Allawi Tells All

Allawi "First came the "monumental ignorance" of those in Washington pushing for war in 2002 without "the faintest idea" of Iraq’s realities. "More perceptive people knew instinctively that the invasion of Iraq would open up the great fissures in Iraqi society," he writes.

What followed was the "rank amateurism and swaggering arrogance" of the occupation, under L. Paul Bremer III’s Coalition Provisional Authority, which took big steps with little consultation with Iraqis, steps Allawi and many others see as blunders:

• The Americans disbanded Iraq’s army, which Allawi said could have helped quell a rising insurgency in 2003. Instead, hundreds of thousands of demobilized, angry men became a recruiting pool for the resistance.

• Purging tens of thousands of members of toppled President Saddam Hussein’s Baath party – from government, school faculties and elsewhere – left Iraq short on experienced hands at a crucial time.

• An order consolidating decentralized bank accounts at the Finance Ministry bogged down operations of Iraq’s many state-owned enterprises.

• The CPA’s focus on private enterprise enabled the "commercial gangs" of Hussein’s day to monopolize business.

• Its free-trade policy allowed looted Iraqi capital equipment to be spirited away across borders.

• The CPA perpetuated Hussein’s fuel subsidies, selling gasoline at giveaway prices and draining the budget."  Baltimore Sun


One of the favored bits of mythology around Washington now is the notion, repeated often for effect, that "no one could have known."  That was said to me last week by one of the famous.  "But, really, nobody could have known."  This is all self serving rubbish, of course.  Lots of people knew.  Some were not asked and some did not wish to speak up, knowing that disfavor would follow.  Disvavor would follow along with an absence of the consulting work that so many in the community of the knowing still need in retirement.  Allawi is right of course.  Most of the people in charge of the war still know nothing.  They are, as the Jesuits say, invincibly ignorant.  pl,1,2919558.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

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30 Responses to Allawi Tells All

  1. Gordon Reed says:

    The neocons did not want to know and Bush was too stupid to question them. It’s just like when they say the intelligence was faulty after they specifically ignored the the intelligence community and then blamed the failure on them.

  2. Frank Durkee says:

    I wonder if they simply wanted this war and ignored, discouraged and buried anything that was an obstacle to it.

  3. arbogast says:

    I think it’s wise to place this into the context of what the Bush Administration was seeking.
    They certainly were seeking it with eight cylinders.
    Who wants to say what they were seeking so fervently?

  4. Robert E. Stevenson Jr. says:

    2/505th PIR 84-88
    In all human affairs it seems that success and failure are the product of composites. I am in total agreement about Mr. Alawi’s observations. From a military perspective the following has seemed clear to me: Watching the post-war occupation unfold I was floored by the math of it all. Firstly, the occupation of a country the size of California by a force the size of Eugene Oregon’s population. That number itself is inflated by several factors: a) the bulk of those soldiers being non-combat arms b)the lack of civil administrative training for all c) the difuse, confused and ever morphing mission/rules of engagement for the various garrisons that went on for months after Bagdad fell.
    Compounding the vastly undermanned occoupation force was the tactics employed: Sitting in fixed positions and launching “presence patrols” When your enemy’s most effective weapon is the IED distantly followed by hit and run sniper, mortar and rocket attacks, it is quite frankly amazing that the primary tactic employed by our forces is to race around in buttoned up vehicles in search of IED’s and contact, thus handing over the where and when that such contact is initiated to the enemy.
    For the first 3 years tactics that represent an obsession with “force protection” as opposed with taking the fight to the enemy have had a long term-opposite effect. Rapidly driving down selected roads and through selected neighborhoods “occupies and controls” the land your vehicle is driving over for the second is is passing over it. Moments later it is the domain of the insurgency as your dust cloud disappears with the wind. Being hunkered down in strongly fortified positions and only going out en-masse tells the local population that yes there is something to be feared out there and it is not the American Army.
    From abroad, someone tell me where the light infantry is out patrolling on foot? Theirs sure as hell is. Where is the ambush, the raid, the sniper teams (below platoon strength!) the small unit patrols beyond the defensive positions? They havn’t existed to any great degree because to cover any great amount of terrain one has to use vehicles which by their mobility limitations are channeled to the kill zones known as road ways! To raid into enemy controlled territory with limited intelligence (due to a lack of boots on the ground both ours and IA forces) you have to do so en-masse with lots of vehicles and they know you are coming every time. What has a bigger long-term impact on our success, a two thousand pound JDAM once in a while, an artillary raid or the deft hand of an SF sergeant day in and day out?
    Lastly, is it a big surprise to anyone that when your undermanned force sets up a series of widely distributed defensive positions, patrols buttoned up, has the great distraction of training up a novice force of dubious loyalty that an insurgency has all the room in the world to grow?
    It would seem that vast swathes of the country which are day-to-day out of the range of our small arms has failed to gain either a love/understanding for liberal democratic institutions/processes or a spirit of ethnic/tribal reconcilliation. Proving this for all the world to see, one might note that after three years and change of the occupation that the first battles of “the surge” were foughta block away from the Green Zone. Long way to go til the surge makes its way in concentric circles to the Syrian and Iranian Borders.
    I cannot imagine the futility of it all/logistical nightmare when Sadr’s outfit (having grown like a heavily armed tumor) throws in across the South.

