Friday, December 10, 2004

Mark, You're No Nuclear Physicist

Mark A. R. Kleiman claims Donald Rumsfeld is lying about the laws of physics limiting how many Humvees can be "up-armored":

No, physical production capacity is not the problem in the slow provision of updated armor for military vehicles in Iraq, as Secretary Rumsfeld told the troops yesterday. The factory could do another 100 vehicles a month (up from its current 450), has told the Pentagon that, and has never been told to speed up production.

Rumsfeld said the problem was "a matter of physics." That was a mistake. It's physically possible to put the new armor on, just as it would be physically possible to construct a prudent fiscal policy for the government.

But Rumsfled doesn't deny it is physically possible to put armor on a Humvee. Had Kleiman bothered to inform himself of the numbers involved, say by reading the transcript of Rumsfeld's conversation with the troops in Kuwait he would have seen that Rumsfeld is correct:

Congratulations. And the 699th Maintenance Mad Max Shop, is that right? [Cheers] Oh, good, it’s an echo. [Laughter] I understand you folks have up-armored some 6,000 vehicles and we appreciate that a great deal.

This one Army Maintenance group has managed to do over 13 months worth of the factory's production capacity. So the laws of physics are intact.

And so are the laws of economics.

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