Monday, March 24, 2003

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IS THIS GOING TO BE A QUICK VICTORY? DEFINE "QUICK": In the wake of reports of heavy fighting at Nasiriya, the repulse of Apache helicopters in Central Iraq, and continued skirmishes in Umm Qasr, I'm expecting a wave of "quagmire" stories combined with harangues of "inflated expectations" of success.

Let's bear something in mind -- this is day five of the conflict. Coalition forces are within a hundred miles of Baghdad. (UPDATE: Make that fifty miles). The fiercest battle to date is responsible for less than 20 American fatalities -- certainly awful to the families of those killed, but not an overwhelming number. Yes, there will be losses on the front due to actual combat, and casualties in the rear due to pockets of resistance. But any attempt to paint the current U.S. campaign as stalling out because they've encountered actual resistance is ridiculous. To quote Josh Marshall on this: "what's happened so far seems well within the range of what they [US military planners] considered expected outcomes. It's only... the best case scenario does not so far seem to be materializing."

It took two months to defeat the Taliban, a much weaker force than the Republican Guard. If it takes less time than that to defeat regular military forces in Iraq, it will be a smashing -- and astonishingly quick -- victory.

P.S. Mickey Kaus makes an excellent point on how some media recognize this fact, while others don't.

P.P.S. Virginia Postrel correctly points out that the American people have more sober expectations of this conflict than many pundits. No one should be surprised by what's taken place so far. Furthermore, the Washington Post has an excellent piece explaining why support will remain robust even if casualties mount.

posted by Dan on 03.24.03 at 10:53 AM