Damned Naysayers meet Crazy and Stupid

WaPo reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee is releasing some details from key pre-Iraq-War intelligence assessments (performed at our taxpayer expense) which demonstrate that the Bush Administration was flat-out warned about a lot of the post-invasion consequences that have come to pass vis a vis an insurgency and post-invasion chaos; indeed, if the reports are glaringly wrong in anything, it was in their somewhat optimistic assessment that Iraq rebuilding could be well underway and hence the insurgency should be subsiding by now.
Well, no plan is perfect, as they say.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo) is not incorrect by pointing out that prognostication is hardly an exact science. But obviously, not even the most basic of post-war planning was done by this Bush Administration, and again, anticipating the best case scenario and “planning” for that is what stupid people and small children do; grown-ups understand that life is rarely like that, and proper planning prevents poor performance. Part of this was because of the political sell– the insanely stupid overselling of the benefits of a war and underselling of the costs. But part of it was just stupid people (and yes, Gen. Tommy Franks, and Doug Feith, I mean you) and crazy people (and yes, Rummy and Wolfowitz, I mean you) getting together, to do something so remarkably catastrophic because it was both crazy AND stupid. And all under the direction of someone crazy and someone stupid.
And there we have it. And this is the fundamental problem with the whole Iraq funding “debate”. You see, now, over four years later, fools like me, who only happened to be right on absolutely everything for exactly the right reason, can point out to so-called “liberal hawks” and fence-sitters and so forth, many of whom now have buyers’ regret about the damned war they supported (in many cases for fantasy reasons like “it will somehow help Israel”, “Saddam is the new Hitler” and so forth)… that they forgot that the war wasn’t going to be conducted in some ideal world by super-men. It was going to be conducted in this world, by Don Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, by generals who had survived his purge (Eric Shinseki, for example, did not, because he insisted on saying the correct amount of troops needed for the adventure), and by George W. Bush’s Karl Rove-driven political/propaganda machine, and under the irrational ideological shop of Dick Cheney… Get the picture?
In March of 2003, just as now, anyone capable of objective observation knew that the Bush Administration had pretty much dropped the ball on dealing with AQ– while the 9-11 plot could have happened against the most diligent and effective counter-measures, we had… far less than the most diligent and effective counter-measures were actually put in place. Indeed, the President’s response to desperately concerned CIA briefers was “you covered your ass.” Similarly, the stunning and decisive victory over the Taliban was allowed to be undermined by letting OBL and AQ leadership by and large escape, and by failing to consolidate the win by allowing Afghanistan to backslide into chaos– and this was all clear by early 2003.
In short, this was hardly the Administration to trust with a blank check over something infinitely harder– like taking on a substantially harder nut to crack like Iraq, something that Bush II denizens like Dick Cheney and Colin Powell were not willing to do a mere dozen years earlier when they worked for Bush Pere.
And yet… so many were willing to go along this time, still in the irrational post-9-11 haze. And here we are now, in a position with no real good options. Indeed, the Grey Lady, always a fan of the war and indeed one of its key boosters (despite the minstrel’s tears often shed by its irrelevant editorial page), today has an article noting that most Iraqi officials and citizens believe violence and strike will increase if American forces leave Iraq. You think? Hobson’s choices become that much worse when nobody understands anything; just as most Americans (to be fair, I don’t believe that “support for the Iraq war” was ever overwhelming; in the early days, it may have been a bare plurality) didn’t give two-s***s about debating the merits of the undertaking, simply assuming that Saddam Hussein had personally ordered the 9-11 attacks and was working on nuclear weapons for his follow-up… no one, really, is thinking about the consequences of just getting out.
“Both sides” are not fully rational at the moment– either those accusing the other side of treason and surrender, or the “time-table” crowd, who just wants American casualties to end, and has no idea of the consequences of abandoning Iraq to its fate under the present circumstances. (As I intimated here, of course, all our options just happen to be bad, but that’s just part of having an inadequate national understanding, is it not?) Those of us who were right all along… well what can we do? Not even the Congress we helped elect that we thought could change things… is willing to.
So there you are. While the Bush Administration loved to kick the intelligence community around, blaming it for its inadequacy in predicting the 9-11 attacks or in overstating the Saddam WMD threat… by and large, our intelligence community is still staffed by and large by competent career professionals who are well-trained, well-educated, and trying to do a decent job. That there are times when it is politically convenient to ignore their work, and then blame them for the mistakes of politicans, does not make their work less important… and when they are right, as they often are, well… what else can you say?
And that’s just it. A perennially “positive attitude” may play well to an all-too often half-witted electorate… but if it means failing to acknowledge potential problems resulting from policies and making appropriate adjustments and contingency plans… that’s both crazy and stupid.