Date and location unknown. Good airstrike video. One commenter says it wasn’t the roof sailing through the air but the floor slab.
Debunking Liberal Talking Points, Federal Deficit, Federal Spending, Iraq, Stimulus, Stimulus Package, War on Terror, War on Terror
On the occasion of the notional end of the War in Iraq, Randall Hoven examines the popular liberal talking point that it was the Bush deficits incurred because of the Iraq War that wrecked the economy.
It was under Mr Bush that the deficit spiralled out of control as we fought an unnecessary and endless $3,000bn war in Iraq…”
– James Carville, the Financial Times.
“The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.”
– Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Washington Post.
The correct [figure], according to the Congressional Budget Office, is $709 billion. The Iraq War cost $709 billion. Why Carville, Bilmes, and Nobel-winning economist Stiglitz thought the answer was $3 trillion is anybody’s guess. But what’s a 323% error among friends?
The CBO breaks that cost down over the eight calendar years of 2003-2010. [Above] is a picture of federal deficits over those years with and without Iraq War spending. …
No one will say that $709 billion is not a lot of money. But first, that was spread over eight years. Secondly, let’s put that in some perspective. Below are some figures for those eight years, 2003 through 2010.
* Total federal outlays: $22,296 billion.
* Cumulative deficit: $4,731 billion.
* Medicare spending: $2,932 billion.
* Iraq War spending: $709 billion.
* The Obama stimulus: $572 billion.
There is an important note to go along with that Obama stimulus number: the stimulus did not even start until 2009. By 2019, the CBO estimates the stimulus will have cost $814 billion.
If we look only at the Iraq War years in which Bush was President (2003-2008), spending on the war was $554B. Federal spending on education over that same time period was $574B.
So the following are facts, based on the government’s own figures.
* Obama’s stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq War — more than $100 billion
* Just the first two years of Obama’s stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.
* Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.
* Iraq War spending was not even one quarter of what we spent on Medicare in the same time frame.
* Iraq War spending was not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame. The cumulative deficit, 2003-2010, would have been four-point-something trillion dollars with or without the Iraq War.
* The Iraq War accounts for less than 8% of the federal debt held by the public at the end of 2010 ($9.031 trillion).
* During Bush’s Iraq years, 2003-2008, the federal government spent more on education that it did on the Iraq War. (State
and local governments spent about ten times more.)
"Collateral Murder", Bradley Manning, Iraq, Leaks, Propaganda, Videos, War Crimes, War on Terror, War on Terror, Wikileaks
SPC Bradley Manning
Back in April, Wikileaks released a video of a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of armed Iraqis in southeastern Baghdad on July 12, 2007.
The video appeared in a shorter and longer version, titled “Collateral Murder,” accompanied by an extremely partisan commentary expressing open opposition to the US military effort in Iraq. An Iraqi employed as a news photographer by Reuters and his driver were killed in the course of the helicopter’s attack.
The perspective taken by the videos editors was that the helicopter’s attack was unwarranted and a war crime, and the video was edited and annotated in a fashion designed to persuade its viewers to accept that interpretation.
In reality, the Apache was operating in close cooperation with US infantry looking for armed insurgents who had engaged American troops in fierce fighting nearby a little while earlier. The group of Iraqis encountered by the helicopter undoubtedly included armed men who, despite being “relaxed” at the time and not at the moment actively engaged in combat with American forces, could very reasonably be supposed to be some of the hostile insurgents being pursued.
The Reuters photographer’s equipment probably was mistaken for a weapon, but combat requires quick decisions based on limited and imperfect information. The level of restraint implicitly expected by the video’s producers is completely unreasonable. If a photographer is carrying equipment easily mistaken for arms and places himself in the immediate vicinity of enemy forces who are really armed, his being fired upon should be no surprise to anyone.
“Collateral Murder” is a deeply dishonest piece of anti-US propaganda, and as such it was, of course, enthusiastically covered by HuffPo, Dan Froomkin, Rachel Maddow, and the rest of the leftwing commentariat.
The source of the leak which made the Apache’s video available for use against the United States was a 22 year old Army Intelligence analyst who has just been arrested. Wired has the story:
SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Armyâ€™s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says heâ€™s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.
Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables.
