RWN’s Favorite Quotes From Douglas Feith’s “War and Decision”
“Critics commonly suggest that every problem is the result of some policy maker’s error. But policy making often involves choosing to accept one set of likely problems over another.” – Introduction, P. xiv
“Law enforcement is mainly an after-the-fact apparatus. Though it helps deter crime, it works mainly to punish, not prevent. No police force is organized and equipped to stop a campaign of sophisticated, internationally supported terrorist attacks. And such attacks cannot be deterred simply by the threat of judicial penalties, however severe.” – P.9
“How, then, should we define our goals in this war? Foremost in our minds was the prospect that 9/11 might be succeeded by further large-scale attacks on the United States. That could permanently change the nature of American society, driving the government toward undesirable – even if necessary – protective measures. At stake would be America’s essential traits: our civil liberties and the open nature of our society.” – P.10
“*As the saying goes: I have friends, you have associates, he has cronies.” – Footnote, P.22
“The issue before President Reagan had been whether the United States should ratify a treaty allowing terrorist groups to qualify for prisoner-of-war status. The treaty, known as Protocol 1, contained amendments to the Geneva Conventions. It was the product of several years of negotiations in the mid-1970s, when the Soviet block and Arab League countries were working to give greater political status and legal protections to so-called national liberation movements. The protocol was designed to respond to complaints that the Geneva Conventions unfairly discriminated against these national liberation movements. Because national liberation fighters routinely used terrorist tactics, the Geneva Conventions understandably did discriminate against them.” – P.38
“Some Russians did seem to credit our message that Americans no longer viewed them as our enemy. Yet in some cases this was cause for resentment: There were still Russians who saw their country’s status in the world – its national dignity – as tied to its role as America’s superpower antagonist. To assure them of our good will was, strange to say, to demote them.” – P.46
“When the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, our government had on the shelf no war plan to destroy al Qaida in Afghanistan or to overthrow the Taliban government. Even so, we initiated the war in Afghanistan less than a month later, on October 7. The first major Afghan city, Mazar-e-Sharif, fell to our Northern Alliance allies on November 9.” – P.88″During the five-country trip, some of our foreign friends made cutting references to ineffectual U.S. reactions to terrorist attacks in the recent past. They wanted to know if the United States was ready now to commit the necessary resources for a significant response – and whether we had the staying power to see the job through even if it meant bearing losses. Rumsfeld communicated our seriousness of purpose, and he helped assuage their concern that the United States would simply perform another round of ‘we came, we fired cruise missiles, they laughed.'”
Our most memorable meeting was in Oman with the elegantly berobed Sultan, Qaboos bin Said, who received us on a sweltering afternoon in a large open-sided tent in the middle of the desert. As we Americans melted in our woolen suits, his servants offered us steaming hot drinks. But we received rewards for our discomfort: Qaboos assured us that he would cooperate, making Oman’s valuable air bases available for our use.
