Thursday, June 26, 2003

The bungled peace in Iraq

Trudy Rubin in our own Inky editorializes:

Whoever was responsible at top levels in the Pentagon for postwar planning should be fired.

But then no one would be fired. Three weeks in Iraq makes very clear that no one in the Bush administration made serious postwar plans before the start of the Iraq war.

Back in November, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told me he believed that the London-based Iraqi opposition (headed by Ahmad Chalabi) would return to Baghdad and assume the reins of power, just as Gen. Charles DeGaulle and the Free French returned triumphantly to postwar France.

Top White House and Pentagon officials refused to listen to warnings that Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles did not command sufficient support inside Iraq. Nor did they heed warnings that Saddam's highly centralized government structure would collapse once he was ousted.

"The expectations at the Pentagon were that [government] ministries would emerge unscathed" and take over the running of the country, one senior U.S. official told me when I was in Baghdad. No one foresaw the virtual collapse of many ministries, nor their physical destruction by looters.

"We failed in our duty on the looting," the official continued, a reference to the fact that the military failed to secure ministries, key infrastructure and suspected weapons sites. "I didn't think [the administration] would let it get so out of hand."

Starting to look like photo-ops and lying is all these guys are really good at.