June 18, 2014 6:53 am -

Bush_mission_accomplishedObama’s retreat. We left too soon. 

These have become the dominant neocon talking points in trying to both rationalize another round of American military intervention in Iraq and to explain away their own complicity in the current crisis in Mesopotamia.  What is so profoundly offensive about these Chickenhawks trotting out both their shopworn rationalizations for ever-more war and their transparent attempts to elude responsibility for what seems to be the impending collapse of Iraq is the fact that the collapse of Iraq is exactly what they wanted.

Nevertheless, “we left too soon” is a talking point with legs, and in what is surely a high point in the Annals of Lack of Self-Awareness, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the fathers of the current crisis, is co-hosting with convicted felon Lewis “Scooter” Libby a five-day seminar on what is laughably described as an Iraq War “study in decision-making” where we’ll surely hear a lot more about how we “left too soon.”

L. Paul Bremer III, America’s former proconsul in Iraq, is another neocon who rates highly in obliviousness. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Bremer strikes an Heroic Neocon Pose, courageously blaming President Obama for a “feckless” policy that Bremer himself gave birth to. As the Washington Post‘s Rajiv Chandresekaran showed in Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority was a dumping ground for former Heritage Foundation interns, Bush “Rangers,” and neocon halfwits who viewed a 90-day tour in Baghdad’s Green Zone — where they could mimic Bremer and sport combat boots and latest in deployment-chic — as “their bit” in the war effort.

When the manifest failings of the CPA became plain for everyone to see — Bremer even had the hubris to screw up the designing of a new flag for Iraq, one quickly abandoned when Iraqis complained it resembled that of the State of Israel — Bremer hurriedly shoved his in-box into the lap of the Iraqis and blew town.

Bremer’s legacy, however, lived on for those of us still on the ground. His disbanding of the entire Iraqi security structure, based on a complete misreading of the history of post-war Germany, created the foundations of Sunni resentment that today feed the ISIS flame.

But Bremer’s actions were not unique: they were part and parcel of a Strategy of No-Strategy. Ever since George W. Bush had his “Top Gun” moment and landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, he has been lambasted for what is said to be his tone-deaf “Mission Accomplished” speech.

That criticism is unfair. When Bush gave that speech, the mission was accomplished.

At no point did the Bush Administration define rebuilding or even managing transitional Iraq as its mission. The mission was toppling Saddam. What happened next was largely irrelevant — indeed, as Donald Rumsfeld said, it was beside the point: “We’re not interested in nation-building. This is not what we do. This is not what we’re going to do.”

The Bush Administration wanted to get in and out of Iraq the way they thought they’d got in and out of Afghanistan. As U.S. Army Major Matthew A. Hover wrote for the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2012, the differences between former American military occupations and that in Iraq could not be more stark.

Though the Bush team routinely cited history to rationalize its policies, no one in the Bush Administration actually knew history or had any desire to learn from it. In World War II, as Hover notes, there were four years of occupation planning before the U.S. Army reached Germany; 6,000 military officers were specifically trained to govern occupied areas; there was a clearly defined chain of command and a clearly defined set of policies for governing occupied areas. Indeed, the War Department produced “handbooks” for the occupations of Germany, Italy, and Japan that numbered dozens of volumes, covering everything from public transportation to hospitals to schools to local elections.

The Bush Administration did none of that for Iraq. Indeed, they could not do any of that and still maintain the political fiction that invading Iraq and toppling Saddam would be easy.

This explains why the White House trotted out the hapless Andrew Natsios, a loyal Republican state legislator from Massachusetts, Army Reserve officer, and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to tell ABC’s Ted Koppel with an admirably straight face that the cost of reconstruction in Iraq would be $1.7 billion. It was really a miracle of political theater — it was the “.7” that gave it credibility, as if the Bush team had rolled up its sleeves and pulled on its green eyeshades and dragged out the 10-key calculators and really set about the task of figuring the thing out.

They hadn’t. In fact, what they’d figured out what that they didn’t want to figure it out. They didn’t want to occupy Iraq, they didn’t want to rebuild Iraq, they didn’t want to — as Secretary of State Colin Powell predicted they would — own Iraq. The Pentagon took ownership of post-war Iraq to ensure that the country would not be rebuilt; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in one of those press conferences that so charmed the Beltway media, growled, “If you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.” 

But now the neocons want to take a Mulligan and try again.

Bush’s mission in Iraq was indeed accomplished.  The problem is not that Iraq is “ungovernable.” There are lots of multi-ethnic, multi-confessional countries in the international system. The problem is not that “those people” have “always been fighting.” The problem is governance, the half-baked, half-finished, half-funded, half-wit system of governance we created while the Bush Administration fled Baghdad in the middle of the night, leaving America’s fighting men and women to cope with the fallout.

Bush, Cheney, Perle, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz. While Iraq collapses, they’ll sip bottle of water in television Green Rooms, trying not to disturb their makeup before going live to proclaim what “we” need to do to forestall Iraq’s collapse.

What they won’t tell viewers is that Iraq didn’t have to collapse. They wanted it to. They built that.

Russ Burgos

No responses to Iraq’s Collapse: Mission Accomplished

  1. Thomas Purcell June 18th, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Completely political article full of half truths. The real story can be found here

    • OldLefty June 18th, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Then refute it.