  5. arbogast says:

    Without going into the morass of whether the British sailors did the right thing, I will say, and I think Colonel Lang agrees with this, that this was an unprecedented, unparalleled, incredible propaganda victory for Iran.
    If they actually exchanged the sailors for one of their own in Iraq, then this was on a par with Belichick winning his 3rd SuperBowl.
    First Lebanon, now this. These guys are on a roll.
    And you know something? It won’t stop until Bush is out of office.
    How do you feel about impeachment now?

  6. VietnamVet says:

    True believers have the security of turning their will and lives over to a higher power be it God, Leo Strauss, or Free Markets. Words and recruitment are tools of their cult beliefs.
    The building of a democratic Afghanistan would have been a spectacular achievement after the Soviet Union’s failure and dismemberment but doomed to failure once the first Abrams Tank crossed into Iraq.
    From the AEI interns in Bagdad to Pat Roberson lawyers in the Department of Justice, they all are serving their cult. What Iraq, New Orleans or disrespecting 8 US Attorneys shows is that the Bush Administration has as much a grasp of reality as Monastery Monks addicted to Kool-Aid.

  7. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    This article by Noam Chomsky may be off topic, but it certainly applies to the whole mess in the middle east and to the mess we find ourselves in at home.
    This article can be found on the web at
    How to Stop a Showdown With Iran
    [posted online on April 5, 2007]
    EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.
    Unsurprisingly, George W. Bush’s announcement of a “surge” in Iraq came despite the firm opposition to any such move of Americans and the even stronger opposition of the (thoroughly irrelevant) Iraqis. It was accompanied by ominous official leaks and statements–from Washington and Baghdad–about how Iranian intervention in Iraq was aimed at disrupting our mission to gain victory, an aim which is (by definition) noble. What then followed was a solemn debate about whether serial numbers on advanced roadside bombs (IEDs) were really traceable to Iran; and, if so, to that country’s Revolutionary Guards or to some even higher authority.
    This “debate” is a typical illustration of a primary principle of sophisticated propaganda. In crude and brutal societies, the Party Line is publicly proclaimed and must be obeyed–or else. What you actually believe is your own business and of far less concern. In societies where the state has lost the capacity to control by force, the Party Line is simply presupposed; then, vigorous debate is encouraged within the limits imposed by unstated doctrinal orthodoxy. The cruder of the two systems leads, naturally enough, to disbelief; the sophisticated variant gives an impression of openness and freedom, and so far more effectively serves to instill the Party Line. It becomes beyond question, beyond thought itself, like the air we breathe.
    The debate over Iranian interference in Iraq proceeds without ridicule on the assumption that the United States owns the world. We did not, for example, engage in a similar debate in the 1980s about whether the US was interfering in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, and I doubt that Pravda, probably recognizing the absurdity of the situation, sank to outrage about that fact (which American officials and our media, in any case, made no effort to conceal). Perhaps the official Nazi press also featured solemn debates about whether the Allies were interfering in sovereign Vichy France, though if so, sane people would then have collapsed in ridicule.
    In this case, however, even ridicule–notably absent–would not suffice, because the charges against Iran are part of a drumbeat of pronouncements meant to mobilize support for escalation in Iraq and for an attack on Iran, the “source of the problem.” The world is aghast at the possibility. Even in neighboring Sunni states, no friends of Iran, majorities, when asked, favor a nuclear-armed Iran over any military action against that country. From what limited information we have, it appears that significant parts of the US military and intelligence communities are opposed to such an attack, along with almost the entire world, even more so than when the Bush administration and Tony Blair’s Britain invaded Iraq, defying enormous popular opposition worldwide.
    The Iran Effect
    The results of an attack on Iran could be horrendous. After all, according to a recent study of ” the Iraq effect” by terrorism specialists Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, using government and Rand Corporation data, the Iraq invasion has already led to a seven-fold increase in terror. The “Iran effect” would probably be far more severe and long-lasting. British military historian Corelli Barnett speaks for many when he warns that “an attack on Iran would effectively launch World War III.”
