No Surprise that Post-War Iraq Was Not Planned During Run-Up
December 7, 2009 1 Comment
Today the BBC reports that a senior British officer, Major General Tim Cross, had urged the UK and the U.S. to plan more thoroughly for post-war Iraq before entering the war. Cross is quoted as saying to then Prime Minister, Tony Blair:
“I do remember saying, in so many words, I have no doubt at all that we will win this military campaign. I do not believe that we are ready for post-war Iraq.”
Who can deny that he was right, and that we should have been better prepared?
It’s nice to know that there is a U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA). It’s also reassuring that some ranking advisers issued warnings about this before going to war.
The BBC report of today, however, isn’t very enlightening. On the face of it, the news piece implies that there was gross negligence, and that the UK was no less responsible than the U.S. for engaging the enemy precipitously.
I have several questions about this, all of them predicated on an assumption.
Preparing for post-war Iraq was complicated and uncertain business.
- Would the business of preparing a complete strategy for post-war Iraq have delayed the war itself and altered the desired outcome of the war?
- What would, at planning time, have been a good plan for the post-war Iraq situation?
- What result could realistically have been expected if some such plan had been in place for post-war Iraq?
- Even now, with the benefit of hindsight, does anybody know what should have been done and would have been effective?
Public discussion of the lessons learned would be more fruitful than repeating the obvious. We’re in an ongoing war in Afghanistan. There will be future conflicts. So what’s the current strategy for “reconstruction” in the aftermath? Is there any evidence that there is a strategy?
We have what is surely a malleable timetable for bringing American troops out of Afghanistan. Presumably this timetable was determined on the basis of clear objectives for the war effort. What post-war objectives have been included in the strategy? And how is the fulfillment of these objectives planned for?