Tuesday, January 13, 2004

In my next newspaper column I say that opposition to the war in Iraq has diminishing returns as a campaign issue for Democrats.

Conduct of the occuption, though, may emerge as a key issue.

Subhed of the article in The Atlantic on post-war Iraq:

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a debacle not because the government did no planning but because a vast amount of expert planning was willfully ignored by the people in charge.

Some callout quotes from the 17-page article by James Fallows:

Because detailed planning for the postwar situation meant facing costs and potential problems, it weakened the case for a "war of choice," and was seen by the war's proponents as an "antiwar" undertaking.

All the government working groups concluded that occupying Iraq would be far more difficult than defeating it. Wolfowitz either didn't notice this evidence or chose to disbelieve it.

The National Intelligence Council, at the CIA, ran a two-day exercise on postwar Iraq. The Office of the Secretary of Defense forbade Pentagon representatives to attend.

Humanitarian groups asked for a meeting with Donald Rumsfeld or Paul Wolfowitz. They never got one. They had earlier been told, "The President has already spent an hour on the humanitarian issues."

If the failure to stop the looting was a major sin of omission, disbanding the Iraqi army was a catastrophic error of commission -- creating an instant enemy class. Every pre-war study had warned against it.

Remember, this is The Atlantic, post-Michael Kelly to be sure, but not The Nation. If things go badly in Iraq through much of 2004, this story will loom large in November.

Meanwhile, Matt Stoller posts this interview with a journalist in Iraq.

7:15:28 PM    comment []

The Bowles Blog, the first volunteer weblog in support of the Erskine Bowles for Senate campaign, is live.

Blog originator Elros invites other Bowles fans to contribute content and expertise to the site.

The Bowles campaign says it's going online in a big way. It will need an active online volunteer base to mazimize the effect. Maybe this is the beginning of that volunteer effort.

3:14:25 PM    comment []

"Blind into Baghdad" is the cover line on The Atlantic dated January/February. It's not online yet, but it's worth finding a print copy.

The cover package includes two long articles. One, by Kenneth Pollack, deals with the politicizing of US intelligence policy as we prepared to invade Iraq. The other, by James Fallows, examines the failures in planning for and administration of post-war Iraq.

Fallows says our post-war mismanagement is on the same historical scale as the Bay of Pigs fiasco or the escalation of the war in Vietnam: "The problems the United States has encountered are precisely the ones its own expert agencies warned against."

This is serious, thorough journalism, not stuff that can be flipped off with the kind of glib punditry that defines many political weblogs. I'll revisit it here, but it deserves more than soundbites.

10:36:06 AM    comment []

Chris Lydon will host a program about weblogs and the presidential campaign, live via Minnesota Public Radio, on Sunday, Jan. 25, from 9-11 PM eastern. It's an audio extension of another Lydon project, The Blogging of the President: 2004. Program notes here, via Jeff Jarvis, who will be a guest on the program, as will I.

10:07:58 AM    comment []