Or: Didn't you see this coming?
As it becomes
all the more evident that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was
a catastrophic miscalculation with extremely long-term consequences
and no relief in sight from our allies abroad, we at the American
Assembler thought it would be instructive to revisit the months
preceding the Iraq war to see if there were any warnings the Bush
administration could have drawn upon to foresee the potential for
what can now only be described as the Iraq disaster.
Didn't anyone see this coming? Or did our leaders really believe
that this would be a "cakewalk" and we would be "greeted
As it turns out, about the only people who did believe that spin
were the spinners themselves. Warnings and grave concerns were expressed
from the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, former members of previous
administrations, foreign governments, and even Bush's own Secretary
So what were these warnings? We can start with history. The fact
is, there hasn't been a successful invasion and occupation of Baghdad
in 3000 years. As ABC News pointed out in the article, Iraq:
Saladin to Saddam:
For millenniums, Iraq has worn and rejected the yoke of foreign
invaders, from merciless Assyrians to a British-constructed monarchy
that was overthrown in 1958.
If anyone was prepared to offer some credible advice on the perils
of getting bogged down in Iraq, it was the British. And as it just
so happens, they did just that. From an August, 2002 article in
Britain has strongly advised the United States against attacking
warning that it risked intensifying the conflicts in Afghanistan,
and Kashmir, senior defense and diplomatic sources say.
In a sign of deepening discord between the two allies, British
and officials in Whitehall believe that a new war would "contaminate"
other crises."These are issues the Americans appear not to
considered," said one official.
They also have grave reservations about President George Bush's
a "regime change" in Baghdad because, London believes,
regime has been identified for such a change to take place. Britain
lumbered with leading a massive stabilization force for "up
to five years"
in an anarchic post-war Iraq, with the prospect of the country
It was only later, in September of 2002, as illuminated in Peter
Stothard's book, 30
Days, and clarified further by Martin Kettle for the Guardian,
that Blair concluded that a US war with Iraq was inevitable so Britain
had best be on board.
Then, of course, there were the many warnings from the US, most
notably from senior members of the previous Bush administration.
From James Baker, "we should try our best not to go it alone,
and the President should reject the advice of those who counsel
doing so", to Brent Scowcroft, "the fallout from a new
war with Iraq could be Armageddon in the Middle East", to Senator
Chuck Hagel, "hawks might be pushing the country down a dangerous
path", it seemed that Bush was surrounded by nays-ayers on
But by far the most compelling and precise warnings came from the
Pentagon. From the Washington
Post, May, 2002:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff have waged a determined behind-the-scenes
campaign to persuade the Bush administration to reconsider an
aggressive posture toward Iraq in which war was regarded as all
...In their Tank sessions, the chiefs focused on two specific
concerns... the danger of becoming bogged down in bloody block-by-block
urban warfare in Baghdad that could kill thousands of U.S. troops
and Iraqi civilians.
There were similar warnings from the British military as published
by The Observer , March 17, 2002:
Britain's military leaders issued a stark warning to Tony Blair
last night that any war against Iraq is doomed to fail and would
lead to the loss of lives for little political gain.
As the debate over whether to commit British troops alongside
American forces intensified, the leaders urged 'extreme caution'
over any moves towards war, saying servicemen faced being
bogged down in a perilous open-ended commitment.
These warnings now have an ominous ring as the situation in Iraq
unfolds almost exactly as they predicted. They also present possibly
the most compelling criticism of the Bush presidency to date: extremely
Much has been made of the deceptive sell preceding the war and
the poor planning for the postwar. There was even a fleeting yet
valid criticism of the shock and awe campaign itself and Rumsfeld's
new "war on the cheap" doctrine.
But surprisingly little attention has been payed to the sheer lack
of judgment in choosing this war in the first place. Stripping away
for a moment any moral or ethical considerations, it is clear from
the record that Bush had received many warnings from many credible
sources of the perils of invading Iraq and simply chose to ignore
them. This is an issue of stupidity.
One can argue that this is a just war or that it was waged with
the best intentions (although you will not see that argument put
forth here), but as countless warnings predicted, and the the situation
clearly demonstrates, strategically, the cerebral abilities of the
Bush neo-cons are highly over-rated.
Republicans Break With Bush on Iraq Strategy
agencies foresaw Iraq resistance
Top Military Brass Favor Status Quo in Iraq
Cradle of Civilization Has Resisted Occupiers for Millenniums
GOP Leaders Oppose Iraq Invasion
with us, Mr. President By Edward Kennedy
war could engulf region, Britain warns US
- Eagleburger questions
possible Iraqi move
Attack Saddam by Brent Scowcroft
and father at odds over Iraq strike From Tim Reid in Washington
fear over Blair war plans
- Below the
Beltway: Neo-Cons vs. New York Times