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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Don't say no one warned US.

While the post-war collapse of civil order in Iraq seemed to be a huge surprise to Dubya's administration, the NY Times reports that even pro-war Iraqi exiles warned Washington to expect the country to fall apart.

Instead of heeding these and other warnings, however, Dubya and his minions stuck to a rosy view of post-war Iraq that suited their need to convince the US public that the upcoming war would be a cakewalk. So the White House and Pentagon made no plans for an alternative administration to take power immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein, since they were sure that police and existing civil authorities would continue functioning. Events since then have shown how wrong this assumption was.

The exiles were among the most energetic cheerleaders for the war, and critics of the Bush administration have accused some of them of skewing the facts in the process. But more than a dozen of the leaders who have returned to Iraq said in interviews here that they had also warned about the chaos that could follow.

The fact that the administration embraced their encouragement to go to war but apparently discounted their warnings is an insight into the Pentagon's prewar planning.

"I told them, `Let there not be a political vacuum,' " said Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi author and college professor who said he had consulted with several senior administration officials and met twice with President Bush.

In many ways the war plan drove the postwar plan, senior military officials said. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the invasion force be kept as small as possible, prompting his commanders to build an attack plan based on speed and surprise. Any recommendations for sending more troops to maintain order afterward would probably have collided with the war plan, the officials said.

Besides, the plan for after the Iraqi government fell assumed that Iraqi troops and police officers would stay on the job — an assumption that proved wrong. "The political leadership bought its own spin," said one senior Defense Department official involved in the planning, in part because it "made selling the war easier." [...]

The common warnings of unrest from the exile leaders were partly drawn from Iraq's history.

Some made the point, for example, that looting had accompanied other leadership crises in Iraq. After the Persian Gulf war of 1991, looting was rampant in "liberated" areas, Iraqi officials said. "The pillaging and looting was unbelievable," said Barham Salih, premier of the southeastern part of the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq.

The exile leaders were hardly a lone voice. Leaders of aid groups said they also warned about a lack of security in Iraq after the fall of the government. Kenneth H. Bacon, president of Refugees International and a former Pentagon spokesman, said, "It should have been expected."

In fact, it had been. The 1999 war-game exercise, which envisioned an American-led military overthrow of Mr. Hussein, "surfaced a lot of problems," said General Zinni, the former chief of the United States Central Command. But none perhaps as serious, he said, as the security void that would follow the collapse of Mr. Hussein's rule in Baghdad.


| | Posted by Magpie at 9:25 PM | Get permalink




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