Friday, January 16, 2009

Personal Aside: Bob Woodward’s Curious List of Bush’s Iraq “Mistakes” which Forgets to List One Major Result: Victory.


It’s as if a reporter listed all the grievous mistakes made in World War II…ranging from the goof-ups in North Africa that almost got Eisenhower recalled…the bog-down in Italy…the misconceptions that led to the Bulge—and forgot to record the most important thing: the war was won. And neglected to detail how was it won.

In the last several months I’ve read books, articles and memoirs from anti-Bush people and Bush partisans in an effort to get to the nub of the Iraq decision-making. The latest came yesterday from Bob Woodward of Watergate fame.

Woodward of “The Washington Post” has just published a column pointing out Bush’s mistakes vis-à-vis Iraq…but as with his latest book, he neglects one thing: for all the mistakes, the goal to bring Iraq to the court of civilized nations…to remove Saddam and strike down all possible collaboration with terrorists against us…was a success. Woodward doesn’t comment about the surge and the sharp, positive turning of the war. Almost as if he would write about the Civil War…the failings at Bull Run…the ineptitude of the generals: Hooker, McClellan, Mead…and not adjudge that the end result was victory for the north. It’s a strange thing about Woodward. There were all kinds of Bush mistakes…mistakes by Rumsfeld, the CIA…but at the end there should be recognition of success—for Iraq has become a success: which is why it’s not in the news any longer.

Yesterday I postulated why Bush went into Iraq even though the highly-touted WMD as such weren’t found…and pointed out that the ultimate reasons lie in what Saddam could easily do as the triumphant victor over the UN and the US. That reason and the subsequent victory in Iraq should begin to ameliorate Bush’s reputation no matter what the cross-eyed media say. If Bush had not taken the action he deemed right and other attacks came to our soil, he’d be the goat of all goats. And Woodward would be leading the pack of critics.

Defects shaded for a time…perhaps during our lifetimes…the atmosphere surrounding the very good decision to go to Iraq and the successful culmination of the effort:

1. Bush should not have continued George Tenet as CIA director and should have replaced him after the first year…for the principle reason that Tenet presided over an uneasy…at times utterly disloyal…agency. The CIA pretended to know more about Iraq than it knew…scorned information from exiles and scholars, assuming that the only worthwhile foreign intelligence would come from foreign officials easy to be in on the take by ratting on their governments for money.

2. Tenet allowed the politicization of intelligence which involved active leaking to the media in an effort to destroy Bush.

While the war was going on…which officially lasted on 22 days…CIA and State actively opposed the inclusion of exiles into the government format. That opposition contributed enormously to the initial failures of what became known as “occupation.”

Rumsfeld initially had a good idea: keeping the U.S. footprint in Iraq small and allowing exiles and reclaimed anti-Saddam insurgents to run the place. It was always a good idea—but once State and CIA were successful in nixing the idea, he should have switched to Plan B, the buildup of a surge.

3. Condi Rice as national security adviser and secretary of state saw her job as one who was to coalesce opinions of divergent kinds before submission to Bush. This often is the correct approach to national security adviser but there are times when the president should not be spared the job of making decisions. In my reading of events I was constantly struck with how often she submerged debate in an effort to bring to Bush a unified approach. It’s usually good but not always. If Bush was brought in earlier to the internecine battle over the governing of Iraq…the Rumsfeld side which urged use of exiles in a coalition force…and the State-CIA one which negated exiles…he would have come down firmer on side or the other and thus ended the internecine battle.

4. The mistakes by CIA were legend. The agency predicted that the Iraq military would be so thrilled by our invasion that whole units would defect to us. WRONG.

5. It predicted the Iraqi police would become an ally to us after Saddam’s overthrow. WRONG.

6. It entirely overlooked information showing that Saddam’s regime was practicing guerrilla fighting to respond to a U.S. invasion. WRONG.

7. It shrugged off information showing that the Baathists would promote an insurgency. WRONG.

8. It knew little or nothing about those Iraqis who had the potential to be leaders following Saddam. WRONG.

9. Through all these mistakes, it was not humble…but pretended to know far more than it actually did. WRONG.

Tenet was a CIA professional. It looks very much that Barack Obama won’t make the same mistake. He has put into the directorship a loyalist…Leon Panetta…which is what Bush should have done—and which Reagan did with Bill Casey.

1 comment:

  1. Not only a success, but a success that was supposed to be impossible. Arabs weren't ready for Democracy. We can't impose a Democracy upon them. The story's not finished but it looks as though we've come pretty close to accomplishing the impossible.