    What are the plans of the increasingly desperate clique that narrowly holds political power in the US? We cannot know. Such state planning is, of course, kept secret in the interests of “security.” Review of the declassified record reveals that there is considerable merit in that claim–though only if we understand “security” to mean the security of the Bush administration against their domestic enemy, the population in whose name they act.
    Even if the White House clique is not planning war, naval deployments, support for secessionist movements and acts of terror within Iran, and other provocations could easily lead to an accidental war. Congressional resolutions would not provide much of a barrier. They invariably permit “national security” exemptions, opening holes wide enough for the several aircraft-carrier battle groups soon to be in the Persian Gulf to pass through–as long as an unscrupulous leadership issues proclamations of doom (as Condoleezza Rice did with those “mushroom clouds” over American cities back in 2002). And the concocting of the sorts of incidents that “justify” such attacks is a familiar practice. Even the worst monsters feel the need for such justification and adopt the device: Hitler’s defense of innocent Germany from the “wild terror” of the Poles in 1939, after they had rejected his wise and generous proposals for peace, is but one example.
    The most effective barrier to a White House decision to launch a war is the kind of organized popular opposition that frightened the political-military leadership enough in 1968 that they were reluctant to send more troops to Vietnam — fearing, we learned from the Pentagon Papers, that they might need them for civil-disorder control.
    Doubtless Iran’s government merits harsh condemnation, including for its recent actions that have inflamed the crisis. It is, however, useful to ask how we would act if Iran had invaded and occupied Canada and Mexico and was arresting US government representatives there on the grounds that they were resisting the Iranian occupation (called “liberation,” of course). Imagine as well that Iran was deploying massive naval forces in the Caribbean and issuing credible threats to launch a wave of attacks against a vast range of sites–nuclear and otherwise — in the United States, if the US government did not immediately terminate all its nuclear energy programs (and, naturally, dismantle all its nuclear weapons). Suppose that all of this happened after Iran had overthrown the government of the U.S. and installed a vicious tyrant (as the US did to Iran in 1953), then later supported a Russian invasion of the US that killed millions of people (just as the US supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980, killing hundreds of thousands of Iranians, a figure comparable to millions of Americans). Would we watch quietly?
    It is easy to understand an observation by one of Israel’s leading military historians, Martin van Creveld. After the US invaded Iraq, knowing it to be defenseless, he noted, “Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy.”
    Surely no sane person wants Iran (or any nation) to develop nuclear weapons. A reasonable resolution of the present crisis would permit Iran to develop nuclear energy, in accord with its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but not nuclear weapons. Is that outcome feasible? It would be, given one condition: that the US and Iran were functioning democratic societies in which public opinion had a significant impact on public policy.
    As it happens, this solution has overwhelming support among Iranians and Americans, who generally are in agreement on nuclear issues. The Iranian-American consensus includes the complete elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere (82 percent of Americans); if that cannot yet be achieved because of elite opposition, then at least a “nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East that would include both Islamic countries and Israel” (71 percent of Americans).
    Seventy-five percent of Americans prefer building better relations with Iran to threats of force. In brief, if public opinion were to have a significant influence on state policy in the US and Iran, resolution of the crisis might be at hand, along with much more far-reaching solutions to the global nuclear conundrum.
    Promoting Democracy–at Home
    These facts suggest a possible way to prevent the current crisis from exploding, perhaps even into some version of World War III. That awesome threat might be averted by pursuing a familiar proposal: democracy promotion–this time at home, where it is badly needed. Democracy promotion at home is certainly feasible and, although we cannot carry out such a project directly in Iran, we could act to improve the prospects of the courageous reformers and oppositionists who are seeking to achieve just that. Among such figures who are, or should be, well-known, would be Saeed Hajjarian, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, and Akbar Ganji, as well as those who, as usual, remain nameless, among them labor activists about whom we hear very little; those who publish the Iranian Workers Bulletin may be a case in point.
