Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan Hosts Afghan Women Lawyers Training Conference in the US

Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan Hosts Afghan Women Lawyers Training Conference in the United States

Media Note
US State Dept, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC, January 7, 2009

The U.S. Department of State’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, working in close collaboration with the American legal community, will host a group of 14 prominent Afghan women judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in Riverside, California and Washington, DC, from January 9-24. Under the leadership of the former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Dr. Kerry Healey, and United States District Judge Stephen G. Larson of the Central District of California, the women will participate in two weeks of intensive legal seminars, roundtable events, and consultations with senior officials from the State of California and the U.S. Government, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. During these sessions, the women will explore current topics in the Afghan and American legal systems, legal decision-making and mediation, domestic violence, and family, mental health, and narcotics law, while gaining hands-on exposure to the American judicial system.

Launched by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in December 2007, the Public-Private Partnership has received pledges exceeding $1.3 million in monetary and in-kind contributions. The Public-Private Partnership is co-chaired by David T. Johnson, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and Robert C. O’Brien, a partner at Arent Fox LLP and former U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations.

This effort is possible through the financial and in-kind contributions of the law firms of Akin Gump, Arent Fox, Bingham, the Law Offices of Don Edgar, Irell & Manella, Jones Day, Korbel Media, Quinn Emanuel, Shernoff Bidart Darras & Echeverria, Vinson & Elkins and former Ambassador Thomas A. Schweich, as well as the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court, the Embassy of Afghanistan, the Federal Bar Association (Riverside), the Riverside and San Bernardino county bar associations, Loyola College, La Verne College of Law, The George Washington University School of Law, and the Federal Judicial Center. Duane and Kelly Roberts, proprietors of the historic Mission Inn, have contributed lodging, meeting space, and food for the delegation in Riverside, California.

Electronic Access via Internet More information about the Public-Private Partnership is available for download from the State Department website at

How Should Developing Nations Regulate Health Care?

How Should Developing Nations Regulate Health Care?, by Michael F. Cannon
Cato, January 6, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

The latest issue of the journal Health Affairs publishes a letter I wrote to the editors concerning articles on health care regulation in China and India. The entire letter follows (links added):

Recent articles on China and India (Jul/Aug 08) share the assumptions that markets for medical care and health insurance require extensive government regulation and that each nation should focus on universal coverage.

I am unfamiliar with the history of regulation in those nations. But the track record of clinician and insurance regulation in the United States is not encouraging. Both have been used by incumbents to block competition, leading to higher costs and lower quality. Gerald Bloom and colleagues worry that unless India imposes clinician licensing, “the natural process of competition is expected to force each insurer to come up with its own accreditation policy and reimbursement procedures.” Does that mean that prepayment would compete openly with fee-for-service? And that physicians could not increase costs by blocking health plans from employing mid-levels when appropriate? Dear God—not that.

Ashoke Bhattacharjya and Puneet Sapra write, “It is encouraging to note that notwithstanding the myriad issues and challenges discussed above, both countries are developing a constructive working framework to balance the interests of government, providers, employers, the insurance industry, and patients, en route to the goal of universal coverage and fairness in health care financing.” That’s just the problem: a policy of universal coverage puts too much power in the hands of elites. It inevitably “balances” those interests, when patients’ interests should trump all others. Does not the fact that “these countries lack the fiscal resources required for universal coverage because of their…low average wages” suggest that many residents have more pressing needs than health insurance? For things that might just deliver greater health improvements? In a profession where universal coverage is a religion, such questions are heresy, I know.

China and India are in the process of a slow climb out of poverty. It is entirely possible that the best thing those governments could do to improve these markets and population health would be to enforce contracts, punish torts, contain contagion, and nothing else.

Michael F. Cannon
Cato Institute, Washington, D.C.

Darfur: Ban welcomes US pledge to airlift critical supplies to UN-African Union force

Darfur: Ban welcomes US pledge to airlift critical supplies to UN-African Union force
UN, New York, Jan 7 2009 2:10PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has thanked United States President George W. Bush for his country’s recent commitment to airlift supplies urgently needed by the joint United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

“The expedited arrival to Darfur of this material, which includes trucks and other essential equipment, will strengthen the ability of the United Nations to protect civilians and carry out other aspects of its mandate,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a <"statement'>">statement.

The hybrid force, known as <", was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.

The US initiative “sets a constructive precedent for broad international support to expeditiously deploy UNAMID,” the statement noted, adding that the Secretary-General calls on other Member States to consider similar efforts to speed up the deployment of the mission.

