"Mistakes Loom Large as Handover Nears: Missed Opportunities Turned High Ideals to Harsh Realities," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, 20 June, p. A1.
Great retrospective from Post on what went wrong in Iraq. Key points: disbanding the Iraq military and then ending up with one about one-third of the size desired at the point of handover; not hiring Iraqis in huge numbers (as planned and promised) for public works efforts (and not spending that money nearly fast enough); but most of all for not having enough U.S. troops on the ground at the start of the occupation. Overall, the Coalition Provisional Authority blew it by not going for quick victories designed to win hearts and minds, instead dawdling along on long-term projects that were easily derailed once the insurgency picked up speed. To call the plan "naÔve" is an understatement, but it really misses the point. After 15 years of the perverting effect of the Powell Doctrine on the Pentagon's force structure planning, our force is simply not well balanced enough to win in the second half of any "regime change" invasion (the nation-building/peacekeeping half). And when you're that underfunded, underprioritized, and routinely denigrated by the system for that many years, you simply try to cover up your deficiencies by jumping in feet first and hoping for the best.
You can try to blame the Vulcans, or Clinton, but the truth is that the Pentagon did this to itself over the past decade and a half. They have no one to blame but themselves.