...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Monday, August 04, 2003
      ( 3:30 PM )
The Age-Old Question: Screw Up or Hubris?

Both. There is much blogging going on today about the article in the Houston Chronicle by Karen Kwiatkowski about her stint in the Pentagon's pre-war planning arena. I first saw mention of it at Whiskey Bar, but my thoughts were more provoked by CalPundit. I agree with several opinions I've seen that her article could have gone into a bit more detail and her complaints seemed a little pedantic for the subject matter... I think she raised some serious issues but she expounded on the less serious ones. Her article raises the entire question of post-war planning - and the ineptness with which it was done. CalPundit puts it this way:

So why the lack of planning, which so clearly works against
America's best interests? Did they just screw up? Did they
truly believe that we'd be universally greeted as liberators
and the country would be up and running in no time? Did they
somehow think the UN would jump in to help?

It just doesn't make sense. What were they really thinking?

I recall during the march to war last autumn (provoked by George Bush, not by the media, as he would like everyone to believe), my father, a retired colonel in the Air Force and 30-year veteran of logistics planning, including being an inspecter general for logistics, kept saying everytime he saw the news "there's no exit plan, what's the exit plan?" Over and over, sometimes trance-like, as if he were willing his old Pentagon compatriots to speak up and clearly show they were on top of things.

I think the problem was, that while the career military officials probably did have the skill, capacity and desire to submit several far-reaching plans, the administration simply wasn't interested. There is an argument being made that I have seen in some comments that BushCo did plan, but for the wrong things: humanitarian disaster, oil well fires on a large scale, disposing of WMDs. So when those things didn't materialize and instead there was small-scale (depending on whether your son or daughter is there) guerilla warfare, wholesale looting, complete collapse of the infrastructure and jobs, they weren't prepared. While this may be a genuine argument for why what's now happening is happening, it is neither a legitimate or defensible scenario. The entire point of having teams of logistics personnel at your disposal when you are planning full-scale war and invasion is to have people who are planning for every contingency. It is not too far reaching to imagine there might be need for infrastructure rebuilding, for protection of landmarks and valuable properties, for defense against guerilla warfare and a high level of nationalistic pride and revolt against the occupiers that has nothing to do with whether we got rid of Saddam Hussein or not.

The argument "we planned, but not for this" doesn't hold water simply because of the gravity of the decisions they were making. Bad planning on this level is virtually equal to no planning at all. You cannot expect to have "do overs" or a grace period when you are planning to invade another country and displace its sovreign government. No matter what excuse the administration uses as it ducks and weaves the incoming revelations of how badly it prepared for post-war Iraq, that excuse will be lame and hold no water. There has to be accountability at some point. "I take personal responsibility" being said by the president in a press conference doesn't cut it.

It is pure hubris, pure and unadulterated arrogance that propelled this administration into this war, and that is continuing to provoke bad decisions. This administration has shown that it is not, despite its grandest intentions, capable of being a true world leader. There is no good excuse for what is happening now, and the American people deserve an explanation as to how an invasion and war was allowed to go forward with such ill planning for its aftermath. After all, we're the ones who literally are going to have to pay for it... all $4 billion per month of it, most likely for years to come.

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