Sunday, June 15, 2008

On understanding the war - Part 1

There are a lot of things that I still don't understand about the war In iraq. A common theme for me in these posts, a recurring question that has pestered me since before the war was: Why wasn't there a plan for the occupation? Why did the same people who brilliantly planned the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq do such a miserable job of planning the occupation of Iraq? Why did the occupation go so badly? Why did the problems in the occupation look, initially, eerily the same as the problems encountered in Panama after Operation Just Cause?

There has been a lot of commentary about this question and I have actually read some of it. We have heard from General Tommy Franks, the Commander of Central Command during these operations. Until now, we have not heard from the top leaders in the Defense Department, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers, Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and most importantly, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Secretary Rumsfeld was clearly in charge at the Defense Department and he took an active and detailed interest in the war plans for these two operations. Whatever was produced was done under his specific guidance and direction. Whatever the plans did or failed to do were his responsibility. When it comes to the occupation of Iraq, this is not a question of a good plan poorly executed. This is not even a bad plan badly executed. What happened in Iraq was that everyone, military and civilian, separately and in some case individually, in the absence of any guidance from above, examined the situation facing them and come up with their own plan.

Why did this happen? I really want to read Don Rumsfeld's account of the rationale in his mind during the planning for the war. Rumsfeld was not stupid. He was extremely bright, with considerable knowledge and experience, and had the benefit of brilliant people advising him. I hope Rumsfeld is busy writing his memoir of the war as we speak.

In the meantime I will have to make do with one of Rumsfeld's brilliant advisers: Douglas Feith. Mr. Feith was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2001 to 2005. He has written a book, "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the dawn of the War on Terrorism." I have started reading this book, looking for answers. If I find any, I will let you know.

No comments:

Post a Comment