US Intelligence for a change moved rapidly on this one. The leak that made all the news was in early April.
It does seem odd that someone of such extreme leftwing views would not only be serving in the volunteer Army, but would have been assigned to work in Intelligence and given a Top Secret clearance. What does it take, one wonders, to be disqualified from high level clearances?
An exhausted US soldier
David Bellavia, author of a combat memoir of the battle of Fallujah for which his platoon received a Presidential Unit Citation, House to House, served as a Staff Sergeant in the First Infantry Division, and was awarded personally the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.
Bellavia reacted with some emotion, in this must-read blog posting, to the decision, reported in the New York Times, of the current administration (most of whose members opposed the war in Iraq) to change the name of the US military mission in Iraq from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn.
In my house I have a desk that is almost never opened. I think the last time I looked at it was around three years ago. I opened it as soon as I read the New York Times article yesterday.
There this giant scrapbook sits, still with the pricetag across the top. My wife had made this book for me that contains just about everything I have ever done in the Army.
And every picture of my friends. The living . The dead. …
[A] page in the scrapbook has a clear acetate pouch. Stuffed inside is a thick, folded sheet of blue paper. An Iraqi ballot I stole on January 30th 2005.
The sound of mortar fire fills my ears. The desk dissolves. Suddenly, Iâ€™m kneeling on a road, a palm grove to my front. Iraq. Election Day 2005.
The bullets are flying.
My squad runs through the searing heat and forms a wall of flesh and Kevlar between the incoming fire and the citizens standing in line behind us. Theyâ€™ve turned out in their finest clothes to wait for the opportunity to cast a vote. For most, this moment is a defining one in their lives. Theyâ€™ve never had a voice before. This means something to them, and they have used the moment as an object lesson for their children. They appear nervous and take photos. The kids stand with them in line, viewing first hand this revolution in Iraqi civics.
As they came to line up earlier that morning, the men thanked us and clasped their hands over their heads, striking a triumphant pose. Some of the women cried. The kids were on their best behavior.
The gunfire began that afternoon. Insurgents started to shoot them. My unit ran to the road and formed a protective position between the killers and the citizens going to the polls. As we scanned the palm grove in front of us, bullets cracked and whined, then mortars start thumping around us. My squad pushed into the palm grove. I stayed on the road, overseeing their movement and coordinating the heavy fire from the Bradleys.
The firefight ebbs. The mortar fire ceases. A few last stray rounds streak past. A cry from behind causes me to turn. Lying in the road is a young Iraqi woman. I run over to help. Sheâ€™s caught a round just below her temple. Her stunning beauty has been ruined forever.
She cries, â€œPaper! Paperâ€ over and over until the ambulance arrives to take her away. An old lady emerges from the schoolhouse-turned voting site, sheets of blue paper in hand. She gives one to the wounded girl, who clutches it to her like a prized possession even as the ambulance carries her away.
The ballot was her voice. All she wanted was a chance to exercise it, just once, before she died.
The old woman returns to the school house, but drops another ballot along the way. It drifts in a gentle breeze across the bloodstained asphalt. I stoop down and pick it up. It is all in Arabic, and I have no idea what each set of candidates advocate. Thatâ€™s not my place, and it doesnâ€™t really matter. I helped make this day happen. This ballot represents the reason why weâ€™re here, why my friends had to die.
Carefully, I fold the ballot up and put it in my pocket. Even though I was 29 at the time , Iâ€™d only voted once.
I had taken something so precious for granted for far too long.
Now, in the safety of my own house, thousands of miles from danger and violence, this little blue paper, still with dark speckles of that womanâ€™s blood, sits tucked away in this scrapbook.
That young woman wanted nothing else than the chance to explore her newfound freedom. She didnâ€™t beg for help, or plead for her life. Voting would become her final act. In that moment, she matched our own sacrifices. Denfrund, Carlson, Sizemore. Iwan. Gonzales. Mock.
Our friends died to secure this day. And here on this road in Diyala, I saw proof that the blood spilled in this backward country had value. It made the cause noble and just. This may not mean much to someone who stands in opposition to our fight, but it is the legacy of our fallen. The honor of their sacrifice.
They gave their lives for others like me to come home. They died trying to preserve freedom for this woman.