Qaboos then fascinated us with a strategic exposition on the war’s ideological essence. He spoke of a great contest within the Muslim world – between fanatical Islamists, who inspired the terrorists with visions of a restored caliphate, and their opponents. The extremists were driven by their particular vision of a new universal Islamic state that would be heir to the Prophet Mohammed’s empire, would follow Muslim law, and would be administered by a caliph, Allah’s deputy on earth.” – P.94
“(At one meeting, Powell called the Northern Alliance a ‘Fourth World’ army and said we should take the winter to get them trained up to the level of a Third World army so they could then take on the Taliban.)” -P.98
“Was it because the defense establishment ‘has spent the last decade becoming increasingly risk averse?’ Rumsfeld asked. He questioned whether midlevel people were withholding bold ideas because they thought higher-ups would reject them as too risky; were they ‘dumbing down all proposals other than cruise missiles and bombs?’ He said he did not want ideas to be filtered that way: It was his job – and the President’s – to make judgments as to risks. Rumsfeld concluded: “You must drive the staffs to solve this problem. I am available to do whatever is necessary to provide the stimulus, incentive or the threats necessary to drive the people responsible for producing actionable ideas.'” – P.113
“In the hours after 9/11, Bush had sent Richard Armitage to demand that Pervez Musharraf declare whether Pakistan was our friend or our enemy. Musharraf promptly opted for friendship and close partnership with an awesomely enraged America, and renounced the support that Pakistan had been giving the Taliban regime since its inception.” -P.128
“The Green Berets provided useful intelligence – for example, alerting us that the key to Dostum’s logistics was not diesel fuel but oats, for his forces traveled on horseback, not in armored personnel carriers or even ordinary trucks. Proud of their adaptability, the Special Forces set about learning to ride on the spot.” -P.131
“Rumsfeld was determined not to do ‘nation-building’ as the United States typically did it in the 1990s. Rumsfeld wanted the United states to help the Afghans build their own nation, not to commit to building it for them. If the dad never lets go of his kid’s bicycle seat, he warned, the kid will become a forty-year-old man who can’t ride a bicycle. (This was the logic, of course, behind Rumsfeld’s insistence that Karzai handle the warlord challenge without U.S. forces.)” –P.149
“Our commanders in Afghanistan were ready to launch a number of tasks – efficient, strategically valuable initiatives – for which they lacked legal authority. They were eager to implement my office’s suggestion to offer small financial rewards (from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars) for information or other cooperation. And they wanted to be able to pay out small amounts of cash in support of their missions – for example, to have a well dug in a village. Sometimes it became important to buy items for partners – such as night-vision or communications equipment for Afghan or Pakistani forces – to allow them to attack terrorist enemies where we could not. But our laws either prohibited such spending altogether or required us to use ordinary acquisition procedures designed for peacetime, procedures that were slow, cumbersome, and subject to legal challenges that could delay purchases for months. Meanwhile, our forces were trying to win a war.
Our national security legislation told us, in effect, that if our commanders wanted to use our own forces to conduct combat, they could go right ahead. But if they wanted to use noncombat means or to encourage our partners to take action instead of us, then they were out of luck. Put another way, the law did not allow us to use money as a weapon of war, though money could sometimes be more effective than munitions – and far less costly in U.S. dollars and blood. General Pace often commented on the maddening irony that our military officers could fire off hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of munitions and put at risk billions of dollars of equipment – as well as the lives of our service men and women – but they lacked the authority to disburse a few thousand dollars that might be the difference between an operation’s success and failure.” -P.152
“State Department officials generally resisted suggestions to pressure Afghan aid donors publicly or privately. They explained that it’s often difficult to obtain pledges for multilateral aid projects. If those who are willing to pledge are later embarrassed by American complaints about their subpar performance, they may stop contributing altogether. Our diplomats generally took the view that if another country failed to delivery on an important promise, the United States should simply serve as the default provider.” -P.155
“My presentation to Rumsfeld also highlighted a point that many people, inside and outside the government, failed to grasp: Deciding that the Conventions governed the war with the Taliban was not the same thing as deciding that Taliban detainees were entitled to prisoner-of-war (POW) status. The Conventions grant such status only to those fighters who operate overtly, who respect the interests of noncombatants by wearing recognizable uniforms and carrying arms openly, who fight under a chain of command, and who obey the laws of war. The Conventions distinguish in effect between lawful and unlawful combatants (without using those labels) – and they establish POW privileges as a kind of incentive, a reward for operating as lawful combatants. The Taliban fighters did not operate overtly or obey the laws of war. U.S. Taliban detainees therefore were not legally entitled to POW status, even though the Conventions governed our conflict with the Afghan regime.” -P.162
