Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More on Planning for the Post War Iraq

In my earlier post about a perceived lack of planning on the US Government's part for postwar Iraq, I challenged readers to provide me with evidence of compreehensive planning done at any level of the government. Well, an informed reader of the always on target Gateway Pundit came through, and I stand corrected! Someone logging in as anonymous posted a comment on Gateway's link to my post saying, among other things:

As for the Japan comparison, you say in your post that unlike the conflict in Iraq had no prewar planning. Kind of like, no one anticipated the breach of the levees. I would differ, since there was a massive amount of planning that the Pentagon simply dismissed.


Here's the link, which is a pdf document summarizing what several expat Iraqis produced in working groups organized around the societal needs of a nascent democratic country (economics, education, security, transportation, environment, et al).

So yes, the State Department DID convene working groups, consisting of expat Iraqis, to identify issues and develop goals for a post-Saddam Iraq. But the efforts of these workiong groups, which apparently convened 2-3 times for a few days over a 6-9 month period, hardly qualify as "a massive amount of planning" by anyone's standards. The end result of the effort of these groups appears to be a press release by each of the groups detailing the goals and challenges each one idfentified; a great effort, for certain, but hardly a road map for the U.S. government to follow when re-establishing democracy in a recently liberated authoritarian state!

Anonymous' comment about the Pentagon ignoring State's efforts actually helps reinforce the point I made in my previous post about the differences between the Japanese and Iraqi occupations. The planning for postwar Japanese occupation was a joint effort between State and Defense (or War, as it was called back then). Military planners had to be involved, since they ultimately would be required to provide a great deal of lthe leadership, manpower, and logistical support of the occupation of Japan.

By most accounts, the Pentagon and the State Department's planning, when it came to planning for postwar Iraq, were not a coherent and synchronized joint effort. Thus, the initial efforts of the U.S in the early days after Saddam fell did little to create a stable environment where it would be difficult for an insurgency (and factionalism, and organized crime) to take hold.

Apparently it was not, and the initial efforts of the U.S in the early days after Saddam fell did little to create a stable environment where it would be difficult for an insurgency (and factionalism, and organized crime) to take hold.

Why is this important to rehash right now, when it matters little to the people on the ground who did what and when? Because throughout its history (and especially the last several decades), America has been drawn into situations like Iraq again and again and again; as long as America is a superpower on the global stage, there will inevitably be other Iraqs. the scope, scale and stakes may change, but sooner or later there will be an American presence in some failed (or toppled) state, and the American government will endeavor to leave that state as a viable self governing entity. Better we capture all the lessons learned, in Iraq and elsewhere, so that mistakes are not repeated the next time(s) around.

1 comment:

Gateway Pundit said...

I liked what Bill had to say. After all, he has seen the progress. One thing that people should be reminded of is the horrible state the country was in after Saddam was ousted.