They confronted those who wished to dominate a people in the name of violence and religion, who wished to destroy our culture and way of life. Even if most Americans may not understand who or what we fight, these men not only believed, many reenlisted to continue the fight until the war was won.
I came home in search of that womanâ€™s spirit in the hearts of my fellow Americans. I came home expecting to find the sacrifice of these brave patriots revered at every turn by those who overwhelmingly sent us to war from Washington.
Iâ€™m still looking.
It would not be hard to come up with the right name for the American left’s consistent efforts to undermine the legitimacy of, destroy domestic support for, military efforts in which other American laid down their lives, either in the Vietnam era or during the war in Iraq. It’s easy to understand former Sergeant Bellavia’s bitterness at seeing his comrades sacrifices for the cause of freedom renamed and trivialized by precisely the same people on the homefront who did their best to ensure their failure.
Al Qaeda, CIA Terrorist Interrogations, Guantanamo, Guantanamo Detainees, Obama Administration, Terrorism, War on Terror
Hellfire missiles don’t take prisoners.
The Washington Post is reporting that Obama Administration policies are having precisely the result that critics like MacRanger predicted long ago: [L]ook for many terrorist suspects not to get to the interrogation stage as they will most likely be â€œdispatchedâ€ in the field.
It’s inevitable. There is nowhere uncontroversial to imprison them. Presumably they will all be Mirandized now and given civilian trials, and even mildly coercive interrogation techniques have been absolutely ruled out. A captured terrorist leader is now never going to be a useful source of intelligence and, on the other hand, he is highly likely to become a political embarrassment. The choice becomes obvious.
The Obama administration has authorized [lethal] attacks more frequently than the George W. Bush administration did in its final years, including in countries where U.S. ground operations are officially unwelcome or especially dangerous. Improvements in electronic surveillance and precision targeting have made killing from a distance much more of a sure thing. At the same time, options for where to keep U.S. captives have dwindled.
Republican critics, already scornful of limits placed on interrogation of the suspect in the Christmas Day bombing attempt, charge that the administration has been too reluctant to risk an international incident or a domestic lawsuit to capture senior terrorism figures alive and imprison them.
“Over a year after taking office, the administration has still failed to answer the hard questions about what to do if we have the opportunity to capture and detain a terrorist overseas, which has made our terror-fighters reluctant to capture and left our allies confused,” Sen. Christopher S. Bond (Mo.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Friday. “If given a choice between killing or capturing, we would probably kill.”
Some military and intelligence officials, citing what they see as a new bias toward kills, questioned whether valuable intelligence is being lost in the process. “We wanted to take a prisoner,” a senior military officer said of the Nabhan operation. “It was not a decision that we made.”
Even during the Bush administration, “there was an inclination to ‘just shoot the bastard,’ ” said a former intelligence official briefed on current operations. “But now there’s an even greater proclivity for doing it that way. . . . We need to have the capability to snatch when the situation calls for it.”
One problem identified by those within and outside the government is the question of where to take captives apprehended outside established war zones and cooperating countries. “We’ve been trying to decide this for over a year,” the senior military officer said. “When you don’t have a detention policy or a set of facilities,” he said, operational decisions become more difficult.
The administration has pledged to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Congress has resisted moving any of the about 190 detainees remaining there, let alone terrorism suspects who have been recently captured, to this country. All of the CIA’s former “black site” prisons have been shut down, and a U.S. official involved in operations planning confirmed that the agency has no terrorism suspects in its custody.
Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Pakistan, Predator Drone, SkyGrabber, Software, Taliban, Technology, War on Terror, Weapons Systems
The Wall Street Journal reports on an interesting feat of technical ingenuity by the enemy.
Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.
Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.
U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America’s enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.
Peter Bergin, in the New Republic, explains the centrality of Afghanistan to the US effort defeat Islamic terrorism.
(Najibullah) Zazi, a onetime coffee-cart operator on Wall Street and shuttle-van driver at the Denver airport, was planning what could have been the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since September 11. Prior to his arrest last month, the FBI discovered pages of handwritten notes on his laptop detailing how to turn common, store-bought chemicals into bombs. If proven guilty, Zazi would be the first genuine Al Qaeda recruit discovered in the United States in the past few years.
