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It's now apparent that the decision to invade Iraq may become one of the biggest foreign policy blunders of our generation. From the hyping of the WMD threat to the incompetent management of the post-war occupation, it's hard to find much that has been done correctly, other than the military invasion itself, which is not surprising given the skill of our armed forces. 

After the Iraqis successfully completed elections early this year, many of the supporters crowed that we had turned the corner in Iraq. Since then things have continued to deteriorate. Now we're hearing the same thing after the ratification of the constitution and we saw similar optimism after the fall of Baghdad and the capture of Saddam. Unfortunately, the country is still a mess, and the constitution might actually accelerate a civil war.
(Updated - 10/21/04 by G. Orlando)

Related links:
Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Scandal


Everyone was wrong about WMD? - This is one of the myths being repeated by supporters of the war and apologists for the Bush administration and Judy Miller. The fact is that many journalists were uncovering information before the war the the WMD claims, particularly the nuclear threat, were either incomplete, exaggerated or flat-out wrong. Some of these pre-war reports are highlighted by Ariana.

David Frum, one of the cheerleaders behind Bush's fateful decision to invade Iraq, has surprisingly written a sober and critical column arguing that the new constitution will not solve the problems in Iraq. The problem, he argues, is the security situation, and this won't be solved until the Bush administration gets serious about the war. Many of us could have explained this to Frum two years ago. The sad truth is that Bush's team shifted long ago to a strategy of limiting American casualties as opposed to crushing the insurgency and securing the country. At this stage, does anyone really believe that Bush will get serious about winning? He's looking for a way out, even as he and his supporters scream about "staying the course."


As usual, Fareed Zakaria offers an honest and insightful assessment of the current situation in Iraq, citing both good news and bad news. His most alarming point is that Iraq has become the new training ground for a new generation of terrorists, much like Afghanistan in the past.
 

Conservative columnist Steve Chapman addresses the sobering reality of the Iraq War, which is in stark contrast to Dick Cheney's rosy assessment of the current situation.




COMMENTARY:

Scowcroft Speaks - Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor under Bush 41, speaks out again against the Iraq War, arguing that it has hurt us in the war on terror.

Colonel Blasts Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld - Colin Powell's right hand man at the State Department, Colonel Larry Wilkerson has left the administration and is no longer holding back his harsh criticisms of this inept administration. Following that speech, he has expressed his concerns in an LA Times op-ed piece.

Iraq Mess - Joe Klein presents a detailed account of the repeated mistakes made in Iraq. Frankly, the incompetence demonstrated by George Bush following Katrina is still dwarfed by the ongoing blunders in Iraq.

Juan Cole blasts Jonah Goldberg over the Iraq War.

A Wall Street Journal reporter in Iraq wrote a letter to friends about what was really happening there. It has since been posted on the web, and according to Editor and Publisher, it's authentic.


Richard Wolffe
explains how Kerry has raised his game in September after a dismal August.

Fareed Zakaria
explains how to pick a war president.

Andrew Sullivan
argues that John Kerry's reality check on Iraq may salvage his campaign.

Joe Klein
explains the difficulty facing John Kerry in attacking Bush's powerful fantasy about the situation in Iraq.

David Broder reports on quiet calls for change in our Iraq policy coming from more members of the military and their families.

Newsweek
details how things are getting worse in Iraq.

Joe Klein
explains how Kerry needs to step up and challenge Bush on his inept conduct of the war in Iraq.

Andrew Sullivan
gives his take on Dick Cheney's claims that a vote for Kerry would lead to more terrorists attacks.

In Wrong-Way Bush, William Saletan argues that in the war on terror the worst defense is a bad offense.  

Christopher Dickey
explains how Bush is losing the war on terror, and asks why Kerry isn't pressing him on it.

George Will explains that the current political situation in Iraq is untenable, and how this might lead to the end of the Bush presidency.

Fred Kaplan
asks whether there is any hope of avoiding catastrophe in Iraq.

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, John Kerry outlines his plan for the future of Iraq policy.

In an interview with LA Weekly, Evan Wright discusses his new book, Generation Kill, about his time as an embedded reporter with a Marine unit on the front lines in Iraq. In an op-ed published in the New York Times, Wright details how the military's failure to guard and destroy the huge stockpiles of munitions in Iraq has helped to arm the insurgents that have been killing our troops.

