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October 15, 2015

Comments

Hey, if I told you that the info I got was almost certainly false and then find you touting the same info as undoubtedly 110% accurate naming me as the source and guarantor of its accuracy, do you think I'd be inclined to believe anything else you claim on the topic?
Btw, it was already known from the first US war against Iraq that the US (under another Bush) produced/s lots of falsehoods to sway public opinion. Not everyone had forgotten about that.
I think I remember jokes about Bush probably starting the war at 5:45 after breaking news of an Iraqi attack on a US radio or TV station. Plus of course numerous mock quotes of 'No one has the intention to invade Iraq!'

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/so-bush-kept-us-safe.html

"If you could, imagine the difference in the perception and discussion if one sizable chemical weapons cache had been found."

Call me a cynic (which I am) but where I worked at the time it was strongly expected that such a stockpile would be 'found', 5 minutes after depositing it there. And the reaction to that not happening was 'are they not competent enough to manage even that detail?!'.
What got found instead was a single unlabelled bottle with a few drops of an unidentified liquid in it in an abandoned lab leading to claims of either 'we have found the WMD!!!!!' (FOX) or 'will this bottle lead us to the hidden WMD?' (other US media). Later, if I am not mistaken, it was shortly tried to redefine explosives as WMD because that's about the only dangerous stuff that could be presented in larger quantities.

I wish to God discussion could stay civil because I think McKTx's contribution to this site is important

For the record, and FWIW, I completely agree that McK's contribution here is both very large, and very valuable.

The only thing I'm really not interested in is lectures from him, or really anyone, about how people who post here from "the left" are expressing knee-jerk hive-mind memes. It's rude, if for no other reason than folks who post here from "the left" express a pretty broad variety of opinions and points of view.

On this thread, McK has been presented with a variety of documentary evidence indicating that (a) there was in fact a plan, prior to Bremer's appointment, for retaining the rank and file Iraqi army in place, and (b) Bremer's decision (or whoever's decision, implemented by Bremer) to disband the Iraqi army was criticized either at the time the decision was made, or with a very short period of time of his making it.

Here's a WSJ piece from April 04 - less than a year after Bremer disbanded the army - criticizing that decision among others.

Prior to the invasion, the CIA had been leafletting Iraq with messages telling the army to stand down, and if they did so they could retain their positions in the Iraqi army after the invasion.

Garner, the first CPA head, laid out plans explicitly calling for the rank and file army to be kept on, some as army and some working in reconstruction.

McK finds none of this persuasive. Which is fine. I just don't want to hear about how people who think like I do are just parroting some liberal party line.

Physician, heal thyself.

Contrary to what appears to be popular opinion, the Iraq invasion was not poorly planned. It was planned out the wazoo.

The problem is that the folks who were driving the bus decided to ignore the advice and direction of folks who had expertise and experience in the relevant domains, and chose instead to pursue their own agendas, for purposes other than actually making Iraq a stable place, post-invasion.

They had big ideas they wanted to demonstrate, and Iraq was going to be their prototype.

Also for the record, if there had been WMD in Iraq, my opinion about the invasion would have been absolutely unchanged. There are WMD all over the world. Every punk dictator on the planet has WMD of one form or another.

Hussein had no way to use anything of the sort against us, or likely against anybody. And, Hussein had damned little interest in doing business with jihadis. And, Iraq was under a freaking microscope.

There was absolutely no pressing need to invade Iraq in '03. A hell of a lot of people, all around the world including in the US, were making that argument. Literally millions of people, all around the world and in the US, were making the argument by putting their @sses in the street, literally.

The argument was made. It was simply not acceptable to the folks who were driving the bus.

So it goes.

Good comment there, Russell. Yes, there was intense debate prior to the war about the alleged WMD's, and to flatly assert that "everybody" agreed that in all likelihood they did in fact exist is simply to ignore the historical record.

Many on the "left" opposed the war. The reasons given were many. Like their counterparts on the right, some of them turned out to be not very prescient (i.e., stupid, wrong, off-base), but we're talking crystal balls here.

The plain fact of the matter is this: The decision to invade was a huge miscalculation. The wingnut implementation was a disaster. The fallout and blowback....incalculable.

But of course, all of this, including the smoking ruins of the Bush presidency, all of it, is "the left's" fault because they didn't foretell the future EXACTLY as how it would unfold microseconds after Bremer issued that fateful order (on like his 2nd day on the job, I might add).

That's Tex's claim, and he's sticking to it.

Given this line of reasoning, I am astounded that he ever wins in court.

Brent freaking Scowcroft was against invading Iraq.

it was not just some weird hippie thing.

Contrary to what appears to be popular opinion, the Iraq invasion was not poorly planned. It was planned out the wazoo.

Russell, I think there is a small confusion as to what is meant by "poorly planned." For me, at least, it doesn't mean that there were not plans -- even extensive ones. Rather, it means that the plans the were made were not good ones. There were holes in the plan (e.g. on logistics). And there were parts of the plan (e.g. dealing with the Iraqi army) which were either deficient or not executed (or changed on the fly).

I'm sure there were 'plans', in the sense of 'do X, then do Y, then do Z'.

The problem was that many of those plans were unhinged from reality, 'faith-based', if you will.

A retirement plan that is predicated on winning the lottery should not be dignified by the term 'plan'.

Given this line of reasoning, I am astounded that he ever wins in court.

Look, McK is a very accomplished guy. His professional achievements are really not in question here, I would think.

If you make a claim, and folks dispute it, you need to explain why you believe what you believe. You need to show your work.

