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20-20 Foresight
Who knew? For example, that:

...after Saddam was toppled, there was “a significant chance that domestic groups would engage in violent conflict with each other and that rogue Saddam loyalists would wage guerilla warfare either by themselves or in alliance with terrorists.”

And that:

“many angry young recruits” would fuel the rank of Islamic extremists and "Iraqi political culture is so embued with mores (opposed) to the democratic experience…that it may resist the most rigorous and prolonged democratic tutorials."

And that:

the war also could be “exploited by terrorists and extremists outside IRAQ.”

And that:

“"Iraqi patience with an extended US presence after an overwhelming victory would be short," and said "humanitarian conditions in many parts of Iraq would probably not understand that the Coalition wartime logistic pipeline would require time to reorient its mission to humanitarian aid."

Well, as Lisa Myers and Robert Windrem of the NBC News Investigative Unit, from whose story the quotes above are taken, write, turns out the administration knew. Yet:

None of those warnings were reflected in the administration's predictions about the war.

In fact, Vice President Cheney stated the day before the war, "Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."

All of these warnings above of the risks and consequences of the war , which will be released by the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence, were made to the administration. But, as Myers and Windrem write, "those warnings were seemingly ignored." More from their piece below:

One of Tenet's clearest arguments regarding the administration's dismissal of all but the rosiest assessments of post-war Iraq comes in his description of a White House meeting in September 2002. There, a briefing book on the Iraq war was laid out for policy makers.

"Near the back of the book, Tab 'P', was a paper the CIA analysts had prepared three weeks earlier,” Tenet writes. “Dated August 13, 2002, it was titled, 'The Perfect Storm: Planning for the Negative Consequences of Invading Iraq'. It provided worse case scenarios:

"The United States will face negative consequences with Iraq, the region and beyond which would include:

* Anarchy and the territorial breakup of Iraq;
* Region-threatening instability in key Arab states;
* A surge of global terrorism against US interests fueled by (militant) Islamism;
* Major oil supply disruptions and severe strains in the Atlantic Alliance."

“These should have been very sobering reports,” says Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst at the Brookings Institution. “The administration should have taken them very serious in preparing plans for a difficult post-Saddam period. And yet the administration did not do so.”

Posted by aalkon at May 25, 2007 11:12 AM


Who knew? Well I told many people that, while I felt the war was inevitable, that we were "opening Pandora's box", and letting loose all the evils of the world. I was not wrong. I don't think there's any right answer to all of this. Of course, we shouldn't have done it in the first place, but we know what's 20-20, don't we?

If some of the people in power would think with their brains (if they have any), and not just do what their lobbyists pay them to do, or their religious leaders urge them to do...we might just have a planet left in twenty years. We can hope...

Posted by: MJ at May 25, 2007 8:15 AM

History is full of official overconfidence in the face of warnings. In the runnup to our invasion of Iraq, I recall the optimistic tone. It reminded me of Germany's invasion of Russia circa 1941. Nazi officials were swaggering about, saying how the Soviet Union was like an "overfilled pig's bladder: prick it, and it will burst."

Another famous time of such blindness was around Stalingrad, late 1942. There was all kinds of evidence that the Soviets were planning an offensive to encircle the city, but the general staff did nothing.

Posted by: doombuggy at May 25, 2007 8:18 AM

Where to begin hating this blog post? Where to start?

First, let's hate the author of the book! Tenet is a loathsome troll of a human being. He's a despicable shitheel of a public servant. His book is a final atrocity in a career of petty double-dealing and exploitation. That the "NBC Investigative Units" of the world would use this weasel as the basis for one of their workaday craprolls does not surprise.

(BTW, I have an "Investigative Unit", too. Anybody wanna see it?

Very well. Let's move on.)

> “a significant chance that
> domestic groups would engage
> in violent conflict

For rhetoric like this, the United States maintains multi-billion dollar agencies with budgets off the books? What toothless schoolchild in the Appalachian holler couldn't have offered the same thought at a much cheaper price? Who now could look at such an expression as predictive or revelatory?

Lisa Myers of the NBC Investigative Unit, that's who... You know her for her many stunning exposes and explosive insights....

Jesus Fuck, people. If Tenet really felt this way, why did he let Bush give him the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Or why didn't he give it back?

