Iraq is more dangerous to the U.S. potentially than it was at the moment we went to war.
That is the conclusion of a key American official who took part in decision-making at the top levels of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
Larry Diamond, a scholar at the Hoover Institution, a right-wing think tank located on the campus of Stanford University, was recruited by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to be a senior adviser to the CPA. Rice once was provost of Stanford.
Diamond is quoted in a soon-to-be-published article in Foreign Affairs Journal. In an interview with writer Sydney Blumenthal, Diamond described the unfolding debacle of the Neo-conservative myth of conquest.
Diamond said when he arrived in Baghdad, one of the first things he noticed was that the decision-making process was highly centralized.
There were weighty Americans with decades of experience in the region who were not consulted or integrated into decision-making, foreign service officers up to the level of Ambassadors, he said.
Neo-cons in the Pentagon were in charge, and CPA head Paul Bremer, a Kissinger employee, was the agent more of the Pentagon than the state department. Diamond said the Pentagon kept the state department out of the loop because the Neo-cons did not view it as in accord with them ideologically.
He said the British also were viewed skeptically and the British ambassador to the U.N., Jeremy Greenstock, was likewise shut out from decisions. In terms of the final decision-making on key issues, I never saw much evidence that [the British] had the opportunity to weigh in. He said when British officials in Basra strongly urged holding local elections in that city, they were ignored.
Diamond said the Neo-cons considered the U.N. useful only as a rubber stamp for their decisions. Yet, when U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi appeared in February, he negotiated a standoff between Shia leader Ayatollah Sistani and the U.S.
The reasons there are six women in the cabinet, corrupt members were jettisoned, why the ministers are regarded as able and serious, has a lot to do with the U.N. team, Diamond said. It is indicative of what we could have accomplished.
He added: There are so many bungled elements. We havent had a strategy from the beginning for dealing with Moqtada al-Sadr. We were flying blind from the start. The result was we didnt neutralize him early on.
Diamond noted that after four American contractors were murdered in Falluja, U.S. forces attacked and pummeled the city, then withdrew. The result?
We now have a terrorist base in Falluja, Diamond said. The Bush administration looked at the political cost, at what would have been necessary to destroy this terrorist haven. A country not an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. now is, in some areas, a haven of the most murderous, dedicated enemies of the U.S., including al-Qaeda.
The U.S. cannot escape from the trap it has blundered into without even more ruinous results, Diamond said. If we walk away the place falls apart disastrously, he added. Americans are not only a bulwark against civil war, they are a stimulus for nationalist and Islamic fundamentalist mobilization. We need to reduce that stimulus and provocation without robbing the new Iraqi state of the bulwark it needs.
Diamond further stated: We have been dealt a bad hand by mistaken decisions, going to war, in prewar planning and in the first few months after the war ended. A lot of negative things are difficult to alter because of mistakes that were not inevitable. There are really no good options.
Fallujah today remains under terrorist control, and insurgents run rampant beyond the Sunni triangle. The number of U.S. soldiers killed nears 1,000; the Iraqi army, disbanded by the CPA, is being reassembled and trained.
Meanwhile, the American presidential campaign is concerned with allegations about John Kerrys service in Vietnam 30 years ago.
The incompetent blunders of the Bush administration in Iraq are not a topic of debate. The lethal reality of Bushs hubris and ideology are momentarily off the screen.
Source: The Guardian