Cheney Ignored British Warnings on Post-War Instability in Iraq
Former British ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer has revealed to the Guardian that the British repeatedly pressed US Vice President Dick Cheney and the Pentagon on planning for the chaotic situation in post-war Iraq. They got no satisfaction from either, even though the State Department and the CIA welcomed that way of thinking. Meyer also said that UK PM Tony Blair had requested Bush to delay the invasion, and had hoped for a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the war. Blair had felt that the British military was not ready to go in mid-March. Apparently Blair was paid no more attention than a lap dog would be, since that was the role he had determined to play.
One question I have after reading Meyer’s comments is, “Cheney?” I mean, we knew that Dick has been playing a more important role in foreign affairs than most vice presidents do. But Meyer makes it sound as though Cheney was virtually running the war planning.
If so, it would make sense of something Jay Garner, the first US civil administrator in Iraq, said in an interview in mid-October on PBS’s Frontline. He said that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had instructed him not to use the post-war planning materials generated by Tom Warrick’s project at the State Department. (Warrick had run 17 working groups over a year, with a $5 mn. budget, including many Iraqi technocrats who knew the country and what the problems would be). Then Garner said that it seemed to him at the time that this instruction was not actually coming from Rumsfeld himself, but rather had been imposed on Rummy from above.
I thought at the time that Garner must have meant Bush himself. But now it seems more likely to me that Dick Cheney was personally responsible for tossing the Warrick project in the trash can. It follows that the chaos of post-war Iraq can in some large part be laid at Cheney’s door.
Some smart Democrat candidate should pick this issue up and run with it. They have all been twisted around by the Republicans on the war, because taking a stance on it is so tricky. But there is no down side at all to taking a stance on the disaster of the post-war planning.
You have several identifiable screw-ups in this regard, including Doug Feith, the undersecretary of defense for planning, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and maybe Cheney himself. And if you hit on the failures of post-war planning, you don’t have to say whether the war itself was worthwhile or not. You focus on all of our guys and gals that this SNAFU has killed, all the Iraqi deaths, the devastation to the Iraqi cultural heritage (yes, the Krauthammer line that it wasn’t damaged after all is a bald faced lie), etc. It’s the Aftermath, Stupid.