Jeanne Kirkpatrick – “We wuz wrong?”

Kirkpatrick "Iraq presented a very different set of circumstances from Afghanistan, however. These are things we ought to have known and taken into account when weighing our decision to invade in 2003.

Iraq lacked practically all the requirements for a democratic government: rule of law, an elite with a shared commitment to democratic procedures, a sense of citizenship, and habits of trust and cooperation. The administration’s failure involved several issues, but the core concern is that they did not seem to have methodically completed the due diligence required for reasoned policy-making because they failed to address the aftermath of the invasion. This, of course, is reflected by the violence, sectarian unrest, ethnic vengeance and bloodshed we see in Iraq today."  Jeanne Kirkpatrick


Jeanne Kirkpatrick was the aunt by marriage of an old Army friend of mine.  He used to talk about her a bit.  An interesting woman.  I had the "pleasure" of briefing her several times.  I would not have descrbed her as a warm person, but maybe under other circumstances…

In any case, she is one more of those who have discovered that their "invincible ignorance" of; human nature, the Middle East, Arabs, Iraqis and Muslims have brought us to the "jaws of…"

This is becoming a veritable rogues gallery and I am collecting names.  Any nominations?  They must be based on actual confession.  pl

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32 Responses to Jeanne Kirkpatrick – “We wuz wrong?”

  1. Matthew says:

    Col.: The policy is only a “failure” if you believe that the Israel-Firsters who pushed the war really wanted a successful Iraq. I believe many of Bush’s advisors want an ME with a series of Arab mini-states. Very docile. Dependent on America. In a phrase, client states.
    I will make a prediction: Here will be the last two two names to confess:
    (2) Richard Cheney; and
    (1) George W. Bush.

  2. Let’s not forget that one of the goals of the invasion of Iraq was to find a country that could be friends with Israel. George Bush himself has said so, and this assumption is either assumed by or stated outright in various documents emanating from the AEI.
    After recently reading Adam Smith on “The Wealth of Nations,” I formulated something of mini-theory on why the US needed to invade Iraq–at least from the oligarch’s standpoint.
    Looked at from a historical perspective, that is, Iraq had become what very few if any nations outside Europe had become–a modern nation. Its educational system was top-notch, the industrial sector was well-developed, it had a commercial base that, although based on a single resource, could quite plausibly diversify. On top of that, it had what Smith says is paramount to any commercial nation: the ability to feed itself.
    If these points are true–not all have to be–then the reason to demolish Iraq and reduce it as close to a pre-modern state was to teach the world a lesson: no one modernizes w2ithout following the blueprint laid out by the US.
    On top of that, of course, is the idea that no nation in the mid-East can be a modern state that shows up Israel or outpaces it in the eyes of the world in regards to being “modern.”

  3. Michael says:

    the political Mea culpas are inversely related to outcome of GWB’s “surge” strategy in Iraq. The more obvious the surge isn’t working, the more mea culpas we should expect to see.
    Its just another example of politician’s trying to ride the wave of popular consensus.

  4. PSD says:

    once again, too little, too late. I started to write, “how do these people live with themselves?” when I realized she was dead and was not about to suffer any embarrassment or loss of prestige (yeah, right).
    i’m sure the 3,000+ Americans and countless Iraqis who have lost their lives would all be impressed with Ms. Kirkpatrick’s “confession.”
    i too am keeping a list…amazing how short it still is…

  5. meletius says:

    Prior to the invasion, I sure don’t remember the esteemed ambassador piping up with these fairly obvious observations about the likelihood of democracy sprouting virtually spontaneously in the fertile soil of Iraq.
    It’s one thing for a schmoe like me to be raising such concerns in my podunk part of backwater BushAmerica. Kirkpatrick was an actual, possibly influential, Reaganaut—who apparently elected to remain utterly silent.
    Again, NO ONE could have realistically imagined that a minority rule, multi-sect, long established dictatorship could be transformed into a functioning “democracy” and our troops withdrawn within 6 months.
    No way, No how.
    It was all a lie in order to commence a permanent occupation of a land of inconceivable, unexploited oil wealth.
    Bushco may have foolishly imagined their occupation would be peaceful, but they never thought that US troops would be leaving for decades.

  6. Lurch says:

    A serious question, Colonel. Are we looking for people who actually admit to error, as opposed to those make face-saving statements about the “intelligence being wrong” or some derivation of that?

