Saturday, August 28, 2004


In his New York Times interview yesterday, in additional to snivelling about 527's, "Mr. Bush also acknowledged for the first time that he made a 'miscalculation of what the conditions would be' in postwar Iraq."

To the extent it suggests any calculation was done in the first place this admission is misleading. The overwhelming weight of the evidence points to the conclusion that his administration utterly failed to do any realistic post-war planning, that it ignored or belittled any voices that suggested rose petals wouldn't be raining down on our troops in Baghdad.

There was no real planning for postwar Iraq,” said a former senior U.S. official who left government recently.

The story of the flawed postwar planning process was gathered in interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior government officials.
One senior defense official told Knight Ridder that the failure of Pentagon civilians to set specific objectives – short-, medium- and long-term – for Iraq’s stabilization and reconstruction after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell even left U.S. military commanders uncertain about how many and what kinds of troops would be needed after the war.

In contrast, years before World War II ended, American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for administering postwar Germany and Japan, designing everything from rebuilt economies to law enforcement and democratic governments.

The disenchanted U.S. officials today think the failure of the Pentagon civilians to develop such detailed plans contributed to the chaos in post-Saddam Iraq.

As one example, the Pentagon planners ignored an eight-month-long effort led by the State Department to prepare for the day when Saddam’s dictatorship was gone.

The “Future of Iraq” project, which involved dozens of exiled Iraqi professionals and 17 U.S. agencies, including the Pentagon, prepared strategies for everything from drawing up a new Iraqi judicial code to restoring the unique ecosystem of Iraq’s southern marshes, which Saddam’s regime had drained.

Virtually none of the “Future of Iraq” project’s work was used once Saddam fell.

The first U.S. administrator in Iraq, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, wanted the Future of Iraq project director, Tom Warrick, to join his staff in Baghdad. Warrick had begun packing his bags, but Pentagon civilians vetoed his appointment, said one current and one former official.

Meanwhile, postwar planning documents from the State Department, CIA and elsewhere were “simply disappearing down the black hole” at the Pentagon, said a former U.S. official with long Middle East experience who recently returned from Iraq.
Archaeological experts who were worried about protecting Iraq’s immense cultural treasures were rebuffed in their requests for meetings before the war. After the war, Iraq’s museum treasures were looted.

That's not "miscalculation." That's not bothering to calculate anything.

You'd think, for example, that someone in the administration would have wondered whether the sudden ouster of Saddam would unleash Islamic fundamentalist clerics, like, oh, say, Al Sadr. If that possibility ever crossed the administration's collective "mind," I'm not aware of it.

Wait. I just remembered one thing that WAS planned.

While we're on the subject, read Digby's commentary on Bush's "misundercalculation" coupled with Bush's utter lack of interest in, you know, correcting the problem (not exactly a quality befitting a "war president," is it?). Digby's has been terrific lately . . .


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