‘An Explosion of Joy’


Didn’t Wolfowitz predict that Iraq was going to boom?

Eager to boost their own morale and get some positive p.r. during a usually slow news period, SecDef Don Rumsfeld and POTUS George W. Bush turned to the very people their disastrous policies have put in the most danger: their soldiers.

Rumsfeld scrambled to Iraq on Xmas Eve to talk with beleaguered Americans still shaken by the messy mess-tent bombing. Meanwhile, Bush’s handlers at Camp David let their fingers do the walking and their puppet do the talking: Borrowing a fashion tip from SCTV’s Fireside Chats, they dressed the president in one of Mayor Tommy Shanks‘s sweaters, sat him down for a picture, and had him chat to selected GIs by phone.

Meanwhile, the words of the Bush regime’s third wise man, Paul Wolfowitz, resonate. Set the Wayback Machine to March 24, 2003: Wolfowitz is being interviewed by the BBC during the invasion of Iraq. Asked about the U.S. “preparation for what comes after,” Wolfowitz replies:

“The focus has got to be on removing this criminal regime. Until the regime is gone it’s going to be very hard to do anything. Even in cities that are liberated. I think when the people of Basra no longer feel the threat of that regime, you are going to see an explosion of joy and relief.”

Fast forward to April 21, 2004, when five car bombs exploded simultaneously in Basra during rush-hour traffic, killing dozens of people, including 20 children. Exactly how many Iraq civilians died isn’t known because, as General Tommy Franks noted, “We don’t do body counts.”

Now to the present day, when Tom Ricks reveals in this morning’s Washington Post a prominent Army historian’s conclusion that the Bush regime had no formal plan for handling Iraq after invading it. Here’s how Ricks put it:

The U.S. military invaded Iraq without a formal plan for occupying and stabilizing the country, and this high-level failure continues to undercut what has been a “mediocre” Army effort there, an Army historian and strategist has concluded.

“There was no Phase IV plan” for occupying Iraq after the combat phase, writes Major Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. While a variety of government offices had considered the possible situations that would follow a U.S. victory, Wilson writes, no one produced an actual document laying out a strategy to consolidate the victory after major combat operations ended.

Too bad, because we love to look at the Bush regime’s actual documents. Odds are good that they’ll show Wolfowitz was correct—he just had the wrong country—when he said: “The focus has got to be on removing this criminal regime.”