  7. MarcLord says:

    This is the single best summary of the Cheney Doctrine for the ME I’ve ever read. You nailed it:
    “Col.: The policy is only a “failure” if you believe that the Israel-Firsters who pushed the war really wanted a successful Iraq. I believe many of Bush’s advisors want an ME with a series of Arab mini-states. Very docile. Dependent on America. In a phrase, client states.”

  8. Michael says:

    Not entirely sure what will come of this news, but it is interesting.

  9. ikonoklast says:

    Francis Fukuyama
    — Signing member of PNAC, June, 1997
    — From Wikipedia:
    “He also signed a second, similar letter to President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks that called for removing Saddam Hussein from power ‘even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack.'”
    — From “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, by Francis Fukuyama. Copyright (c) 2006:
    “What made {post 9/11 policies] especially controversial, however, was the almost obsessive emphasis that the Bush administration placed on regime change in Iraq and the implicit assertion of American exceptionalism that gave Washington not just the right but the duty to take care of this problem … The Bush administration expected a short war and a quick and relatively painless transition to a post-Saddam Iraq. It gave little thought to the requirements for post-conflict reconstruction and was surprised to find the United States fighting a prolonged insurgency.”

  10. John Measor says:

    Col.: interesting testimonial ‘from the grave’ so to speak; however, I am left unconvinced by such shenanigans. A true confession would be more direct and lead to self reflection. Moreover, the lack of contrition is deafening. No mention of U.S. participation in Iraq’s political experience of the past 35 years is added to the Ambassadors list leaving me with the usual ‘ho hum’ that this is another pass-the-buck’ parlay insinuating that there was a “mistake” made, that there is no responsibility to be laid, and that (in the end) its just the Iraqis fault anyways.

  11. Jack says:

    The Ambassador’s remarks and confession fit nicely with 2 of my key observations about the Iraq decision.
    1. As Navy pilots in the first Iraq campaign, we received an interesting debrief several months after the war from a senior Navy Admiral. “Why we didn’t go to Bagdhad” was the theme. In so many words, he laid out the logic of Ambassador Kirkpatrick’s remarks, and painted an understandable picture (at least to a bunch of 20 and 30-something-year-old Naval Aviators) of regional strategic balance, Saddam’s role, Iraqi history and ethnic diversity/complexity, etc. It made sense. We were enlightened to a higher order of thought and strategy involving Iraq.
    2. I was led to believe that in the latter years of the Clinton Administration, a page 1 debate within DOD involved an exit gameplan for the Iraq Containment Strategy. Were we going to patrol “No-Fly Zones” forever? We knew our continued (heavy) presence in the region was invoking angst and ill will, and the stress on Navy and Air Force units deploying constantly for this mission was beginning to be felt. The arrival of the Bush Administration and the Cheney/Rumsfeld team meant that a different approach was inevitable. Then came 9-11.
    My million-dollar question has to go to Cheney: If they knew all the delicacies of Iraq in 1991, why the buffoonery of the invasion and subsequent shortcomings in strategy in 2003?

  12. ikonoklast says:

    I may be on the wrong track here. Does obvious self-contradiction count? It’s difficult to imagine these inflated egos losing enough hubris to confess that they actually made mistakes (rather than the ubiquitous ‘mistakes were made’ vacillation).
    So if I’m off base, my apologies.
    Henry Kissinger
    “… if it were possible to devise an inspection system that Saddam would accept and if it were possible to implement it and to enforce it on him, I think that would bring about such a significant regime change. But I do not believe that that is possible without the threat of war … So I think in the region on the whole probably the countries would be unfriendly at first — relieved in many of them afterwards … I would argue that to deal with the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — it’s a very good way to fight terrorism, because it would demonstrate to the countries in the region from which after all terrorism has come, that to threaten the interests and the security of what America cares about is extremely dangerous.” — Online Newshour – 8/22/02
    — In 2006, it was reported in the book State of Denial by Bob Woodward that Kissinger was meeting regularly with president George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to offer advice on the War in Iraq. Kissinger confirmed in recorded interviews with Woodward that the advice was the same as he had given in an August 12, 2005 column in the Washington Post: “Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy.”
    — In a November 19, 2006 BBC Sunday AM interview, when asked whether there is any hope left for a clear military victory in Iraq, Kissinger said, “If you mean by ‘military victory’ an Iraqi Government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don’t believe that is possible… I think we have to redefine the course. But I don’t believe that the alternative is between military victory as it had been defined previously, or total withdrawal.”
    How should “military victory” be defined, Hank?

