No plan, no peace in Iraq

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Blogg, Oct 29, 2007.

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  1. Just finished watching a recording of this:

    Second part on at 22:45 today.

    Nothing really new but the capacity for individual and collective self delusion (and it must be said stupidity of some) iremains staggering and left me depressed and some others who had not been paying enough attention up to now quite angry.
  2. Grownup_Rafbrat

    Grownup_Rafbrat LE Book Reviewer Good Egg (charities)

    Glad you posted. I recorded it, and didn't realise there was a Part 2 this evening.
  3. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Was it worth watching?
  4. Had planned to watch it, but missed it. was there anything in there that we did not already know?
  5. Not really.

    Some v. good archive, good interviewees assembled together for the first time, and strongly put the case forward for Blair/Bush to be charged with criminal negligence.
  6. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    It just starts to come across as a tired witch hunt now. "Everyone Knows that" is a favourite start to a statement about the reasons for going to war. To me it just starts my two monkeys in my brain to look for something else to do. I know I should pay attention but B&B are so well protected and whats worse you need to hang all the war criminals but we would be left with only liberal democrat mps heaven forbid.
    So in 10 or 30 years time when someone writes a new "Bright shining lie" we can all say we told you so!
    Sorry but I'm tired of the whole debate nowand unless something new comes up or is done to the toerags who dragged us into this mire I am no longer interested!
  7. Excellent programme. Yes, as stated above, no huge surprises, but good speakers, many speaking on TV for the first time.

    A few nuggets though; in the pre-war walk-through talk-throughs, the CIA analyst who was playing the UK government role, adopted the position that the UK had nothing to say in particular, so long as it could have a seat at the top-table. This position was agreed by commentators from both sides of the Atlantic as being a fair description or our Government's pre-war stance.

    Tommy Frank's description of Rumsfeld's reconstruction Czar as the 'stupidest motherf#cker on the planet' was a gem.

    Even if you accept the WMD justification for the invasion was made in good faith, there is no excuse for the lack of preparation for winning the peace.
  8. Also, Blair interrupting the group of SOAS etc Arabists briefing him to ask,
    'Yes, but do you think Saddam is uniquely evil?"

    Cue open mouths and puzzled, worried frowns.
  9. Jack Straw chairing a high powered meeting in the Cabinet Office, sits down on a chair, which subsequently splinters and he ends up crumpled on the floor. Buffoon
  10. Bit unfair! When I heard this comment I roared as it struck me that somebody had gone through the leg with a saw or loosened a few screws!

    The BBC pay good money for comedy worse that this little gem.

    I thought it was a good programme, and will watch Part 2 tonight. I am still amazed at all of the top brass who turn round now and say 'I told you so' yet did bugger all at the time - clearly having the opportunity to take their place in history and maybe win a DSO is more important than the legal and legitimate reasons for conflict. Or perhaps I am just being cynical?
  11. Something has changed as a result of all this. Yes, for many years the brass did what they were told, made the best fist of it they could and kept their traps shut.

    But as the collective political stupidity and nonsenses piled up and up and all common sense was ignored they have as one made their minds up: we are simply not going to carry the can for this one. The blame will go where it so richly belongs.

    Which is why Colin Powell did not complain when the Iraq "reconstruction" planning was taken out of his hands and given to Rumsfeld: he knew it was going to be a disaster
  12. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I caughtlast nights and now wish I had seen the first part! That said I dont think either side in the argument comes out very well, the Govt ignorance combined with the FCO inability to overcome the almost institutional naivety of the Govt s belief that the Americans can be trusted to do it right!
  13. May be available on demand via the web but this is a reasonable summary of the highlights from the first part because author is the guy behind the documentary

    Blair was warned of looming disaster in IraqBy John Ware

    John Ware discloses how the former prime minister was told repeatedly about America's lack of planning for peace – and did nothing

    Five days after the fall of Saddam, Tony Blair declared: "Iraq will be better. Better for the region, better for the world, better, above all, for the Iraqi people

    Yet, as we know, four and a half years later, Iraq is far from a better place. It is still in pieces and the reality is that by invading Iraq not only did Britain help to break the country but we are no longer seriously trying to fix it. As No Plan, No Peace on BBC1 tonight and tomorrow will show, despite his promises, Mr Blair was aware before the invasion that America's planning for post-war recovery was woefully inadequate — and so was Britain's.

    It has become clear that Mr Blair had severe doubts about US plans to stabilise Iraq after the invasion. There was no properly worked out strategy for the key longer-term objective of transforming it into a stable, prosperous nation that the Blair-Bush vision held out.

    We know Mr Blair was aware that post-war Iraq might be heading for trouble because Lady [Sally] Morgan, his former political secretary, says he was "tearing his hair out"; Sir David Manning, his foreign affairs adviser at the time of the invasion, has said he was "very exercised about it"; Peter Mandelson has also said he knew the preparations were inadequate.

    The fact that Mr Blair knew all this is potentially far more damaging to his reputation than his decision to put the full weight of his office behind the flawed intelligence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. For that, he had cover from the Secret Intelligence Service.

    What, then, is his defence to the charge that he recklessly continued with the invasion, thereby sharing responsibility for the deaths of 100,000 civilians and 4,141 coalition soldiers — 171 of them British — the displacement of four million refugees inside and outside Iraq, and the cost of more than £5 billion

    The defence that is emerging from Mr Blair's friends and advisers is that No 10 was let down by the Bush administration.

