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Maureen Dowd's Words on Fighting

The New York Times columnist is often at odds with the administration, the facts, and herself.

12:00 AM, Jul 25, 2003 • By KATIE BLIXT
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DOES MAUREEN DOWD know what she's talking about? Her New York Times column specializes in highly personal attacks on George W. Bush and his aides. Clearly she knows how to be snide. But Dowd also has written in recent months about the war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein's strategy, the aftermath of the war, the mood of American troops, and the alleged lack of an occupation plan for Iraq. On these subjects, she hasn't got a clue.

Back on March 12, she wrote that the Bush administration had "managed to alienate our last best friend." Really? She was referring to British prime minister Tony Blair, who stuck proudly with Bush for the entire Iraq war and then visited Washington last week to praise the president, his country, and the American people.

Not only was she wrong about our treatment of allies, Dowd also contradicts herself on the facts of the war. Early in the war Dowd did not believe we had enough troops to fight the Iraqis. On March 30, she wrote, "[Rumsfeld] overrode the risk of pitting 130,000-strong American ground forces--the vast majority of the front line troops have never fired at a live enemy before--against 350,000 Iraqi fighters, who have kept their aim sharp on their own people." She continued on April 2: "The president and his war council did not expect so much heavy guerilla resistance in Iraq. You can't pound the drums for war by saying Saddam is Hitler then act surprised when he proves ruthless on the battlefield."

Dowd talked about all of this unexpected resistance, yet on June 22, she wrote, "Could we have been at war with someone who wasn't fighting back?" She continued, "U.S. troops sped through Iraq, meeting surprisingly little opposition except for fedayeen harassment." We somehow went from not enough troops to very little resistance.

In her July 20 piece she attempts to make soldiers' complaints look like a rebellion within the troops. But we are in a time of war, and soldiers will always complain. This does not mean troops are overly bitter or doubting their cause.

She also said that "the coolly efficient Bush commanders have now been exposed as short-term tacticians who had no strategy for dealing with a war of liberation that morphed into a war of attrition," and also that the administration "overreached while trying to justify the reasons for going to war." The recent deaths of Saddam's sons show just how committed this administration is to a long-term commitment to helping Iraq.

Dowd attempted to guess at Saddam Hussein's strategy when she imagined that "Maybe Saddam has been chortling from the sidelines as his guerrillas and Islamic militants kill enough soldiers to make Americans queasy." There is, presumably, less chortling now that U.S. troops have killed his sons. At least from Saddam.

Katie Blixt is an intern at The Weekly Standard.