Tuesday, March 18, 2008
In his 2002 book "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq," Kenneth M. Pollack argued that the United States should use force to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He also warned that a war could be long and costly and that success would depend on how the United States went about rebuilding the Iraqi nation.
Looking back, Pollack does not mince words: "Certainly the first four years were about as disastrous as I could possibly imagine. Actually, they were more disastrous than I could have imagined. I am hard-pressed to find a single major decision where the U.S. didn't make the worst possible choice," he said.
Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was formerly with the National Security Council, ticks off "gratuitous errors" Washington committed, such as going into Iraq with too few troops, not adequately supporting reconstruction and dissolving the Iraqi army.
"At the time, it was just hard to imagine that we could leave the Iraqi people in a worse state than under Saddam Hussein, but that's effectively what we've done," he said. "Thirty years from now, when historians look back, where are they going to come out? If at the end of the day the U.S. screwed things up for four years and then in the end left Iraq a better place than they found it under Saddam, it may have still been worth it."
Pollack is hopeful that the administration has found the right strategy, but he said huge hurdles remain.
"It's like we're playing in the World Series and we opened by losing the first three games," he said. "You've used up all your margin of error. You have to play every game perfectly to win it. . . . It's possible, but it's going to be damn hard."
-- Josh White