It’s only Iraq ‘n roll (but I like it)

July 12th, 2003 § Three comments

Knight Ridder is reporting that the Pentagon had no plan whatsoever for maintaining order in Iraq after Baghdad fell (unless “fly in Ahmad Chalabi and wait for the accolades” counts as a plan). Don’t you hate it when your worst fears turn out to be true?

The small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department who dominated planning for postwar Iraq failed to prepare for the setbacks that have erupted over the past two months.

The officials didn’t develop any real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader as the country’s leader. The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan.

Today, American forces face instability in Iraq, where they are losing soldiers almost daily to escalating guerrilla attacks, the cost of occupation is exploding to almost $4 billion a month and withdrawal appears untold years away.

Most of the article’s sources are “senior government officials” and the like, so you never know; maybe some folks in the State Department just have axes to grind. Also, the article claims that “American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for administering postwar Germany and Japan” before World War II ended, but I’m not sure that’s true—I don’t know about Japan, but the Marshall Plan for Europe wasn’t proposed until 1947.

Speaking of bad things and Iraq, since I posted earlier about the looting of the National Museum, I feel duty-bound to mention that the looting wasn’t quite as bad as people feared. Something like 6,000 items are missing, not 170,000. Still, that’s awful, and some of the items that have been returned are in miserable shape. Also, plenty of other sites were looted. Much of the looting could have been prevented if the Pentagon had bothered to develop a postwar plan.

I am going to try very hard to stop posting about Iraq.

Three comments

  • Jeff says:

    The Los Angeles Times has a nice long article about the Pentagon’s last-minute postwar planning effort.

  • Dunne says:

    “…”American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for
    administering postwar Germany and Japan” before World War II ended, but
    I’m not sure that’s true–I don’t know about Japan, but the Marshall Plan
    for Europe wasn’t proposed until 1947. …”
    Oh, it’s true right enough. In the case of Germany, there was detailed
    discussion from about Autumn ’44 on, if not earlier. There were
    various schemes floating around, including the infamous Morgenthau Plan.
    The Marshall Plan was something different, for post-war reconstruction
    of the whole of Europe rather than the rehabilitation of the conquered
    territories. I think Japan was more ad-hoc, a sort of “MacArthur special”.

  • Jeff says:

    Quite right. Thanks, Dunne.

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