If you don't want to, or don't have the time, that's fine and understandable. But, in that case, you should probably qualify your claim as being your opinion, or your understanding of the situation.

If other people go to the trouble of showing you their work, you should really engage it on the merits, and not try to argue your point by focusing on weird irrelevant details.

Folks who participate here are, pretty much to a person, intelligent and thoughtful people. It's kind of rude, and also kind of fallacious in a logical sense, to dismiss what they say as them just parroting some partisan meme.

All of the above is what people, or at least I, mean when they talk about commenting in good faith. Discussions are more productive, and more enjoyable and less frustrating to one and all, if folks go about things in good faith.

It's got nothing to do with anybody being a bad person, or not being welcome here, or any kind of lack of interest in what they have to say.

Russell, I think there is a small confusion as to what is meant by "poorly planned."

What I mean by Iraq being "planned out the wazoo" is that lots of folks with experience and expertise in relevant disciplines - the war-making side, what to do post-invasion, what the conditions on the ground in Iraq were likely to be, etc etc - did a lot of due diligence and made plans and recommendations based on their various areas of competence.

What I mean by "the folks driving the bus" is basically VPOTUS and the group of think-tank dudes surrounding him.

What I mean by them basically ignoring the planning that had been done was them basically ignoring the planning that had been done, and taking other directions based on agendas of their own.

Rumsfeld wanted to demonstrate his ideas about a leaner more agile military. The PNAC crew wanted to remake the middle east using Iraq as their prototype. They also saw Iraq as being a useful strategic lever for counterbalancing other players in the region.

I don't know what the hell Bush wanted, other than maybe to have the lever of being a wartime president to push other agendas. I've never really found the daddy psychodrama thing convincing, but who knows.

In any case, they went their own way.

So it goes.

Look, McK is a very accomplished guy.

Don't doubt that for a minute. And I don't mind much his barging in to tell us what "the left" or "progressives" are thinking. It's a fast paced world, and one is hard pressed to keep up.

I've been known to tell him what the right thinks from time to time. Once in a while I get the impression he has forgotten.

He is, after all, very busy.

But he is pushing a really poor argument on this one....not up to his usual standards.

:)))))))

Look, McTx is just hippie bashing. As for his accomplishments, well, he's a lawyer, not sure why that is supposed to be particularly impressive. I remember hilzoy, who is as far as I can tell a high performing individual, was also very humble - I miss her.

I've been lurking for awhile, but will say this:

About me: I was on the fence about the war in Afghanistan, mostly because W was President, and given how he won the election, and how I woke up everyday to a new environmental atrocity, I was worried about how he would lead the military into a war. I was against the Iraq invasion because the UN weapons inspectors seemed to have been ignored and short-circuited. I had huge worries about W leading yet another war. When the authorization to use military force was put before Congress, I was hoping that the agenda set forth by Jessica Matthews was the goal: that whatever threats were being made to Saddam were being backed up by a credible threat of force. I dreaded the possibility of actual war.

When the war in Iraq happened, it was one disaster after another: not only was the Iraqi army disbanded, but U.S. weapons were lost (and found by the other side), Republicans' adult children were put in charge of the new economic order (given businesses to run and get rich on). It quickly became apparent that the whole war was a war profiteering venture designed to loot the US treasury as well as Iraqi resources. It was disgusting and shameful, but not really unexpected given the people in charge.

In most discussions here, I hold the view that the "people in charge" make or break a situation. All administrations have made "mistakes" in the sense that, in hindsight, there were things that could have been done differently to have achieved a better outcome. The war in Iraq was corrupt and wrong from the get-go. Saddam was a horrible thorn in the side of international peace, and everyone hated him. It would have been nice to find an easy way to get rid of him, but that couldn't happen given the state of the religious conflicts there.

Girl from the North Country, I'd love to know why you are resisting commenting. Although that it would mean you'd have to comment to explain, it might be useful to us all here why you'd rather not.

Ouch - need to wear my reading glasses even for looking at a computer screen now. Sorry for the unedited comments that I posted. But I think you get the drift.

McKT's argument seems to be that the decision regarding the complete dissolution of Iraqi army may well have been a bad one, but all of the higher level actors involved in and witness to the decision, Powell, for example, and pundits at the time reacted only and conveniently with hindsight in criticizing the decision after its failures and the blow back became manifest.

Plenty of evidence was presented to the contrary.

Somehow many of here got lumped into that category, as if we were the last to hop on board the fashion express, when (and I speak for myself) really, all we ask, in hindsight (what other perspective was available to those here, unless some us were insiders and aren't telling) is that the higher levels actors could and should have acted with more foresight and those Bushies who were against the decision should have made that clear at the time, publicly.

I'm comfortable being on the other side of that argument from McKT.

As to his professional qualifications, I would not want to be opposing counsel against him in the courtroom, given his record and the demand for his services.

I'd probably end up advising my client to settle or worse. Actually, my client would probably fire me once McKT divulged to the Court that I don't have a law degree.

But that has nothing to do with anything here.

Sapient, there are various reasons. I'd been lurking here for years, certainly some few before Hilzoy quit (and by the way, I admired her clarity and integrity enormously and miss her to this day). I never felt the need or the confidence to comment myself, but I checked in regularly and enjoyed it more than any other comparable site (e.g. Crooked Timber).

Once I started commenting, however, I discovered that
a) I kept checking in more and more frequently, in an addictive and slightly irritating way
b) I cared too much about responses to my posts, and took it too personally if e.g. somebody I addressed a comment to ignored it
c) I started to feel that I was ignorant of Blog etiquette, and was too hung up on politeness and stuff, and unfit for the rough and tumble of Blog life
d) I'm dealing with fears about loss of memory and vocabulary and capacity for abstract thought (things which, to put it mildly, have never been any kind of problem in my life), and starting to feel stupid, and my involvement here has started to exacerbate this.
And on, boringly and self-obsessively on.

