New British Memo Contradicts Downing Street Memo, Raises New Questions
A new British memo from the summer before the Iraq war began paints a different picture than what can be found in the so-called Downing Street Memo.
The new memo makes it clear that President Bush had not in fact decided to go to war yet, although military plans were well advanced. It is also clear from the new memo that both the American and British governments sincerely believed in the existence of WMD.
First, the fact that the Bush administration had advanced war plans as early as July 2002 is no revelation. This was publicly known at the time. However, what the new memo says about planning for the post-war is interesting:
After noting the risks of a lengthy postwar occupation, the memorandum says that "U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us [Britain] to share a disproportionate share of the burden. Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired endstate would be created, in particular what form of government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the timescale within which it would be possible to identify a successor."
While I think its unfair to say the Bush Administration should have had detailed post-war plans before they’d even made a definitive decision to go to war, this new memo does raise the whole issue of why the post invasion has been so difficult and has actually resulted in more deaths than the invasion itself. Have the problems been a result of truly unforeseeable situations or did the Bush administration simply fail to plan properly?
The answer to that questions is vital to ensuring, should a situation like this arise again, we are better prepared. We had not occupied a nation since the end of World War II. We couldn’t have expected perfection. But could we have planned better? And if we could have, why didn’t we?