The novel details of the case were sobering. Few Americans, after all, were expecting to be terrorized by an Al Qaeda agent wielding hair dye. But it was perhaps the least surprising fact about Zazi that was arguably the most consequential: where he is said to have trained.
In August 2008, prosecutors allege, Zazi traveled to Pakistan’s tribal regions and studied explosives with Al Qaeda members. If that story sounds familiar, it should: Nearly every major jihadist plot against Western targets in the last two decades somehow leads back to Afghanistan or Pakistan. The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was masterminded by Ramzi Yousef, who had trained in an Al Qaeda camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Ahmed Ressam, who plotted to blow up LAX airport in 1999, was trained in Al Qaeda’s Khaldan camp in Afghanistan. Key operatives in the suicide attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000 trained in Afghanistan; so did all 19 September 11 hijackers. The leader of the 2002 Bali attack that killed more than 200 people, mostly Western tourists, was a veteran of the Afghan camps. The ringleader of the 2005 London subway bombing was trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The British plotters who planned to blow up passenger planes leaving Heathrow in the summer of 2006 were taking direction from Pakistan; a July 25, 2006, e-mail from their Al Qaeda handler in that country, Rashid Rauf, urged them to “get a move on.” If that attack had succeeded, as many as 1,500 would have died. The three men who, in 2007, were planning to attack Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. facility in Germany, had trained in Pakistan’s tribal regions.
And yet, as President Obama weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the connection between the region and Al Qaeda has suddenly become a matter of hot dispute in Washington. We are told that September 11 was as much a product of plotting in Hamburg as in Afghanistan; that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are quite distinct groups, and that we can therefore defeat the former while tolerating the latter; that flushing jihadists out of one failing state will merely cause them to pop up in another anarchic corner of the globe; that, in the age of the Internet, denying terrorists a physical safe haven isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
These arguments point toward one conclusion: The effort to secure Afghanistan is not a matter of vital U.S. interest. But those who make this case could not be more mistaken. Afghanistan and the areas of Pakistan that border it have always been the epicenter of the war on jihadist terrorism-and, at least for the foreseeable future, they will continue to be. Though it may be tempting to think otherwise, we cannot defeat Al Qaeda without securing Afghanistan.
A young Osama Bin Laden first arrived in the region around 1980 to wage jihad against the Soviets; he would spend most of his adult life in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al Qaeda leaders have, since the ’80s, developed deep relationships with key Taliban commanders based along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and members of the Haqqani family. Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, has even married into a local tribe. …
Al Qaeda’s leaders are themselves keenly aware of the importance of maintaining a safe haven. The very words Al Qaeda mean “the base” in Arabic; and, as bin Laden explained in an interview with Al Jazeera in 2001, the name is not a reference to some kind of abstract foundation but, rather, to a physical spot for training: “Abu Ubaidah Al Banjshiri [an early military commander of Al Qaeda] created a military base to train the young men to fight. … So this place was called ‘The Base,’ as in a training base, and the name grew from this.”
But it isn’t just a safe haven that Al Qaeda wants; it is a state. As Zawahiri explained shortly after September 11 in his autobiographical Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner, “Confronting the enemies of Islam, and launching jihad against them require a Muslim authority, established on a Muslim land that raises the banner of jihad and rallies the Muslims around it. Without achieving this goal our actions will mean nothing.” No wonder Al Qaeda remains so committed to Afghanistan-and so deeply invested in helping the Taliban succeed.
US Special Operations-trained Interrogation Caterpillar. These guys are fierce.
Pamela Hess and Matt Appuzzo, writing for some news agency, are trying to shocking a nation’s conscience.
With just two weeks of training, or about half the time it takes to become a truck driver, the CIA certified its spies as interrogation experts after 9/11 and handed them the keys to the most coercive tactics in the agency’s arsenal.
Can you imagine? Just because some Muslim terrorists killed a lousy 3000 Americans and produced some mere billions of dollars worth of physical destruction and economic disruption, the Bush Administration actually allowed people with only two weeks of federal training to slap terrorists, pour water on them, and (worst of all) to expose them to caterpillar attack.
Hat tip to Stephen Frankel.
Unlike the US, Al Qaeda provided appropriately thorough training. They even produced a manual.
(PowerPoint needed for this one. Be patient. It’s a big download.)