Let's set aside our burning, consuming hatreds --just for a moment-- and try to get a little more perspective on what a blog post like this means.

I think it means that a great portion of the popular mind --in government service, government leadership, the voting populace, commercial media and the popular tongue-- is pornographically, masturbatorially short-sighted.

Good things have come from this war... Both in the most banal practicalities and the grandest expressions of our intolerance for wretchedness. But nothing nothing nothing is going to stop the bloodless, soulless machinery of our society (Hi Miss Myers!) from fueling the conflagration of rhetoric that it was a mistake. It will burn burn burn, but the soil will be no more nutritious when the rain comes.

It's inexplicable. It's mass hysteria. Never seen anything like it since the last time it happened. Western civ is dead. Insanity. It's 9am on Friday of a holiday weekend... Can we drink yet?

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 9:08 AM

He said, "pornographically, masturbatorially.

Posted by: Roger at May 25, 2007 9:35 AM

Sorry... Don't know how else to say it. People are horny to hate this administration

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 9:45 AM

Well, Crid, it's not our fault we're horny to hate this administration.

Any administration that sashays around the way this one does is just asking for it.

Posted by: Axman at May 25, 2007 9:54 AM

One thing you learn about living in Washington DC is NO ONE will take a chance on risking their reputation on a hunch. 98% of the people who work for the government are there to pad their resume. Taking a risk will jeopardize your abilities of getting a great resume and end your chances of a revolving career cycle of working in the public and private sectors.

It was the reason why I worked for an international NGO, because they were short staffed, the pay was awful and after the initial first year my actions were mainly unsupervised by my superiors.

Posted by: Joe at May 25, 2007 9:56 AM

Crid, I think those "revelations" come from the Senate Investigation and not from Tenet's book.

What I have most been dismayed about is finding out how much of our various National Intelligence Estimates could have been written by a few frosh searching blogs. Most of the "foresight" above was widely available and discussed on blogs and magazines before the war.

Posted by: jerry at May 25, 2007 11:13 AM

Thanks, Jerry. Tenet's a scumbag. But, he's just the messenger in this piece.

And that's the problem -- the blogger wisdom thing. I'm no military strategist, and with the layman's knowledge of the Middle East I have, I knew it wasn't going to be a case of march in, have the people kissing our soldiers in the streets like they did in France at the end of WWII, tack up a sign "Democracy, now open for business!" and then march out.

I mean, what kind of moron thinks of any war that way?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 25, 2007 11:33 AM

OK, but don't you hate him anyway?

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 11:35 AM

Much as I find bipolar people claiming Mr. Bush is a criminal mastermind one day and a drooling idiot the next, I find they have spare time to act as though they have the whole story on any agency, auditable or not, because they read a newspaper or watch CNN.

No one should be surprised that the assessment of the ordinary person - well versed in history, and traveled in the theater in question - should come very close to the same thing official channels have produced. Agents are not all that more intelligent than the average, at that.

But the plain fact remains that the motives and powers of a nation-state are not the same as yours. Those powers will still hide things from you, no matter how pleased you are with your opinion.

Amy's blog has attrracted people who state that intelligence agencies should be abolished - as though ignorance is a solution. Nope.

Posted by: Radwaste at May 25, 2007 11:38 AM

Jerry: Don't you hate him anyway?

The "messenger", assuming he was ever carrying any mail at all, withheld it when it was to his advantage to do so and then spilled it to make a buck years after lives could have been saved. You're making the point: The political of the American voters is about twenty seconds long. They want to have their momentary perceptions validated no matter what.

There's just no reason to work this hard at hating the "moron".

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 11:52 AM

The striking thing for me is that there appear to have been no contingency plans put in place for running Iraq after we defeated their military. They assumed it would be smooth sailing, and that was the only thing they planned for! You'd think that the organization that gave us SNAFU might make just a few allowances for things not going exactly as planned. Maybe a plan to quickly redeploy soldiers from other places, just in case Shinseki was right (I mean, he wasn't the Bushies' guy, sure, but he also wasn't just some armchair general, either). Isn't it standard, when planning anything (military or not) to do everything you can to make something go right, but have some backups in case it doesn't work. Iraq was something we were able to do at a time of our choosing and in the way we wanted, and yet there was no plan B. How can all of the bright people who were the architects of our Iraq policy - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle - have completely failed to entertain any other possibilities? This really baffles me.

