In an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and current World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz was challenged by a reporter about his pre-war assessment that Iraq “could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” Wolfowitz responded, “What surprised all of us is the war has gone on a lot longer than we thought in a different manner.” Watch it:
The fact that the Iraq war has raged on for years should not be a surprise to Wolfowitz, but it’s not to the intelligence community. Wolfowitz and others in the Bush administration were warned repeatedly that postwar chaos was likely. Wolfowitz chose to disregard these warnings:
A yearlong State Department study predicted many of the problems that have plagued the American-led occupation of Iraq, according to internal State Department documents and interviews with administration and Congressional officials. … Several officials said that many of the findings in the $5 million study were ignored by Pentagon officials until recently, although the Pentagon said they took the findings into account. [NYT, 10/19/03]
[T]wo classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council, an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence,…predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict. [NYT, 9/28/04]
A review by former intelligence officers has concluded that the Bush administration “apparently paid little or no attention” to prewar assessments by the Central Intelligence Agency that warned of major cultural and political obstacles to stability in postwar Iraq. [NYT, 10/13/05]
HOST: Were some of the initial estimates of how Iraq would pay for its reconstruction maybe being reconsidered. I believe in 2003 you stated to a House subcommittee that there’s a lot of money to pay for the reconstruction, including from the assets of Iraqi people, oil money. And you said that the country could really finance the reconstruction and relatively soon. That was in 2003.
WOLFOWITZ: Well, “relatively soon” after the end of war. i think what surprised all of us is the war has gone on a lot longer than we thought in a different manner. Not sure of the exact numbers, but Iraq is bringing in tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue. The problem is the challenge of rebuilding the country when the war is still going on.