    We can best improve the prospects for democracy promotion in Iran by sharply reversing state policy here so that it reflects popular opinion. That would entail ceasing to make the regular threats that are a gift to Iranian hardliners. These are bitterly condemned by Iranians truly concerned with democracy promotion (unlike those “supporters” who flaunt democracy slogans in the West and are lauded as grand “idealists” despite their clear record of visceral hatred for democracy).
    Democracy promotion in the United States could have far broader consequences. In Iraq, for instance, a firm timetable for withdrawal would be initiated at once, or very soon, in accord with the will of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis and a significant majority of Americans. Federal budget priorities would be virtually reversed. Where spending is rising, as in military supplemental bills to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would sharply decline. Where spending is steady or declining (health, education, job training, the promotion of energy conservation and renewable energy sources, veterans benefits, funding for the UN and UN peacekeeping operations, and so on), it would sharply increase. Bush’s tax cuts for people with incomes over $200,000 a year would be immediately rescinded.
    The US would have adopted a national health-care system long ago, rejecting the privatized system that sports twice the per-capita costs found in similar societies and some of the worst outcomes in the industrial world. It would have rejected what is widely regarded by those who pay attention as a “fiscal train wreck” in-the-making. The US would have ratified the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and undertaken still stronger measures to protect the environment. It would allow the UN to take the lead in international crises, including in Iraq. After all, according to opinion polls, since shortly after the 2003 invasion, a large majority of Americans have wanted the UN to take charge of political transformation, economic reconstruction, and civil order in that land.
    If public opinion mattered, the US would accept UN Charter restrictions on the use of force, contrary to a bipartisan consensus that this country, alone, has the right to resort to violence in response to potential threats, real or imagined, including threats to our access to markets and resources. The US (along with others) would abandon the Security Council veto and accept majority opinion even when in opposition to it. The UN would be allowed to regulate arms sales; while the U.S. would cut back on such sales and urge other countries to do so, which would be a major contribution to reducing large-scale violence in the world. Terror would be dealt with through diplomatic and economic measures, not force, in accord with the judgment of most specialists on the topic but again in diametric opposition to present-day policy.
    Furthermore, if public opinion influenced policy, the US would have diplomatic relations with Cuba, benefiting the people of both countries (and, incidentally, US agribusiness, energy corporations, and others), instead of standing virtually alone in the world in imposing an embargo (joined only by Israel, the Republic of Palau, and the Marshall Islands). Washington would join the broad international consensus on a two-state settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which (with Israel) it has blocked for thirty years–with scattered and temporary exceptions–and which it still blocks in word, and more importantly in deed, despite fraudulent claims of its commitment to diplomacy. The U.S. would also equalize aid to Israel and Palestine, cutting off aid to either party that rejected the international consensus.
    Evidence on these matters is reviewed in my book, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, as well as in The Foreign Policy Disconnect by Benjamin Page (with Marshall Bouton), which also provides extensive evidence that public opinion on foreign (and probably domestic) policy issues tends to be coherent and consistent over long periods. Studies of public opinion have to be regarded with caution, but they are certainly highly suggestive.
    Democracy promotion at home, while no panacea, would be a useful step towards helping our own country become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international order (to adopt the term used for adversaries), instead of being an object of fear and dislike throughout much of the world. Apart from being a value in itself, functioning democracy at home holds real promise for dealing constructively with many current problems, international and domestic, including those that literally threaten the survival of our species.

