Thursday, October 11, 2007

Perspective: On this day in Iraq -- October 11th edition

October 11, 2005: As dawn breaks, soldiers from Task Force Baghdad prepare for combat operations in east Baghdad.

October 11, 2002:

White House developing plan for postwar occupation of Iraq

The Bush administration is working on postwar plans for Iraq that could include using American and other foreign troops as a stabilizing force until a new government is formed, the Pentagon said Friday.

"Clearly, security would be a concern in the early months," after the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein, said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.

Any plan would include a Defense Department role in finding and securing any weapons of mass destruction, she said.

"The United States will not cut and run," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "The United States and our allies are committed to find a way to help preserve the stability and maintain the peace of the region and particularly Iraq as a unified country in the event military force is used."

He said the United Nations might be called upon to help stabilize a post-Saddam Iraq, and did not rule out U.S. forces behind part of an international effort.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has told foreign governments the United States was committed to assisting postwar Iraq develop a democratic government, but had not taken up any specific plan with them, a senior U.S. official said, on condition of anonymity.

President Bush says he has not definitely decided on a military invasion to achieve his goal of ousting Saddam Hussein. But among a range of proposals being developed is the Pentagon's role and, for instance, whether a force might be American, comprised of whatever coalition joins in a war against Iraq, devised by the United Nations, and so on, they said. There also have been suggestions that an Iraqi government-in-exile be set up before any invasion so it could be ready to take over sooner.

The plan is being developed by a number of U.S. government agencies.

Clarke said it was "way too soon" to say what plan would eventually be approved.

She stressed several times in a press conference later in the day that any plan has to take into account what the Iraqi people want.

"They are going to have a huge part to play in this," she said.

One plan being considered by the White House is based on the occupation of Japan following World War II and includes installing a U.S. commander to administer Iraq, perhaps U.S. Central Command head Gen. Tommy Franks in the role taken by Gen. Douglas MacArthur after Tokyo surrendered in 1945, The New York Times said in its Friday editions.

U.S commanders would oversee the beginnings of democratic transformation, The Washington Post quoted unnamed sources as saying in a similar story.

But officials said later Friday that such a plan is among the least likely to be approved of those being considered.

"That's not what's envisioned," Fleischer said.

A senior White House official said that while there are people in the government studying the idea of a military occupation, Bush and his foreign policy team "are not looking seriously at this."
He said Bush is committed to helping the Iraqi people establish a broad, democratic government.

Fleischer said military civil affairs units may help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.

"The point is we want to very quickly transfer governmental power to the Iraqi people both from inside Iraq and outside Iraq," he said.

Some have warned that American military control of Iraq would enflame Iraqis and Muslims in other countries.

"I am viscerally opposed to a prolonged occupation of a Muslim country at the heart of the Muslim world by Western nations who proclaim the right to re-educate that country," former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said during Senate hearings last month.

"Some kind of peace force is absolutely critical, but peacekeeping is very different from having a viceroy or some kind of commission," Anthony Cordesman, Iraq expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Friday.

"Given Iraq's history, nothing could be resented more than if someone from outside, particularly from a Western state, takes over and dictates to Iraq" what they should do, he said.

Some officials suggested the occupation option may have been leaked by lower-level planners who wanted to kill it.

Others suggested that the idea is being floated publicly by some in the administration as the latest effort in a psychological campaign aimed at Saddam's generals. That is, they said, it suggests to them that they should join in the U.S. effort to topple Saddam or face being controlled by foreign military forces.

Still others said it was leaked to counter criticism that the White House is rushing to get rid of Saddam without a sufficient plan for what would come next.

The Senate, early Friday, joined the House in passing a resolution granting Bush the powers to use the U.S. military to enforce United Nations orders that Saddam dispose of his weapons of mass destruction. The resolution, which now goes to the president, encourages Bush to seek U.N. cooperation in such a campaign but does not require it.

Read the rest at USA Today

October 11, 2003:

President's Radio Address

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Six months ago this week, the statue of Saddam Hussein came down in the center of Baghdad, and Iraq began the transition from tyranny to self-government. The goal of our coalition is to help the Iraqi people build a stable, just and prosperous country that poses no threat to America or the world. To reach that goal, we are following a clear strategy.

First, coalition forces in Iraq are actively pursuing the terrorists and Saddam holdouts who desperately oppose freedom for the Iraqi people. Secondly, we are committed to expanding international cooperation in the reconstruction and security of Iraq. And third, we are working closely with Iraqi leaders as they prepare to draft a constitution, establish institutions of a civil society, and move toward free elections.

