- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

The postwar Iraqi souffle never rose. There were too many cooks and the recipe was a potpourri of bad planning, duck soup and pie in the sky. The first assistant chef to quit the Iraqi scullery was Timothy Carney, a former U.S. ambassador with decades of experience in post-conflict zones. He was also the first to blow the whistle on Operation Iraqi Freedom’s “grievous” flaws, namely the fingers-all-thumbs blueprint for a country liberated from 35 years of brutal, bloody dictatorship.

Mr. Carney blamed the White House for not thinking through its postwar plans and for the failure to give priority to reconstruction efforts, which translated into a lack of resources.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tried to take the edge off Mr. Carney’s surprise cannonade by explaining the administration had overestimated the state of Iraq’s infrastructure and found it far worse than expected. She also said rebuilding Iraq and creating institutions to govern the country was hindered by the fact Iraq was a “traumatized” country, which had suffered possibly the most brutal regime of the 20th century. Hello. Josef Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Mao Tse-tung?

Miss Rice’s infrastructure demurrer also flunked the credibility test. Prior to the U.S. invasion, Iraq’s rickety, Third World infrastructure managed to provide water and electricity to Baghdad and other cities and towns. The reason a capital city of 5.5 million found itself sweltering in 120-degree heat this week without potable water or electric fans was quite simply organized underground resistance to the U.S. occupation and sabotage.

How anyone could have suggested demobilizing the entire 400,000-strong Iraqi army with the stroke of a U.S. pen and without even a modest stipend defies rational explanation. There was no shortage of cash. Some $900 million in $100 bills was recovered from Saddam’s piggy bank.

What was at first a weak and disorganized clandestine movement suddenly found itself with well-trained volunteers to kill Americans and Brits. One dead U.S. soldier fetched between $150 and $1,000. A captured American — two were abducted last week and then killed, their Humvee hijacked and later recovered — is worth $1,500, a huge fortune by local standards. At the present rate of attrition, the number of military killed in action since President Bush announced the end of hostilities May 1 will soon surpass the number killed during the war.

Another major blunder was to allow Iranian TV’s anti-American lies to be the only message average Iraqis were hearing. The Rev. Ken Joseph, an Assyrian Christian missionary just back from Baghdad, said Tehran TV was telling gullible Iraqis that water and electricity were deliberately switched on and off by American occupation authorities “as the imperialists are determined to humiliate you and impose their heathen regime on sacred Muslim soil.” Why the superpower with the world’s most advanced technological capabilities has taken more than two months to bring its own TV message into Iraqi homes is another example of ill-thought-through postwar needs.

Mr. Joseph also confirmed that Iran’s agents “not only control most of the south today, but also most of the hospitals in Baghdad.” Militant Islamism, he said, is gaining ground in opposition to a “klutzy occupation.” At the present rate, he predicted, the refuge for the majority of poor Iraqis will not be the empty promises of democracy, equality and human rights, but the equally empty promises of radical Islam and jihad.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and one of the most knowledgeable senators on international affairs, warned time and again prior to the war about “the law of unintended consequences.” These have now kicked in with a vengeance. As Mr. Lugar put it upon his return from a Senate delegation’s first trip to Baghdad since the war, “We haven’t won the war. We’re in it.”

To cope with the next phase, the U.S. needs many more troops. Units that have been in theater since last fall are overdue for rotation. Allied and other friendly nations are being solicited for additional troops. Pakistan was asked for three brigades, or a division. President Pervez Musharraf, in Washington for a most-favored-nation visit, said he could not afford to have Pakistan the only Muslim nation involved militarily in Iraq. Islamists would immediately denounce any Muslim nation that would agree to send troops to quell anti-American resistance in Iraq as anti-Islam.

India was also hesitating. Public opinion in both Pakistan and India is against the whole idea of occupation duty. Among the willing, the largest pledged contribution is from Poland with a division, partly made up of Ukrainian troops. Italy is next, with 3,000.

Mr. Carney, who spent eight weeks trying, unsuccessfully, to get the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals up and running, now says the three principal problems for occupying forces are inadequate security, lack of resources and poor communication with the Iraqi people. “The coalition has been announcing trivial amounts of money in the tens and twenties of millions of dollars for major projects,” he told the BBC in London. “It’s time to get serious about resources, to announce a package of several billion dollars, and to address some of the urgent needs of infrastructure and updating of antiquated plants in the many state-owned enterprises.”

If truth were known, Operation Iraqi Freedom was conceived and constructed on a foundation of illusory premises. From the not-so-clear-and-present danger of a Saddamized Iraq ready to threaten its neighbors and the distant United States with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, to the alleged alliance of Saddam with Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist, to the naive belief that victorious U.S. troops would be greeted by millions of grateful Iraqis as their liberators, it is, of course, easy to blame faulty intelligence. But intelligence was a lot more accurate than the disinformation and misinformation put out by Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress and other voices in the Iraqi exile community — and eagerly regurgitated by his cheering section in the Pentagon.

As will become evident in congressional hearings, both the CIA and the State Department advised repeatedly these claims were at best unreliable, at worst fraudulent.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large for The Washington Times and for United Press International.

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