Your Sunday reading assignment, ladies and gentlemen:
By WARREN P. STROBEL and JOHN WALCOTT
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON – In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration’s plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.
Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon’s plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners’ parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material – and for good reason.
The slide said: “To Be Provided.”
A Knight Ridder review of the administration’s Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.
In fact, some senior Pentagon officials had thought they could bring most American soldiers home from Iraq by September 2003. Instead, more than a year later, 138,000 U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists who slip easily across Iraq’s long borders, diehards from the old regime and Iraqis angered by their country’s widespread crime and unemployment and America’s sometimes heavy boots.
“We didn’t go in with a plan. We went in with a theory,” said a veteran State Department officer who was directly involved in Iraq policy.
The whole report is, in a word, heartbreaking. And it shows how this administration betrayed the military which performed so brilliantly during the invasion of Iraq by not having its back with a plan for the peace. Please do pass it along to any Bush supporter you know who clings to the idea that this adminstration has the slightest clue what it’s doing in Iraq. It really doesn’t. And as this report shows, it never really did. It hardly even bothered.
Our military people deserve better. The people in Iraq deserve better. We deserve better.