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Wednesday | April 23, 2003

US "surprised" by Shiite opposition

Ahh, the forces of Democracy and freedom continue to consolidate their gains in Iraq. Well, except that the nation's largest minority group is agitating for an early US withdrawl and the establishment of an Iran-friendly repressive Islamic state.

And somehow, this has "surprised" US planners.

As Iraqi Shiite demands for a dominant role in Iraq's future mount, Bush administration officials say they underestimated the Shiites' organizational strength and are unprepared to prevent the rise of an anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist government in the country.

The burst of Shiite power -- as demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands who made a long-banned pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala yesterday -- has U.S. officials looking for allies in the struggle to fill the power vacuum left by the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

This article paints a bleak picture of breathtaking incompetence within the administration and its chickenhawk war boosters.
Some U.S. intelligence analysts and Iraq experts said they warned the Bush administration before the war about vanquishing Hussein's government without having anything to replace it. But officials said the concerns were either not heard or fell too low on the priority list of postwar planning.

Chalabi's influence, particularly with senior policymakers at the Pentagon, helped play down the prospects for trouble, some officials said. "They really did believe he is a Shiite leader," although he had been out of the country for 45 years, a U.S. official said. "They thought, 'We're set, we've got a Shiite -- check the box here.' "

And lest anyone blame our intelligence services, remember that they warned of this very scenario months before the war. It's the reason Richard Perle and his chickenhawk allies set up their own rival intelligence operation in the Pentagon. You know -- the people who were sure there were WMDs in Iraq, that Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq forces would lay down their arms and shower our troops with petals the second we set foot in Iraq.
"We're flying blind on this. It's a classic case of politics and intelligence," said Walter P. "Pat" Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. "In this case, the policy community have absolutely whipped the intel community, or denigrated it so much."
Whether you were for or against the war, the treatment the intelligence agencies received at the hands of the Bush Adminsitration has been shameless, and as a result we are unprepared to deal with the reality on the ground.

When planning an operation of this sort, you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. In this case, the admin prepared for the best and assumed the best.

Posted April 23, 2003 08:28 AM | Comments (53)


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