So it's nothing to do with you all, and I don't expect any of this is useful to you, because it's not about you. I'll miss commenting if I have the will power to keep my resolution, no doubt about that, it's been fun to feel like part of the community. But I'll definitely still be lurking!

Russell: What I mean by them basically ignoring the planning that had been done was them basically ignoring the planning that had been done, and taking other directions based on agendas of their own.

Fair enough. But if the execution is being done without regard for the plans, I don't think you can really say that what happened was planned in any meaningful sense.

Yes, there were plans for the invasion and the aftermath. But what actually happened was NOT what planned -- and therefore it cannot really be said that the invasion, as actually executed, were planned. That was where I was coming from.

"But if the execution is being done without regard for the plans, I don't think you can really say that what happened was planned in any meaningful sense."

ok, I see what you're saying.

you make a good point.

"I'm dealing with fears about loss of memory and vocabulary and capacity for abstract thought (things which, to put it mildly, have never been any kind of problem in my life), and starting to feel stupid, and my involvement here has started to exacerbate this."

You seem right on the money, to me.

But, I fear these things my own self.

Thanks for your reply, Girl from the North Country. Just want to say that I've been interested in your comments, and am happy that you've contributed. Understand and share some of your misgivings though, which is why I've been on break.

what the count and sapient said.

Enormously appreciated you three, thank you!

Imagine Jeb Bush's words, let alone Trump's, "He kept us safe", applied to Al Gore's efforts if we hadn't been cheated out of the latter's Presidency and 9/11 had been on Gore's watch.

There is no need to imagine. Blaming FDR for Pearl Harbor was an issue commonly harped on by the GOP during Dewey's 1944 presidential campaign.

Just want to endorse what the Count, Sapient and Russell said.

I understand (first hand!) how addictive commenting on blogs can be. But I hope you will still manage to favor us with your thoughts occasionally.

GftNC: But I'll definitely still be lurking!

First, I obviously speak for others as well as myself when I beg Girl from the North Country to keep commenting here, at least occasionally. I appreciate the effort and trepidation it may involve. But I at least am selfish enough to say: please write more often, for I enjoy reading you.

Second, I personally think our lurkers (however few or many they might be) are the only audience that makes our back-and-forths here worth the typing. The notion that russell, say, will change the mind of McKinneyTexas, say, or vice versa, on any substantial question, is downright quaint. It's only lurkers who might be persuaded one way or the other.

I have no particular reason to believe that the lurkers here are any less set in their opinions than the commenters; it's only a hope. But at least it's not an impossibility.

For instance, I bet I can predict every regular commenter's attitude toward "He kept us safe". No mind-reading required; just reading. Lurkers may, possibly, not have made up their minds yet.

--TP

wj and Tony P, and others, I am astonished and grateful for your comments. Thank you for your appreciation, and I am sure I will not be able to resist the occasional comment when I feel I have something to contribute other than just my opinion. You confirm by your reactions that you are an exceptional community of exceptional individuals, and my lurkage will be extremely wistful, I am very sure.

I bet I can predict every regular commenter's attitude toward "He kept us safe".

Tony, I am tempted to ask you for a table, just out of curiosity. But it seems like an awful lot of effort, just to satisfy someone else's idle curiosity.

For instance, I bet I can predict every regular commenter's attitude toward "He kept us safe". No mind-reading required

Way too easy. Give it a try for H.R. 2168

Bobby, fixed your typo. in the previous post.

WAR, even B4 4-Evah:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3277402/Smoking-gun-emails-reveal-Blair-s-deal-blood-George-Bush-Iraq-war-forged-YEAR-invasion-started.html

courtesy of Balloon Juice

I'm starting to warm up to the Benghazi Committee.

Colin Powell, the Bill Cosby of helping to drug the public and get us good and lubed up.

That guy has been a weasel all along.

He must have had his fingerprints surgically removed before he started hanging out at the White House all those decades ago, because he looks so innocent when he says things like "We broke it".

"We"? Hmmm,kemosabe.


Best phrase in Powell's ass-kissing letter to the Boy Wonder:

" and success against Saddam will yield more regional success."

but, but, but...they were planning! See?

Meanwhile, the idiot savant surgeon, but ignoramus in all else, has big plans, oh, and look, does a little ad hoc post hoc late-to-the-game planning for the Bush II invasion of Iraq, a dozen years after the fact.

Talk about second guessing. Can someone get on that, please.

It's very simple, don't you know.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-delusion-runs-deep.html

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, who Carson (henceforth known as Carnac the Insignificant) claims would fold to his demands that they shoot the kid in the paper hat serving fried chicken because we would be energy independent has already exploded that dream by flooding the world with at-the-well-head low-priced crude and the American producers, who wrapped themselves in the flag, (some flag, did Ayn Rand have a flag, or just a skirt with a slit up the side, not ours) and claimed the same thing have instead folded like a cheap suit as the bankers close in to shut down their loans which were financing our high-priced fracked crude (30 to 60 bucks a barrel, depending on what fracking technology is used), are now saying, hey, we meant, we'd be patriotically pumping if the f*cking price was right.

Sorry kids, but we got underbid. The market has spoken. And it said: take down the bunting. When you jokers are willing to pay $4.00 at the pump, we'll become patriotic again.