A classmate passed along to me this PowerPoint slideshow (originally titled: CarreterasAfganistan1) of 58 photos of military operations in Afghanistan. Good 4th of July viewing featuring remarkable photos of US forces operating in spectacular terrain.
I wish I could properly credit these, but the slideshow was evidently one of those virally-distributed emails which arrives anonymously. The file and and some credits offer the clue that it came originally from a Spanish-language source.
Barack Obama’s Justice Department yesterday grudgingly announced that it was going to refrain from prosecuting US Intelligence Officer and military contractors for war crimes consisting of interrogating terrorists involved in conspiracies to commit acts of mass murder on US civilians.
Obama did, however, refer to the the Bush Administration’s successful efforts to prevent major attacks on US population centers post-9/11 as “a dark and painful chapter in our history” conflicting with the US functioning as “a nation of laws” and with American “core values.”
David Axelrod says that Barack Obama searched his soul for a whole month before deciding that continuing partisan games by releasing for finger-pointing purposes memos from the previous administration on interrogation policy was worth the costs to National Security.
DOJ Memo 8/1/2002
DOJ Memo 5/10/2005 – 46 pages
DOJ Memo 5/10/2005 – 20 pages
DOJ Memo 5/30/05
One former Bush Administration official commented on the president’s decision.
A former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush called the publication of the memos â€œunbelievable.â€
â€œIt’s damaging because these are techniques that work, and by Obama’s action today, we are telling the terrorists what they are,â€ the official said. â€œWe have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary. â€¦ Publicizing the techniques does grave damage to our national security by ensuring they can never be used again â€” even in a ticking-time- bomb scenario where thousands or even millions of American lives are at stake.”
â€œI don’t believe Obama would intentionally endanger the nation, so it must be that he thinks either 1. the previous administration, including the CIA professionals who have defended this program, is lying about its importance and effectiveness, or 2. he believes we are no longer really at war and no longer face the kind of grave threat to our national security this program has protected against.â€
Dick Cheney commented in an interview earlier this year:
I can tell you what the policy was; I can tell you that we had all the legal authorization we needed to do it, including the sign-off of the Justice Department. I can tell you it produced phenomenal results for us, and that a great many Americans are alive today because we did all that. And I think those are the important considerations
Anti-Bush Intel Operation, Bush-hatred, CIA, Conservatism, George W. Bush, Iraq, Neoconservatism, Richard Perle, State Department, War on Terror, War on Terror
George W. Bush confronting the bureaucracies
In the National Interest, Richard Perle describes the fatal disconnect between George W. Bush’s professed policies and the entrenched State Department and National Security bureaucracies’ failure to implement them. Not only were Bush’s policies not faithfully pursued, in many cases, they were openly attacked and covertly undermined by leaks and disinformation operations.
Perle additionally debunks the left’s favorite bogey: the sinister imperialist “neocon” conpiracy. In recent years, neocon came to be used as a leftwing pejorative for someone supposedly guilty of responsibility for a new, more virulent and objectionable form of conservatism, inclined to unilateral militarism overseas and supportive of hypersecurity measures at homes. The left entirely managed to forget that a neocon is really a (typically Jewish intellectual) former liberal who has been “mugged by reality” and become a foreign policy and law enforcement hawk in response to the excesses of the radical left post the late 1960s. Dick Cheney, who has always been a conservative, for instance, cannot possibly be classified as a neocon.
For eight years George W. Bush pulled the levers of governmentâ€”sometimes franticallyâ€”never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the presidentâ€™s policies. They didnâ€™t need his directives: they had their own. …
The responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Riceâ€™s State Department, ordering instead the â€œsurge,â€ a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom. …
Understanding Bushâ€™s foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administrationâ€™s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative â€œideologuesâ€ who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oilâ€”or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument. …
I believe that Bush went to war for the reasonsâ€”and only the reasonsâ€”he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. …
[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administrationâ€™s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddamâ€™s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.
I am not alone in having been asked, â€œIf you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?â€ But what appears to some to be a â€œgotchaâ€ question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on oneâ€™s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didnâ€™t burn down or health insurance because you didnâ€™t become ill. …
I believe the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.
But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government. …
If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.
I believe Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.
Read the whole thing.