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imperialism & war | legacies

2nd year of "long hard slog"

Looking at what went into postwar planning
When studying what has happened and why in postwar Iraq there's one article that is definitely required reading--Blind into Baghdad by James Fallows. It came out in January in the Atlantic Monthly.

(if the link doesn't work it can be found on Google)

The article is book-length and carefully details how certain characters in the Bush administration dictated how postwar Iraq would look. These were the civilian leaders in the Pentagon--Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and William Luti, one of Feith's deputies. In the article, these men are referred to as OSD or Office of the Secretary of Defense. Their philosophy about postwar planning is summed up nicely on pg. 11 in reference to CIA war-game sessions that dealt with postwar scenarios: "Their displeasure over the CIA exercise was an early illustration of a view that became stronger throughout 2002: that postwar planning was an impediment to war."

Why did they think that? For one, they didn't want people estimating what the costs of war would be. There are other reasons too.

One of the key factors in the build-up to war was determining how many troops to use. Rumsfeld thought 75,000 would be enough, while Army generals knew that for war and especially its aftermath, as many as 400,000 might be needed.

Its hard to play armchair-Hitler or Napoleon, and figure out how many soldiers to send somewhere, especially if you were against the war in the first place, seeing it for what it really is. But its important to consider this and the other decisions that OSD made before the war.

If there's ever a criminal tribunal for those involved in planning the invasion, the decisions of OSD will figure into it just as much as the lies told to trick the American public.

Here is a chronology of events and summary of the major points from the article:

October 2001-State Department begins working on plans for "transition" in Iraq. The project is later dubbed the Future of Iraq project, and Thomas Warrick is the director.

January 29, 2002-Bush gives State of Union speech describing Iraq, Iran and North Korea as "axis of evil." (Noam Chomsky has pointed out that North Korea was likely added to the list to give the impression that the Bush administration is not solely focused on Mideast region)

March 2002-Future of Iraq project first mentioned publicly by State Department. The projects consists of 17 groups of Iraqi exiles and others.

May 2002-Congress authorizes $5 million to fund Future of Iraq project.

May 2002-CIA begins war-game exercises dealing with scenarios of postwar Iraq. "According to a person familiar with the process, one recurring theme in the exercises was the risk of civil disorder after the fall of Baghdad."

"Representatives from the Defense Department were among those who participated in the first of these CIA war-game sessions. When their Pentagon superiors at the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) found out about this, in early summer, the representatives were reprimanded and told not to participate further." (James Fallows)

June 2002-Mainstream press picks up on Future of Iraq story. State Department announces first meetings for July. Eventually, the Project creates 13 volumes of recommendations and an overview. One of the main themes was "the need to plan carefully for the handling and demobilization of Iraq's very sizable military. On the one hand, a functioning army would be necessary for public order, once coalition forces withdrew, for the country's defense. On the other hand, a large number of Saddam's henchmen would have to be removed. The trick would be to get rid of the leaders without needlessly alienating the ordinary troops--or leaving them without incomes." (Fallows)

September 2002-Lawrence Lindsay, chief White House economic adviser, tells Wall Street Journal that war with Iraq might be one or two percent of gross domestic product, or $100-200 billion. Before the end of year, he and Treasury Secretary Paul O'neill are forced to resign.

"Indeed, no one who remained in the Administration offered a plausible cost estimate until months after the war began." (Fallows)

September 2002-Relief organizations and NGOs begin meeting at USAID headquarters for routine coordination meetings. The subject of the Fourth Geneva Convention is raised--regarding obligations of an "occupying power." The Bush administrations claims it won't be an occupying power, rather a "liberator."

October 11, 2002-Congress votes to authorize war

November 5, 2002-Republicans regain control of Senate and increase majority in House in national elections.

November 8, 2002-UN Security Council votes 15-0 in favor of Resolution 1441, threatening Iraq with "serious consequences" if it could not prove it had abandoned its weapons programs.

November 2002-Rumsfeld begins dramatically altering war plans by rearranging the TPFDD--"time phased force and deployment data." Basically, the master plan for the war. Rumsfeld's idea was that the force sent to Iraq should be about 75,000 soldiers, rather than the Army's projections of about 400,000.