  13. Lurch says:

    John Edwards
    Hillary Clinton takes an equivocating position in the same cut.
    John Kerry
    (from memory-no citation)
    Richard Perle, David Frum, Kenneth Adelman, Paul Wolfowitz, have all adopted the Kronsteen defense.
    G W Bush and R B Cheney will never admit an error.

  14. michael savoca says:

    Colonel Lang, my previous post was redundant. Please omit. I appologize. When I wasn’t “quized” last night to re type the mis-shapen letters to prove I wasn’t a robot, I assumed my post had failed and I re sent the latest.

  15. swerv21 says:

    do cheerleaders get nominations too?
    if so, throw in Beinart and maybe any of the other clowns at the new republic who’ve suddenly found ‘religion’.
    and make sure you have the neo-con apologist/ native son Ajami on there too.
    both have recently copped a plea in the court of public opinion.
    im not sure that i’ve been moved to forgiveness…

  16. ked says:

    “A veritable rogues gallery and I am collecting names.”
    Col Lang, This is surely a most inspired concept! Let your blog be the site where recovering neocons (& fellow-travelers) are provided (semi-)official repatriation. You will do more to improve US national security policy than anything else in the past 6 yrs. All these poor souls need is a little positive feedback – a sanctuary where they may unload their burden of failure. A proper scoring system (based upon Dante’s nine circles of Hell?) could launch a race to regain a state of grace (who wants to be the last one caught with an office at AEI?) – your commentators would certainly make a fine pool of judges.
    With just a little marketing, you’d be spending half your time turning down bribes from late-comers to back-date their conversion. And anyway, it’s about time you made the big bucks on this blog… while providing a desperately needed public service. Cheers!

  17. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Here is an excellent early analysis (November 2002) naming some candidates:
    Didn’t Jeanne Kirkpatrick and her husband purchase a vacation house in Les Baux (Provence, France) with Richard Perle? Or maybe they had one nearby his house in the same town? Nice area.
    Jack, you asked “If they knew all the delicacies of Iraq in 1991…”. I was in Iraq on official business in the spring of 1990 and covered some territory ranging from Irbil in the north, Baghdad, Kerbala, Basra, and south into the Fao P. along the Shatt. I saw some Iraqi battlefield areas (from the Iran-Iraq War) and was briefed by Iraqi military on that war. The Iraqi officers I met were serious professionals. As Ambassador Glaspie was out of the country, the DCM, Joe Wilson, hosted briefings at our embassy and we had a first class country team there. They knew the score. So just why did Cheney go after Joe? It was not only over the “yellowcake” that never was….

  18. Jon Stopa says:

    A list should be made of people who should never, ever be able to work for the US government. The fiasco we are suffering was brought about by incompetent people who proved their incompetence in the field. Never let them near power again. No more Rummys or Chaneys. Or Kristols. You can’t use power because you are not good at it.

  19. Vincente says:

    Kirkpatrick was and will always be a bloodthirsty deranged beast who had no problem with the rape and execution of nuns at the hands of a few of our allies back in a little ol’ central american country..
    Just for that alone, I think she’s finding the netherworld a very uncomfortable place to spend eternity.
    I learned early: don’t mess with the nuns.

  20. Annie Burns says:

    My Aunt Angeline was in Army in WWII. She used to often quote what she claimed was “General Patton’s definition of a lady”, i.e., “a woman who acts like a gentleman.” Both Jeanne Kilpatrick and my Aunt Angeline are/were ladies.

  21. ikonoklast says:

    Ked –
    “A proper scoring system (based upon Dante’s nine circles of Hell?) could launch a race to regain a state of grace …”
    First prize: A waterboarding session in a tub of Kool-Aid.

  22. Sandy says:

    Who cares what those in power and responsible for this worst disaster in American history say now…or think?
    How many died today?
    This month?
    How many will die….for no good reason….in the coming weeks?
    To Hell with the neo-cons!

  23. Got A Watch says:

    And from the “Laugh-Till-You-Cry” Dept.
    “US says Iran arming Sunni groups”
    “Sunni militants are being armed with Iranian-made munitions, US military spokesman Maj Gen William Caldwell told reporters in Baghdad.
    These include mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, he said.”
    Say what? The Kool-Aid in the Green Zone must be particularily potent. Supply proof? Whatever for? Take it on faith, we would never lie to you for political reasons.
    They found a few arms of Iranian origin in a car in a Sunni area, maybe the Sunni’s bought, captured or stole it. Hardly conclusive proof of Iranian official government involvement IMHO, and I think it just shows the depths of desperation of Bushians eager to blame Iran for every perceived wrong.
    We could really move ahead on important issues, let’s blame Iran for global warming too.
    I’m with Ked, how about it Col. – a rehab 12-step program for deprogramming repentant neo-cons, charge ’em $5K per day, call it Reality Camp.

