In February 2003, just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Army Gen. Eric Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. would need “several hundred thousand soldiers” to secure Iraq. Two days later, then-deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz dismissed Shinseki’s prediction saying it was “wildly off the mark.”
Yesterday, during a discussion of fellow war architect Douglas Feith’s new book “War and Decision,” Wolfowitz acknowledged he was “clueless on counterinsurgency” regarding troops levels after the fall of Baghdad. But he still contends that Shinseki was wrong, saying that a “sensible counterinsurgency strategy” would have involved more Iraqi forces, not Americans:
WOLFOWITZ: I think a sensible counterinsurgency strategy would not have been to flood the country with 300,000 Americans, but rather to build up Iraqi forces to be able to protect the population much more quickly.
However, “General Shinseki was right,” as Gen. John Abizaid admitted last year. Indeed, back in February 2003, Shinseki specifically noted that the number of troops he recommended would be used to prevent an insurgency and civil war — or what he called “post-hostilities control” and discouraging “ethnic tensions.”
Wolfowitz’s theory about a “sensible counterinsurgency strategy” ignores one key point: The U.S. did not have to “build up Iraqi forces” after the invasion because they were already there. Instead Iraq viceroy L. Paul Bremer III ordered Iraqi forces to be disbanded shortly after he took over governing Iraq.
Placing blame on others for the war’s failures is typical of those responsible for starting it. By claiming that the lack of Iraqi — not American — forces is what failed to quell the insurgency after the invasion, Wolfowitz is just another in a long series of war architects that simply cannot accept their role in the “disaster” that is President Bush’s foreign policy.