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The Wastrel
7th November 03, 12:09 AM
Excerpt from a NY Times Magazine article by David Rieff:


2. Shutting Out State
In the spring of 2002, as support for a war to oust Saddam Hussein took root within the Bush administration, the State Department began to gather information and draw up its own set of plans for postwar Iraq under the leadership of Thomas Warrick, a longtime State Department official who was then special adviser to the department's Office of Northern Gulf Affairs. This effort involved a great number of Iraqi exiles from across the political spectrum, from monarchists to communists and including the Iraqi National Congress.

Warrick's Future of Iraq Project, as it was called, was an effort to consider almost every question likely to confront a post-Hussein Iraq: the rebuilding of infrastructure, the shape Iraqi democracy might take, the carrying out of transitional justice and the spurring of economic development. Warrick called on the talents of many of the best Middle Eastern specialists at State and at the C.I.A. He divided his team into working groups, each of which took on one aspect of the reconstruction.

David L. Phillips, an American conflict-prevention specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and a former adviser to the State Department, served on the project's ''democratic principles'' group. In his view of the project, ''Iraqis did a lot of important work together looking at the future.'' But however useful the work itself was, Phillips says, the very process of holding the discussions was even more valuable. ''It involved Iraqis coming together, in many cases for the first time, to discuss and try to forge a common vision of Iraq's future,'' Phillips says.

There were a number of key policy disagreements between State and Defense. The first was over Chalabi. While the Pentagon said that a ''government in exile'' should be established, presumably led by Chalabi, to be quickly installed in Baghdad following the war, other Iraqis, including the elder statesman of the exile leaders, Adnan Pachaci, insisted that any government installed by United States fiat would be illegitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi people. And the State Department, still concerned that Chalabi had siphoned off money meant for the Iraqi resistance and that he lacked public support, opposed the idea of a shadow government. The State Department managed to win this particular battle, and no government in exile was set up.

There was also a broader disagreement about whether and how quickly Iraq could become a full-fledged democracy. The State Department itself was of two minds on this question. One prewar State Department report, echoing the conventional wisdom among Arabists, asserted that ''liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve'' in Iraq and that ''electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements.'' The C.I.A. agreed with this assessment; in March 2003, the agency issued a report that was widely reported to conclude that prospects for democracy in a post-Hussein Iraq were bleak. In contrast, the neoconservatives within the Bush administration, above all within the Department of Defense, consistently asserted that the C.I.A. and the State Department were wrong and that there was no reason to suppose that Iraq could not become a full-fledged democracy, and relatively quickly and smoothly.

But Thomas Warrick, who has refused to be interviewed since the end of the war, was, according to participants in the project, steadfastly committed to Iraqi democracy. Feisal Istrabadi, an Iraqi-American lawyer who also served on the project's democratic principles group, credits Warrick with making the Future of Iraq Project a genuinely democratic and inclusive venture. Warrick, he says, ''was fanatically devoted to the idea that no one should be allowed to dominate the Future of Iraq Project and that all voices should be heard -- including moderate Islamist voices. It was a remarkable accomplishment.''

In fact, Istrabadi rejects the view that the State Department was a holdout against Iraqi democracy. ''From Colin Powell on down,'' he says, ''I've spent hundreds of hours with State Department people, and I've never heard one say democracy was not viable in Iraq. Not one.''

Although Istrabadi is an admirer of Wolfowitz, he says that the rivalry between State and Defense was so intense that the Future of Iraq Project became anathema to the Pentagon simply because it was a State Department project. ''At the Defense Department,'' he recalls, ''we were seen as part of 'them.''' Istrabadi was so disturbed by the fight between Defense and State that on June 1, 2002, he says, he took the matter up personally with Douglas Feith. ''I sat with Feith,'' he recalls, ''and said, 'You've got to decide what your policy is.'''

The Future of Iraq Project did draw up detailed reports, which were eventually released to Congress last month and made available to reporters for The New York Times. The 13 volumes, according to The Times, warned that ''the period immediately after regime change might offer . . . criminals the opportunity to engage in acts of killing, plunder and looting.''

But the Defense Department, which came to oversee postwar planning, would pay little heed to the work of the Future of Iraq Project. Gen. Jay Garner, the retired Army officer who was later given the job of leading the reconstruction of Iraq, says he was instructed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to ignore the Future of Iraq Project.

Garner has said that he asked for Warrick to be added to his staff and that he was turned down by his superiors. Judith Yaphe, a former C.I.A. analyst and a leading expert on Iraqi history, says that Warrick was ''blacklisted'' by the Pentagon. ''He did not support their vision,'' she told me.

And what was this vision?

Yaphe's answer is unhesitant: ''Ahmad Chalabi.'' But it went further than that: ''The Pentagon didn't want to touch anything connected to the Department of State.''

None of the senior American officials involved in the Future of Iraq Project were taken on board by the Pentagon's planners. And this loss was considerable. ''The Office of Special Plans discarded all of the Future of Iraq Project's planning,'' David Phillips says. ''I don't know why.''

To say all this is not to claim that the Future of Iraq Project alone would have prevented the postwar situation from deteriorating as it did. Robert Perito, a former State Department official who is one of the world's leading experts on postconflict police work, says of the Future of Iraq Project: ''It was a good idea. It brought the exiles together, a lot of smart people, and its reports were very impressive. But the project never got to the point where things were in place that could be implemented.''

Nonetheless, Istrabadi points out that ''we in the Future of Iraq Project predicted widespread looting. You didn't have to have a degree from a Boston university to figure that one out. Look at what happened in L.A. after the police failed to act quickly after the Rodney King verdict. It was entirely predictable that in the absence of any authority in Baghdad that you'd have chaos and lawlessness.''

According to one participant, Iraqi exiles on the project specifically warned of the dangers of policing postwar Iraq: ''Adnan Pachaci's first question to U.S. officials was, How would they maintain law and order after the war was over? They told him not to worry, that things would get back to normal very soon.''

Samuel Browning
7th November 03, 01:41 PM
Yet another piece of evidence that Rummy has his head up his ass, his ignoring this body of work probably cost us the equivelant of several months of reconstruction time that we did not really have. good post

The Wastrel
7th November 03, 02:07 PM
You should check out his entire article at the New York Times site. It only requires registration to view. Additionally, check out Seymour Hersh's work for a complete picture of intelligence controversies.

Ronin
7th November 03, 02:47 PM
I have to say guys, from an outside point of view, Rummsfield seems like a total jerk off.

patfromlogan
11th November 03, 12:05 AM
Canada is outside? Don't you mean Canada has come 'out.'