Through the memory hole with Iraq

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 05:42 PM

It often helps to travel back in time and compare what relevant players were saying about something important--like Iraq--before they knew how it was going to turn out.

Take Paul Wolfowitz, for example.  He has now drifted out of the inner sanctums of the White House, so we no longer get to hear his pronouncements on Iraq.

And the White House pronouncements we do hear tend to portray all the current Iraq problems as unforeseeable.'s that memory hole.

Here's Wolfowitz on the role of the US-led coalition, way back in April, 2003, according to a NY Times article:

There has got to be an effective administration from day one. People need water and food and medicine, and the sewers have to work, the electricity has to work. And that's a coalition responsibility. We have to make sure it gets done.

Food. Water.  Medicine. Electricity.  The very "convenience" factors that most analysts now credit with turning Iraqi public opinion against the U.S. occupation.

An effective administration from day one.  Seems to me that we haven't managed to achieve that even by day 1,000-something.

Then there's General Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff back in April, 2003, who said in that same article that American and British forces would:

...provide the secure environment inside of which the new Iraqi government can build its police force, build its armed forces up to an internal defense-type capability.

And, Condoleezza Rice, again from that same article:

Iraqis currently free and Iraqis who will soon be free and Iraqis who have for decades kept alive the hopes of a free Iraq while in exile will all have much to contribute to the interim authority and to Iraq's future.

And on ABC, there was this from Iraq's Vice President Ramadan, in March of 2003 during the second week of the war:

I say to the United States administration that it will turn the whole world into people who are willing to die for their nations. If the B-52 can kill 500 people at one time, I'm sure that our operations by freedom fighters will be able to kill 5,000 people.

Which drew this reaction from Rumsfeld:

Well, he's not volunteering himself, I've noticed. They're mostly sending out the young men and attempting to talk them into doing it.

Not to mention that already, on that ABC show, George Stephanopoulos said:

There is also an article in the Washington Post this morning by Vernon Loeb and he said -- he goes on to say that there were "More than a dozen officers interviewed, including a senior officer in Iraq, said Rumsfeld took significant risks by leaving key units in the United States and Germany at the start of the war. That resulted in an invasion force that is too small, strung-out, underprotected, under-supplied, and awaiting tens of thousands of reinforcements who will not get there for weeks."

Early 2003, a pretty good predictor of 2006, with hindsight.  And what that hindsight shows most tellingly is the near total lack of foresight exhibited by our top leaders, even way back then.