« To The Bottom | Main | In this case, this man’s richness, the fact that he is a zillionaire, exonerates him. He is not a drug dealer. We don’t need to be prosecuting him. »

November 29, 2003

War After The War

There is a devastatingly candid article called "War After The War" by George Packer about Iraq in The New Yorker that I just became aware of. The article should be read in its entirety.

If you have not been following the evolving "what mistakes we made" currents in the news then this is a great start. You may have not yet heard of the name Tom Warrick but you should have by now - I personally hope the man writes a book about his plans and what happened to them and him. It seems that Warrick was the leader of a State Department plan on how to deal with post-war Iraq (and had predicted - accurately - the looting and chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad) . Unfortunately the DOD and the powers that are in Washington wanted nothing to do with the plan - he was actually on Jay Garner's team for awhile, but was let go on an order from Donald Rumsfeld:

During the rock drill, Gordon W. Rudd, a professor from the Marine Corps’s Command and Staff College, who had been assigned to Garner’s team as a historian, noticed that a man sitting four rows in front of him kept interjecting comments during other people’s presentations. “At first, he annoyed me,” Rudd said. “Then I realized he was better informed than we were. He had worked the topics, while the guy onstage was a rookie.”

It was Tom Warrick, the coördinator of the State Department’s Future of Iraq Project, and his frustrations had just begun. Two weeks after the rock drill, after a meeting at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld asked Garner, “Do you have a guy named Warrick on your team?” Rumsfeld ordered Garner to remove Warrick from ORHA , adding, “This came from such a high level I can’t say no.” Warrick, who had done as much thinking about postwar Iraq as any other American official, never went to Baghdad.

This is a very illuminating fact in the bungling of the occupation/liberation, and proof that the DOD had no idea what it was going to do after the "combat" phase was over. As someone else has said, hope is not a policy. However, already having done quite a bit of reading on the Warrick story, the most informative part of the article for me was the story of Captain John Prior and his day to day dealings with the Iraqis after the end of "major combat". To say the least, Nation Building is now this soldiers job, and looks like it will be for awhile more.

The article manages to mention the fallen Administration members. Not one of which so far seems to be towing the company line:

Thomas E. White, former Secretary of The Army:

You got the impression in this exercise that we didn’t harness the best and brightest minds in a concerted effort

Jay Garner, former head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA):

In the view of many critics, Bremer’s decision to abolish the Iraqi Army and purge high-level Baathists from the civil administration only added to the tumult in Iraq. As Jay Garner put it, the immediate result of the May 16th order was the creation of “four hundred thousand new enemies.

In the case of General Shinseki, the news and the quote are old, but the reaction from Wolfowitz bears repeating:

The second rift was over troop deployment. In February, General Eric Shinseki, the Army’s chief of staff, testified before the Senate that the occupation of Iraq would require several hundred thousand troops. This prediction prompted Wolfowitz to get on the phone with Thomas White, the Army Secretary. “He was agitated that we in the Army didn’t get it,” White recalled. “He didn’t give arguments or reasons. Their view was that it was going to go the way they said it was going to go.” Two days later, Wolfowitz appeared before the House Budget Committee and said that so high an estimate was “wildly off the mark.” He explained, “It’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his Army. Hard to imagine.”

Go read the article, it touches on a lot of other points and really brings home the story of what a mess Iraq is today.

Posted by afinta at November 29, 2003 09:11 PM