“*Al Qaida personnel had been trained to resist standard questioning techniques, and some of these detainees were believed to have important intelligence. The Southern Command therefore requested permission to try some techniques that went beyond the Army Field Manual but were still within the bounds of U.S. and international law – for example, requiring detainees to stand for up to four hours at a time while being questioned. When some military department lawyers questioned the legality of those additional techniques, Rumsfeld revoked his approval and asked for a Department-wide legal review. The review produced a report in April 2003 that unanimously endorsed some of the techniques and reported disagreement on others. Rumsfeld authorized the unanimously endorsed techniques and rejected all of the legally contested ones.” –Footnote, P.165
“A toxic, anonymous accusation could be made in the blink of an eye, creating outrage around the world – but it took weeks to do the meticulous work needed for an unqualified denial.” – P.174
“Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, described the pattern of abuse:
‘Over time, sanctions had steadily weakened to the point where Iraq, in 2000-2001, was confidently designing missiles around components that could only be obtained outside sanctions. Moreover, illicit revenues grew to quite substantial levels during the same period, and it is instructive to see how and where the Regime allocated these funds.'” -P.193
“Though one can try to design sanctions to avoid unnecessary harm, they inevitably aggravate misery for the ordinary people in the sanctioned country. The problem is that scruples against the blunt instrument of economic sanctions can drive countries to the even blunter instrument of war.” – P.193
“(It was a standard joke that State Department papers always had the same three options: (1) Suffer in silence; (2) do some diplomacy; (3) nuclear war. State would boldly support the second option.” – P.212
“For more than thirty years before 9/11, most Americans had accepted the common view of terrorist attacks as a means various political groups used to gain international attention for their causes, not a way to wreak destruction for its own sake. Some terrorists proclaimed far-reaching goals: the elimination of Israel; the overthrow of governments or social systems in Rhodesia, South Africa, and elsewhere. But their operations themselves were relatively small-scale – assassinations, bus bombings, machine gun attacks at airport ticket counters, and the like – and not designed to produce mass destruction. Accordingly, the terrorists showed little if any interest in chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, which might forfeit public goodwill irretrievably.
The 9/11 attack was a new phenomenon, and not just because it hit Americans on American soil It was not an act of political theater; rather, it was the first successful case of terrorism of mass destruction. Though the al Qaida hijackers killed only – only! – around three thousand people, one had to assume that the terrorists would have been glad to kill all thirty thousand people who worked at the World Trade Center, and even multiples of that number.” – P.214
“Just a few weeks before 9/11, a prestigious team of private organizations had reported on a political-military exercise they conducted that simulated the effects of a smallpox attack in the United States. The report, entitled ‘Dark Winter,’ received high-level attention within the U.S. government, both because the players included such eminent individuals as former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Georgia) and because the lessons from the exercise were so horrifying. Even before 9/11, Scooter Libby talked often about ‘Dark Winter,’ noting that Vice President Cheney considered it a particularly significant study.
…As the exercise unfolded, the disease quickly exhausted the U.S. government’s vaccine supplies. Governors in the affected areas ordered National Guard units to try to keep out refugees from infected neighboring states. Other countries banned U.S. air traffic. Though the scenario was imaginary, real-life experts in contagious disease made projections of how the smallpox infection would spread. Three thousand cases of smallpox by mid-December would increase tenfold by early January, they projected, and tenfold again by mid-January. By early February, the study concluded, three million people would be infected, including one million deaths..” -PP.216-217
“Ultimately, President Bush concluded that he had to remove Saddam’s regime from power by war. In my judgment, his moment of decision came in December 2002, when the Iraqi regime made its unsatisfactory WMD declaration to the United Nations. From that point forward, it seemed to me, the way Saddam Hussein could have prevented war was by recognizing the inevitability of defeat and relinquishing power.” – P.223
“Having ended the weapons inspections, he was now on track to defeat the UN economic sanctions, with the help of France, Russia, and other friends. By 2002, much of the world had grown weary of keeping Iraq under sanctions. The economic restrictions (including the Oil-for-Food arrangement) impinged on many countries – not just Iraq but its potential customers and suppliers, too.” -P.223
“The CIA also reported to policy makers that Saddam could have a nuclear weapon within ‘several months to a year’ if he could get the necessary plutonium or enriched uranium from outside Iraq, as opposed to trying to produce his own fissile material domestically.” – P. 224
“As hostile and dangerous as the North Korean and Iranian regimes were, Saddam was in a class by himself as a mass murderer and initiator of aggressive wars. As President Bush declared in his State of the Union speech, the Iraqi regime posed a potential for ‘catastrophic’ harm to the United States. But what chiefly distinguished Iraq from the other two members of the ‘axis of evil’ was that, over the last ten years, the United States had exhausted virtually every means short of war to end the danger from the Iraqi regime. In the coming months, the President would do what was necessary to eliminate the qualifier ‘virtually.’