  8. JM says:

    Gordon Reed,
    I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that the neocons “did not want to know…,” as they had been listening to guys like Bernard Lewis for a long time, and probably thought that they had an understanding of the “Arab street” that was good enough to accomplish their objectives.
    As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I also believe that there are several neocon luminaries who view the sectarian chaos in Iraq as a good thing, as it helps to prevent the emergence of a strong Muslim-dominated state that could authentically threaten Israel.
    And there are others in the neocon cabal who simply couldn’t care less if they’re ignorant about Iraq and the Middle East, as they’re really busy, thanks, with creating their own reality and smugly watching the rest of us judiciously study what they are doing.
    As for Bush, yes, I agree that he doesn’t have the intellectual moxie to handle foreign policy – or domestic policy, for that matter.

  9. So would you recommend Allawi’s book, Colonel?

  10. JfM says:

    Realization of what would most likely result abounded amongst many journeymen analysts engaged in working the “plus up” for this Administration’s war. Battalions of seasoned mid-level professionals within the wide intelligence community brimmed with foreboding and ominous skepticism but were either unwilling or unable to reverse the rush to fight. The intelligence process and its output had been hijacked by a gang of supremely arrogant amateurs hell-bent on doing what they were going to do. To hell with advice to the contrary and be damned experienced voices saying otherwise. As one who swam against the prevailing tide within the intelligence community at that time, I can tell you that these were hard days. No, there was no dearth of contrary voices or shortage of effort in trying to council reason or advise restraint. We simply were bypassed and marginalized. Those who persisted were either banished or squashed. Feith and his few running dogs should be widely exposed and vilified for what they did, and Rummy should be hauled back before the feeble Congress and pilloried. A pox on them all.

  11. semper fubar says:

    Oh I don’t know about that. Perhaps they know, but they don’t care. Perhaps they know, and it suits their own ends just fine.
    We talk about spectacular incompetence, but suppose the parties involved made out like fat cats at the end of the day. Do you think our adinistration cares for one stinking second what happens to the Iraqis or the nation of Iraq? Not when there are billions to be made off the backs of the American taxpayer and the lives of Iraqi citizens. Not when there’s a whole oil industry to be privatized for the benefit of multinational oil companies.
    You call it incompetance. I call it plain old criminality.

  12. anna missed says:

    One also has to consider the impact of distributing (the notorious) 12 billion dollars of frozen Iraqi cash — most of which went without accounting. No doubt a lot of this money went to western contractors and their dubious projects, but much of it was also probably used as temporary bribe money, payola, extortion, and blackmale effecting all strata of Iraqi society. And while this may have provided a temporary allegiance or acquiesce to the will of the CPA, and bought (literally) them some time — it at the same time, put into place an alternative economy grounded in corruption, graft, and croniesm, especially among the political elite. In short, it created a major dependency (on the U.S.), which may or may not, have been the plan all along. Except that by now, all that 12 billion has been pissed away and we are now left with a dependent, corrupt government starved for cash.

  13. zanzibar says:

    America was the can-do country. Now, Ground Zero remains a hole in the ground although the current Adminstration has made 9/11 its raison d’etre. Katrina devastated a major US city and the world watched the colossal ineptitude and even today New Orleans has yet to be rebuilt. Our manufacturing jobs have been exported and now they are doing the same for IT. We have spent hundreds of billions of borrowed money on an adventure in the Middle East that we can’t get out and can’t get right because we have screwed it up so bad. What we have instead is an Administration high on arrogance and politicization. A corporate media enthralled by the coziness of the beltway cocktail circuit. And an apathetic voting public that’s in for a rude shock when the bills come due. Ahh, but not to worry that’s for our kids to deal with!!

  14. chimneyswift says:

    There were of course hundreds of thousands of citzens protesting in the streets (millions around the world), and I’ll be darned if I don’t recall hearing the phrase, “ill-advised act of imperial hubris.”
    What the invincibly ignorant of the beltway (great phrase, btw) refer to are their own well opinions.
    This administration was clearly acting in opposition to reality when they invaded Iraq and there was no secret about the number of ideologically driven operatives in key positions. The failure of the fourth estate to hold them to any reasonable standard of sound policy making will go down as one of the worst examples of self-defeating group think in American history.