      With facts, not with partisan half truths and fantasies.

      • Thomas Purcell June 18th, 2014 at 7:44 am

        I did. Read the article

        • OldLefty June 18th, 2014 at 8:05 am

          No you didn’t.

          Everybody knows the old history of Iraq.

          That does not refute the claims made above.

          • Dwendt44 June 18th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

            He read in on the internet. Everything on the internet is true. Didn’t you know that?

  2. Red Eye Robot June 18th, 2014 at 7:04 am

    to summarize: George W. Bush, in year 2 of his fourth term in office Lost the war in Iraq this week. Barack Obama heard about it on television and was shocked and will issue a statement from a yet undetermined golf course

    • OldLefty June 18th, 2014 at 7:41 am

      That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.

      Most accurately;

      George W. Bush, in year 2 of his 2000 campaign, was captured by the PNACers, who knew they had a dupe to carry out their absurd plan to take over the Middle East, starting with Iraq.

      Many people, including Obama, warned them what would happen when they hit the hornet’s nest and create an Arab Yugoslavia.

      Bush, who was never in the loop decided it was a good chance to go biking and strut around in costumes, declaring, “I’m a war president….
      As ALL the warnings came to pass.

    • fancypants June 18th, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      might as well golf as much as you can. The previous president didn’t ask congress for permission to drive all our $$ and troops into a hopeless black hole like the middle east.
      What the hell its only a war we cant stop or solve at any point during the past 12 yrs. Im very impressed with the Iraq soldiers who have their street clothes under their uniforms just in case the bad guys show up & Syria deserves to start their own government in Iraq since Iraq wont fight for any freedom.

    • fahvel June 19th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      are you kidding or are you really as dumb as you seem?

    • Chinese Democracy June 19th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      hey check out what Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Cheney. Of course there is video.. 🙂

      “Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir. You said there was no doubt Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be greeted as liberators. You said the insurgency was in its last throes back in 2005, and you said that after our intervention, extremists would have to ‘rethink their strategy of jihad.’ Now, with almost a trillion dollars spent there, with almost 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

  3. Prof B in LA June 18th, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Maybe this will make it easier for you: the American Civil War didn’t begin the night before Southern insurgents decided to shred the Constitution and shell Ft. Sumter. It was the outcome of a process that evolved over years, the result o many decisions take by America-hating Southerners. That’s how things work in real life, and not in the Teabagger Fantasy World where every time there’s an election the entire world resets its clocks.

    • Red Eye Robot June 19th, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      “I think Iraq is going to be one of the great achievements of this administration, You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving towards representative government” Joe Biden 2010

      • Prof B in LA June 19th, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        Liberals are right, conservatives are wrong. It was true in 2003, it’s true now. Your dipsh*t president and his dipsh*t administration shredded Iraq, left it shredded, had no plan for not shredding it, and didn’t give a hoot in hell what happened to it after they shredded it. See, when you plan for failure, you fail. Republicans, as always, planned for failure. And they failed. So they succeeded. At failing.

        “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” — Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003

        “And a year from now, I’ll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. The people of Iraq have been liberated, and they understand that they’ve been liberated.” — Richard Perle, Chairman, Defense Policy Board, September 22, 2003

        “The American taxpayers’ part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for further on funding.” — Andrew Natsios, Administrator, US Agency for International Development, April 23, 2003

        “We are part of the solution in Iraq, not part of the problem.” — Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, October 23, 2006

        “I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” — Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, November 14, 2003

        “Today, November 22, 2008, is Victory in Iraq Day! God bless you, President Bush” — Free Republic wingnut website, Atlas Shrugs (Pamela Gellar) wingnut website, Gateway Pundit wingnut website, Michelle Malkin wingnut website, Blackfive wingnut website, American Thinker wingnut website…..

  4. AnthonyLook June 18th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    We should have never gone in there to begin with. It is not our nation to decide when we were to leave. Period.

    • Dwendt44 June 18th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      We were told to ‘get out’.

      • AnthonyLook June 18th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        Exactly; but if you pay attention to Republicans—- we apparently should have ignored another nations request and stay against their will.

  5. Obewon June 19th, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Today $1.7 Trillion has been spent, plus interest & $2 T in VA costs equals $6 Trillion on Big Oil’s Iraq war that would “pay for itself!” -‘GWB’s White House trotted out the hapless Andrew Natsios, a loyal Republican state legislator from Massachusetts, Army Reserve officer, and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to tell ABC’s Ted Koppel with an admirably straight face that the cost of reconstruction in Iraq would be $1.7 billion. It was really a miracle of political theater.’

    Where’s Jeff Gannon/J.D. Guckert of GOPUSA, Talon News & He became the most famous male hooker since Joe Buck when he made more than 200 appearances at the White House posing as a journalist with the conservative websites, attending 155 White House press briefings. He possessed no previous journalism experience, and had previously been refused a congressional press pass. -Guckert made 24+ visits to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On at least 14 occasions, Secret Service records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

  6. Red Eye Robot June 19th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Today, old adversaries are at peace, and emerging democracies are potential partners. -Obama, 2010

  7. Red Eye Robot June 19th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    “Thanks to sacrifice and service of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, al Qaeda has been decimated, Osama bin Laden is dead.” Obama 2012