At full strength, UNAMID, which marked its first anniversary last week, is slated to become the world body’s largest peacekeeping operation with some 26,000 military and police personnel.

One year on from transferring the task of suppressing the violence to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), some 12,374 blue helmets are now in place across Darfur, which is 63 per cent of the 19,555 military personnel authorized by the Security Council.

Jan 7 2009 2:10PM
For more details go to UN News Centre at

"The Future of Babylon": Management & Conservation Plan for Ancient Site in Iraq

"The Future of Babylon" Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Funds Project to Develop Management and Conservation Plan for Ancient Site in Iraq

Media Note
US State Dept, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC, January 7, 2009

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce its support of a project to develop a plan for the management and preservation of the archaeological site of Babylon. Funded to nearly $700,000, this project will be carried out by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) in partnership with the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH). Babylon stands out among Iraq’s rich contributions to humanity and “The Future of Babylon” project exemplifies the American people’s commitment to the preservation of human heritage and their respect for the cultural heritage of Iraq.

The management plan is expected to be completed within two years. Using a process driven by the significance of the site and the interests of the Iraqi stakeholders, the project will identify the purposes for which the site will be conserved and managed, and specify goals and policies to direct, guide, and regulate future uses and interventions at the site. The SBAH has dedicated a group of professional staff to collaborate on the planning and fieldwork tasks for the Babylon project. This process will produce methodologies for site management to benefit heritage sites throughout Iraq.

WMF, which has worked for over 40 years with communities and countries around the world to support the conservation and preservation of endangered architectural and cultural heritage sites, will collaborate with the SBAH on the Babylon site management plan as part of a larger ongoing project, the Getty Conservation Institute-World Monuments Fund joint “Initiative to Conserve Iraqi Cultural Heritage.” Among the goals of the Babylon project will be the development of technologically and culturally appropriate conservation solutions that also meet international standards; incorporation of holistic preservation approaches embracing environmental, social and economic factors; and economic self-sufficiency. For more information, visit

The Cultural Heritage Center of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports foreign affairs functions related to the preservation of cultural heritage. Since 2003, the Center has supported numerous projects directed at safeguarding Iraq's cultural heritage and is currently engaged in the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project to assist in the preservation of the ancient history of Iraq. For more information, visit


Russian Energy Supply Conflict: Domestic Resources Key To U.S. Energy Security

Russian Energy Supply Conflict: Further Evidence Domestic Resources Key To U.S. Energy Security
IER urges Congress to focus on America’s oil and natural gas resources in both energy and economic policies
Institute for Energy Research, Wednesday, January 7, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. —As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee prepares to hold its first hearing on energy security tomorrow, Institute for Energy Research (IER) Senior Vice President for Policy Daniel Kish is reminding lawmakers that the answer to both our economic recovery and energy future lies in our nation’s vast domestic natural resources.

Russia’s sudden decision to shut off natural gas supply to neighboring Ukraine last week further reinforces the need to reduce U.S. reliance on unstable foreign regimes for oil and natural gas imports. As such, any effort by the 111th Congress to increase energy production at home would reduce America’s reliance on imported oil while simultaneously creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and providing a major boost to the national economy.
“With Congress beginning to map out an agenda to address our nation’s energy security, our lawmakers should consider the havoc wreaked last week by Russia’s abrupt decision to shut off the supply of natural gas to the Ukraine,” says Kish. “This rash action imperiled almost 20 percent of central Europe’s gas supplies — which must first pass through the Ukraine.

“As this overseas energy supply conflict illustrates, any plan to improve America’s energy security must involve reducing U.S. reliance on imports from unstable foreign regimes like Russia. While Europe may be forced to rely on Russia and other imported energy, the US has no excuse. North America is chock full of natural gas, conventional and unconventional oil and coal that can be cleanly converted to energy. With less than 4% of our governments’ lands leased for energy, Congress should be asking if we can afford to say ‘Nyet’ to domestic energy production. And that’s not the only reason Capitol Hill should act to expand access to our energy supplies here at home.

“Amid a faltering economy and rising unemployment rates, ‘job security’ has joined ‘energy security’ as one of many Americans’ top priorities.Fortunately, our domestic natural resources hold answers to the current recession too. Recent research shows that developing America’s oil and gas resources will create jobs, stimulate the economy, and generate massive revenues for taxpayers.

“Policies that encourage greater exploration and development of our nation’s vast energy resources will ensure that Americans are able to take control of their energy and financial future.”

