Condi says she'd invade Iraq again, only focus aid outside Baghdad
Like other senior Bush administration officials, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thinks that invading Iraq was the right thing to do and she would do it all over again if she had to.
"I would many times over liberate Iraq again from Saddam Hussein," Rice was quoted as telling an audience on Friday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong by the Associated Press. "I think he was a danger to the Middle East."
The only thing she would do differently, she said, would be to focus the massive U.S.-led reconstruction effort outside of Baghdad.
"We tried to rebuild Iraq from Baghdad out, and really should have rebuilt Iraq from outside Baghdad in," she said. "We should have worked with the tribes, worked in the provinces.
Wouldn't she also question the intelligence on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs and ties to al Qaida much more critically next time around?
Or perhaps Ms. Rice didn't read a recently declassified 2006 study by U.S. Joint Forces Command of the turbulent period that followed the fall of Baghdad in April 2003.
The study, entitled "Transition in Iraq: Changing Environment, Changing Organizations, Changing Leadership" and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Federation of American Scientists, confirmed that the Bush administration's post-invasion planning was riddled with flaws.
It found that the plan for coordinating U.S. military and civilian efforts to stabilize Iraq following Saddam's ouster was not available until after the invasion began and that the steps it outlined were not followed. Among other things, the plan called for "reform of the Iraqi military vice disillusion of the Iraqi military."
"The transition that occurred was not the one that was planned," it said.
Moreover, assumptions underpinning the plan were unrealistically rosy, the study found.
The plan called for the withdrawal of the U.S.-led invasion force within two months, employing the U.S. troops who replaced it for only 120 days, and establishing "a functioning government within 30-60 days."
An "insufficient and untimely availability of resources," including shortages of personnel, communications and intelligence capabilities, "impeded (the) effectiveness of post-combat operations and contributed to a difficult transition," the study said.
As it is known seven years and tens of thousands of Iraqi and American casualties later, difficult is an understatement.