"The secretary of defense continued to push on us . . . that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," [Brigadier General] Scheid said. "We won't stay."As usual, everybody's going to miss the point on this one. I can already see the talking points that are likely to emerge from the Bush-apologist and Bush-critic camps on this one.
Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.
Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.
"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.
Bush apologists: "Rumsfeld knew that if it got out that we were planning for a long stay, the peacenik hippie liberals would use that against them. This is all the fault of liberals, like everything else."
Bush critics: "This is just further proof of the myopia/incompetence/what-have-you that defines this administration's approach to problem after problem." (Or, as Kevin Drum puts it, "The plan was to remove Saddam from power, claim victory, and get out.")
Wrong, and wronger. That's right, I happen to think the former position is closer to the truth than the latter. Because Rumsfeld knew that if they started drawing up plans for a lengthy occupation, it would undermine the administration's claims that the war would be a cakewalk and that we'd be out of there in no time.
But Rumsfeld also knew something which posed a greater threat to the administration's war plans. He knew that the career Pentagon staff, the nuts-and-bolts folks that don't come and go with Presidential administrations -- to be blunt, the people whose job is to do their job, not to make George W. Bush look good -- couldn't be trusted to plan for post-war Iraq.
Because they'd get it right.
You see, when you actually liberate a country that has lived under dictatorship, and you give them the means to build their own government, and you empower the civil sector to establish and maintain order without the overt use of overwhelming force . . . what you wind up with is a free and independent nation. Just as our own founders understood the risk of tyranny from their own experience with the previous regime, any liberated people would wish to avoid sliding again into oppression, and would seek to organize themselves accordingly.
This is what we were promised in Iraq, but nobody who knew the history of the administration's key players could honestly believe that a free and democratic Iraq was ever on the agenda. On the contrary, unless one subscribes to the notion that the entire Bush administration is severely mentally impaired or worse, it seems abundantly clear that the reason the Pentagon was not allowed to plan for the post-war was because the administration had plans of its own:
The Economy Plan goes boldly where no invasion plan has gone before: the complete rewrite, it says, of a conquered state's "policies, laws and regulations." Here's what you'll find in the Plan: A highly detailed program, begun years before the tanks rolled, for imposing a new regime of low taxes on big business, and quick sales of Iraq's banks and bridges -- in fact, "ALL state enterprises" -- to foreign operators. There's more in the Plan, part of which became public when the State Department hired consulting firm to track the progress of the Iraq makeover. Example: This is likely history's first military assault plan appended to a program for toughening the target nation's copyright laws.This is, by the way, generally considered to be incredibly illegal and illegitimate. Of course, once the US-written Iraqi constitution (so helpful we were, breaking the legislative gridlock in the parliament we designed by pressuring everybody involved to accept a constitution we were nice enough to write for them) formalized the measures the occupation government had imposed, that became a non-issue.
Except, of course, that the Iraqi people are painfully aware of what has been done to them. They understood the plans, even if many of us here at home didn't.
And we've seen what those plans have yielded, even if many of us still refuse to make the connection.
A black hole to siphon off the US and Iraqi treasuries into the coffers of the destroy/rebuild/destroy industry.
Death. Death. Death.
And, most importantly: An Iraqi government so dependent on the support of the US military that its survival will require that we stay indefinitely.
Unless, of course, the government winds up slipping into oppression to preserve order.
And anybody who thinks that this administration won't accept a dictator in Iraq has no concept of history. As long as the dictator backs open trade policies, lets foreign investors run the economic game, and makes appropriately democratic noises -- Hell, even Saddam held "elections" -- Bush will lick his feet and call it victory.
Never make the mistake of thinking these people are idiots, or incompetent, or out of their depth. They know what they're doing. They make mistakes here and there, but not as many as we'd like to think.