Interviews with U.S. soldiers -- from top generals to front-line grunts in Tall Afar, Mosul, Ramadi, Balad and throughout Baghdad -- as well as briefings at the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, reveal a markedly different war from that seen in 2003 and 2004, or even last year…
The war here has gone through three distinct phases, each with its own feel and style of operation.
The first period, from May 2003 to July 2004, was characterized by drift and wishful thinking, military insiders say, with top U.S. officials at first refusing to recognize they were facing an insurgency and then committing a series of policy and tactical blunders that appear to have enflamed opposition to the U.S. occupation.
The second phase began in the summer of 2004, when Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. replaced Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and developed -- for the first time -- a U.S. campaign plan.
Tommy Franks, Jay Garner, L. Paul Bremer, Ricardo Sanchez, 900 dead Americans, fifteen months, two hundred billion dollars, some wishful thinking by the United States military, and for the first time the U.S. came up with a plan.
Over a year after the invasion.
And a year and a half after that, our first plan in Iraq, some guy decided to buck the system and finally include counter-insurgency training in the plan to fight an insurgency.
Of course, 2000 Americans were dead by then. Over fifteen thousand horribly wounded. Nearly 300 billion dollars had been spent. And that magic moment, the one where democracy blooms all over the world, had come, gone, and seemed as silly and dated as bell bottoms.
What I don't get, what I really don't understand, is how the President of the United States and his Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon and the head of the NSA repeatedly told us, on TV, in print, on radio that we had a plan. A good plan. And that we were making good progress. And that democracy is sometimes messy. And that Iraqi democracy is no more messy than our own democracy. And that this messiness was no more than a bunch of bad losers and dead enders. And that we've got more than enough troops in place to implement our excellent plan.
And then we find out, we went into this thing with no plan:
WASHINGTON - In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.
Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.
The slide said: "To Be Provided."
And then we find out, aside from having no plan, we didn't have enough troops:
Bremer turned to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top American commander in Iraq, and asked him what he would do with two more divisions, as many as 40,000 more troops. General Sanchez did not hesitate to answer. "I'd control Baghdad," he said. Bremer then mentioned some other uses for the soldiers, like securing Iraq's borders and protecting its infrastructure, to which General Sanchez replied: "Got those spare troops handy, sir?"
Yet for most of the 14 months that Bremer oversaw the occupation, he and his aides, and General Sanchez and his, often seemed the only people in Iraq who refused to acknowledge the anarchy in the streets. Though confronted by the growing guerrilla insurgency and the brazen behavior of armed militias, Bremer and other senior American officials routinely batted down any suggestion that they needed more soldiers.
And Franks, and Garner, and Bremer, and Sanchez, and Myers, and Rumsfeld, and George "Jesus Christ Almighty" Bush were well aware of the fact. Though, they were some of the few Americans who knew it for a fact. A lot of Americans--those who weren't stupid enough to vote for Bush twice--suspected it, alleged it, and believed it. But they didn't know it for a fact. Almost no one did. You know why?
Because the only people who did know it for a fact kept lying to the American people about what they knew.
We didn't have a plan going in. And we didn't have a plan after we were there for over a year. But we were told we did. And we got billed for one.
And we're told now that we should have optimism because we've got a plan. And it might work, too. Because it's different than the other plans we were told we had in that this one might actually exist.
And in the midst of finding all this out, we also find out Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam had no terrorist allies. We find out a reconstruction that could essentially pay for itself will cost American taxpayers about a trillion dollars. We find out that instead of a western friendly, secular democracy, we're most likely to get an Iranian friendly Islamic theocracy. We find out our intelligence was cooked. Our "allies" are criminals and con men. Our Secretary of State wanted to vomit over what he was told to present to the United Nations.
But he did it anyway.
And now, after just about busting our military, shattering the Pax Americana, breaking the piggy bank, and dragging the Stars and Stripes through the mud all around the world, the payoff? Civil war. Extreme, American hating theocrats gaining influence. More dead Americans. More money. And even William F. Buckley thinks the thing is an abject failure.
Do you realize that since this thing started in 2002, the American people have not been told the truth about one single thing about Iraq by this administration?
The closest thing to the truth anyone, anywhere, has ever told the American people is: it's really fucking hot there. Though, even that, they qualify by saying it's a dry heat.
This has been the single largest criminal enterprise by any group of people in the history of our country.
People shouldn't be fired. People shouldn't resign. People shouldn't be voted out of office.
They should be rounded up, shackled, head-bagged and incarcerated in the same horrific prisons they gleefully and sadistically built.
This thing has become so bad that latest round of P.R. stories, about counter insurgency and improved tactics, which are supposed to reassure the American people, but when you read them in conjunction with the years of previous P.R. stories about Iraq, only serve to astonish us with the dishonesty and incompetence, and stupidity of the Bush administration.
Three years into a war, none of this shit makes me feel any better. All it makes me think is: what took so fucking long? And what was up with all that horrendous bullshit in 2003? And 2004? And 2005? Were you lying then? Or are you lying now? Are you still lying? Do you ever stop? Can you people stop?
Well, that's not really true. That's not all I think. I also think: since the Bush administration knew all of these things, and since so many of them were denied in an election year, and since nothing was done, in a run up to an election, the other thing I think is that the Bush administration made a heartless and calculated choice to let nearly 2000 Americans die, and 16,000 of them suffer horrendous wounds, for political purposes.
Just to get re-elected. Just to try to extend tax cuts. Just to try to divert billions of Social Security dollars to Wall Street. Just to stay in power for the sake of having power.
And that is nothing short of murder.