Nicholas Kristof
explains how wild claims by Michael Moore and others on the far left about Bush's "lying" misses the point and just adds to the polarization of American politics. Great quote - "Mr. Bush's central problem is not that he was lying about Iraq, but that he was overzealous and self-deluded. He surrounded himself with like-minded ideologues, and they all told one another that Saddam was a mortal threat to us. They deceived themselves along with the public a more common problem in government than flat-out lying."

Robert Kagan
and William Kristol argue in The Weekly Standard that we need a dramatic change in policy in Iraq, including more troops and accelerated elections. They write: "The Bush administration seems not to recognize how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost."

In light of the failures in Iraq, Lawrence Kaplan explains the emergence of "realist" foreign policy thinking, and how this new realism is influencing both the Bush administration and the Kerry campaign.

In the Washington Times, Pat Buchanan analyzes the options we face in Iraq, pointing out the risks of exiting too early along with the risks of escalating the conflict.

Many politicians and pundits are calling for Rumsfeld to resign. Peter Beinart makes the best case that Rumsfeld's policies have led to many of the problems we are facing in Iraq.

George Will
argues that it's time for Bush to see the realities of Iraq.

Pat Buchanan
argues that we have arrived at the crossroads in Bush's "crusade for democracy" in Iraq.

George Will
laments the agonizing choices facing the U.S. in Iraq. He also rips Bush - "The commander in chief seems not to fathom the depth of the difficulties when he describes the insurgent cleric Moqtada Sadr as a person who will not 'allow democracy to flourish.' Allow? If some bad people would just behave, democracy would sprout like tulips?"

In a new editorial titled "An End to Illusion," the conservative National Review acknowledges that the Iraq war "was largely, if not entirely, a Wilsonian mistake."

Fred Barnes
of The Weekly Standard supported the war in Iraq, but after visiting the country last week he is much more skeptical of the possibility for establishing a successful democracy in Iraq. Barnes argues that the Iraqis need an "attitude adjustment" because they aren't sufficiently grateful for being liberated (I guess Cheney was wrong). Of course, Barnes had to go to Iraq to figure all this out. He's finding out what many of us suspected before the war - that Bush's goal of "transforming" the Middle East might be easier said than done.

Here's a very thorough list of the WMD claims made by Bush, Cheney and other administration officials prior to the war.

Georgie Ann Gayer
blasts the administration officials who permitted Ahmed Chalabi to dupe them into war with Iraq.

Fareed Zakaria
explains in Newsweek how the U.S. needs the U.N. in Iraq.

Pat Buchanan
offers a scathing review of "An End to Evil", the new book from David Frum and Richard Perle that advocates escalating the preemption doctrine by confronting Syria, Iran and other states in the Middle East. Buchanan rips the Neocon movement in general and criticizes the decision to go to war in Iraq.

Tony Karon
argues in Time that the insurgency in Iraq is homegrown, not imported.



LATEST NEWS:

U.S. ends fruitless Iraq weapons hunt (AP)

Platoon defies orders in Iraq, placed under arrest after refusing alleged 'suicide mission'
(Clarion-Ledger)

General reported supply shortages in Iraq last winter
(WP)

Bremer: U.S. paid price for lack of troops
(AP)

Brent Scowcroft calls Iraq a 'failing venture' (WP)

Growing pessimism on Iraq: Doubts increase within U.S. security agencies (WP)

Kerry questions Bush's judgment on Iraq, lays out four-point plan for Iraq (AP)

GOP Senators urge Bush to rethink Iraq policy (AP)

Iraqi PM: 'Terrorists pouring in' (CNN)

Bush 'pleased with the progress' in Iraq (CNN)

Kerry blasts Bush for not speaking honestly about Iraq, citing the recent intelligence report and alleging the Bush lives in a 'fantasy world of spin'
(WP)

Sources: Bush was warned about bleak prospects in Iraq (CNN)

Intelligence officials have a bleak view of prospects in Iraq (AP)

Intelligence officials have a bleak view of prospects in Iraq
(AP)

Reports: Chalabi tipped Iran about codes
(CNN)

Senate Democrats rip Wolfowitz in committee hearing
(Washington Post)

Report: 1 in 10 Iraqi security forces worked against U.S., 4 in 10 walked of the job
(Boston Globe)




MISMANAGEMENT OF IRAQ WAR:

Regardless of how one feels about the decision to invade Iraq, the evidence is clear that the Bush administration completely screwed up the occupation. The evidence of incompetence is staggering.