  15. Peter Principle says:

    “The story of Faye Turney, 26, the only female among them, is expected to be the most lucrative. She could profit by as much as £150,000 from a joint deal with a newspaper and ITV.”
    All we need now for this media circus to be complete is for Tony Blair to hold a press conference and dub her “the people’s Marine.”

  16. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Col. Lang hits the nail squarely on the head: “Some were not asked and some did not wish to speak up, knowing that disfavor would follow.”
    There were plenty of professionals at State, in the Intelligence Community, in the Military, in Congressional Staffs, in the retired category, in the consultant community, in the academic community, who most certainly knew based on experience and professional judgement the Iraq War project was dangerous folly and could destabilize the region for years to come. Many out of government did speak out, some in government resigned.
    The Iraq War project was conjured up during the 1999-2000 phase of W’s campaign. The “Vulcan Group” of policy advisors headed by Paul Wolfowitz created the foreign policy framework for the “inexperienced” Texas governor. The Vulcan Group was called together by “friends of daddy”, George Schultz and Dick Cheney, co-chairs of W’s presidential campaign. On the Vulcan Group see:
    James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans. The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004). It’s OK but a little misleading as the original real Vulcan Group was the tight circle of Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Doug Feith and assorted Neocons plus Steve Hadley (Neocon groupie) and Condi (Neocon groupie) set up as campaign advisors.
    As former Treasury Secretary Paul O”Neill revealed in his book, at the first National Security Council meeting in January 2001 the President signalled we would go after Iraq as a priority and put the Palestine/Peace Process in the deep freeze. See, Ron Susskind, The Price of Loyalty (New York: Simon and Shuster, 2004). For the Neocons and Condi, Iraq policy would be one of “coercive diplomacy,” as Condi herself signalled in her article in Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations New York)in January 2000. As coercive diplomacy involves military force, here we are.
    And just who were key elements of Karl Rove’s “base” for the war:
    1. AIPAC [], 2. Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations [, 3. Southern Baptist Convention [], 4. National Association of Evangelicals [}, and so on.
    Foreign policy professionals with Republican Party affiliation were excluded from the Bush Administration unless they supported the pro-Israel/Zionist policy approach in the Middle East. Just Neocons and Neocon groupies for the Bush Administration. Colin Powell was window dressing…
    The Neocons knew full well their project would shatter the Middle East and this was their intention. The more unstable and radicalized the Middle East, the tighter the strategic alliance with Israel would become….
    As Bill Keller pointed out in his New York Times piece on Wolfie, “The Sunshine Warrior” (Sept. 22, 2002):
    (Abstract)”Bill Keller article on Deputy Defense Sec Paul D Wolfowitz, former political-science professor who sees war with Iraq as region-transforming opportunity; he has considered Iraq to be menace to its neighbors and to American interests since as far back as 1979, as young Pentagon analyst; he is puzzled by notion that evidence of imminent danger is needed to justify getting rid of Saddam Hussein; says certainty is expensive luxury in world since Sept 11; his tenacity is one reason that debate within Bush administration has moved, astonishingly fast, from theoretical possibility to questions of method and timing…”

  17. Tom S says:

    Col. Lang:
    Speaking of self-serving, have you commented anywhere on John McCain’s little stroll through downtown Baghdad?

  18. D.Witt says:

    Well, this is the government run ‘like a business’ as promised by Bush in his 2000 campaign–unfortunately, that business makes Enron look quaint.
    Cui Bono? The neocons and their network, defense contractors, private security companies, arms dealers, and hard-right Likudniks.

    Paul Wolfowitz is an excellent poster boy for the neocon movement–absolutely assured of the rightness of his thoughts, absolutely wrong ‘on the ground,’ and now embroiled in a corruption scandal of his own at the World Bank:

  19. Peter Eggenberger says:

    If you plan to invade and occupy a country, you don’t need to be an expert on that country to know that you need people who are experts, who can speak the country’s language, undersand the country’s customs, economy, history, etc. to plan the invasion and occupation. You just need common sense. Apparently, both our leaders and our establishment press lacked and continue to lack common sense.

