The War Revisited

A reader writes:

There's one aspect of your Cheney & Rumsfeld theory that really is paranoid. I very much doubt that they actually WANTED democratization to fail in Iraq -- I just think that they had little belief that it would succeed, and believed that in any case it wasn't worth the huge amount of military and economic effort we would have to pour into it to be reasonably sure of making it work. The trouble is that their alternative Shock & Awe strategy hasn't worked, either - Iran and the various terrorist groups are singularly Unshocked & Unawed by us now.

Morever, if Woodward's quotes are correct, Bush agreed with them on this from the start - if a modest, short effort succeeded in reforming Iraq, fine, but if not he didn't believe in wasting any more time or military effort on it.  What tripped all of them up was the fact - the one real shock of the war which caught absolutely everybody off guard -- that Saddam had gotten rid of all his WMDs.  So, to avoid making it look to the entire world as though the war had been totally unjustified (after all, we hadn't even given the UN inspectors time to finish looking for WMDs before we went in), they grabbed for "democratization" as an alternative justification - while still being unwilling to provide the huge supply of resources (probably including a draft) that would have been necessary to give it a good chance of success. They just kept trickling support in and hoping that a miracle would happen and the place could be reformed anyway.

That miracle hasn't happened. And in the process the US has managed to look spectacularly impotent and incompetent militarily speaking to Iran and the Islamic Fascists, which of course is not what C. and R. had in mind at all.  They seriously overestimated the degree to which our jumping up and down and yelling "Boogabooga!" would scare the Iranians and the theocratic Moslems in general.

I think that's about the best inference right now. Some in the administration and among Bush-supporters, like me, believed in democratization as well as WMD-removal as twin pillars of the war. But the war-plan proves that this was not what Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush really had in mind. The most plausible interpretation is that they expected the discovered WMDs to provide complete justification for the war - and then wanted to get out as fast as possible, with a friendly exile like Chalabi installed. They wanted merely to send an intimidating signal. And they have achieved exactly the opposite. And so they have made us less safe, with more enemies, who are more dangerously armed and less intimidated.