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Mark Danner on the bad decisionmaking that led to the Iraq quagmire. (Part One) (Part Two) Long but well written and worth a read, the essay will appear in the December 21, 2006 edition of the New York Review of Books. From Part Two:
Nearly four years into the Iraq war...the consequences of [the U.S.'s] early decisions define the bloody landscape. By dismissing and humiliating the soldiers and officers of the Iraqi army our leaders, in effect, did much to recruit the insurgency. By bringing far too few troops to secure Saddam's enormous arms depots they armed it. By bringing too few to keep order they presided over the looting and overwhelming violence and social disintegration that provided the insurgency such fertile soil. By blithely purging tens of thousands of the country's Baathist elite, whatever their deeds, and by establishing a muscle-bound and inept American occupation without an "Iraqi face," they created an increasing resentment among Iraqis that fostered the insurgency and encouraged people to shelter it. And by providing too few troops to secure Iraq's borders they helped supply its forces with an unending number of Sunni Islamic extremists from neighboring states. It was the foreign Islamists' strategy above all to promote their jihadist cause by provoking a sectarian civil war in Iraq; by failing to prevent their attacks and to protect the Shia who became their targets, the U.S. leaders have allowed them to succeed.I still think about the argument I had with someone in 2003, after I had marched in protest of the war: "I just have to believe that the government has expertise and access to information that we don't have and we have to trust that they know more than we do," I was told.