    All say his frustration stemmed from Britain's inability to influence the Pentagon, under Donald Rumsfeld, on post-war planning. The hawkish Defence Secretary wanted a "lite" US footprint – a small invasion force that could be rapidly withdrawn afterwards.

    This defence looks thin: it suggests that Mr Blair's "hair-tearing" could not have begun until dangerously late in the day: not until January 20, 2003, in fact — eight weeks before the invasion. Only then was Rumsfeld put in charge of post-war planning,

    by a Presidential directive establishing a reconstruction unit in the Department of Defence.

    That is precious little time: the US General George C. Marshall was given three and a half years to plan the reconstruction of Germany after the Second World War. So why wasn't Blair "tearing his hair out" long before January 20? Sir David Manning, his foreign policy adviser, who went to Washington as ambassador after the invasion, said when he retired recently that neither he nor Blair "had any sense that the Department of Defence was going to take over the running of the country".

    Until then, he says, Mr Bush had assured them that the State Department, under the moderate Colin Powell, would be in charge. There had been "plans made and deployed by the State Department… It's hard to know what happened."

    Yet this runs counter to what the Washington embassy was telling London in the run-up to the invasion. First, it was well known that very little of the State Department's work could be seen as a blueprint for stabilisation and reconstruction. Rather, a series of study groups had been set up to engage Iraqi Americans in thinking about their country's future after Saddam.

    "It was never intended as a post-war plan," says Ryan Crocker, the American ambassador to Iraq.

    Secondly, it seems unlikely that Mr Powell ever wanted responsibility for post-war planning. He raised no protest when the President assigned the task to Rumsfeld.

    "I think Colin Powell probably thought, and rightfully so, 'Disaster Looming'," his chief of staff, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, told me.

    Far from being sure that State would run reconstruction, throughout 2002 the British struggled to find out who would get the job.

    A series of telegrams from Sir Christopher Meyer, Manning's predecessor as British ambassador, to No 10 vividly make the point.

    A year before the invasion – on the eve of the first Blair-Bush Iraq summit in April 2002 – Sir Christopher says he urged Blair to "above all start getting them to focus on what next if and when we drive Saddam from office."

    If Mr Blair did raise this, it can't have made much impact, because in July Mr Blair was warned by the Cabinet Office: "In particular, little thought has been given to… the aftermath and how to shape it."

    Again, in early September, Sir Christopher warned Mr Blair that "planning for the aftermath is a blind spot". As Sir Christopher says: "I remember thinking to myself: 'We're nowhere on this.'?" A few weeks later he "upped the volume" to a warning that "there was a black hole in American planning for the aftermath".

    All this was because the embassy knew that Mr Rumsfeld was actively manoeuvring for control of post-war planning to ensure that the US did not get tied down in Iraq as it had in Bosnia.

    No doubt Mr Blair did try to impress on the Americans how seriously they needed to take post-war planning.

    But if he was tearing his hair out it doesn't seem to have happened when it mattered – throughout 2002 – when there was still time to put together a practical plan.

    Three months before the invasion, I'm told that the Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, warned the Pentagon that they would be "lucky to get six hours' worth of flowers and roses", as liberation would soon turn to occupation.

    There were no plans to fill the vacuum after regime change with a development programme delivering quick wins to show Iraqis that things would be better.

    So criminals and insurgents poured into the vacuum and have been there ever since. The charge against Mr Blair at any future inquiry is that he never investigated the risks diligently.

    It's not even clear that Mr Blair's hair-tearing began the moment No 10 heard that Mr Rumsfeld would be in charge.

    His next summit with Mr Bush was 11 days later. A leaked memo records that Mr Blair was told "a great deal of work was now in hand".

    It does not, however, record the Prime Minister being surprised that Mr Rumsfeld had got the job and suggests the discussion was brief.

    Nor is there evidence that Whitehall did any better than the US in planning reconstruction in its part of Iraq: the four southern provinces, including Basra. A planning unit was not set up in London until eight weeks before the invasion. Specialists – such as engineers to help with water, power and other basic services – were very late in being lined up.

    Three weeks after the fall of Saddam, Whitehall had mustered exactly four civilians to staff what became the office of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

    Sir Hilary Synnott, who later took charge of the CPA office, says: "I simply wasn't aware of any planning in relation to the civilian aspects of Basra… my first challenge was to find a computer." And that was in July – three months after the invasion.

    It may suit the Government, past and present, to blame the chaos in Iraq on US lack of foresight, but the evidence suggests that post-war planning was no more a priority in London than in Washington.

    Indeed, I am told that it was not until war started that Mr Blair pushed hard on post-war reconstruction, and even then it was more about getting US support for a UN resolution to give legitimacy to the occupation rather than the practicalities of rebuilding a nation with no history of democracy.

    In the rush to war, and in the blur of ideology, both capitals abandoned a principle that's been an iron law of warfare since Napoleon: never take the first step without planning for what comes afterwards.;jsessionid=Q0ZEIY2R4HRE5QFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/10/28/nrblair128.xml&page=1
  14. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    You can understand the desire to disband the Iraqi army and Ba'ath party as any victor would but arent the yanks supposed to think and plan, after all they waste enough of our money destroying our business'!