This Financial Times article is a must read.
Those whose expectations have been “dashed” and who played such a pivotal role in directing America’s armies to invade Iraq need to be held accountable for their recklessness. It’s not enough to lament and say, after the fact, that things didn’t go well. “It’s too bad. We miscalculated.”
Not enough — particularly given the vile way that those who raised principled concerns and questions about the Iraq War were treated.
Those who feared the current outcome — like TWN — were depicted by some as unpatriotic, as not “believing” in American righteousness in this battle. Humility among those who led this crusade is welcome, but serious minds should deal with why it was practically impossible to have a fair and informed discussion that included those who favored and those who opposed Bush administration policy in the months leading up to the invasion.
Like Judith Miller, many of these enthusiasts who did not recognize that America might stumble badly in this encounter, are responsible for the outcome — for America showing its limits — and the diminished state of America’s perceived position in the world.
Over the past week, two of Washington’s most influential conservative think-tanks, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held conferences on Iraq where the mood among speakers, including Iraqi officials, was decidedly sombre.
Kanan Makiya, an outspoken proponent of the war who is documenting the horrors of the Saddam regime in his Iraq Memory Foundation, opened the AEI meeting by admitting to many “dashed dreams”.
He said he and other opposition figures had seriously underestimated the powers of ethnic and sectarian self-interest, as well as the survivability of the “constantly morphing and flexible” Ba’ath party. He also blamed the Bush administration for poor planning and committing too few troops.
The proposed constitution, to be taken to a referendum on Saturday, was a “profoundly destabilising document” that could “deal a death blow” to Iraq, he said.
The constitution was a recipe for greater chaos, said Rend Rahim, a former exile who had been designated as Iraq’s first postwar ambassador to the US. Unless revised, it would lead to such a devolution of power that the central government would barely exist, she said.
Qubad Talabani, Washington representative of the Kurdistan regional government, delivered a stinging indictment of the central government that echoed the growing divisions in the ruling alliance of Shia and Kurds.
Danielle Pletka, senior analyst at AEI and conference moderator, called the constitution deeply flawed, describing it as the result of political machinations between Iraqis and Americans. She said the process had been reduced to a benchmark for the exit of US troops.
I’m glad that AEI and Heritage are holding such conferences — but make sure that some of the families of soldiers killed and wounded as well as family members of innocents killed in Iraq are there to hear the introspective commentary of those who gambled American prestige and blood (of Americans and Iraqis) without a reasonable road map for success.
— Steve Clemons