Friday, July 25, 2003

NOTE: This post was modified because UPI retracted the article refered to below!

Lots of critics said during the first stages of the war that Rumsfeld was trying to do the war "on the cheap." Supporters dismissed this as the uneducated griping of armchair generals.

Yesterday the Washington Post ran a piece with a headline ("Wolfowitz Concedes Iraq Errors") that makes the article itself look deceptively shallow (found in Slate's Today's Papers). Actually, the story goes into great depth about the misplaced expectations that led many to think that taking over Iraq would be a cakewalk, and where, within the administration, those expectations came from. (Take one guess.) Some snippets:

Officials critical of the occupation planning said some problems could have been predicted -- or were, to no avail, by experts inside and outside the Pentagon.

Before the invasion, for example, U.S. intelligence agencies were persistent and unified in warning the Defense Department that Iraqis would resort to "armed opposition" after the war was over. The Army's chief of staff warned that a larger stability force would be needed.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his team disagreed, confident that Iraqi military and police units would help secure a welcoming nation.


"There was a serious disconnect between the forces necessary to win a war and occupy a country," said a U.S. official who worked in the initial postwar effort and is still in Baghdad. "We fooled ourselves into thinking we would have a liberation over an occupation. Why did we do that?"
Jeez, didn't anybody tell this guy that asking these kinds of questions is simply aiding the enemy? Or, to paraphrase George Orwell, objectively pro-Saddam?

Really, there's nothing new here, but it appears that this version of events is gradually becoming the accepted history of the war. With good reason.

Talking Points Memo comments on this article.

Also found on TPM is an interesting UPI story saying, again, what's been known for some time by anybody that cared to give it a thought: There's no connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda, and there never was. What's new, though, is that the long-delayed joint Congressional inquiry into 9/11 states quite explicitly that the U.S. government never had much evidence of an Iraq-Qaeda link.

CORRECTION: I've been had! The actual report actually says nothing about Al Qaeda whatsoever. UPI pulled that article and issued a new one, focusing exclusively on the quotes from former Sen. Max Cleland, a Georgia Democrat who sat on the committee that made the report:

"The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland. "What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."


"The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out," he said.

"Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration."
This guy Cleland has a good reason to be pissed off at the president. Bush successfully campaigned during the mid-term elections to have him thrown out of office. The Republican attack ads spliced in pictures of Saddam and Osama to make Cleland appear soft on security.

Still, he's right. (OK, in light of the fact that the report says nothing about Al Qaeda I'd say he's probably right. After all, Bush had every reason to believe the report might complicate his war campaign.)

For whatever it's worth (not much), I'd vote for whoever came out with a campaign ad that said, simply: "Iraq? Do it right, or don't do it at all."


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