Meanwhile, Exxon's own scientists, on their payroll, stood up in front of their executives years ago and just hoaxed the sh*t out of them. I mean, pulled the climate change wool over their eyes wide shut.

These EXXON science hoaxers, who worked in EXXON's Hoax Science Department and who, to a man, aced post-graduate hoaxing courses in thermodynamics, mind you, had the EXXON money people so worked up at the truth of these revelations regarding the severity of climate change that the executives rubbed their hands together at the prospect of the ice being cleared out over the North Pole and making it cheaper and easier to find even more fossil fuels, and at the same time, they, in a panic, dropped their dicks and notified all employees by memo that "Vee know nussing" and commanded their lobbyists to run up to Capitol Hill and pay exorbitant bribes to Republican vermin, who woulda done it for free, because there is no commodity cheaper in America than malignant stupidity, to pronounce the word "HOAX" over and over and over into microphones, say after day, week after week, and year after year.

Now, I'm go to finish making a beautiful ricotta/burrata chanterelle mushroom lasagna, or I'm going to shoot myself.

It's a toss-up.

go for the lasagna.

What Russell said, need I say more?

Well, you could tell us how the lasagna was....

Perhaps we could all learn a lesson from this.

Lasagna was very tasty.

I'm going to make it again this week with the same ingredients but in different relative quantities and see if I can make it better.

McKT's argument seems to be that the decision regarding the complete dissolution of Iraqi army may well have been a bad one, but all of the higher level actors involved in and witness to the decision, Powell, for example, and pundits at the time reacted only and conveniently with hindsight in criticizing the decision after its failures and the blow back became manifest.

Plenty of evidence was presented to the contrary.

Yes, that is what I was saying. I missed the evidence to the contrary and I did go back and look at the various links and didn't find anything that would qualify as contemporaneous criticism.

Six months or a year isn't contemporaneous. It is hindsight.

The only "plan" was a Power Point. It apparently got one review by the big-shots. Ok, plans change. All the time. Bremer changed the plan--who got mad about that at the time? The big shots and the pundits *at the time* were silent.

Now, inferentially, one can fairly say that the whole post-invasion occupation was an ad hoc lash-up with no sense whatsoever of what was to be done. I'm not saying otherwise. In fact, I'm saying that the planning was so shitty that there really wasn't a plan in the sense of a widely known, thought-out understood strategy nor was the issue of "what do do with the Iraqi army" really on anyone's radar screen in any significant way.

Which is why, when Bremer made his announcement, there wasn't a lot of CYA leaks to the press from unnamed sources criticizing the decision. It was just one more thing at a time when *things* happened every hour or so.

One possible area of confusion--I'm not accusing anyone here of making a judgment they know to be in hindsight. Rather, the "Bremer really screwed up when he disbanded the Iraqi army" meme has been such a constant that it has become an unquestioned, unexamined part of the narrative--not the Left's narrative, but rather *everyone's* narrative.

It is a meme that was formed in hindsight, which I think is unfair, but most who buy into don't have a solid handle on the chronology. Also, the meme assumes without any significant evidence that keeping part of the army on the payroll (that was the "plan", about a third of the army) would have made a material change in what ensued. Yes, many here dispute this, but I'm pretty much accustomed to that.

Six months or a year isn't contemporaneous. It is hindsight.

Isn't that a pretty extreme criteria? I mean, for a lot of people outside the administration, there simply wasn't information about what was going to happen until after it was happening. How fast do you think someone should move if something happens? It takes time for the word to get out about what is happening, and then more time to write up your objections and get them published.

Maybe, maybe, someone could manage it in a couple of months. But for someone who merely was knowledgeable about the psychology of the situation, but not obsessively following the course of the war, it seems a rather narrow window.

In the right thread this time:

I keep coming back to this assessment of *Bill Clinton's* ill-considered attempt to provoke a Kurdish rebellion:

Moreover, if [Clinton's] covert operation had succeeded, its net result would have been a weak Iraq. Most experts agree that Iran, not Iraq, is the most significant potential threat in the region. One reason the objectives of Desert Storm were limited to liberating Kuwait was that U.S. leaders believed we needed a viable Iraq to counterbalance Iran. If we turned Sadam into the "Mayor of Baghdad," we would have created a power vacuum in the region. Dealing with Iran would have been more difficult than ever. How weak might have Iraq become following a successful covert operation to destabilize Sadam's hold on power? Recall Afghanistan, where the CIA supported the mujahideen for almost a decade. Witness the moonscape that currently passes for Kabul, and you will see that even "successful" covert actions of this magnitude are impossible to plan with precision, and often end as horrible, bloody affairs. (141)

[Berkowitz, Bruce D. and Allan E. Goodman Best Truth: Intelligence in the Information Age. Yale UP (2000)]

Note the date of publication.

That's not hindsight; that's foresight. And whether or not the Iraq army disbanded, taking the Baathists out of power was going to radically realign the balance of power between the three major factions in Iraq and tip power towards Tehran.

Recipe for disaster ... I mean .... lasagna:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mushroom-and-burrata-lasagnette

Six months or a year isn't contemporaneous. It is hindsight.

McK, there is a difference between a judgement made after the fact, and an account, given after the fact, of a judgement made at the time.

It is possible that EVERY SINGLE PERSON recounting the events is lying to cover their asses, and that EVERY SINGLE PERSON who researched the events and wrote up their findings several months, or a year, or a couple of years, after the fact all came to the same incorrect conclusion.

All of that is possible, however it is highly unlikely. The burden of proof is on you to explain how it is so.