When it came to North Korea and Iran, President Bush could not say that the United States had run the string on diplomacy, economic pressure, UN actions, or military operations short of war, such as blockade or limited strikes. Also, our alliance with South Korea was a complicating factor, for the South Korean government would not have supported military action against Kim Jung Il’s regime. And, in both North Korea and Iran, there were possibilities that the regime might collapse or be toppled by domestic opponents without the U.S. military intervention. There appeared no realistic prospect of that in Iraq.” – P.233
“I do not doubt that President Bush meant what he said when he spoke high-mindedly of his policies and the unselfish, humanitarian benefits he hoped to achieve. But to my knowledge – and contrary to what his critics have charged – he never argued, in public or private, that the United States should go to war in order to spread democracy. While he was willing to conclude that the United States might have to go to war in self-defense, I never heard him say that we should do so simply or primarily to help a foreign pro-democracy movement oust a dictator.” – P.234
“I did not think that a U.S. president could properly decide to go to war just to spread democracy, in the absence of a threat requiring self-defense. I did not see democracy promotion as trumping every other national security consideration. Moreover, not all countries are equally ready for democratic reforms. Democracy requires certain building blocks to be in place: legal or political institutions, including an independent judiciary, a free press, and multiple centers of power that can check and balance one another; and cultural institutions, such as the habits of resolving disputes through compromise and of accepting decisions by majority vote.
President Bush said many times that human beings naturally crave freedom, and I think he was correct. But not every society has the institutions necessary for democracy to thrive: the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance. (This is the list President Bush gave in the above quotation, which showed that he did not assume that democracy could quickly be established everywhere.)” -PP.235-236
“For Rumsfeld, it was a consistent principle that U.S. officials should not try to pick specific leaders for other countries. That principle governed Rumsfeld’s attitude toward Afghanistan as well as Iraq. But State and CIA officials tended not to share this principle, and did not even recognize that Rumsfeld was applying it.” -P.242
“Powell came to be seen by some commentators as opposing regime change or war. But he never actually stated such opposition. Officials from State (as from all the agencies) warned that war could cause instability and other problems. But that was not the same as contending that Saddam should be left in power.” –P.245
“The term ‘leak’ refers generally to the unauthorized publication of secret information. What I am discussing here, however – the dozens of negative stories attributed to State and CIA officials during the George W. Bush Administration – were not leaks in that sense. Rather, they were policy arguments conducted through the press, with no opportunity for direct rebuttal, no referee, and little regard for accurate information. I am not sure if it makes sense to call a false story a leak. When officials incorrectly described meetings and wrongly attributed views (to ‘neocons’ or others), they were pretending to leak, but were actually just fabricating.” –PP.250-251
“We knew the CIA’s coverage of Iraq was spotty, though it wasn’t until after Saddam’s ouster that we learned how pathetically scant its sources in Iraq were. Before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, for example, the CIA did not have a single dedicated, unilateral source there devoted to WMD-related matters. The Silberman-Robb Commission eventually judged that ‘(w)e had precious little human intelligence and virtually no useful signals intelligence on a target (i.e., Iraq) that was one of the United States’ top intelligence priorities.'” -PP.259-260
“For the past decade, according to the cited CIA documents, Iraqi intelligence officials had been meeting with senior al Qaida personnel and providing al Qaida with support, including safe haven, travel documents, and training in sophisticated explosives.” – P.266
“I don’t think the problem was that the President discouraged challenges. He routinely allowed his thoughts to be questioned. He could more justly be faulted for an excessive tolerance of indiscipline, even of disloyalty, from his own officials.” – P.273
“But the crippling disorder we call the insurgency was not anticipated with any precision, by either intelligence analysts or policy officials. Whether by plan or improvisation, the Baathists – in cooperation with the jihadists – managed to organize, recruit, and finance a highly damaging quasi-military campaign. Across the board, Administration officials thought that postwar reconstruction would take place post – that is, after – the war. That turned out to be a major error.” -PP.275-276
“Despite the importance we attach to sovereignty, we recognize that circumstances require certain narrow but important exceptions. For example, many states now tend to regard certain human rights conventions as applying even to states that are not signatories. But the most compelling reason for making an exception to the traditional concept of sovereignty is the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction. There is simply no way, for example, that the civilized world could allow a state that has repeatedly behaved recklessly and aggressively to prepare to use smallpox as a weapon.