The election is over, so more conservatives can now speak honestly about the failures in Iraq. Frederick Kagen, in the conservative, pro-war Weekly Standard, has laid out a detailed and compelling case for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. The number of mistakes is staggering. Since the war began, many conservatives have blamed the media for only focusing on the negative in Iraq. Their scorn for the elite media, however, has hindered their ability to objectively assess the situation on the ground. Now, more and more conservatives are waking up to reality, yet this sober analysis does not seem to be having much effect on the Bush Administration.

General reported supply shortages in Iraq last winter
(WP)

Marine commander in Iraq disagreed with tactics in Fallujah
(Boston Globe)

General Zinni: 'They've screwed up'
(CBS News)

Woodward: Bush barely consulted his top advisors about invading Iraq; Powell was mostly out of the loop; Rice comes across as incompetent (Newsweek)

Kerry says Bush made 'colossal' mistakes in Iraq
(MSNBC)

Fareed Zakaria outlines the numerous mistakes made thus far in Iraq, and argues that policy changes are necessary if we are to have any chance of success.

Lawrence Kaplan
chronicles another case of the Bush administration's gross incompetence in Iraq. This case also demonstrates how the administration, behind the scenes, is backing off it's lofty goal of establishing a democracy in Iraq.

Iraqi PM: 'Terrorists pouring in' (CNN)



WMD Claims:

Report: U.S. almost all wrong on Iraq WMD (WP)

Rumsfeld backtracks on al-Qaeda, Iraq links and WMD intelligence
(MSNBC)

Condoleezza Rice defends her pre-war statements about Iraq nuclear threat despite evidence of intelligence available to her at the time that contradicted her claims (AP)

How the White House embraced disputed arms intelligence before the war (NY Times)

Senate report uncovers State Department document that details the many factual errors in the draft UN speech presented to Colin Powell, and how some, but not all, of the claims we removed from the speech
(LA Times)

Bush administration systematically altered the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq so that the CIA's qualifications were deleted from the unclassified version shared with the public
(LA Times)

Pentagon's pre-war intelligence role questioned (CNN)

Senate report blasts intelligence agencies (WP)

David Kay says Iraq inquiry should also investigate allegations that the Bush administration distorted the pre-war intelligence
(Washington Post)

CIA relied heavily on Iraqi defectors for intelligence claims (Newsweek) 

Bush and administration officials ignored CIA caveats on Iraq
(Washington Post)

Bush names Iraq commission
(Washington Post)

Tenet defends CIA on Iraq intelligence (CNN)

Here's a very thorough list of the WMD claims made by Bush, Cheney and other administration officials prior to the war.

Rumsfeld: Jury still out on Iraqi WMD
(MSNBC)

Cheney may face scrutiny on Iraq
(Miami Herald)

Powell says new data may have affected war decision (Washington Post)

UAVs - part of the flawed argument for war in Iraq
(Washington Post)

David Kay doesn't think WMD exist in Iraq and argues for a review of the intelligence - "Why could we all be so wrong?"
(AP)

Arms issue seen as hurting U.S. credibility abroad
(Washington Post)

Thomas Patrick Carroll argues in FrontPageMagazine.com that the lack of WMD evidence does not diminish the arguments in favor of the war in Iraq.



CLAIMS ABOUT AL-QAEDA LINK:

Fred Kaplan takes a look at how President Bush has often implied that Iraq was connected to 9/11 without explicitly making the connection.

Rumsfeld backtracks on al-Qaeda, Iraq links and WMD intelligence
(MSNBC)

Bush defends assertions of Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship (Washington Post)



OVEREXTENDED TROOPS:

Army defends plan for involuntary troop call-up (Reuters)

Involuntary recall: Army to recall thousands of retired and discharged soldiers (CNN)


IRAQI ELECTIONS:

Jordan's king says Iraq too dangerous for elections (Boston.com)

Powell: Goal is to stabilize Iraq for elections (CNN)

Armitage contradicts Rumsfeld, says all Iraqis must be able to vote
(CNN)


QUICKTAKES:

1/8/04

CONSERVATIVES FACING REALITY?: The election is over, so more conservatives can now speak honestly about the failures in Iraq. Frederick Kagen, in the conservative, pro-war Weekly Standard, has laid out a detailed and compelling case for the removal of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. The number of mistakes is staggering. Since the war began, many conservatives have blamed the media for only focusing on the negative in Iraq. Their scorn for the elite media, however, has hindered their ability to objectively assess the situation on the ground. Now, more and more conservatives are waking up to reality, yet this sober analysis does not seem to be having much effect on the Bush Administration.

12/14/04
MEDALS INSTEAD OF ACCOUNTABILITY: The Orwellian Bush Administration is at it again. The Iraq War is a mess and soldiers are still getting killed and maimed, but that doesn't stop Bush from handing out medals. Today he gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation's highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian, to George Tenet, Tommy Franks and Paul Bremer. Tenet led the CIA while the agency failed to prevent 9/11 and then blew it on WMD in Iraq. Franks led successful invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet was completely wrong on the post-war planning, leading to today's mess, Bremer was handed a difficult job in Iraq and performed admirably, yet he went along with the decision to disband the Iraqi army, a decision that still haunts our troops today. These are fine men who had difficult jobs, yet rewarding all three of them for their involvement in the Iraq debacle is ridiculous. Chris Matthews said it best. It's as if Bush is patting himself on the back for this war. In the meantime, he continues to support Rumsfeld, and more Americans continue to die needlessly as a result of the collective incompetence of this administration.  


10/5/04

BREMER SPEAKS OUT: The Bush campaign is acknowledging that Paul Bremer clashed with military commanders over the need for more troops in Iraq. Bremer spoke out and acknowledged that the U.S. had paid a huge price for not having enough troops and for not containing the looting and violence following the fall of Baghdad. This criticism is consistent with criticism from John Kerry, congressional leaders and many military experts. The lack of troop strength has been obvious to practically everyone except the most rabid Bush supporters who have let their partisan passions blind them to the realities in Iraq. 

10/4/04

NO KIDDING: Thomas Friedman supported the war in Iraq but says we are in trouble there due to Bush's mismanagement of the war. He explains how the Rumsfeld Doctrine of "Just enough troops to lose" has led to the current chaos.

9/26/04
AID AND COMFORT: Lately we've been hearing a silly theme from the Bush campaign - that John Kerry's criticism of Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Of course this is ridiculous. If anything is giving the enemy aid and comfort it's Bush's own incompetence. Fareed Zakaria said it well: "[A] feisty debate during a war is not to be feared. War is not a reason to suspend democracy. In fact, it is when democracy is at its most consequential and vibrant." 

9/24/04

KERRY ON A ROLL: John Kerry followed up his speech on Iraq with another great speech, this time addressing the war on terror. The speech is a must-read for anyone who is looking for a common sense approach to defeating the murderous thugs who hit us on 9/11. 

9/20/04

MESS IN IRAQ: John Kerry just gave a great speech about Bush's incompetence regarding the war in Iraq. Also, Newsweek is reporting the campaign's new strategy to take on Bush over this issue by giving an honest assessment of the mess in Iraq. It's about time. The approval numbers on Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and the war on terror are inflated and don't reflect Bush's many blunders. Kerry can and should win on this issue

9/13/04

ADMINISTRATION INCOMPETENCE: Another example of this administration's incompetence in Iraq is revealed by the Marine commander responsible for Fallujah. The administration talked tough about holding the thugs in Fallujah accountable for killing four American contractors. They pushed the Marines into Fallujah and then pulled them out after things became difficult. How can we win in Iraq with this strategy?

6/29/04
GROSS INCOMPETENCE: Anyone looking for more evidence that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should be fired ought to read Evan Wright's account of how the military's failure to guard and destroy the huge stockpiles of munitions in Iraq has helped to arm the insurgents that have been killing our troops. Can anyone still argue in good faith that we had enough troops in Iraq?

6/23/04
BLAMING THE MEDIA: The Bush administration has absolutely no shame when it comes to their portrayal of the conditions in Iraq. They over-hyped the Iraqi threat before the war, downplayed the risks of war, over-sold the prospects for establishing democracy, and then downplayed the security problems and the need for more troops. All along the way they blamed the media for negative stories, while the situation continued to deteriorate despite their rosy predictions. In light of this pathetic history, Paul Wolfowitz has the nerve to question the courage and ethics of the reporters risking their lives in Iraq. Wolfowitz said, "Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors." Reporters won't travel much because Iraq is a disaster. In case Wolfowitz hasn't noticed, some of the terrorists in Iraq are kidnapping and then beheading Americans. Wolfowitz should have been fired months ago. He created this mess, not the media.

5/9/04

CHENEY IS CLUELESS: Again, Dick Cheney is demonstrating that he's part of the problem with his latest statement regarding Donald Rumsfeld that "everyone should get off his case." Even conservative Senator Lindsay Graham ripped Cheney today on Meet the Press for his comments. Graham has made it clear that he takes the prisoner abuse scandal seriously and will not let partisan politics get in the way of cleaning up this mess.

4/21/04

REALITY SETS IN: Some conservative thinkers are finally starting to sober up in their approach to the mess in Iraq. The National Review called the goal of establishing a democracy in Iraq a "Wilsonian mistake."  Charles Krauthammer is also arguing for lower expectations, acknowledging that the goal of establishing a democracy may not be achievable in the short run.  Even more interesting is how the opinions of these conservatives are consistent with the approach advocated by John Kerry on Meet the Press and run counter to the rhetoric of the Bush administration. 

3/29/04

REALITY CHECK: Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard supported the war in Iraq, but after visiting the country last week he is much more skeptical of the possibility for establishing a successful democracy in Iraq. Barnes argues that the Iraqis need an "attitude adjustment" because they aren't sufficiently grateful for being liberated (I guess Cheney was wrong). Of course, Barnes had to go to Iraq to figure all this out. He's finding out what many of us suspected before the war - that Bush's goal of "transforming" the Middle East might be easier said than done.

02/7/04

SOUNDS LIKE HYPE TO ME: Defenders of the administration are trying to pin all the blame for WMD intelligence failures on the CIA, but I don't think Americans will fall for it. Our intelligence agencies made numerous mistakes and need to be improved, but, as George Tenet pointed out, there were numerous qualifications to the CIA findings. Yet many of  the statements from the Bush administration were made in absolute terms and were not consistent with the CIA findings. These inconsistencies are described in today's Washington Post. Bush won't own up to these mistakes, and his credibility is suffering as a result.

01/23/04
WMD DANCE: In his State of the Union speech, President Bush triumphantly referred to "weapons of mass destruction program related activities." Huh? Then we have Cheney asserting in interviews that the two trailers found last year were conclusive evidence that Saddam had WMD programs. Which is it? Does this administration have any credibility left, or are they just trying to play to their base support on the war? If the recent Newsweek poll is any indication, hopefully the public is starting to pay attention. ~GCO


Quotes About the War :

"Our committee heard blindly optimistic people from the administration prior to the war and people outside the administration -- what I call the 'dancing in the street crowd,' that we just simply will be greeted with open arms. The nonsense of all of that is apparent. The lack of planning is apparent." - Republican Senator Richard Lugar, 9/16/04

"Mr. Bush's central problem is not that he was lying about Iraq, but that he was overzealous and self-deluded. He surrounded himself with like-minded ideologues, and they all told one another that Saddam was a mortal threat to us. They deceived themselves along with the public — a more common problem in government than flat-out lying."
- Nicholas Kristof 

"From foreign to economic to social policy, Bush's record is a lesson in the limits and perils of conviction. He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys." - William Saletan (3/4/04)

"The commander in chief seems not to fathom the depth of the difficulties when he describes the insurgent cleric Moqtada Sadr as a person who will not 'allow democracy to flourish.' Allow? If some bad people would just behave, democracy would sprout like tulips?" - George Will

"[The president] did not tell you that with each passing day, we're seeing more chaos, more violence, more indiscriminate killings. He did not tell you that with each passing week, our enemies are getting bolder that Pentagon officials report that entire regions of Iraq are now in the hands of terrorists and extremists. He did not tell you that with each passing month, stability and security seem farther and farther away... You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security, who will not ignore his own intelligence, while living in a fantasy world of spin, and who will give the American people the truth about the challenge our brave men and women face on the front lines." - John Kerry, 9/16/04





Comments, questions and suggestions can be sent to Gerardo Orlando at editor@orlandoreport.com.

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