Monday, April 03, 2006

Dueling Delusions

Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, has a brief essay in the New Yorker that surveys the Iraq delusion. It draws on the recently published Cobra II by Michael Gordon and Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor and a U.S. Joint Forces Command study of decision-making in Saddam Hussein's Iraq to demolish whatever beliefs might remain that the Bush Administration got something--anything--right with respect to Iraq.

It's a short piece, so go read it. Meanwhile, here's a brief excerpt that illustrates one of the many tragic mistakes of this war:

As for weapons of mass destruction, there were none, but Saddam could not bring himself to admit it, because he feared a loss of prestige and, in particular, that Iran might take advantage of his weakness—a conclusion also sketched earlier by the C.I.A.-supervised Iraq Survey Group. He did not tell even his most senior generals that he had no W.M.D. until just before the invasion. They were appalled, and some thought he might be lying, because, they later told their interrogators, the American government insisted that Iraq did have such weapons. Saddam "found it impossible to abandon the illusion of having W.M.D.," the study says. The Bush war cabinet, of course, clung to the same illusion, and a kind of mutually reinforcing trance took hold between the two leaderships as the invasion neared.

This, in part, is why wars of choice are wrong.

[Via Talking Points Memo.]