…..In the pre-missile era, one had the option to build defenses that could prevent that power from doing one harm. After missiles came on the scene, one could still attempt to deter the power from doing harm by threatening to retaliate. Finally, before development of weapons of mass destruction, one might be able to extract compensation for any harm done.
These approaches are no longer adequate. A hostile power may be able to deliver weapons covertly or in other ways that bypass existing defenses. A hostile power may be able to use terrorist groups to deliver weapons in an unattributable, and hence undeterrable, manner. A hostile power may be able to inflict such massive damage that no adequate compensation would be possible. These considerations lead inevitably to a doctrine of anticipatory self-defense.” – P.296
“My British counterpart, Simon Webb, highly regarded throughout the Pentagon, mentioned the importance his Prime Minister ascribed to the United Nations. But he warned, ‘(w)e should guard against speaking of the UN as a necessary source of legitimacy for action against Iraq.’ Addressing the ‘burden of proof’ question, he argued that we should not require ‘clear evidence’ of WMD, for it would be perverse if we imposed on ourselves a standard that rewarded Saddam’s concealment efforts – especially given that Iraq had shut down the UNSCOM inspectors in 1998.” – P.306
“At the October 15 Principals Committee meeting, George Tenet reiterated that the CIA did not have ‘a smoking gun today – a site that we know will produce a smoking gun.’ Though CIA officials lacked specific data on where Saddam’s chemical or biological weapons were located, they said they were certain, from multiple sources of information, that Saddam possessed such weapons.” – P.314
“The George W. Bush Administration, however, took a different approach to strategic communications. Its key concept was to ‘discipline the message.’ White House officials did not generally encourage subcabinet officials to do speeches, interviews, or op-eds in support of our Iraq policy or our war on terrorism strategy. They chose to rely almost entirely on the President, Vice President, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Rice. That made it easier to keep official pronouncements ‘on message,’ but it also meant writing off important audiences – including journalists, academics, and intellectuals – that could not be satisfied with generalizations delivered at a distance.” – P.320
“Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.
We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa’ida going back a decade.
Credible information indicates that Iraq and al-Qa’ida have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression.
Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qa’ida members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
We have credible reporting that al-Qa’ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qa’ida members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
Iraq’s increasing support to extremist Palestinians, coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al-Qa’ida, suggest that Baghdad’s links to terrorists will increase, even absent US military action.” -PP.322-323
“The Duelfer Report (presenting the findings of the Iraq Survey Group) gives this snapshot:
‘(A)fter 1996 Iraq still had a significant dual-use capability – some declared (to the UN inspectors) – readily useful for BW if the Regime chose to use it to pursue a BW (biological weapons) program. Moreover, Iraq still possessed its most important BW asset, the scientific know-how of its BW cadre.
Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability – which was essentially destroyed in 1991 – after sanctions were removed and Iraq’s economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed. Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks.
