Friday, May 04, 2007

Behind the Scenes on Iraq

Snippets from Woodward's book make the "after-war" war in Iraq look more interesting, indeed. (N.B. The linked article includes a good deal of ranting which is off-putting and, frankly, useless. I don't subscribe to the "anti-Israel" crap. But the 'hard facts' cited below are useful.)

Woodward reports that vice president Dick Cheney confided to him (Woodward) in the summer of 2005: “I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anybody else. He just comes by and I guess at least once a month, Scooter [Libby] and I sit down with him.” [Page 406.] Woodward goes on to state: “The president also met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making the former secretary the most regular and frequent outside adviser to Bush on foreign affairs.”

Why has this fact been kept sub rosa? One wonders. Why did Cheney telephone Woodward and blast him for revealing it in the book, before hanging up on him?

While Kissinger is either loved or hated (few have a middle-of-the-road opinion of him,) it would seem that taking advice from him is not disreputable on its face. So yeah, why DID Cheney have a hissyfit about the info?

More: was Kissinger’s protégé and partner, Ambassador L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer III, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates, Inc. for more than a decade, whom Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush placed in charge of the occupation of Iraq when Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush inexplicably cashiered the honest and fair-minded Lt. General Jay Garner, after scarcely a few weeks on the job

This despite the fact that Gen. Garner had earned the position based on his work with the Kurds in Iraq.

Apparently Garner had the wrong priorities.

Garner drew up detailed plans and, at his first briefing with President Bush, outlined three essential “musts” that would, he asserted, ensure a smooth transition after the war. The first “must”, he said, was that the Iraqi military should not be disbanded. The second “must” was that the 50,000-strong Ba’ath party machine that ran government services should not be broken up or its members proscribed. If either were to happen, he warned, there would be chaos compounded by thousands of unemployed, armed Iraqis running around. And the third “must”, he insisted, was that an interim Iraqi leadership group, eager to help the United States administer the country in the short term, should be kept on-side.

Initially, no one disagreed, according to State of Denial, the new book by the veteran Washington reporter, Bob Woodward. But within weeks of the invasion, Garner’s tenure as head of the post-war planning office was over...

And the primary in-Pentagon contact for Bremer was Doug Feith, described by Gen. Tommy Franks thus: “the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth”.

All of those (myself included) who are uncomfortable with the existing situation are uncomfortable because, in the words of the linked author:

It is the aftermath to the conquest, highlighted by the disastrous ukases delivered by Kissinger’s partner and frontman in Baghdad, Paul “Jerry” Bremer, which has effectively destroyed Iraq as a nation-state, brought about an internecine civil war, and created a quagmire for the United States military as well as a serious drain on the U.S. Treasury.

The fact that a number of VERY successful US military operations in "the ring" surrounding Baghdad (Anbar province, e.g.) utilize ad-hoc "co-opting" of the factions would seem to lend weight to Gen. Garner's "must" list. Blowing off all the experienced Iraqi-government Baathists was just plain idiotic, and resulted in the predicted collapse of infrastructure systems.

Of course, it's easy to fight a war retrospectively...

Not to put too fine a point on this, but in the words of James Antle in the American Conservative:

To say that conservatives can compromise on first principles but cannot disagree about how best to wage the war on terror is to urge the abandonment of the issues that built the Republican majority in favor of the issue that tore it down. Conservatives who surrender on every other fight in exchange for the single-issue hawks’ promises of victory are accepting a fool’s bargain.

Which is why Ruuuuudeeeee!! will not be around for too long--and why McCain will be very careful, if not artful, in his talk as the situation changes in Iraq.

HT: Dreher

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