As an aside, anyone who has either presented or attended a briefing given to or by anybody from the DoD will be completely unsurprised that Feith's briefing was in the form of PowerPoint.

Seizing on that as evidence that "no such plan exists" is like seizing on the fact that a reporter's account of events appeared in a newspaper.

In any case, this appears to be one of those topics where you are determined to hold the fort no matter what.

It's an odd choice of hill to die on, but to each his or her own.

Six months or a year isn't contemporaneous. It is hindsight.

McK, there is a difference between a judgement made after the fact, and an account, given after the fact, of a judgement made at the time.

It is possible that EVERY SINGLE PERSON recounting the events is lying to cover their asses, and that EVERY SINGLE PERSON who researched the events and wrote up their findings several months, or a year, or a couple of years, after the fact all came to the same incorrect conclusion.

All of that is possible, however it is highly unlikely. The burden of proof is on you to explain how it is so.

As an aside, anyone who has either presented or attended a briefing given to or by anybody from the DoD will be completely unsurprised that Feith's briefing was in the form of PowerPoint.

Seizing on that as evidence that "no such plan exists" is like seizing on the fact that a reporter's account of events appeared in a newspaper.

In any case, this appears to be one of those topics where you are determined to hold the fort no matter what.

It's an odd choice of hill to die on, but to each his or her own.

Six months or a year isn't contemporaneous. It is hindsight.

Isn't that a pretty extreme criteria? I mean, for a lot of people outside the administration, there simply wasn't information about what was going to happen until after it was happening. How fast do you think someone should move if something happens? It takes time for the word to get out about what is happening, and then more time to write up your objections and get them published.

First, and this responds in part to Russell below, IF someone, e.g. Powell or Rice, think someone like Bremer has made a huge mistake as in disbanding the Iraqi army, they say so. In writing. To the Pres, to Cheney to anyone they can get to listen.

There is no record, nada, zip, zero of that happening. That is a very significant omission (and for those who question my legendary prowess in the courtroom, I have in fact made mincemeat out of any number of witnesses who claim to have taken a material position prior to the shit hitting the fan--"I told them we needed three layers of insulation"--yet had zero documentation of having done so).

IF something such as disbanding the Iraqi army is so self-evidently stupid and wrong, then smart experts outside the administration should see that and say so. AT THE TIME (not shouting, just emphasizing) but no one did.

I've made these points over and over again. I did so initially in response to WJ's repeating the oft-repeated words to the effect that disbanding the Iraqi army was the biggest mistake post invasion blah, blah, blah.

There are two things wrong with that statement. First, it's hindsight, so the implication that Bremer was stupider than other folks in that regard is wrong. Second, it is not self-evident that keeping part of the Iraqi army on the payroll would have materially affected the outcome in any event. Ergo, repeating the conventional wisdom, as WJ did, has issues.

It's an odd choice of hill to die on, but to each his or her own.

But I'm not dead yet.

One more link. Not that it will make a difference. Here's a couple excerpts:

Col. THOMAS M. GROSS (Ret.), Office of Humanitarian Assistance: Two reasons we wanted to keep the Ba'athist Party intact. One, the only folks who have experience running the government, so we needed to keep them. Number two, the Sunnis need to have a voice. And if you don't give people a voice, they have relatively few options. And what the Middle Eastern history and Middle Eastern- what it tells you is their next option is violence.

NARRATOR: With the de-Ba'athification order, Bremer made his decisive statement. In doing so, he gave the CPA staff, the military and the Iraqis the first glimpse of who he was.

and

NARRATOR: And then seven days later, another decisive and controversial announcement, CPA order number two, the decision to dissolve the Iraqi military.

Amb. L. PAUL BREMER: I think the decision not to recall Saddam's army, from a political point of view, is the single most important correct decision that we made in the 14 months we were there.

NARRATOR: This time, the policy had been designed by Bremer and then approved by the civilians at the Pentagon, Feith, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld.

WALTER SLOCOMBE, National Defense Adviser, CPA: We believed, Bremer believed, and I think the leadership in Washington believed that it was very important to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that whatever else was going to happen, Saddam and his cronies were not coming back.

NARRATOR: But the U.S. commanders disagreed with the civilians. Desperate for boots on the ground, they had been counting on the pacified Iraqi army to do the grunt work.

Col. THOMAS X. HAMMES: We actually had people negotiating with Iraqis to bring them back, and there were a lot of Iraqis saying, "OK, we can bring back units."

Col. PAUL HUGHES (Ret.), Office of Humanitarian Assistance: They were clearly anticipating, at least as late as 9 May, of having available Iraqi forces for us to use in the reconstruction effort.

NARRATOR: And the Iraqi military, waiting for more than a month to be called back, were equally surprised.

Col. PAUL HUGHES: But it shocked many of us. Up to that point in time, I had these guys pretty much doing anything I wanted them to do. They were offering us forces. If we needed military police, I was told I could get 10,000 military police in seven days. They could produce that for me.

Col. THOMAS X. HAMMES: Now you have a couple hundred thousand people who are armed because they took their weapons home with them, they know how to use the weapons, who have no future and have a reason to be angry at you.

Col. THOMAS M. GROSS: Who knows how many folks who got disgruntled and went to the other side? I will tell you this, 72 hours after the decision was made, the first major attack from the airport road took place, and I got two of my military police killed. And it's been downhill from there.

NARRATOR: At the White House, they were also surprised by the announcement.

MICHAEL GORDON, Author, Cobra II: The decision to issue an edict dismantling the army is a decision that's made without the knowledge of Condi Rice or Colin Powell. They learn about it after the fact.