ISG judges that Iraq maintained the expertise and equipment necessary for R&D of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins that could be used as BW agents up until Operation Iraqi Freedom (OI) in March 2003 …A definitive conclusion is impossible, but, based on the available evidence, ISG concludes that Iraq intended to develop smallpox and possibly other viral pathogens …as potential BW weapons. ‘” -PP.326-327
“For many readers, this information about Iraq’s ‘dual-use’ production plants, illicit importation of weapons components, and cadres of WMD experts may come as a surprise. The public’s impression of the Duelfer Report on these matters was shaped by news media headlines to the effect that ‘nothing was found.’ Those headlines were misleading (one might even say fundamentally false), because the ISG found substantial WMD capabilities in Iraq, including personnel, materiel, facilities, and intentions – but not the stockpiles of the weapons themselves.” -P.328
“In private conversations that were intercepted by U.S. intelligence, Iraqi officials spoke as if Saddam continued to possess WMD. Even Iraqi generals believed he did. In the fall of 2002, the Iraqi military conducted exercises in chemical protective gear – but not because they thought the U.S.-led coalition was going to use chemical weapons. Every serious intelligence agency in the world – including those of our European allies, Russia, and others – believed that Iraq had WMD. UN officials believed it. And, of course, the CIA believed it.” -P.329
“Saddam, it seems, didn’t want to store WMD that UN inspectors might find if they should ever return to Iraq. Yet he was intent on appearing to have such weapons in order to frighten Iran and the Iraqi Kurds and Shia, the enemies he had attacked with WMD in the past, and whom he considered the primary threats to his rule. As for the risk that pretending to possess WMD might provoke the United States, Saddam discounted it because he considered the United States a paper tiger. Though Americans, in his assessment, might bluster about regime change, they would prove unwilling to take the heavy casualties he thought would be inevitable in an invasion of Iraq (and especially in a march to Baghdad).” – P.331
“What we didn’t know – until after his overthrow – was that Saddam did not consider it a top priority to head off U.S. military action, because he didn’t take our military preparations seriously.” -P.338
“What results could we expect from the UN inspections? For months, my office had analyzed the good and the harm that could come from new inspections. Inspections could help confirm disarmament done in obvious good faith – as they had over the years in South Africa, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere. If the Iraqi regime remained secretive, on the other hand, UN inspectors would not be able to prove or disprove its disarmaments claims.” -P.345
“In a Senate speech on January 28, 2003, Biden said he would choose to act ‘even if we do not get world support.’ He reasoned as follows:
‘Saddam is in material breach of the latest UN resolution. Yesterday’s damning report by the UN inspectors makes clear again Saddam’s contempt for the world and it has vindicated the President’s decision last fall to go to the UN. The legitimacy of the Security Council is at stake, as well as the integrity of the UN. So if Saddam does not give up those weapons of mass destruction and the Security Council does not call for the use of force, I think we have little option but to act with a larger group of willing nations, if possible, and alone if we must.'” –P. 356
“As it happened, the Iraqi military did not stay intact through the war. Much of it was destroyed in the fighting, and much of the rest of it disintegrated. For that reason, when L. Paul Bremer was about to leave Washington for Baghdad to take over Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2003, he argued that it made more sense to build a new Iraqi army than to try to reassemble, and reform the old one. That argument – and how it carried the day – will be recounted in Chapter 14.” – P. 368
“The prevailing view among intelligence and policy officials was that we could not achieve strategic surprise; after all, it was assumed that Saddam knew we were coming. Franks focused on tactical surprise – shocking the Iraqis as to when, where, and how our forces would strike. CENTCOM developed several ideas. One was to use ground forces right from the start. We later learned that this stratagem worked: Assuming we would fight the same way we had in 1991, senior Iraqi military officers interrogated after Saddam’s overthrow said they ‘believed Coalition efforts would open with a sustained air campaign possibly followed weeks later by ground operations’; it was ‘a shock to many of them when the coalition offensive began with a simultaneous air and ground attack.
