"Iraq will be
better," declared Tony Blair five days after the fall of Saddam. "Better
for the region, better for the world, better, above all, for the Iraqi
people." That contrasts starkly with the several hundred thousand dead
and injured Iraqis, four million refugees inside and outside Iraq, 4,141
coalition soldiers who have died and the cost to the UK of well in
excess of £5bn.
Yet it's now clear that Mr Blair knew before the invasion that America's
planning for post-war recovery was woefully inadequate - and so was
Britain's. There was no properly worked-out strategy for the key longer
term objective of transforming it into a stable, prosperous nation that
the Blair-Bush vision held out. We know this because Lady [Sally]
Morgan, Mr Blair's former political secretary, has said he was "tearing
his hair out", and his former foreign affairs adviser Sir David Manning
has said he was "very exercised about it". The fact that Mr Blair feared
the invasion aftermath might be heading for disaster is potentially more
damaging to his reputation than his decision to put the full weight of
his office behind the intelligence that Saddam had weapons of mass
destruction. For that he had cover from the Secret Intelligence Service.
What, then, is his defense to the charge that he recklessly continued
with the invasion? His friends and advisers say his frustration stemmed
from his inability to influence the Pentagon, under Donald Rumsfeld, on
post-war planning. The hawkish defense secretary had required his
generals to give America a "lite" footprint - a small invasion force
that could be rapidly withdrawn afterwards. Does this defense stack up?
It suggests that Mr Blair's "hair tearing" did not begin until 20
January 2003 - just eight weeks before the invasion. It was only then
that Mr Rumsfeld was put in charge of post-war planning, with a
presidential directive establishing a reconstruction unit in the
Department of Defense. Considering that the American General George C
Marshall was given three-and-a-half years to plan the reconstruction of
Germany after World War II, that's leaving things dangerously late.
Holy Quran Quotes
"… when it is said to them; 'Make not mischief on the Earth', they say; 'We are only peace makers'. Indeed they are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive it not"
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