No Surprise that Post-War Iraq Was Not Planned During Run-Up

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.

The Assumption:

Preparing for post-war Iraq was complicated and uncertain business.

The Questions:

  1. 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?
  2. What would, at planning time, have been a good plan for the post-war Iraq situation?
  3. What result could realistically have been expected if some such plan had been in place for post-war Iraq?
  4. 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?

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

One Response to No Surprise that Post-War Iraq Was Not Planned During Run-Up

  1. Mark says:

    These are all good questions. I think you may be hinting that often those who assert the “no planning” argument aren’t fair in this charge, and possibly disingenuous. Or at the least it displays the view that war is like running a small business and if it didn’t go as well as desired (and does it ever?) that someone is guilty of “mismanagement”. As opposed to the view that the side that makes the fewest mistakes wins and there are few analogies to business. Frankly, I think these are attempts to nullify military action as a valid option by raising expectations to where they cannot be met.

    In fact there was planning but planning is only done so far in the future. The planning that was done was in expectation of far higher American casualties and for a high number of Iragi refugees. They planned for that and I think those were reasonable expectations. Fortunately, neither of those happened but you see that is bad. Bad because we were a victim of our own success. It went so far beyond expectations and then it wasn’t anticipated that everyone would want a piece of us and flock to Iraq to give us a bloody nose. But as always the Americans adjusted quickly (by historical standards few do at all) and killed so many incorrigble men that we should all be thankful they are gone and the idea that Americans are weak got a reconsideration after Abdul’s brothers never came back from the war and the ones that did make it tell tales of terror from the sky.

    Everything that happened that was good is actually bad you see. See thesis above. 🙂

    Mark

    Like

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