In Team Bush’s take on the past twelve months in Iraq, David Sanger, Michael Gordon, and John Burns have teamed up to offer a fairly comprehensive account based on interviews with a wide variety of key players. You can try and dress this up various different ways, but it comes down to Bush’s advisers being consistently something like two or more years behind the reality curve in Iraq. So when the administration outlined its November 2005 National Strategy for Victory in Iraq lots of critics could be heard pointing out that it completely ignored the new civil war dynamic in Iraq. Now, 13 months later, the architects of that strategy are telling us they failed to anticipate the way sectarian violence would tear Iraq apart.
And, yes, they did fail to anticipate it. But the situation was, in fact, widely anticipated by any number of observers around the world. On another level, it’s hard to blame Bush’s advisors for not coming to him with sounder takes on what’s happening. Everyone knows what kind of news and analysis is unwelcome in this administration, and everyone knows what happens to people who bring unwelcome news. So everyone sits around and gets “surprised” by the obvious and predictable.