Franks also hoped to surprise Saddam by starting the war with fewer troops in the theater than Saddam would expect. This was a principal argument he made for launching the war with a relatively small force.” – P. 393
“Various civilian and military officials have charged that Rumsfeld ignored his top generals in insisting on a light footprint. From what I saw, that was false. Some of his generals now say they favored a heavier force, but the top general for Operation Iraqi Freedom was Tommy Franks. He was the person who rejected the arguments for increasing our footprint. The heavier-force proponents appear not to have pressed their case at the time.” -P. 394
“Despite Franks’s adaptation of the war plan, this diplomatic fiasco had negative operational effects, as some commentators have noted. Since no large force marched on Baghdad from the north, all the heavy fighting in Iraq occurred in Baghdad and south of the Capital – in predominantly Shiite areas. The so-called Sunni Triangle did not see major combat. The historian Victor Davis Hanson has asked: ‘To what degree did the inability of the 4th Infantry division to head south from Turkey mean not merely that the Sunni Triangle was not immediately attacked but that it never really became a theater of war whose Iraqi combatants would learn the hard wages of fighting Americans?’ Hanson suggests that the lack of major combat in the Sunni Triangle may have left in place a major impediment to postwar success for the coalition: ‘Given the rapid American victory and the directive to avoid killing not merely civilians but enemy soldiers as well, was, perhaps, an inescapable Catch-22 in Iraq – as if an enemy humiliated and fleeing, but never really conquered, could ever make an easy subject for radical reconstruction.” – PP.395-396
“What was not anticipated – by any office, as far as I know – was the Iraqi regime’s ability to conduct a sustained campaign against coalition forces after it was overthrown. When the CIA, in August 2002, analyzed how Saddam might attack, surprise, or otherwise foil us in a war, its analysis dealt only with actions Saddam might take while still in power. I never saw a CIA assessment that the Baathists, after their ouster, would be able to organize, recruit for, finance, supply, command, and control an insurgency – let alone in alliance with foreign jihadists. Yet this is the problem that developed during the first year after Saddam’s overthrow.” – P.415
“Makiya asserted that it should be possible to recruit thousands of Iraqis for the Free Iraqi Forces, ‘but Franks is not doing it yet.’ They could be used in the cities, he said, and this ‘would allow U.S. forces to stay out of the cities.’ He added: ‘Iraqis will make mistakes, but they’ll be Iraqi mistakes.’
Makiya warned that Iraqi politics would not develop democratically if the United States did not ‘direct the process.’ ‘You’re trying so hard not to be imperialists that you’re not giving Iraqis a sense that you’re in charge,’ he observed. Regarding the IIA Leadership Council, he said: ‘You don’t want a committee that quarrels among itself. You must pick and choose. Pick people who are with you. Do not be even-handed between those who are with you and those who are against you. Leadership is required – not laissez-faire politically.'” -P. 420
“There was an urgent need to employ Iraqi security forces, but using the country’s familiar Baathist forces might dishearten, frighten away, and possibly incite to rebellion the vast majority of Iraqis who had suffered badly at the hands of the Baathists (virtually all the Kurds and Shia Arabs, and many of the Sunni Arabs).” – P. 421
“Only the top slice of the Baath Party’s leadership – approximately 1 percent of the two million-plus party members – would be barred from working for the new Iraqi government. In other words, an Iraqi in the 90th – or even 98th – percentile of high responsibility in the Baath Party would be unaffected by this provision.” – P. 429
“At my March 10 briefing to the President, following Rumsfeld’s direction, I had endorsed Garner’s plan to use the Iraqi army, reasoning that the pros somewhat outweighed the cons. Now, two months later, the coalition had toppled Saddam’s regime – and the Iraqi army had scattered. This was not what U.S. intelligence had told us to expect. The army’s organization was in disarray, bordering on nonexistent. Discipline broke down as the mass of Shiite conscripts ran away from their formerly dreaded officers, many of whom had fled to hide from anticipated anti-Baathist retribution. The military’s facilities were ransacked and dismantled – tiles pulled off walls, plumbing and electrical fixtures stripped away, vehicles driven off – so all that remained in some places were the concrete slabs on which the buildings had stood.
