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Had our intelligence analysis only matched our capacity for hubris

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The US had the expectation of a quiescent, grateful citizenry that would permit administration on the cheap while criminals were tried and democratic institutions were built from scratch. That assumption coupled with fear of the then Iraqi army may have led to the disbanding of the military. The immediate lack of security in a stroke allowed an already failing infrastructure to be looted to the walls while the failure to sequester vast arms caches allowed Baathists to stockpile arms for the asking. There seemed to be no understanding of the debilitating impact of delay, no jobs, and no visible improvement of daily life.

It is like no one ever read Robert Ruark's book, "Something of Value," set in the Mau Mau revolt of Kenya in the 1950s. The British destroyed the existing infrastructure but substituted nothing to replace it:

"If a people lose their gods, they must replace them with something of value."

That something was the Mau Mau revolt and terrorism. It was the Rwanda of its day.

In retrospect, had we garnered a larger coalition including Turks, Indians, Pakistanis, French and Germans, we'd have had sufficient boots on the ground to instill confidence and forestall looting. A complete postwar breakdown of order drew cries of Iraqis that soon mirrored those of Russians after the fall of Communism: no order, no security, no infrastructure, no gas or goods. Iraqi patience soon faded as clerics and insurgents surged into the vacuum:

"Iraq was held together by the army before, now it's being held together by the mosques."

Former Baathists and jihadists created a destructive cycle of destabilizing attacks, halting reconstruction, Iraqi unhappiness, and rising support for insurgents. Destruction has displaced construction.

Al Sadr's social services network of police, civil services and health care mimic those services provided by Hamas and Hezbollah in Palestine. They also mimic the winning hearts and minds of those organizations who are anything but terrorists in the eyes of their adherents. While oil and electricity production is back at prewar levels, the US-led administration gets no credit.

The US gave the Arab 'news hole' to the Iranian Al Alam, and when it did respond with Al Hurra it was derided for excessive happy talk and hiding issues of pressing interest to Iraqis.

The US may never recover its miscalculation of a pliant Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The abortive process of attempting to create a constitution outside of Iraqi hands smacked of a textbook reading of postwar Japan instead of present day Iraq.

Military theorists (for what happened on the ground) and political analysts (for what happened in Washington) will have a field day for years to come.

Early U.S. Decisions on Iraq Now Haunt American Efforts
Officials Let Looters Roam, Disbanded Army, Allowed Radicals to Gain Strength
Failure to Court an Ayatollah
By FARNAZ FASSIHI, GREG JAFFE, YAROSLAV TROFIMOV, CARLA ANNE ROBBINS and YOCHI J. DREAZEN
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 19, 2004; Page A1

Gordon Housworth



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