Sunday, November 05, 2006

More Confirmation: Mess-o-potamia Was Predictable

Thanks to "a Freedom of Information Act request by the George Washington University's National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library" we now know that the "U.S. government conducted a series of secret war games in 1999 that anticipated an invasion of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, and even then chaos might ensue." John Heilprin, "1999 War Games Foresaw Problems in Iraq," Washington Post (Associated Press), November 5, 2006.

Called "Desert Crossing," staged in 1999 (i.e., well before 9/11), and with 70 participants from the military, diplomatic corps, and intelligence services, the conclusions reached included:
  • "A change in regimes does not guarantee stability," the 1999 seminar briefings said. "A number of factors including aggressive neighbors, fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines, and chaos created by rival forces bidding for power could adversely affect regional stability."
  • "Even when civil order is restored and borders are secured, the replacement regime could be problematic -- especially if perceived as weak, a puppet, or out-of-step with prevailing regional governments."
  • "Iran's anti-Americanism could be enflamed by a U.S.-led intervention in Iraq," the briefings read. "The influx of U.S. and other western forces into Iraq would exacerbate worries in Tehran, as would the installation of a pro-western government in Baghdad."
  • "The debate on post-Saddam Iraq also reveals the paucity of information about the potential and capabilities of the external Iraqi opposition groups. The lack of intelligence concerning their roles hampers U.S. policy development."
  • "Also, some participants believe that no Arab government will welcome the kind of lengthy U.S. presence that would be required to install and sustain a democratic government."
  • "A long-term, large-scale military intervention may be at odds with many coalition partners."
Given the similarity between these conclusions and those contained in my early writing about the war as well (e.g., Nicholas Johnson, "Ten Questions for Bush Before War," The Daily Iowan, February 4, 2003, and see generally the collection at "Terrorism and the War in Iraq"), the significant point is not even that the Administration had the results from "Desert Crossing" available to it before going to war.

The point is that it didn't take 70 of our country's top experts to come to these conclusions. Seemingly anyone who thought about it could see the looming problems with which we are now dealing (and unsuccessfully).

I fear there was much more going on here than the mere "incompetence" with which even Republicans are now charging the Administration.

"Incompetence" can be the result of inexperience. It can be getting into a situation that has not been thought through, with which one is unfamiliar, and then not responding in a thoughtful and intelligent way to the unexpected circumstances one confronts.

But it turns out that an invasion of Iraq had been thought through. And the conclusions from thinking it through -- whether by experienced experts or by casual observers like myself -- was that it promised to be a disaster for any number of reasons.

After 9/11, of course, the reasons for not invading Iraq (as distinguished from Afghanistan, or going after bin Laden) only intensified. (The consensus of our 16 intelligence agencies is that the Iraq war has increased, rather than decreased, the number of terrorists and the likelihood of their harming America. See documentation linked from Nicholas Johnson, "Don't Like to Say 'I told you so,' but . . .," September 24, 2006.)

For the Bush Administration to invade Iraq anyway, when they knew -- or ought to have known -- of the looming disasters and costs in American and Iraqi lives and our nation's treasure, cannot be morally justified by lumpng it with the all-too-common catastrophes born of "incompetence."

"Incompetence" is far too benign a label to use to describe the cause of what they have done to this country -- and Iraq.
Technorati tags: , ,

Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site
Nicholas Johnson's Iowa Rain Forest ("Earthpark") Web Site
Nicholas Johnson's Blog, FromDC2Iowa
Nicholas Johnson's Blog Index

No comments: