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Ex-Rumsfeld deputy describes Iraq as 'major debacle'

Iraq_report The Iraq war has turned into a "major debacle," a former Pentagon official writes in a report published by the National Defense University in Washington.

"Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle," Joseph Collins writes at the beginning of his 60-page article.

Collins, a retired Army colonel, served as a senior DoD official under Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld.

Among the conclusions he reaches in Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath:

Globally, U.S. standing among friends and allies has fallen. Our status as a moral leader has been damaged by the war, the subsequent occupation of a Muslim nation, and various issues concerning the treatment of detainees. At the same time, operations in Iraq have had a negative impact on all other efforts in the war on terror, which must bow to the priority of Iraq when it comes to manpower, materiel, and the attention of decisionmakers. Our Armed Forces—especially the Army and Marine Corps—have been severely strained by the war in Iraq. Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East. As this case study is being written, despite impressive progress in security during the surge, the outcome of the war is in doubt.

... To date, the war in Iraq is a classic case of failure to adopt and adapt prudent courses of action that balance ends, ways, and means. After the major combat operation, U.S. policy has been insolvent, with inadequate means for pursuing ambitious ends. It is also a case where the perceived illegitimacy of our policy has led the United States to bear a disproportionate share of the war’s burden. U.S. efforts in Iraq stand in stark contrast to the war in Afghanistan, where, to the surprise of many, U.S. friends and allies have recently taken up a larger share of the burden of that conflict. Afghanistan has become the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) war, but the war in Iraq has increasingly become only a U.S. and Iraqi struggle.

... The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance. It is arguable whether the Iraqis will develop the wherewithal to create ethnic reconciliation and build a coherent national government. It is clear, however, that the United States and its partners have not done enough to create conditions in which such a development could take place. With the best of intentions, the United States toppled a vile, dangerous regime but has been unable to replace it with a stable entity. Mistakes in the Iraq operation cry out for improvements in the U.S. decisionmaking and policy execution systems. In turn, these improvements will require major changes in the legislative and executive branches, as well as in interagency processes.

McClatchy Newspapers, the first to report on this article, says Collins goes on to blame his former bosses for many of the problems at the outset of hostilities. He writes that "senior national security officials exhibited in many instances an imperious attitude, exerting power and pressure where diplomacy and bargaining might have had a better effect," according to McClatchy.

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