At a Hudson Institute event today, Iraq war architects Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, as well as Dan Senor and Peter Rodman, reconvened to celebrate Feith’s new book, War and Decision, which tries to explain the failures of the Iraq war as just failures of other people.
Wolfowitz said Feith’s book is “valuable” because it “demolishes” the “well-nurtured myths” about the Pentagon’s execution of the war. In his book, Feith claims the “chief” mistake in Iraq was “maintaining an occupation government for over a year.” Wolfowitz agreed, adding that the “occupation” in fact ended in 2004:
The fact is, however, that we did end up with an occupation authority for a full nine months, and I’m afraid that the label occupation sticks to us even to this day, although the occupation ended in June of 2004. Doug considers that the biggest mistake we made.
Wolfowitz was presumably referring to the June 2004 act of “officially” transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis when Paul Bremer, who ruled the country for 14 months, “snuck out of the country.” Left out of Wolfowitz’s definition of occupation are the over 150,000 troops still in Iraq who are, to this day, helping the Iraqi government squash its political enemies.
Wolfowitz also agreed with Feith in saying the level of resistance to coalition forces was “not anticipated by any office”:
As Doug does write: “What was not anticipated by any office as far as I know was the Iraqi regime’s ability to conduct a sustained campaign against coalition forces after it was overthrown.” … “I never saw,” Doug says, and I never saw either, “a CIA assessment to the Baathists after their ouster would be able to organized, recruit for, finance, supply, command, and control an insurgency let alone an alliance with foreign jihadists.
Wolfowitz’s memory seems selective. In May 2007, Walter Pincus reported that two pre-war intelligence assessments were produced by the National Intelligence Council titled “Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq” and “Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq,” predicting that an occupation of Iraq “could lead to internal violence and provide a boost” to extremists and terrorists in the region.
But a senior Pentagon official reportedly dismissed them, saying the reports were “too negative” and that the papers “did not see the possibilities” the removal of Hussein would present.