As part of this strategy, we're helping Iraqis to rebuild their economy after a long era of corruption and misrule. For three decades, Iraq's economy served the interest only of its dictator and his regime. Saddam Hussein built palaces and monuments to himself, while Iraq's infrastructure crumbled. He built up a massive war machine while neglecting the basic needs of his own people.

Now that the dictator is gone, we and our coalition partners are helping Iraqis to lay the foundation of a free economy. This coming week, the Iraqi economy will reach an important milestone with the introduction of a new currency. The new Iraqi dinar notes will bear the images of Iraq's proud heritage, and not the face of a hated dictator. For more than a decade, different areas of Iraq have used two different versions of the dinar, and many of those notes were counterfeit, diminishing the value of those that were genuine. The new dinar will be used throughout Iraq, thereby unifying the economy and the country. The new currency will have special features that will make it difficult to counterfeit.

Following World War II, it took three years to institute a new currency in West Germany. In Iraq, it has taken only six months. And the new currency symbolizes Iraq's reviving economy.

Iraq has a strong entrepreneurial tradition, and since the liberation of that country, thousands of new businesses have been launched. Busy markets are operating in villages across the country. Store shelves are filled with goods from clothing and linens to air-conditioners and satellite dishes. Free commerce is returning to the ancient region that invented banking.

With our assistance, Iraqis are building the roads and ports and railways necessary for commerce. We have helped to establish an independent Iraqi central bank. Working with the Iraqi Governing Council, we are establishing a new system that allows foreign investors to confidently invest capital in Iraq's future. And we have helped restore Iraq's oil production capacity to nearly two million barrels a day, the benefits of which are flowing directly to the Iraqi people.

Iraq is making progress. As the Mayor of Kirkuk, Abdul Rahman Mustafa, recently said, "Our economic potential has barely been tapped." We must help Iraq to meet that potential. The request I have made to Congress for Iraqi reconstruction includes support for important health and training projects. Under our strategy, Iraq will have employment centers to help people find jobs. We intend to establish computer training and English language instruction and vocational programs to help Iraqis participate fully in the global economy. I urge Congress to pass my budget request soon so this vital work can proceed.

Americans are providing this help not only because our hearts are good, but because our vision is clear. A stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq will no longer be a breeding ground for terror, tyranny and aggression. And a free Iraq will be an example of freedom's power throughout the Middle East. Free nations are peaceful nations. By promoting freedom and hope in other lands, we remove direct threats to the American people. Our actions in Iraq will increase our safety for years to come.

Thank you for listening.


October 11, 2004:

Israeli Study: Iraq War Hurts War on Terror

The war in Iraq did not damage international terror groups, but instead distracted the United States from confronting other hotbeds of Islamic militancy and actually "created momentum" for many terrorists, a top Israeli security think tank said in a report released Monday.

President Bush has called the war in Iraq an integral part of the war on terrorism, saying that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein hoped to develop unconventional weapons and could have given them to Islamic militants across the world.

But the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said that instead of striking a blow against Islamic extremists, the Iraq war "has created momentum for many terrorist elements, but chiefly Al Qaeda and its affiliates."

Jaffee Center director Shai Feldman said the vast amount of money and effort the United States has poured into Iraq has deflected attention and assets from other centers of terrorism, such as Afghanistan.

The concentration of U.S. intelligence assets in Iraq "has to be at the expense of being able to follow strategic dangers in other parts of the world," he said.

Shlomo Broma retired Israeli army general, said the U.S.-led effort was strategically misdirected.

If the goal in the war against terrorism is "not just to kill the mosquitos but to dry the swamp," he said, "now it's quite clear" that Iraq "is not the swamp."

Instead, he said, the Iraq campaign is having the opposite effect, drawing Islamic extremists from other parts of the world to join the battle.

"On a strategic level as well as an operational level," Brom concluded, "the war in Iraq is hurting the war on international terrorism."

In other findings, Jaffee Center experts disagreed with the Israeli government's statements that its four-year struggle against Palestinian militants is part of the world fight against Islamic terrorism.

Read the rest at Fox News

October 11, 2005:

CIA review faults prewar plans

A newly released report published by the CIA rebukes the Bush administration for not paying enough attention to prewar intelligence that predicted the factional rivalries now threatening to split Iraq.

Policymakers worried more about making the case for the war, particularly the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, than planning for the aftermath, the report says. The report was written by a team of four former CIA analysts led by former deputy CIA director Richard Kerr.

"In an ironic twist, the policy community was receptive to technical intelligence (the weapons program), where the analysis was wrong, but apparently paid little attention to intelligence on cultural and political issues (post-Saddam Iraq), where the analysis was right," they write.

