“I’ll fire the next guy who asks about a post-war plan.” Donald Rumsfeld, 2003
(Yes, I know it is Sunday afternoon, and the report was released on Friday. But it is 229 pages long, and I’m not here to summarize a summary, even if it comes from McClatchy.)
Introduction & set-up
Two months before the war in
I realize that a new term has just been introduced, so lets define it before we go on. Outside the intelligence community it is not widely known exactly what an
The conclusions drawn by the 2003 reports, released Friday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, are so prescient and so damning, I am left to work through the stages of grief after reading the whole thing.
It was all foreseen, and it was all dismissed, discounted or flat-out ignored. To tragic results.
Before the invasion was launched, the reports warned that attempts to establish Democracy in
The reports noted the absence of “Political Islam” in
Security, Terrorism & al Qa’eda
The rise in terrorism and the emergence of terrorist groups aligned with al Qa’eda, predicated by the opportunity presenting itself, was foreseen as well. The reports predicted that actors aligning themselves with al Qa’eda would attempt to replicate the methods of striking against the occupying forces that had been modestly successful in striking back against the American forces in
Indeed, this is witnessed nightly on the national news when every bombing and every attack is attributed to al Qa’eda. Either those few fellows are mighty industrious, the invasion and occupation have proven to be a magnificently effective recruiting tool for the organization, or the lines have blurred to the point that all bad actors are classified as al Qa’eda, or all-of-the-above. (If I were taking an exam, I would select “D.”)
Additional volatile elements were present in
Divided Society & the Potential for Civil War
The intelligence community determined prior to George Bush’s decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power that the removal of Hussein would remove the stops that had prevented Iraqi society from devolving into sectarian strife. The years of Baathist oppression of the Shia majority would be avenged. Throughout Iraqi society, it was predicted, those who had suffered under the Hussein regime would retaliate viciously against those who had inflicted or enabled that suffering.
The only way reprisals and blood-letting could be avoided would be the presence of an overwhelming occupation force of 400,000 or more troops (see Desert Crossing). The invasion was launched with less than half the troops it was known would be necessary to secure the country after the removal of Hussein.
Refugees & Humanitarian Crises
Another “given” that was overlooked was the humanitarian and refugee crisis that would accompany the unrest that would certainly follow the removal of Hussein from power. It was estimated that 900,000 would be displaced internally and 1.45 million would become refugees. These numbers, as bad as they are, were gross underestimations. More than 2 million have been internally displaced, and at least that many have fled the country entirely. Food distribution is spotty, and the healthcare delivery system is in a shambles, frequently targeted by insurgent fighters from all sides. Health professionals, educated and with resources have left the country in droves. Those remaining are frequently the targets of attacks. The hospitals and clinics are attacked, but the doctors and nurses themselves are hunted down, attacked, tortured and killed outside of work as well, simply because they are non-partisan providers of health services.
The Emergence of Political Islam, & Rising Iranian Influence
Before the invasion, Political Islam had not found fertile soil in
The intelligence community argued that an invasion of
Neighboring countries, most with a vested interest in seeing
The biggest star on that stage would undoubtedly be
Weapons of Mass Destruction
It was determined by the intelligence community before the invasion that the military approach to eliminating Iraq’s (non existent) WMD’s would not deter other nations in the region and in Asia to abandon their nuclear programs, or even to back off on those development programs. Instead, nations would deem that the programs were necessary and proceed apace. If the invasion has had any effect in this area, it has been to achieve exactly the opposite ends – programs to develop nuclear weapons have increased in effort and intensity. The thinking behind that strategy: Get ‘em now, and use ‘em as a deterent before they can be preemptively attacked and the programs decimated.
Oil & Infrastructure
Before the war, it was known that
In January 2003, those reports stated that securing the elements of the infrastructure would be crucial. (This has not been done, and the chlorine looted from water purification plants has been looted and used to make bombs with a secondary-kill capability.)
On the oil front, it was projected that if the oil infrastructure was relatively undamaged by the war, it would be possible to increase Iraq’s oil production by approximately 700,000 barrels per day, and that Iraq would be able to pay for at least part of their own reconstruction efforts. (This - the one aspect of the pre-war assessments that could have been considered "potentially promising" has not worked out.)
Thankfully, Pat Roberts is no longer chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, or this damning report would never have seen the light of day. (Thank you for the majority and the chairmanship, Missouri, Virginia and Montana voters!)
[Cross-posted from Watching Those We Chose]