What is it good for? Well, apparently, absolutely nothing.
Where are we today with Gulf War II (or III, if you count that little scrap Iran and Iraq had for 10 years in the ’80s)? Well, we’ve appropriated (or are appropriating) $187 billion for the war so far (that’s nearly 9% of the entire budget for “FY 2003″:http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/04feb20020800/www.gpo.gov/usbudget/fy2003/pdf/bud34.pdf). We’ve not got the oil going yet, so there’s no money in that, but at least Halliburton’s busy rebuilding the country. We alienated many of our closest allies, including Germany and Russia, we scared the crap out of North Korea so that they want to have nuclear weapons, and we may have convinced Iran that they need nukes too. We’ve done little damage to Al-Quaeda, and haven’t apparently decreased Palestinian suicide bombing any. Oh, and an American soldier or two seems to get killed every couple of days over in ol’ Mesopotamia.
All in all, this is a pretty depressing bill of sale. Makes ya wonder what the administration was up to when they decided to invade, eh?
It’s easy for an administration to get drawn into something bigger than it expects; happened to Kennedy, Johnson, even McKinley. Doesn’t necessarily say anything bad about the administration; things look different before you get into a conflict than when you are actually in it. The question is: was the Bush Jr. administration dragged beyond their anticipated scope of involvement, or did they just not have a plan?
Well, if they had a plan, such a plan would include:
# Specific goals to be accomplished within Iraq
# A timeline for said goals
# A plan to provide sufficient forces to take the country and accomplish said goals
# Funds to allow deployment of troops and other expenditures required to accomplish said goals
# A clear timeline or set of objectives that will clearly establish criteria for the withdrawal of US forces (in other words, a way out)
Do we have any of those things?
# Well, there’s clear goals — the destruction of the Ba’athist party is obvious. Other goals are not so clear. Did we really worry about Iraq’s WMD program? If so, we sure haven’t accomplished the goal of destroying it (although we certainly disrupted it). Do we just want to steal Iraq’s oil? Do we want to profit off of rebuilding it?
# There’s been no publicly-released timeline, and comments surrounding the latest budget request suggest that our commitment in Iraq is open-ended
# Unless the plan was to get out in much less than a year, we clearly don’t have sufficient forces to occupy Iraq. To have an adequate rotation policy we’d need to have less than half of the forces deployed there that we currently have. It’s hard to believe that anyone thought that 75,000 troops would be adequate to occupy Iraq (although as few as 25,000 would be enough if domestic Iraqi forces were available to police the country; it’s unlikely that the administration planned on this because they dissolved the Army, and it could take more than a year to build a new one — a fact which they knew beforehand).
# It’s hard to know if funds were allocated. Certainly making multiple budget requests doesn’t look good. Even worse, there’s no plan to pay for this — just an increase in the deficit. And, while $187 billion is a lot, it’s not really that much to invade, occupy and then rebuild a country. Heck, we’re asking other countries for more money! Sounds like the Bush administration didn’t have money put aside beforehand.
# It’s not at all clear what would allow us to get out of Iraq. The administration hasn’t set any clear standards or timelines, at least publicly, and I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t.
So there’s no evidence of a plan. Instead, it looks like the Bush administration just decided to invade Iraq, then did it. Let’s see what this lack of a plan got us:
* We invaded Iraq, on our own dime, risking our own men and women
* We pissed off loads of people
Given all that, we could’ve at least run the show, keeping the oil and using the reconstruction of the country to provide American jobs, but now:
* Now we’re begging other countries to pay
* And we’re asking them to send troops
* And in return for all of this, we’ll give up control
* Oh, plus the Iraqis might get their country back right quick.
And that, boys and girls, is what you get if you don’t have a plan. Moral: always have a plan, even if it’s awful. A plan is better than no plan.
If the Bush administration had a plan, they could have:
* Developed a multinational coalition, had outside funders and troops from the beginning, and embarrassed the French and Russians by forcing them to veto a resolution passed by the majority of the Security Council, or
* Moved in with enough forces and money to run the show ourselves and gain all of the benefits ourselves
Instead, we got neither. Plan, folks, plan.