arrogant was the path to war. As President
Bush now desperately tries to cajole the old
UN donkey to rescue him from Iraq - he who
warned us that the UN was in danger of turning
into a League of Nations "talking shop" if
it declined him legitimacy for his invasion
- we are supposed to believe that no one in
Washington could have guessed the future.
Bush and Blair fantasised their way to war
with all those mythical weapons of mass destruction
and "imminent threats" from Iraq - whether
of the 45-minute variety or not - and of the
post-war "liberation", "democracy" and map-changing
they were going to bestow upon the region.
But the record shows just how many warnings
the Bush administration received from sane
and decent men in the days before we plunged
into this terrible adventure.
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings
in Washington on the eve of war. Assistant
Under Secretary Douglas Feith, one of Rumsfeld's
"neo-cons", revealed that an office for "post-war
planning" had only been opened three weeks
earlier. He and Under Secretary of State Marc
Grossman conceded that the Pentagon had been
"thinking" about post-war Iraq for 10 months.
"There are enormous uncertainties," Feith
said. "The most you can do in planning is
senators at the time were highly suspicious
of the "concept" bit. When Democrat Joe Biden
asked if anyone in the Bush administration
had planned the post-war government of Iraq,
Grossman replied that "There are things in
our country we're not going to be able to
do because of our commitment in Iraq." Richard
Lugar, the Republican chairman then asked:
"Who will rule Iraq and how? Who will provide
security? How long might US troops conceivably
remain? Will the United Nations have a role?"
Anthony Zinni, once the top man in US Central
Command with "peacekeeping" experience in
Kosovo, Somalia and (in 1991) northern Iraq,
smelled a rat and said so in public. "Do we
want to transform Iraq or just transition
it out from under the unacceptable regime
of Saddam Hussein into a reasonably stable
nation? Transformation implies significant
changes in forms of governance... Certainly
there will not be a spontaneous democracy..."
spoke of the "long hard" journey towards reconstruction
and added - with ironic prescience - that
"It isn't going to be a handful of people
that drive out of the Pentagon, catch a plane
and fly in after the military peace to try
to pull this thing together."
incredibly, that's exactly what happened.
First it was Jay "pull-your-stomach-in-and-say-you're-proud-to-be-an-American"
Garner, and then the famous "anti-terrorism"
expert Paul Bremer who washed up in Baghdad
to hire and then re-hire the Iraqi army and
then - faced with one dead American a day
(and 250 US troops wounded in August alone)
- to rehire the murderous thugs of Saddam's
torture centres to help in the battle against
"terrorism". Iraq, Bremer blandly admitted
last week, will need "several tens of billions"
of dollars next year alone.
wonder Rumsfeld keeps telling us he has "enough"
men in Iraq. Sixteen of Americas's 33 combat
brigades are now in the cauldron of Iraq -
five others are also deployed overseas - and
the 82nd Airborne, only just out of Afghanistan
(where another five US troops were killed
last weekend) is about to be deployed north
of Baghdad. "Bring 'em on," Bush taunted America's
guerrilla enemies last month. Well, they've
taken him at his word. There is so far not
a shred of evidence that the latest Bush administration
fantasy - "thousands" of foreign Islamist
"jihadi" fighters streaming into Iraq to kill
Americans - is true.
it might soon be. And what will be told then?
Wasn't Iraq invaded to destroy terrorism rather
than to recreate it? We were told Iraq was
going to be transformed into a democracy and
suddenly it's to be a battleground for more
"war against terror". America, Bush now tells
his people, "is confronting terrorists in
Iraq and Afghanistan... so our people will
not have to confront terrorist violence in
New York or... Los Angeles." So that's it
then. Draw all these nasty terrorists into
our much-loved "liberated" Iraq and they'll
obligingly leave the "homeland" alone. I wonder.
notice, too, how everything is predicated
to America's costs, to American blood. An
American commentator, Rosie DiManno, wrote
this week that in Iraq "There's also the other
cost, the one measured in human lives... one
American a day slain since Bush declared the
major fighting over." Note here how the blood
of Iraqis - whom we were so desperate to liberate
six months ago - has disappeared from the
narrative. Up to 20 innocent Iraqi civilians
a day are now believed to be dying - in murders,
revenge killings, at US checkpoints - and
yet they no longer count. No wonder journalists
now have to seek permission from the occupation
authorities to visit Baghdad hospitals. Who
knows how many corpses they would find in
Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere,
incomplete. Things are far worse than we have
been told... We are today not far short of
a disaster." The writer was describing the
crumbling British occupation of Iraq, under
guerrilla attack in 1920. His name was Lawrence
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