'Slammed his fist down on the table':
While reading George Packer's 'Assassin's Gate,'
I've been wondering which excerpt to post to demonstrate the total lack of postwar planning by the administration. I was tempted to use the story about a State Department aide who, in Kuwait only days before the war's outbreak, had to use a Fodor's travel book to indentify and draw up a list of sites that needed protection in the event of looting (the National Museum was high up on the list -- a list that was ignored by higher ups). But I settled on a meeting between Pentagon aide Larry Di Rita and officials from the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance as events unfolded:
"The night Di Rita flew into Kuwait in early April (2003), he was briefed by ORHA's senior officials, and when the deputy leader of the reconstruction pillar, Chris Milligan of USAID, spoke about the need to show early benefits to the Iraqi people, Di Rita slammed his fist down on the table. 'We don't owe the people of Iraq anything,' he said. 'We're giving them their freedom. That's enough.' A few days later, by which time ORHA officials realized that Di Rita had the full confidence of Rumsfeld, the secretary's spokesman stood up at a meeting of about fifty people in the Hilton conference room. The State Department messed up Bosnia and Kosovo, he told his audience (which included many foreign service officers), and the Pentagon wasn't going to let that happen in Iraq. 'We're going to stand up an interim Iraqi government, hand power over to them, and get out of there in three to four months,' Di Rita announced."
Packer relentlessly piles up the evidence -- based on interviews, memos, documents, speeches, Congressional testimony and his own eye-witness accounts -- that the Pentagon systematically sabotaged any effort to come up with a coherent plan for postwar Iraq. In other words: The lack of planning was deliberate. It's mind blowing. ... Packer also clearly shows the lack of planning didn't just lead to civil catastrophe. It was a military blunder of the first order, allowing an enemy to regroup and take advantage of the chaos.
... History will not be kind to Rumsfeld and this administration. ...