Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Timeline of Denial

In case you haven't yet made it through all 491 pages of Bush Administration missteps chronicled in Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, here is a timeline of ignored warnings and disregarded expertise. Members of the military and Bush Administration officials realized that the situation in Iraq was bad and getting worse starting in 2002. Nevertheless, the Bush Administration stuck with its failed Iraq policy and showed more interest in winning elections than in winning the peace. It's time for a new direction.

December 2002: Special Assistant to Secretary Rumsfeld, Steven Herbits, Says Post War Planning is "Screwed Up". "At the Pentagon, on Thursday, December 5, 2002, in the middle of the most intense invasion planning for Iraq, Steve Herbits walked into Rumsfeld's office. "You're not going to be happy with what I'm going to tell you," he said.Herbits continued. "Now that I've got your attention, you have got to focus on the post-Iraq planning. It is so screwed up. We will not be able to win the peace." [p. 103]

August 2003: Coordinator for Strategic Planning on the National Security Council, Robert D. Blackwill, Tells Rice and Hadley "We're Losing". "After a couple of weeks, [Robert D.] Blackwill [the new coordinator for strategic planning on the NSC staff who Rice made point man for Iraq] told Rice and Hadley. 'We're losing. We're just losing this whole thing. The public opinion is going against us. This is awful. We're losing the battle for Iraq heart and soul.'" [p. 241]

September 2003: Herbits Tells Gingrich and Wolfowitz the President is Losing the Peace. Herbits, Wolfowitz and Gingrich meet for dinner at Les Halles to discuss the war. "The three chit-chatted briefly, and then Herbits stepped in. 'This is the premise of the meeting. The president is losing the peace. He is not going to get reelected unless we get this thing straightened out." [p. 250]

Ongoing: Secretary of State Colin Powell and Richard Armitage Wonder if the President Had Thought Things Through. "Powell and Armitage engaged in a private, running commentary about Bush, Cheney, the White House and what was really going on. Both wanted Bush to succeed and they believed the Iraq War had to be won for the stability of the Middle East. A precipitous U.S. withdrawal would be followed by chaos. But what about adjusting the policy? they were asking. Shouldn't we all be more realistic?... Armitage was baffled. 'Has he [President Bush] thought this through?' Armitage asked Powell. 'What the President says in effect is we've got to press on in honor of the memory of those who have fallen. Another way to say that is we've got to have more men fall to honor the memories of those who have already fallen.'" [p. 325]

Early 2005: Richard Armitage Says Time is Working for the Insurgents. "Armitage traveled to Iraq at the end of 2004. 'We're not winning.we're not losing. Not winning over a long period of time works for the insurgents." [p. 373]

February 2005: State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow Says Iraq is a Failed State. "At this point Iraq remains a failed state shadowed by constant violence and undergoing revolutionary political change." [p. 388]

July 2005: NATO Commander General James Jones Wonders Whether He Should Resign in Protest. "Jones expressed chagrin that Pace would even want to be chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff]. 'You're going to face a debacle and be part of the debacle in Iraq,' he said. U.S. prestige was at a 50- or 75- year low in the world. He said he was so worried about Iraq and the way Rumsfeld ran things that he wondered if he himself should not resign in protest." [p. 403]

September 2005: State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow Warns That Iraqis Suffered Profound Disillusionment about America. "On the two other pillars for postwar Iraq - economic development and governance, the two that State was responsible for - the report was grim: 'Not visibly advanced and some areas had moved backwards.' In the areas of electricity, oil and water, the U.S. was expending a huge effort just to stay in the same place. Then came the killer line: 'Iraqis had exaggerated hopes about what we would do in their country and the general failure of public services has hurtled [them] into profound disillusionment about America.'.Zelikow concluded, 'Failure is a condition where you don't get that by the time the administration leaves office' - January 2009. 'Catastrophic failure' could be said to occur 'if the center doesn't hold and Iraq's experiment at truly national government has collapsed." [p. 413]

March 2006: State Department Counselor Philip Zelikow Notes Existence of an Unstable Equilibrium. "The Iraqi Army has been rebuilt and the insurgency has been contained, but the underlying rhythm and scale of insurgent attacks has actually been remarkably steady for more than a year. Neither side has gained decisive edge. The result is a lingering unstable equilibrium." [p. 452]

June 2006: Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte Concludes U.S. Policy in Trouble. "Overall, he concluded, it had all been downhill in the first six months of 2006. Clearly now, in early June, he could see the U.S. Iraq policy was in trouble. It was time to face facts. The Shiites were already the winners. They would prevail. The only question was how the United States could shape things - which was different from determining them. It was time to take American hands off." [p. 478]

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