Assessing blame for post-war Iraq

Phil Carter, former operational planner in the 4th Infantry Division, isn’t very impressed with Tommy Franks.[Via Kevin Drum]

Carter believes that General Franks was not as concerned as he should have been about Phase IV. He also should have been more forceful in his views with the Whitehouse and Pentagon.

Carter notes:

Wow… the “group think” is so thick in this briefing that you can taste it. Heads nodding… eyes indicating assent without question… this is not an OPLAN briefing, this is a love-fest. Seriously, one can start adding up all of the implicit assumptions in these statements by Gen. Franks, and figure out exactly why the Phase IV plan went so poorly. For starters, there’s no discussion of initial security needs, or initial needs for law and order. Second, there’s no discussion of institutional responsibility for the key reconstruction projects described as being so essential — something we know now well in the crack between State/USAID and Defense. Third, we have an incredibly optimistic troop redeployment estimate by Gen. Franks that reflects the best case scenario for post-war stability and reconstruction efforts. I don’t know whether less optimistic scenarios were presented to the President or not, but it’s clear from Franks’ book that he certainly didn’t give him any. And so, President Bush decided to go to war on the basis of this best case scenario, without the expectation that we could get bogged down in Phase IV. Of course, I blame the President for making that flawed decision and his top advisers (like Secretary Rumsfeld) for pushing it. But a certain amount of blame also belongs to Gen. Franks, for not highlighting the strategic and operational risks of this plan and pushing for their resolution before execution.