Under these circumstances, many of the key reasons to preserve the army no longer applied, while the arguments for dissolving it were still relevant. ” – P.432
“As Bremer reported, Kurdish leaders ‘made it clear’ to him that recalling Saddam’s army would cause their region to secede from Iraq, ‘which would have triggered a civil war and tempted Turkey and Iran to invade Iraq to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.’ Shiite leaders, he says, would have stopped cooperating with U.S.-led forces and taken up arms against us.” -P.432
“In the grim year 2007, commentators wrote as if Iraq had been doomed to sectarian violence – as if Iraqi mutual slaughter between Sunnis and Shiites occurred inevitably and immediately when Saddam was ousted. But such attacks did not become a major phenomenon until February 2006, when the gold-domed mosque in Samarra, an important Shiite shrine, was destroyed.” – P.450
“In arguing that the Iraqi leaders’ lack of cooperation showed that they were unready for sovereign authority, Bremer contributed to a vicious cycle. The Iraqis had no interest in being seen as mere functionaries in a U.S.-led occupation government of indefinite duration. In addition to the indignity of working under a foreigner, there was the personal danger of appearing to collaborate in perpetuating the occupation. Moreover, cooperation under those circumstances could harm their political careers in post-CPA Iraq.” – P. 458
“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made this point succinctly in his confirmation hearing:
‘It was always my experience that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, it was the State Department that most often wanted to use force and the Department of Defense that most often wanted to use diplomacy. And CIA never wanted to use covert action. Everybody wanted everybody else to take the actions.'” -P. 461
“The testimony of Iraqi scientists and senior government officials, the Iraq Survey Group further observed, ‘should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons.’ They told the Group’s investigators that Saddam ‘remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons’ and that he ‘would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point.’ Some of the interviewees ‘indicated a resumption after Iraq was free of sanctions.'” – P. 472
“The reports (about Abu Ghraib) were deeply shameful for the United States and for the Defense Department in particular. I never saw any news hit Rumsfeld so hard. Though he had no personal culpability, he submitted two letters of resignation over it.” –P.484
“First, the foremost purpose of the U.S. response to the attack was not punishment or retaliation, but preventing the next attack – a point that argued for quick action to disrupt ongoing terrorist plans.
Second, we were at war with a global terrorist network of Islamist extremist groups, including state and nonstate sponsors – and the next attack might come not from al Qaida but from some other part of the movement. Our strategy has to target both those groups themselves and their key sources of actual and potential support – operational, logistic, financial, and ideological.
Third, our attackers were bent not on political theater but on mass destruction. This highlighted the possibility that terrorists might obtain chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons to maximize the death toll.
Fourth, a series of 9/11-type terrorist attacks on the United States could change the nature of our country. Our national security policy extends beyond simply protecting people or territory. It includes securing our constitutional system, our civil liberties, and the open nature of our society – ‘our way of life,’ as President Bush expressed it.
This war aim brought us to the fifth strategic thought: In order to counter this threat successfully, we could not rely on a defensive strategy alone. The United States has so many rich targets that it would demand extraordinary measures to secure them individually – and the effort to do so would endanger our free and open society. These considerations necessitated a strategy of initiative and offense – of disrupting the terrorist network abroad.” –P. 507
“In some future clash – over Kuwait or some other Iraqi target – Saddam might draw inspiration from 9/11, providing terrorists with anthrax, smallpox, or nerve gas to attack us. Or, if he should one day achieve his goal of possessing a nuclear weapon, he might mobilize yet again to invade Kuwait – this time brandishing such a weapon. Critics around the world would demand to know how President Bush could have been so irresponsible as to allow Saddam to retain his biological and chemical weapons programs, let alone to get a nuclear weapon.” — P.515
“The President now talked almost exclusively about Iraq’s future. His political opponents noticed that if they talked about the past – about pre-war intelligence and prewar planning for the war and the aftermath – no one in the White House communications effort would contradict them. Opponents could say anything about the prewar period – misstating Saddam’s record, the Administration’s record, or their own – and their statements would go uncorrected. This was a powerful incentive for them to recriminate about the Administration’s prewar work, and congressional Democrats have pressed for one retrospective investigation after another.” -P.521
“Preventing calamities is one of the most important and least appreciated functions of government. When an evil is averted – perhaps as a result of insight, intensive effort, and administrative skill – the result is that nothing happens. It is easy, after the fact, for critics to ignore or deprecate the accomplishment. Political opponents may scoff at the effort as unnecessary, citing the absence of disaster as proof that the problem could not have been very serious to begin with.” –P. 523