NARRATOR: They are surprised because CPA order number two is different from what the president had agreed to after a briefing just nine days before the war started.

FRANKLIN C. MILLER, Nat'l Security Council, 2001-'05: The briefing recommended that the regular Iraqi army be maintained as an institution because we believed that it would be dangerous to put 300,000 men on the street with guns, without jobs.

IF something such as disbanding the Iraqi army is so self-evidently stupid and wrong, then smart experts outside the administration should see that and say so. AT THE TIME (not shouting, just emphasizing) but no one did.

Garner says he personally approached Bremer and tried to persuade him away from disbanding the military.

Folks in State and CIA state they were strongly opposed to the decision.

Sorry, no links, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Your claim is that nobody at the time Bremer made the decision thought that it was a bad idea. That only after the fact did anyone come to that conclusion.

Either you're wrong, or all of those folks are lying.

If you want to claim they're lying, you have to explain away the fact that the plans made by DoD, CIA, and State called for disbanding the Republic Guard, but retaining rank and file military either as a security force, or in reconstruction.

The reasons why it was a bad idea to disband the army, and how it contributed to the insurgency, have been discussed at enormous length. You may wish to call it "conventional wisdom", sometimes things are "conventionally" considered to be so because they are so.

In any case, that's not my wheelhouse, I leave that to the folks in the CIA, the DoD, and State.

It's a steep hill, McK. You're welcome to it.

Amb. BARBARA BODINE: We didn't have a structure. We didn't have a plan. We didn't have money. I'm not quite sure- we had a lot of will and enthusiasm.

How do you pay an army without any money?

FRANKLIN C. MILLER, Nat'l Security Council, 2001-'05: The briefing recommended that the regular Iraqi army be maintained as an institution because we believed that it would be dangerous to put 300,000 men on the street with guns, without jobs.

Ok, here the "plan" is a "briefing" that "recommends". Which dovetails with after-the-fact ass covering.

Look, if people disagreed at the time, they'd have a email or two to back their story. They don't. Rather, "they didn't know", "that wasn't the plan", etc.

No one presses these folks: "well, what did you do about it?"

Whatever. I'm done.

"We didn't have the money." This from an official in an administration which somehow had vast amounts of money over the course of years. Enough that they were routinely shipping pallets of it to Iraq.

But perhaps the problem is that they didn't have time to gear up the presses...?

Look, if people disagreed at the time, they'd have a email or two to back their story.

Maybe they do. They just haven't bothered arguing with you, so maybe they just hadn't felt the need to dig them up. Or maybe e-mails that old have been deleted automatically. But you seem to know - somehow! - that it's just ass-covering and that they're a bunch of liars.

I'm glad you're so sure.

This from an official in an administration which somehow had vast amounts of money over the course of years. Enough that they were routinely shipping pallets of it to Iraq.

But perhaps the problem is that they didn't have time to gear up the presses...?

Yeah. *Didn't have the money* doesn't mean *couldn't have the money*.

Q: Why didn't you have the money for the thing you didn't plan on doing?

A: Well, you see, since we didn't plan on doing it, we didn't bother to get the money.

No one presses these folks:

I smell a conspiracy!

Q: How much did the Iraq War cost in dollars that we didn't have?

A: $1.7 trillion dollars. An additional half a trillion was spent serving Veterans, an expense expected to grow to six trillion dollars over the years.

Q: Where did the money go that wasn't there?

A: Well, the Bush tax cuts, which disappeared money from the Treasury from 2002-2009 alone totaled $1.812 trillion dollars.

Q: What's the next move planned to make sure even more money is not there?

A: Defaulting on the national debt and thus destroying a functioning U.S. Federal Government. Though there are no memos extant expressly noting that the real reason for the tax cuts and running up expenses on a money pit of a pointless war was, in fact, to bankrupt government, except for every conservative political utterance, every Tea Party rally misspelled sign, every banshee utterance by right-wing media, every position paper by right-wing stink tanks, and every donation chit by right wing corporate, billionaire filth since 1975, to wit, every subhuman, anti-American, traitorous piece of sadistic conservative pigsh*t in the country, if you tie Grover Norquist to a metal chair, run some water over the floor, and hook some Tesla batteries to his testicles, he will testify to exactly that in the high-pitched keening of an deservedly dying ideologue.

Based on what I read in this document , it would seem there was some sustained effort to plan for the post invasion of Iraq.

It would be interesting to know what all was in the CENTCOM produced 300-page Phase IV Operations Order referenced therein.

More than a power point! That's for sure.

Is that document available?

"More than a power point! That's for sure."

Anyone with a passing familiarity with the customs of large organizations would know that every serious "plan" is attended by a bodyguard of powerpoints and briefings.

Smoke? Fire.


"I....didn't find anything that would qualify as contemporaneous criticism."

I'm not understanding this. So you are saying that since there was no contemporaneous criticism that criticism of that decision since then is somehow unwarranted? (i.e., "in hindsight").

I imagine this document was cited by others above?

See p. 36. Now I guess you could call this a 'recommendation', but really, from the NSC staff? Then I would reasonably expect to see memos from Rumsfeld, Rice, or Cheney to the effect of, "Screw that. We'll make it up as we go!"

Perhaps you could show us where they are, Tex!

Here is a link to the State Dept Future Of Iraq papers, dating mostly from '02.

The military-related stuff is the same stuff NV posted way upthread, so no need for McK to take a look, he's already rejected it.

Just posting it to expand on NV's link, in case anyone is interested.

I will surely keep our new standard for citations etc. in mind for future discussions.