  20. michael savoca says:

    I have to question myself…and all you who would question this president as not having outsmarted the enemy. Maybe chaos in Iraq just was the desired outcome. Maybe a democracy in Iraq, that would set an example for the region, was a ruse that many eagerly accepted. We should consider that an endless war does have it’s beneficiaries.
    This president has raised Brinksmanship to a new level. In he past, the idea was to embark upon a course of action, in a manner so dangerous and so reckless, that an enemy would pull back rather than join with you in a plunge over the cliff.
    George Bush the self styled “war-time president” has turned the strategy of brinksmanship on it’s head. Instead of using this strategy against an enemy he is using it against the American people and any who would dare try to end this unnecessary war of choice.
    Who among us has the courage to call out loud, and publicly, and repeatedly for the impeachment of this president? We should all call upon our elected representatives to act now.

  21. walrus says:

    Gentlmen, and especially Clifford, some of us have been actively warning against the folly of invading Iraq and identifying those responsible for the last four years.
    It’s heartening to observe others understanding the same things at last.
    I beg however to suggest that we should be debating with Col. Lang how the heck we are going to extract ourselves from this mess with the least amount of pain.
    The Neocons must be arguing (although I haven’t heard it) that the way out lies through bombing Iran, an action that, while being applauded by Israel no doubt, is going to precipitate the end of America as a world power.

  22. Grimgrin says:

    I like the article but I’d would say that perpetuating the fuel and food subsidies was one of the few things the CPA did right. When the economy is shattered, it seems to make sense to try and keep basic goods available and affordable.

  23. mt says:

    “If you plan to invade and occupy a country . . .”
    No disrespect intended but that struck me as funny.

  24. Dan says:

    One disagreement with Allawi’s criticism: Getting rid of fuel subsidies would not have helped, and probably would have contributed to more dissilusionment and anger, sooner.
    Given the violence, targetted subsidies to the most needy would have been impossible to administer. And attacks on oil distribution have been the biggest problem for revenues.
    Not saying the subsidies are economically rational, just that it was not the right time to take away a very popular entitlement and give very little in return in immediate benefits.

  25. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    D. Witt, speaking about Wolfie the poster boy, here is an item that includes his protege, Irving Lewis “Scooter” Libby:
    April 6-8, 2007 — St. Louis industrialist and major GOP donor Sam Fox, who contributed money to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004 and who received a recess appointment by George W. Bush as U.S. ambassador to Belgium, after having his name withdrawn by the White House, should have an interesting time dealing with the CIA Station in Brussels. Fox is also a charter member of the Lewis “Scooter” Libby Defense Fund. Libby was found guilty of lying and obstructing justice in a Justice Department investigation of the disclosure of the covert CIA status of Valerie Plame Wilson and her CIA non-official cover company, Brewster Jennings & Associates. That fact will not sit well with the CIA Station in Brussels, which among other things, tracks the flow of illegal money, diamonds, and nuclear material from Africa to Antwerp, some of which involves the Russian-Israeli Mafia. Fox’s close ties to the Likud Party of Israel and Israeli intelligence circles will also, undoubtedly, make his relationship with the CIA officers in Brussels even more testy. [for April6-8, 2007]
    Wayne might also have included the Israeli-based narcotics trade in the drug “Ecstasy” which moves through Belgium and the Netherlands.
    “Seized MDMA in the U.S. is primarily manufactured in clandestine laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium. MDMA destined to the U.S. from the Netherlands is transferred through Germany and Poland and smuggled into the U.S. via body carriers, by air/sea cargo, luggage, and by express mail. Another significant source country is Canada. Operation Candy Box identified an international drug trafficking organization through which up to one million MDMA tablets per month were smuggled into the U.S. A small number of MDMA clandestine laboratories have also been identified operating in the U.S.(10)”
    Per DEA website:
    And, of course, Libby ws Marc Rich’s lawyer and Rich was in the nexus of Israel-Russia-US unsavory types…

  26. meletius says:

    Thanks for the comments, JfM. And for your wise counsel.
    James Fallows also makes clear in his book “Blind Into Baghdad” that the various components of the involved US government did indeed advise Bush and von Rumsfeld what was going to happen, but they were willfully ignored, and their careers probably ended.
    It was well known by many Iraq and ME experts what was certain to occur. But Bushco’s politicos “knew” best, and the rest is history.
    The idea that a small invasion force would invade a long established, minority rule, absolute dicatatorship (in a country made up of three very distinct sects), set up a “democracy” next door to Iran and leave within 6 months was beyond a delusional fantasy–the decision-makers simply could not have thought it was actually possible.
    Hence, the invasion was intended from the start to result in a generations-long American military presence of some indefinite size in Iraq. There is no other rational conclusion.
    We were expressly lied to by Bushco.