White House spokesman Fred Jones said Tuesday that the administration considered many scenarios involving postwar instability in Iraq. The report's assertion "has been vehemently disputed," he said.

Then-CIA director George Tenet commissioned the report after the invasion of Iraq. The authors had access to highly classified intelligence data and produced three reports concerning Iraq intelligence.

Only the third has been released in declassified form. It is published in the current issue of Studies in Intelligence, a CIA quarterly written primarily for intelligence professionals. The report was finished in July 2004 just as Tenet was ending his tenure as CIA director.

The report determined that beyond the errors in assessing Iraqi weaponry, "intelligence produced prior to the war on a wide range of other issues accurately addressed such topics as how the war would develop and how Iraqi forces would or would not fight."

The intelligence "also provided perceptive analysis on Iraq's links to al-Qaeda; calculated the impact of the war on oil markets; and accurately forecast the reactions of ethnic and tribal factions in Iraq."

The postwar struggle pitting Sunni Arabs against Shiite and Kurdish factions has led some analysts, including Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of neighboring Saudi Arabia, to conclude Iraq is at risk of splitting into three pieces.

Kerr's report agrees with other government reviews in concluding that prewar intelligence on Iraqi weapons was faulty. Costly U.S. spy satellites were of little help, providing "accurate information on relatively few critical issues."

Intelligence analysts, the report says, failed to question their assumptions that Iraq had maintained chemical and biological weapons and had reactivated nuclear weapons development. Doubts about the intelligence received little attention, "hastening the conversion of heavily qualified judgments into accepted fact."

Read the rest at USA Today

October 11, 2006:

Army: Troops to Stay in Iraq Until 2010

For planning purposes, the Army is gearing up to keep current troop levels in Iraq for another four years, a new indication that conditions there are too unstable to foresee an end to the war.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, cautioned against reading too much into the planning, which is done far in advance to prepare the right mix of combat units for expected deployments. He noted that it is easier to scale back later if conditions allow, than to ramp up if they don't.

"This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better," Schoomaker told reporters. "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."

Even so, his comments were the latest acknowledgment by Pentagon officials that a significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq is not likely in the immediate future. There are now 141,000 U.S. troops there.

At a Pentagon news conference, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, said that as recently as July he had expected to be able to recommend a substantial reduction in U.S. forces by now. But that plan was dropped as sectarian violence in Baghdad escalated.

While arguing that progress is still being made toward unifying Iraq's fractured political rivalries and stabilizing the country, Casey also said the violence amounts to "a difficult situation that's likely to remain that way for some time."

He made no predictions of future U.S. troop reductions.

Appearing with Casey, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he and other senior Pentagon officials are still studying how the military might keep up the current pace of Iraq deployments without overtaxing the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflict. Rumsfeld said one option is to make more use of the Air Force and Navy for work that normally is done by soldiers and Marines.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday that the advance planning Schoomaker described was an appropriate cautionary approach. However, he added, the Pentagon should increase the overall size of the military to reduce stress on troops repeatedly sent into combat.

"I applaud the new realism but I think they also have to recognize that this (war) is going to put a huge stress on our forces," said Reed, a former Army Ranger. Reed and other Democrats have called on President Bush to start bringing home troops within a year to force the Iraqi government to take more responsibility for security.

At his news conference, Rumsfeld was asked whether he bears responsibility for what has gone wrong in Iraq or if the military commanders there are to blame.

"Of course I bear responsibility," he replied in apparent exasperation. "My Lord, I'm secretary of defense. Write it down."

In recent months the Army has shown signs of strain, as Pentagon officials have had to extend the Iraq deployments of two brigades to bolster security in Baghdad and allow units heading into the country to have at least one year at home before redeploying.

The Army is finding that the amount of time soldiers enjoy between Iraq tours has been shrinking this year. In the case of a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, its deployment to Iraq was delayed by about six weeks because it otherwise would have had only 11 months to prepare instead of the minimum 12 months. As a result, the unit it was going to replace has been forced to stay beyond its normal 12-month deployment.

In separate remarks to reporters, Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, said soldiers need more than 12 months between deployments to Iraq so they can do a full range of combat training and complete the kinds of educational programs that enable the Army to grow a fully mature officer corps.

That kind of noncombat experience is necessary "so that we don't erode and become an Army that only can fight a counterinsurgency," Cody said. He added that North Korea's announced nuclear test "reminds us all that we may not just be in a counterinsurgency fight and we have to have full-spectrum capability."

Read the rest at the Washington Post