Look, if people disagreed at the time, they'd have a email or two to back their story. They don't. Rather, "they didn't know", "that wasn't the plan", etc.

No one presses these folks: "well, what did you do about it?"

I suggest you read a few pages from Tom Ricks' book Fiasco, wherein you will learn just how much you don't know.

This from a piece by Charles Pierce on Ben Carson, in an interview with Stephanopolous, in which the former blathers on about the Iraqistan war past and how to fix it:

Carson sez: "But, you know, we're talking about things that are in the past. We will never know the answer to that."

To which Pierce cracks:

"Yes, because who can know anything about things that are in the past? Was George Washington a monitor lizard? Could Abraham Lincoln have been a Soviet spy? Life is such a mystery.

I'm not understanding this. So you are saying that since there was no contemporaneous criticism that criticism of that decision since then is somehow unwarranted? (i.e., "in hindsight").

No. It's perfectly fine to say, after the fact, that "Bremer's decision turned out to be a bad call" provided the critic is honest enough to say, "but no one really knew that at the time", or "no one said so at the time".

Now, whether in fact Bremer's decision was wrong is a matter of debate. I'm not taking a side in that debate, although it is inherently speculative to imagine a materially different outcome. It is almost like saying the invasion and occupation would have been successful if only Bremer hadn't disbanded the Iraqi army.

I suggest you read a few pages from Tom Ricks' book Fiasco, wherein you will learn just how much you don't know.

Turb, that is a rehash of what people, year's after the fact, claim they were thinking at the time. So, the fact, that the author is repeating what others have repeated elsewhere doesn't add to the picture. It is cumulative of what others have said, all after the fact.

No one wants to take ownership of the Iraq debacle. That's human nature. Hindsight criticism is human nature as is CYA. People who distance themselves from an event after it goes south make convenient and friendly witnesses if the intent is to place blame elsewhere.

If someone wants to show me one person who, in the immediate aftermath of Bremer's announcement made a statement for the record that they disagreed and predicted ensuing mayhem, I will be most impressed. In the meantime, I'm sticking to my guns: it's ex post facto CYA by a bunch of people who were there, who have but won't take ownership and are happy for Bremer to be the fall guy. He may even deserve getting his ass kicked. But a lot of others seem to be getting a pass if they are willing to dump on Bremer.

If you're looking for "one person who, in the immediate aftermath of Bremer's announcement made a statement for the record that they disagreed and predicted ensuing mayhem", and you've already rejected statements made six months later...

...then you're going to have to be very damn specific as to what is "the immediate aftermath". Plant your flag, no moving goalposts.

...then you're going to have to be very damn specific as to what is "the immediate aftermath". Plant your flag, no moving goalposts.

I'll give two: one week and one month. If it was so obviously stupid to disband the Iraqi army, then some genius, somewhere, should have tumbled to it.

GFNC--I've been so busy fending off the True Believers (stand by for more incoming!), I completely forgot to thank you for your very, very kind email. And, your follow up email was lovely as well. Consider commenting substantively more often here. A kinder, gentler tone would be nice sometimes.

It is almost like saying the invasion and occupation would have been successful if only Bremer hadn't disbanded the Iraqi army.

No, McK, it's not.

It's not "almost like" anything. It's exactly what it is, which is an observation that many of the folks who were cut loose ended up participating in violent activity, including the various insurgencies.

Which is the conclusion of virtually every person who has made a study of the events we're talking about. Not just stupid loudmouths on the TV, or guys with books to sell, but folks like the military historians and analysts who work for the military academies and the DoD.

You are pretty much the only person I can think of other than Doug Feith who holds the opinion that it wasn't a bad idea.

You are entitled to your opinion, but if you are going to pile on wj with statements like:

This particular trope has been around since criticizing the invasion became cool. I've always thought it was the stupidest idea ever. No offense.

It behooves you to back up your point of view. Which you have not done, other than to share your own speculative ruminations with us all.

The idea that both the State Dept and the DoD recommended prior to the invasion was that (a) the Republic Guard and other forces created by Hussein and who had a particular loyalty to Hussein should be disbanded, (b) some of the rank and file Iraqi military should be retained as a defensive and security force, and (c) the remaining rank and file should be given employment in the reconstruction effort.

That is what is laid out in the State Department papers that NV linked to, which you dismissed through an inaccurate reading.

That is what Garner briefed, which you dismiss because the briefing was presented via PowerPoint. What that proves or disproves is beyond me.

That is what Garner stated publicly, on the record, to both US and UK press organs within 6 months of Bremer's decision. Obviously, not soon enough for you - initially your window was three months, now it has closed to one week or one month.

That is what every person who has done any credible research on the topic has found.

All of those people are just full of shit, just trying to cover their asses, and just piling on Bremer in the new coolness of criticizing the invasion.

You, and probably Doug Feith, alone know the truth.

I don't really care what you believe or don't believe. What I find profoundly rude, and profoundly disrespectful, is your insistence that all of us jump through whatever hoops you care to prescribe, while you yourself can't be bothered to summon a single scrap of documentation for your point of view.

Anyone who disagrees with you is either (a) covering their ass, or (b) succumbing to mindless acceptance of some conventional wisdom meme.

It's really fucking obnoxious.

wj: Tony, I am tempted to ask you for a table, just out of curiosity.

