Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Monday, November 10, 2003
We Had A Plan Once…

There has been a lot of criticism of the Iraq invasion because the coalition forces did not have a plan. There is not much one can say in response to this, which is why it is such a damaging, and therefore repeatable, meme. If you are in charge and anything goes wrong, you had a bad plan. Have you stopped beating your wife, yes or no answer only?

That meme does have a problem, though. Every once in a while somebody repeating the meme gets the notion that the US has not learned from history. Then we get to tell a funny story. After WWII, we put a lot of folks in charge in Germany and Japan who had never had civilian authority before and a few who had. But Washington never sent in a plan for them to follow. Part of this is because after Roosevelt's death, a lot of things were left unfinished. Most of this was because Harry S Truman had been a combat commander and knew how to trust competent subordinates. One of the results of this is that we now talk about the Marshall Plan, the vision of a trusted subordinate who handled a problem excellently, after he had seen the problem on the ground.

The communist invasion of South Korea caught the US flat footed, and there was a lot of scrambling. Towards the drawdown of that war, the US started looking at where we were likely to become engaged next. Plans were drawn up. Extensive, elaborate plans were made. New methods of planning were put into place. People fell in love with the plans. Eventually the plans were put into place, in a nation called South Vietnam…

It is important to remember that the map is not the terrain and that the plan is not the situation. That is a great lesson that we have learned from history, make plans according to reality, not projections. Iraq is not Vietnam.

UPDATE: Thanks to Michael Totten for his link. If you are arriving here from there, welcome. Please enjoy the blog and don't be afraid to explore. I am not doing comments yet, but feel free to send me an email.
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