December 15, 2002
Quick Is Better Than Soon

Note: My title refers only secondarily to Bill Quick, and not at all to Jason Soon.

VodkaPundit quotes the Independent as saying that the conquest of Iraq could take as little as a week. There are a number of reasons why quick may be more important than soon in timing an invasion of Iraq:

  1. A devastatingly swift blow would have a stronger psychological effect on allies and enemies (both actual and potential) than a slow and messy slog. If Saddam's régime crumbles like a sand castle in a hurricane, it will encourage and discourage all the right people. Arranging such a collapse is worth a few extra weeks of preparation.
  2. The American public is more likely to accept casualties squeezed into a short period than stretched over several months. All other things being equal, of course. And a quick war seems likely to minimize military casualties as well as their effect on morale. The same goes for civilian losses.
  3. A quick war leaves little opportunity for China to invade Taiwan or North Korea South Korea. The longer our forces are bogged down, the more likely certain people are to get ideas. The need to deter them also requires conquering Iraq as efficiently as possible, that is, without leaving other sectors bare. Again, that takes careful planning and preparation.
  4. If it is true that we have Special Forces on the ground in Iraq tracking Saddam's WMDs, it is likely that they are getting closer and closer to nailing down their precise locations. If they are also bribing locals for information, or to switch sides at the right moment, that also takes time. (Of course, this argument can cut both ways: if, for instance, the invasion takes eight more weeks to prepare, and Saddam is seven weeks away from finishing his first nuclear bomb, then we're really screwed.)
  5. If Bush knows or supposes that Saddam has moved a nerve gas bomb or dirty nuke into the U.S. or one of its allies, he will naturally be trying to track it down before giving anyone an obvious incentive to use it.

I'm as impatient as Bill Quick and many others, but strongly suspect that it is not sloth or indecision that has kept the invasion from beginning yet.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 15, 2002 11:30 PM

Re your point #2: I don't buy it. Remember, we have already had 3,000 casualties so far in this war, and that's not counting various embassy bombings, the USS Cole, etc.

Posted by: MW on December 16, 2002 02:09 PM

Soon, Saddam will be like the Taliban, a footnote in history.

Posted by: IRAN, IRAN SO FAR AWAY on December 16, 2002 03:45 PM

I'm more worried that Bush is waiting for conditions to be "Perfect" rather then "Really good" and will never move till its too late

Posted by: Nick M. on December 16, 2002 05:54 PM

W has said before that he's a patient man, so the fact that nothing has happened yet comes as no surprise.

Posted by: Bashir Gemayel on December 16, 2002 07:20 PM

I don't buy #4, either. In my wayward youth I spent several years running around in the 2d Cavalry in Germany, where dodging the odd Soviet nuke was on our minds -- a lot.

Before you nuke me, you have to FIND me. Since one of the first priorities of any campaign is to destroy the enemy's reconnaissance assets, and since we're pretty damn good at it, how in hell is Saddam going to find our people to nuke them?

Posted by: Kirk on December 17, 2002 07:22 PM

Others have noted that if Saddam has a nuke, he might just set it off and try to blame us for it.

Posted by: charles austin on December 18, 2002 05:50 PM

I'm with Nick.

I'm supremely worried that our war is beginning to suffer from "mission creep", where we have to wait just a LITTLE bit longer to get just ONE more piece in place, right up until Saddam manages to blow the big one on our asses.

Posted by: Emperor Misha I on December 19, 2002 01:21 PM

Aw c'mon Kirk, I wasn't half as worried about WP nukes as I was about our own How bty.

jsa also formerly of the 2d ACR, the other white meat.

Posted by: John S Allison on December 20, 2002 05:06 PM