Well, it's something of a sucker bet on a somewhat nebulous proposition, but given the stakes involved (approximately nothing), here goes:

Unfair to accuse Dubya of not keeping us safe:
McKinney, Marty

Ridiculous to pretend that Dubya did keep us safe:
Trump, me

Willing to parse "us" and "safe" before passing judgement:
almost everyone else

Irrefutable proof that Dubya really was president on 9/11:
Countme-In, citing contemporaneous sources

It was all my fault, if you think about it:
Sandra Day O'Connor

--TP

Willing to parse "us" and "safe" before passing judgement:
almost everyone else

As regards 9/11 specifically, I'm with you and Trump.

Russell, we are clearly talking past each other. I'm out.

OK.

Next time, let's talk about red wine and Achulean axes!

:)

Peace out buddy.

"No. It's perfectly fine to say, after the fact, that "Bremer's decision turned out to be a bad call" provided the critic is honest enough to say, "but no one really knew that at the time", or "no one said so at the time".

I see the bold part to be the crux of your argument.

I would respond, "So what?" What would such a piece of "honesty" add to the discussion? What is important is whether or not the decision was calamitous. History and further research will tell. Colin Powell may well have had doubts, but what could be he do? Resign? Bremer answered only to Bush and Rumsfeld. The excuse, "but nobody could have predicted...." is as old as time, and from a historian's view, pretty much irrelevant.*

What is most telling is "how" the decision came to be made. Truly an emanation from emanations.

Apparently nobody knows!

A telling epitaph for the worst administration since James Buchanan.

*As a challenge, I would ask you to name some other historical turning point where "honestly admitting nobody could know the outcome at the time" has any demonstrable relevance.

Keep you head down! Incoming!

Just for completeness' sake because no one seems to have mentioned it yet: at the time it was already known what happened to people in public service who dared to question the administration's decisions and opinions, in particular those of Rumsfeld*. That would have put a damper on immediately going public on even the most obviously dumb stuff (and anything put up later is, as McTx informed us, either cheap hindsight or an ass-covering outright fabrication that no credence should be attributed to).

*I am not sure when exactly it got out that Rummy had (allegedly) threatened anyone with immediate sacking who proposed anything coming from the State Department. Iirc it was before everything went to hell in a (cheaply made in China for Walmart) handbasket.

Many thanks indeed for those kind words, McKinney, much appreciated.

Hartmut @12:48

Indeed. Colin Powell's political career has recently been loaded onto a tumbril and wheeled to meet its bloody fate at the UN.

I was against invading Afghanistan. Lots of individual reasons but the big one is that on 9/11 I felt like I'd seen the USA baited into a fight, like a drunk prize fighter, by some idiots who wanted to start a war *so they could use it for their own PR*. I thought it was tragic that those idiots couldn't see what taking on a superpower would cost, or worse, didn't care. And I thought it was tragic that the USA, under Bush, would oblige them.

...provided the critic is honest enough to say, "but no one really knew that at the time", or "no one said so at the time".

You dismiss the recommendation to do the opposite because it was in a briefing (for reasons). Yet, you insist of the factually incorrect point that no one knew or said anything. It used to be that they didn't say it loud enough or enough times or to the right people or soon enough or something or other.

Might some people have jumped on the bandwagon after the fact? I don't see why not. But that doesn't mean no one saw it coming and no one said anything. To believe otherwise is to assume everyone - every single person who claims to have been against the plan at the time - is a liar.

People predicted almost exactly what happened, but no one in the de facto decision-making positions in the administration wanted to hear it.

It's just as valid to say that the lack of widespread and vocal criticism at the time was the result of dissent not being tolerated as it is to say people only said so after the fact to cover their asses. But, even then, there were still people who knew and said something, even if it didn't meet some arbitrary standard of insistence.

People predicted almost exactly what happened, but no one in the de facto decision-making positions in the administration wanted to hear it.

Indeed, Dick Cheney himself predicted a freaking disaster if the U.S. invaded Iraq almost a decade before we invaded in 2003. But 1994 Dick Cheney had been replaced by 2003 Dick Cheney, it seems.

Next time, let's talk about red wine and Achulean axes!

Deal.

I see the bold part to be the crux of your argument.

I would respond, "So what?" What would such a piece of "honesty" add to the discussion?

Good catch. To answer, briefly and with no follow up due to the inordinate amount of time already spent on this topic. First, people spout off about how stupid Bremer was to have disbanded the Iraqi army as if everyone else, at the time, knew how dumb it was. The context is quite a bit more complicated. Second, and somewhat in line with the first, we, the US, call on people to sit in difficult positions and to make difficult decisions. Decisions made in chaotic circumstances should be judged accordingly. We aren't talking about setting up a private email server in one's basement to send and receive possibly classified emails. If we want people to do difficult jobs and to make tough decisions, setting a precedent of recognizing that not every decision is going to have a happy ending through no real fault of the decision maker is not a bad way to go.

I say this as someone for whom being second guessed is an occupational hazard. It grows tiresome and, in fact, can be and often is chickenshit.

First, people spout off about how stupid Bremer was to have disbanded the Iraqi army as if everyone else, at the time, knew how dumb it was.

I thought no one knew, not *not everyone*.

I thought no one knew, not *not everyone*.

Sorry, HSH. I should have been clearer: people, after the fact, spout off, blah, blah, blah.

First, people spout off about how stupid Bremer was to have disbanded the Iraqi army as if everyone else, at the time, knew how dumb it was.

"As if" is carrying a heavy load there, McKinney. Mostly, people are heaping criticism on this decision because it promoted armed resistance, sectarian violence, and ultimately policy goal failure. That's their judgment based on their understanding of the facts. You may disagree.

As to your second consideration...you surly know the old saw about kitchens and heat, do you not?

I, for one, would like to know how many people died because of US Secretaries of State using private email servers.

Other than Vince Foster, I'll give you that one.

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