Speaking to a group of journalists yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted that she didn’t think the war in Iraq would be as “this tough“:
Looking back on the last five years and the war in Iraq, Rice admitted: “I thought it would be tough, but I didn’t think it would be this tough.” She added, “It’s a society that’s only now beginning to emerge.”
But just like any other good Iraq war supporter, Rice deflected blame for the “long, hard slog” in Iraq away from the Bush administration and onto other pre-war factors. Rice said the United Nations sanctions killed Iraq’s agricultural sector and the “structural problem” of Saddam Hussein’s regime is dissuading Iraqis from making political progress:
— On the continuing struggle in Iraq Rice said she thought it was more of a “structural problem.” […] The secretary warned that “authoritarian regimes are not going to create the condition for the emergence of moderate parties [in the Middle East].”
— “What we didn’t know was how truly broken the society was,” she said. Although Saddam Hussein’s regime was mostly to blame for that, she said that U.N. sanctions contributed as well, because as a result of them, “agriculture is virtually dead in Iraq.”
Apparently, the “shock and awe” bombing campaign had little responsibility for “breaking” Iraqi society. Blaming Iraqis for the continued violence in Iraq is a fairly common strategy for those who advocated for the invasion of Iraq and are now trying to distance themselves from the disaster that ensued.
War hawk and AEI fellow Danielle Pletka recently wrote in the New York Times that she “was wrong” to think that “once free,” the Iraqis “would use it well” adding that “[t]here is no freedom gene, no inner guide that understands the virtues of civil society, of secret ballots, of political parties.” Like Rice, Pletka also blamed Saddam, saying he “conditioned Iraqis to accept unearned leadership, to embrace sect and tribe over ideas, and to tolerate unbridled corruption.”
Perhaps one casualty of the Iraq war has been the conservative belief in personal responsibility.