The U.S. intelligence community had been divided about the state of Saddam’s weapons programs, but there was little disagreement among experts throughout the government that winning the peace in Iraq could be much harder than winning a war.
A half-dozen intelligence reports warned that American troops could face significant postwar resistance. This foot-high stack of material was distributed at White House meetings of Bush’s top foreign policy advisers, but there’s no evidence that anyone ever acted on it. “It was disseminated. And ignored,” said a former senior intelligence official.
…In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration’s plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq. Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon’s plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners’ parlance as Phase 4-C.
He was uncomfortable with his material, and for good reason. The slide said: “To Be Provided.”
If nothing else, you’ve got to give credit to Tommy Franks for timing his retirement perfectly.
So here’s what we know. The war was launched under what turned out to be wholly unfounded pretenses. And what everyone acknowledged would be the hard period of the war (and the period during which Americans are getting killed at a consistent pace) was hardly planned for at all – and that is suggested by numerous journalistic accounts of the pre-war period and totally confirmed by what’s been happening on the ground.
We kicked the wrong ass and did so poorly.
And we have a president who was unwilling to take the advice of experts and then stood beneath a mission accomplished sign. Even then, he clearly had no idea of the state of things on the ground. Either that or he didn’t want us to.
On the other hand, John Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney during the debate. Let’s call it a draw.