Posted by: justin case at May 25, 2007 11:56 AM

Raddy, if the agencies could do what people imagine they're doing, it wouldn't be a problem. But we're not getting "intelligence" out of them.

They're an operational, financial and ethical sump.

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 11:58 AM

They're the TSA without sweaters.

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 11:59 AM

Ha! Great one.

And Justin has it exactly:

They assumed it would be smooth sailing, and that was the only thing they planned for!


And Tenet is a despicable lowlife in case I didn't make that clear.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 25, 2007 12:24 PM

There was a special on Brit PM Tony Blair a few days ago on PBS...Blair was told by French Pres Jacques Chirac b4 the war that:

1. The war will be messy
2. There will be a civil war
3. The population will not like the invasion
4. An elected Shia government does not equal democracy. France will not partake.

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at May 25, 2007 12:45 PM

Heh. Someone from France had an accurate take on a military situation. Wonders never cease!

Posted by: justin case at May 25, 2007 1:20 PM

Where would Jacques Chirac get those ideas from? Perhaps when he was an Army Lieutenant serving in Algeria in the late 1950s. Anyone who has spent time with the locals will always have a better grasp of the area than the think tank junkies within the Beltway.

All those Iraqi police and military units trained by US forces and independent consultants will become tomorrow's Shia-Islam death squads once we vacate the premises.

On the average day there are 30 to 60 bodies discovered by US forces in Baghdad alone. A vast majority of the victims are Sunni-Muslims who have been mutilated, tortured and killed. How can I tell? The photos and Al-Jazeera videos show the way the bodies are left in the Sunni prayer position. (right hand over the left hand)

Posted by: Joe at May 25, 2007 1:32 PM

I share Justin's befuddlement. Bush seems to have trusted all his business buddies when they said American contractors would put things back together over there are competitive rates, and that's as far as it went.

But there should be a new rule like this: Nobody should be allowed to call the war a "mistake" without saying what was supposed to happen, or at least what would have happened anyway.

Everyone on the surface of the globe seems to agree that these players were going to go at each other's throats someday anyway. So how many of those 60-per-day Iraqi deaths belong on Bush's conscience? Not too many, unless there's an alternative scenario... Something a little more graceful than saying "It was a mistake! And Chimpy McFlightsuit is a moron!"

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 2:49 PM

Crid - I suspect that the "common wisdom" is that we should have left Saddam in power. See, he was keeping the sectarian violence down by killing everyone himself. At least there were no Americans in the way.

For all their talk of cultural relativism, the left really seems to think that nobody else in the world is worth fighting for.

Posted by: brian at May 25, 2007 2:59 PM

Where would Jacques Chirac get those ideas from? Perhaps when he was an Army Lieutenant serving in Algeria in the late 1950s.

While you can't say anybody from a privileged background will have little knowledge of real life or common sense, those who have life experience -- especially the kind where they aren't always protected by a velvet cushion of money -- perhaps bring an important kind of wisdom to the job. The wisdom of reality you could call it.

As for Brian's comment about whether we should have left Saddam in power, why is it the job of American kids like Joseph Anzack to get rid of all the evil dictators in the world?

And then there's the price in dollars we're all paying, plus the stretched American military. If we have a disaster at home, will we have the national guardsmen we need?

As a libertarian, for the most part, I'm against "nation-building." Especially when it means we divide our forces going after the terrorists who actually attacked us and foment a lot of new terrorists in their wake.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 25, 2007 3:37 PM

Well, Brian no one is stopping you from suiting up and going into the Lion's den. How about organizing a second Abraham Lincoln Brigade for Iraq?

Hell, they were the Leftists that put their money where their mouth was for an idealistic cause. How about you and the other war nerds? How about adopt a US soldier? You can take the place of one over in Iraq?

I'm curious on what are you doing for the cause? Besides paying taxes and living up to the typical caricature on a site?

Posted by: Joe at May 25, 2007 4:20 PM

"But we're not getting "intelligence" out of them."

They don't report to us, and they don't report to CNN!

I guess it was "George Bush is an idiot day" when he said this wouldn't be easy, because certain people didn't seem to hear that.