  27. jamzo says:

    the folly in iraq will continue as long as bush is in office and the next president will have to do what can be done to make positive things happen from the situation
    bush has institutional power and the amount of money being spent, the number of lives being lost, and the effect of the political turmoil on “business and the world economy” is insufficient to create the political pressure needed to require bush/cheney and the republican party to change course

  28. mikeyes says:

    One of the happiest days of my life was in 1991 when the senior president Bush announced that we were not going to take over the country of Iraq.
    I was sitting at a MASH site near the Euphrates river at the time and my first thought was that “we will be there for years if we did.” And I meant our unit would be there for years. Everyone I talked to seemed to have the same reaction. These were not military scholars (I had much more military schooling as a reservist than any of the regulars) but they had enough time in country and enough common sense to realize what would happen if we decided to take over Iraq. We knew that the lack of planning, the tribal culture and the religious differences (we saw it all while there when we started to help the locals) would result in anarchy. There was no mystery then.
    Who wanted to invade the rest of the country?
    GWB, evidentially.

  29. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Hello Walrus, I think I may have been one the first to speak out publicly in Washington, DC against the war bringing in the Neocon and Christian fundi angle, etc. In 2002 during the run up to the war, few outside the Beltway (or even inside for that matter) had heard of Neocons, Christian Zionists or of their influence on US policy.
    “I shall focus on the current policy debate over US relations with the Middle East, specifically the Iraq Question with some reference to the Palestine Question.
    While many offer the perspective of hawks/doves or unilateralists/multilateralists, I think it is time to speak frankly, and to be honest with ourselves.
    In my view, the bottom line in the policy debate is the contest between those, on the one hand, who advocate the core values of the traditional United States approach to foreign relations and those, on the other hand, who are the alien-minded advocates of a radical break with American tradition.
    Simply put, the debate is between those traditionalists who do not favor a policy of permanent global imperialism, and the Neoconservatives who advocate the revival of an alien 19th century European imperialism as the basis for a new permanent direction in US foreign policy….. When I refer to “Neoconservatives” I mean a particular network of Jewish defense and foreign policy intellectuals operative since the 1950s…. The Neoconservatives centered around US Senator “Scoop” Jackson in the early 1970s. They then bolted the Democratic Party led by President Jimmy Carter in disagreement with his approach to the Middle East.
    So they penetrated the Republican Party and found many positions in the incoming Reagan Administration…”
    (at the National Council on US-Arab Relations, Annual Policymakers Conference, Capitol Hilton Hotel, 9 September 2002. CSPAN covered the conference.)
    I was fairly frank a year later at the Palestine Center Annual Conference in Washington, DC, 21 November 2003
    “….That the foreign policy of the Bush Administration is dominated by militant (revisionist) Zionist neoconservatives is beyond argument. That this neoconservative, neo-imperial and neo-colonial foreign policy is staunchly supported by the Christian Zionist lobby is also beyond argument….”
    The Japanese seem to have a particular fascination over the Neocon aspect. A couple weeks ago, I just did my fourth interview with ASAHI TV, Sunday Project Show which has an audience in the millions. They always bring up the “Lobby” issues and I respond frankly.
    I agree, the issue in front of us is how to extract ourselves from Iraq not to mention Afghanistan and avoiding war with Iran. But we need to be crystal clear as to precisely who got us into this catastrophic mess. And they need to be held accountable. Of course, in the real world these folks get promotions and their proteges will no doubt fill slots in the next Administration Democrat or Republican. The rest of us are in “disfavor” as Col. Lang says.

  30. searp says:

    Ali Allawi is a friend of a friend. My comment is that we had all the access we needed to people like Mr. Allawi before the war – he studied at MIT and has had close connections to the US.
    So, a question: why weren’t these folks used to help plan the aftermath of the war?

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