  24. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I’m glad somone’s taking names.
    But who’s going to kick their arses?
    You can’t do any wall-to-wall counseling like your good old days, Colonel.

  25. Peter Principle says:

    I would not have descrbed her as a warm person, but maybe under other circumstances…
    Well, that’s one way to put it. Having had some passing familiarity with Kirkpatrick from my own professionnal past, I would suggest that “she wolf,” “scaly dragon” and “raving monster” would be more appropriate terminology. Think John Bolton, without the warmth and grace.

  26. Nick says:

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or, in this case, the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick is right because Iraq has turned into a total blunder.
    It’s easy to believe JK’s argument because of the situation we find ourselves in. But it’s a post hoc ergo propter hoc statement. She basically absolves the US of wrong doing because we didn’t peer hard enough into the soul and civic shortcomings of everyday Iraqis.
    But her argument about the political culture of Iraqis is wrong on the basis of her own statements. 1) There is (was) a Baghdad elite with common goals. Shia’s and Sunni’s who lived together in mixed neighborhoods; whose parents served under the monarchy and again under the early and late Ba’ath regimes. Further, there was a sense of Iraqi citizenship. Unfortunately, Saddam was the blacksmith who helped forge that identity, whether we like it or not.
    It was into the mess we created that the current forces spilled. Colonel, your Iyad Allawi post just below this one tells it all. We made monumental mistakes when we cut off the head and the proceeded to stab the body. We shouldn’t have disbanded the military, purged the civil bureaucracy and elevated the Hawzah to the level of Supreme Court.
    The whole project was a mistake from the beginning. But I won’t accept Kirkpatrick’s argument for a second. She’s as wrong now as she was as UN Ambassador under Reagan. A stupid racist, and nothing more.

  27. Will says:

    what was Condi’s rationalefor advising Dumbya?
    It had nothing to do w/ WMD. The sanctions were coming off after 10 years. He, SH, was coming out of his box. he was getting away w/ it. The troops were over there. We might as well kill his nation now. Or we may have to assemble them over them there again at some future time. That was the extent of her pea brain thinking.
    Some smart ass repub had emailed my wife a version of the grasshopper story going on welfare and stealing the hardworking ants tax earnings. The lesson was be careful for whom you vote. I sent him my own made up grasshopper-ant story.
    Truer Story for our times,But Much Sadder
    The ant being industrious had joined the Reserves to earn a few extra bucks. he figures it’s one weekend a month and a couple of weeks a year. W invades a country that did not desire war with us and did not threaten us. W sends the Ant’s Ass to Irak. He’s there on his third tour.
    The Grasshopper is there at the Ant’s house living with Mrs. Ant, eating the Ant’s food.
    Be Careful Who you Vote For and what Idiot you let in the White House

  28. Patrick Theros says:

    Pat, Jeanne Kirkpatrick seems to have stayed in her ivory tower. One should not speak ill of the dead, but this is the lady who, when she served as the permanent representative to the UN, invited Arab ambassadors to breakfast and served bacon and eggs. She repeats an argument subscribed to by a broad spectrum of people – from neocons to Sen. Biden – that there was no Iraqi nation. There was. Allawi is only one illustration of the very large number of a sophisticated, well-educated elite which shared sense of nation in the Western sense. And it wasn’t just the elite. Iraqis fought a 9 year war against Iran with an Army that was 70% Shia peasant and urban proletariat, who acquitted themselves with determination and courage in the name of Iraq.
    Bremmer and his carpetbaggers set about systematically destroying the elite and the institutions of the Iraqi nation, not just the Iraqi state. Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s statement is as ignorant now as the administration’s decision to Iraq was in 2003. She doesn’t deserve any credit for prescience or good judgment.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Patrick Theros:
    Did an American nation exist in 1859? In 1862? In 1868?

  30. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I would say that Iraq in ’03 was a work in progress with maybe half the people thinking of themselves as Iraqi and the rest thinking of themselves in other categories which were both older and deeper. pat

  31. Arun says:

    Did you see this?
    “In a question-and-answer period after his speech, Rove was asked whose idea it was to start a pre-emptive war in Iraq.
    “I think it was Osama bin Laden’s,” Rove replied.”

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