Posted by: Radwaste at May 25, 2007 6:52 PM

> They don't report to us

The Hell they don't. The Shitfuck Christ they don't. We pay them, they report to us. And when they bungle things so badly that thousands of Americans die, they should pay with their careers and more, instead of getting medals.

> he said this wouldn't
> be easy

It's becoming ever more apparent that Dubya doesn't know what "this" is... We've got hundreds of thousands of our finest people doing nothing good in Iraq but pissing off the natives, without a clue (or a mission) to share and instill the values that could bring peace to their region. Setting aside the blood for moment --and I dare you to-- no one has any clue how this effort will be paid for. Stateside, all we get is chatter about some kind of "homeland".

You don't have to think he's stupid to worry that we're a year and a half from getting good service out of the executive branch.

Nonetheless, I'd like to know how you'd want American's energy systems to be configured in 20 years. Do your work make you like oil?

Posted by: Crid at May 25, 2007 8:02 PM

Joe, you're getting dangerously close to "Starship Troopers" territory here. What, since I'm not soldier material I can't speak supportively of military action?

And what I do "for the cause" is not for you to concern yourself with.

Shove your self-righteousness up your ass.


Posted by: brian at May 25, 2007 10:39 PM

Amy I think brians point isnt that american kids need to die to remove evil dictators from power.

Just that american kids need to die to remove evil dictators from power in countries that have resorces we want, but only when said dictators wont play nicely with our business interests.

And brian you made the comment that the left belives that no one is worth fighting for and implied that you do, soJoe was perfectly justified in asking his question, and giventhat the army need body bags, excuse me, boots filled they are starting to take 40yr old, so why dont you sign up?

Posted by: lujlp at May 26, 2007 12:57 AM

Must have hit it pretty close to the mark to get you all riled up, Brian. As usual, you completely miss the point.

Posted by: Joe at May 26, 2007 8:22 AM

What point would that be, Joe? That unless I'm willing to put my body on the line the only morally defensible position is to pull the troops out of Iraq and not send them anywhere?

Because I'm not getting much more of a point from you.

I've watched the left rail against any military intervention where the US might benefit from it going well. But they were just fine with Kosovo. How come I never hear about the Democrats wanting to withdraw from Kosovo? It is because that was started by a Democrat? Or is it because in the grand scheme of things the outcome in Kosovo is completely meaningless to both human rights and world politics?

What irks me about so many "out of Iraq now" types is that they completely fail to see the larger picture. We, as a nation and a world, have allowed Islamic radicalism to grow powerful for entirely too long. At best, we've made token efforts to deal with it. 9/11 was their way of saying "you won't ignore us any longer".

Leaving Iraq represents nothing, if not attempting to stick our collective head in the sand and pretend that 9/11 was an isolated incident by a small group of angry muslims. Sure, none of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. But guess what - this isn't about just 9/11. It's about every state sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world, of which Iraq was certainly one.

I'm also tired of the political left in this country taking both sides of every organization's reporting. CIA says "Iraq WMD is a slam dunk" - Bush shouldn't have listened to them. CIA says "Iraq occupation is gonna be a bitch", Bush is a fool because he didn't listen to them.

And yet you dare to sit in judgment of me because I'm not in the military?

Posted by: brian at May 26, 2007 8:43 AM


Moi being judgmental and you are shocked at it? Not only are you a foolish caricature, but quite clueless.

If you dropped your addiction to 'absolute certainty' in your beliefs you would have understood the post, genius.

People through out history have contributed a lot more than their opinions to a cause they believed in wholeheartedly. What makes them different from you? I've done my time in the Middle East and still participate in causes that will commit real reform in the region without the Western patronizing baggage normally associated with the public gestures. All pro bono. It's a little more sophisticated than paying taxes, voting and slapping 'Support the Troops' magnet on the back of my gas guzzling car. Ideas (even the horribly formulated ones) do have consequences.

My posts making you uncomfortable about your lack of real participation? Good. Mission Accomplished. Your little moment of discomfort doesn't equate to what the average US soldier must go through in Iraq. So drop the false sense of your damaged self esteem, war nerd.

Posted by: Joe at May 26, 2007 10:34 AM

brian both Saudi Arabia and the IAE sponser and finacne terorism, guess what, they are both allies.

Better find a different justification for Iraq.

Posted by: lujlp at May 27, 2007 8:19 AM

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