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The Indictment of David Stockman

Economist: "It Demanded the Highest Seriousness and Careful Planning. [But] Messrs Bush and Rumsfeld..."

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now. Thoreau of Unqualified Offerings:

Thoreau of Unqualified Offerings: While on the plane I read the latest issue of the Economist. And while this isn’t the first time that they’ve talked about the mistake they made in endorsing the invasion of Iraq, their latest observations are particularly astute (though not quite astute enough). From the end of the article:

The Islamic Republic is the big winner from Mr Bush’s war. But neither Iran nor any regional power apart from al-Qaeda has an interest in the complete collapse of Iraq. The Iranians in particular worry about what the Americans might do in such a circumstance. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president, calls America “a wounded tiger”, all the more dangerous for its sudden weakness. Such has been Mr Bush’s failure that the autocrats of the Middle East say that they are trying to rescue Iraq from America and America from itself. It really is a debacle.

It is not enough to say with the neocons that this was a good idea executed badly. Their own ideas are partly to blame. Too many people in Washington were fixated on proving an ideological point: that America’s values were universal and would be digested effortlessly by people a world away. But plonking an American army in the heart of the Arab world was always a gamble. It demanded the highest seriousness and careful planning. Messrs Bush and Rumsfeld chose instead to send less than half the needed soldiers and gave no proper thought to the aftermath.

What a waste. Most Iraqis rejoiced in the toppling of Saddam. They trooped in their millions to vote. What would Iraq be like now if America had approached its perilous, monumentally controversial undertaking with humility, honesty and courage? Thanks to the almost criminal negligence of Mr Bush’s administration nobody, now, will ever know.

Of course, criminal negligence (I won’t qualify it with “almost”) was not the only factor here. The biggest problem was that the nature of the project was always... that you can’t succeed if you don’t have a clear agenda. And we never had one. Which is not to say that everything would have been just peachy (or even justified) if we had gone in with a plan. But if there had at least been some clear justification to guide planning and limit the objectives to a short list, perhaps the mess would have been significantly smaller.... But it still would have been a mess.