Published on Tuesday, June 14, 2005 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Iraq Invasion: Memo Faults Planning
|While the Downing Street Memo exposes the Bush administration planning in the summer of 2002 for the war in Iraq, yet another top-level British memo shows that the administration was inadequately prepared for the war's aftermath.|
"The postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise," warned the memo, which was prepared July 21 for an upcoming meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. ... Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired endstate would be created, in particular what form of government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the timescale within which it would be possible to identify a successor."
The memo expressed concern over Britain's own self-interest in the incomplete planning. One result of insufficient U.S. planning for postwar Iraq might be that "Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."
The memo also echoed the now discredited conviction that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. But the concerns expressed over lack of sufficient U.S. planning for dealing with such weapons are nonetheless notable. "Even if regime change is a necessary condition for controlling Iraqi WMD," the memo said, "it is certainly not a sufficient one."
In other words, what's the plan for securing the weapons of mass destruction once Saddam is toppled? It was a good question, and one we're grateful didn't ultimately have to be answered.
The Bush administration has responded that the memo described the situation eight months before the war began and that "there was significant postwar planning in the time that elapsed." But that postwar planning was apparently insufficient to anticipate the postwar insurgency that erupted and has continued in the war's aftermath, costing more American lives than the war itself.
It's one thing to knock off a tin-pot dictator with limited weaponry and a less-than-loyal army. It's another to force an ethnically and religiously divided nation to a democratic state by outside military force.
In its preparations to win the war, it seems the Bush administration failed to come up with a battle plan sufficient to win the peace.
© 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer