Those were the keys to victory, and none of 'em are attrition, strictly speaking.

In a sense, Iraq is more like the Anaconda Strategy that actually (eventually) won the Civil War: the Union cut off the rebellion, first from the ports, then from the Mississippi, then systematically destroyed all of its armies.

Likewise (in a sense) what counterinsurgency seeks to do is eliminate an insurgency's base of support among the people, by clearing and holding territory while precluding outside supply. It builds up friendly local authorities while preventing any alternatives from existing -- first destroying 'em, then precluding their re-creation.

For all his many sins, Rumsfeld put his finger on it: are we killing 'em faster than our killing 'em recruits 'em? If we let the answer be Iraqis killing MUSLIM foreigners, the answer is yes.

But then we gotta get the hell out of Dodge.

So I actually think a face-saving form of 'victory' is possible in Iraq, which is why I think we should go GET it.

I don't even mind if Bush claims credit, like Chanticleer.

But Lincoln comparisons just show how shallow this guy really is: the difference between a lightning bug -- and lightning.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 18, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

the Germans overextended at Stalingrad

von Paulus would disagree, as would the German General Staff who wanted to by-pass Stalingrad, not invest it. Hitler wanted to lay siege and so it was.
The staff knew this was about the oil. Odd, how little some strategies change.

The war in France, post-Normandy was very much a war of attrition. As an example, the Sherman (or the Ronson as it was called) could not stand up to a Tiger alone but the numerical superiority of the Allies was able to simply assemble more tanks to take one Tiger out.

MacArthur bypassed Japanese strongholds all over the Pacific. You forget Halsey and the Marines (sorry, Dad was one of those).

McLellan wanted to be MacArthur: He wanted to be Lincoln.

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