Through History’s Lens…
I have often heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But perhaps a shorter route is the one paved with hubris, ego, and a belief that the flowing tide of history might be shaped by an inept hand bent on making the world around it conform to how it wishes it to be if everything were perfectly arrayed on the platter before the king, and not how it actually is – messy and in disarray, and as unwilling to bow to invaders of today as it had been for centuries before now. To wit (via WaPo):
In a statement attached to yesterday's 229-page report, the Senate intelligence committee's chairman, John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), and three other Democratic panel members said: "The most chilling and prescient warning from the intelligence community prior to the war was that the American invasion would bring about instability in Iraq that would be exploited by Iran and al Qaeda terrorists."
In addition to portraying a terrorist nexus between Iraq and al-Qaeda that did not exist, the Democrats said, the Bush administration "also kept from the American people . . . the sobering intelligence assessments it received at the time" — that an Iraq war could allow al-Qaeda "to establish the presence in Iraq and opportunity to strike at Americans it did not have prior to the invasion."…
Most of the information in the report was drawn from two lengthy assessments issued by the National Intelligence Council in January 2003, titled "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq" and "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq," both of which the Senate report reprints with only minor redactions. The assessments were requested by Richard N. Haass, then director of policy planning at the State Department, and were written by Paul R. Pillar, the national intelligence officer for the Near East, as a synthesis of views across the 16-agency intelligence community.
The report includes lists indicating that the analyses, which were reported by The Washington Post last week, were distributed at senior levels of the White House and the State and Defense departments and to the congressional armed services and appropriations committees. At the time, the White House and the Pentagon were saying that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators, democracy would be quickly established and Iraq would become a model for the Middle East. Initial post-invasion plans called for U.S. troop withdrawals to begin in summer 2003.
The classified reports, however, predicted that establishing a stable democratic government would be a long challenge because Iraq's political culture did "not foster liberalism or democracy" and there was "no concept of loyal opposition and no history of alternation of power."
They also said that competing Sunni, Shiite and Kurd factions would "encourage terrorist groups to take advantage of a volatile security environment to launch attacks within Iraq." Because of the divided Iraqi society, there was "a significant chance that domestic groups would engage in violent conflict with each other unless an occupying force prevented them from doing so."
While predicting that terrorist threats heightened by the invasion would probably decline within five years, the assessments said that lines between al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world "could become blurred." U.S. occupation of Iraq "probably would boost proponents of political Islam" throughout the Muslim world and "funds for terrorist groups probably would increase as a result of Muslim outrage over U.S. actions." (emphasis mine)
The LATimes has more, including this, which I think is the most damning thing anyone could ever say about an administration sending soliders off to war:
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), said the report demonstrated that "the intelligence community gave the administration plenty of warning about the difficulties we would face if the decision was made to go to war."
He added: "These dire warnings were widely distributed at the highest levels of government, and it's clear that the administration didn't plan for any of them." (emphasis mine)
This is what is so unforgiveable. I do not care what your political affiliation might be, I don't care whether you are a militarist or a pacifist — we ought to all agree, from the get go, that if you are going to send men and women to battle, where they risk losing life and limb, that you have better damn well do everything possible to plan for every worst case scenario about which you have been warned, and any others about which you might think would be possible. Anything less is sloppy and, worse, disrespectful to the lives of the men and women in uniform and to their families.
And on this Memorial Day weekend and every day of dereliction of duty before it and after…the nation certainly deserves better than this. Our soldiers sure as hell deserve more consideration and planning than they were given — and George Bush's ego is hardly justification enough for any of this.
There are still two more sections of the Phase II analysis in the Senate Intelligence Committee to come. Depite Kit Bond's claims of partisan rancor, the first segment of the report was approved by a bi-partisan majority — with a 10-5 vote in the commmittee that included two Republicans. The third section, which details the investigation of politicization and misuse of intelligence in public statements by officials is said to be the biggest current hold-up, both for declassification and wording issues on which the various committee factions and staffers cannot seem to agree. But the fact that we know even this little bit of background publicly likely means that the Bush Administration is missing Pat Roberts stranglehold on the whole thing at this point, because even this tiny portion is damning in its portrait of disregard for the fiduciary obligation that ought to be owed to our nation's soldiers.
Laura Rozen has a link to the PDF of the full report, as well as a statement from Sen. Rockefeller on its issuance. Steve Clemons has some interesting bits from Pat Lang and Larry Wilkerson, and their interactions with Feith, Tenet and Wolfowitz — and it is well worth a read. Larry Johnson adds a bit more, as he was there as well.
Imagine having the curator job at the Bush Presidential Library in about 30 years, let alone being its PR director. History's lens is not going to be kind, no matter how many coats of varnish they may try to give this mess.