"Making detailed, last-minute adjustments to the TPFDD was, in the Army's view, like pulling cogs at random out of a machine." (Fallows)

Late December 2002-Bush authorizes dispatch of more than 200,000 soldiers to Persian Gulf.

December 31, 2002-Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget, tells New York Times that war might cost $50-60 billion. He would leave the Bush administration 5 months later, "of his own volition."

January 28, 2003-Bush gives famous "uranium from Africa" State of the Union speech.

January 29, 2003-Jay Garner, a retired Army general, is announced as administrator for an occupied Iraq. Rumsfeld tells Garner not to waste his time reading the Future of Iraq project. Garner then brings Thomas Warrick, the director of Future of Iraq, onto his planning team. Rumsfeld tells Garner to remove Warrick from the team, and Garner objects. Rumsfeld says the orders came from above, meaning Cheney or Bush. Garner would last three months at his new job.

February 25-Senate Armed Services Committee questions the joint Chiefs of Staff. Senator Carl Levin asks Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki how many soldiers would be needed to occupy Iraq. Shinseki replies "several hundred thousand."

February 27-Paul Wolfowitz tells the House Budget Committee that Shinseki's estimate is "wildly off the mark." He says, "Fundamentally, we have no idea what is needed unless and until we get there on the ground."

"This was as direct a rebuke of a military leader by his civilian superior as the United States had seen in fifty years." (Fallows)

March 19-Bombs begin raining down on Baghdad

April-Unchecked looting in Baghdad effectively guts every important public institution except the oil ministry.

"And we IMMEDIATELY found ourselves shorthanded in the aftermath. We sat there and watched people dismantle and run off with the country, basically."--Thomas White, Secretary of the Army during the war

"The looting spread, destroying the infrastructure that had survived the war and creating the expectation of future chaos." (Fallows)

April 23-Andrew Natsios, director of USAID, tells Ted Koppel on Nightline that the total cost of reconstruction in Iraq would be $1.7 billion.

May 1-Bush declares "major combat operations" to be over

May 6-Paul Bremer is appointed administrator in Iraq. Two weeks later Bremer disbands the Iraqi army and other parts of the Baathist security structure.

"Manpower that could have helped on security patrols became part of the security threat." (Fallows)

This highlights most of the main points of the article. There is also alot of information about how the NGOs and relief organizations were trying to work with USAID, and how their efforts were largely ignored.
Not just circumstantial evidence 15.Apr.2004 11:47


One thing Fallows doesn't fully explore in the article is WHY. Beyond the fact that they wanted the war to happen, why did Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others silence generals and economic advisers, and keep their own people from even thinking about postwar Iraq?

Because they not only needed the war, they especially needed the "long hard slog" as Rumsfeld has put it, to follow the war. The Wolfowitz/Shinseki feud was three weeks before the war, when the war was already a certainty. At that point they needed to control the postwar. They needed a "long hard slog." But why?

The "long hard slog" was the roadmap, or the blueprint, for the corporate reconstruction and restructuring of the entire country. They weren't so much concerned about the fate of the Iraqi army, or Iraqi civilians or US soldiers. They had to make sure the contractors could get in there on time, in order to meet their deadline. The corporate world largely depends on deadlines and strict schedules, in order to be successful.

Everything in postwar Iraq, from the biggest reconstruction projects, to security, to day labor, could have been done by Iraqis. Instead, almost none of it was. By disbanding the Iraqi army, the postwar planners created a job market with 400,000 openings.

This created a "security problem" which has cost thousands of civilians and hundreds of soldiers their lives, but thats the price of doing business. And its easily explained--they're simply terrorists. Its Good vs. Evil.

This is all just one aspect of the overall problem, but its important. Its not a big surprise that business interests would take precedence over everything else in postwar Iraq.

With all of this information, I have come up with two charges that could be brought against Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and others in the OSD, if there is ever any kind of criminal tribunal for them:

1) Conspiracy to disrupt preparations for war, with the objective of increasing the likelihood of war

2) Conspiracy to disrupt a war in progress, and the subsequent occupation of a country, with the objective of reconstructing and restructuring the occupied country using a strictly corporate model

Hopefully there will be a hundred more charges brought against them in the near future.