Bombay attacks, Pakistan international duties

Pakistan’s Accountability and International Obligations, by S.R. Subramanian
IDSA, January 06, 2009



Taking into account domestic pressure for perceptible results, India has moved the “1267 Committee” of the UN Security Council to ban the Jamat-ud-Dawah, the predecessor of Lashkhar-e-Taiba, for its involvement in the [Bombay attacks, Dec 2008]. The world body had already on May 2, 2005 listed Lashkhar-e-Taiba as one of the “entities and other groups and undertakings associated with Al-Qaida”. Even before the Mumbai attacks, India had been demanding that the Jamat-ud-Dawah be brought under the purview of international measures (“Consolidated List”) but it could not materialize for evidentiary reasons. The Committee was not convinced of the available proof to meet the requirements of the UN Security Council Resolution 1390.

However, the startling revelations of the connections between the Lashkhar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawah in the aftermath of the attacks had forced the international community to proscribe the terrorist organization. As the decision goes, now Jamat-ud-Dawah with all its spellings and variations is considered an off-shoot of the Lashkhar-e-Taiba. Simultaneously, the entries of two other entities – al-Rashid Trust and al-Akhtar Trust International – are amended to include their disguised appearances. The Committee has also named four leaders of the Lashkhar-e-Taiba as “individuals associated with Al-Qaida”.

The listing under UNSC Resolution 1267 demands three specific actions: effective measures of assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. All members of the United Nations shall take measures to freeze without delay funds and other financial assets of these individuals and entities including those derived from property owned or controlled by them or persons acting on their behalf, directly or indirectly. The proscribed individuals will also be prevented from entering into or transiting through the territories of other states. Significantly, the ban prevents the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and related materials of all types including technical advice and assistance to these individuals and entities within their territories or by their nationals outside their territories.

However, Pakistan placed Hafiz Saeed, only one of the four listed individuals, under house arrest for three months and technically froze the bank account after all the monies were flushed out. It does not appear that Pakistan is actively and decisively acting against the terrorists who have committed crimes against humanity and threatened regional tranquillity.

Though Pakistan had already placed Jamat-ud-Dawah on the Watch List in 2003, but still allowed it to generate financial resources through the hawala route. Jamat-ud-Dawah has heavily invested in the establishment of model schools and dispensaries. Pakistan should remind itself that the provision of assets freeze under Paragraph 4 (b) of Resolution 1267 is not only limited to those existing assets but applies to any other funds, economic resources that may be available to such person’s benefit by their nationals or by persons within their territory.

Moreover, Pakistan is insisting on ‘credible information and evidence’ for further action at its end, ostensibly to fulfil the requirements of domestic laws and procedure. However, a cursory reading of Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2001 (reportedly in force) would show that the standard of proof demanded of the action is not onerous. Section 11A empowers the federal government to ban any organization and to take up consequent measures if it has ‘reason to believe’ that the organization is ‘concerned in terrorism’. Hence, it is clear that the judgment of the executive will prevail over the legal process of enforcement. Also, the report of a leading international non- governmental organization made an assessment that Pakistan has done very little in the area of counter terrorism despite obligations under Resolution 1373.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that Pakistan is failing in its international obligations. It should remind itself that UN Security Council 1373 obligates it to not only to refrain from providing any form of support, but to prevent the use of its territories against other states or their citizens. If it can be established that Pakistan had supported terrorist groups, this may represent a breach of international obligations and may be held accountable.

S.R. Subramanian is working as an Assistant Professor at the Hidayatullah National Law University, Chhattisgarh and was with the Terrorism Prevention Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC), Vienna.

Richard Perle on Bush guidance and autonomous behaviour of the Administration

Ambushed on the Potomac, by Richard Perle
National Interest, Jan 06, 2009

Full text w/references:

FOR EIGHT years George W. Bush pulled the levers of government—sometimes frantically—never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the president’s policies. They didn’t need his directives: they had their own.

Again and again the president declared “unacceptable” activities that his administration went on to accept: North Korean nuclear weapons; North Korean missile tests; Iran’s nuclear-weapons program; the Russian invasion of Georgia; genocide in Sudan; Syrian and Iranian support for jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere—the list is long. Throughout his presidency, Bush demanded that these states change their ways. When they declined to do so, policy shifted to an unanchored, foundering diplomacy engineered by a diplomatic establishment, unencumbered, especially in the second term, by even the weak, largely useless scrutiny it had come to expect from the National Security Council. When Condoleezza Rice moved to the Department of State, the gamekeeper (however ineffective) turned poacher, and the Bush presidency—its credibility gravely diminished—became indistinguishable from the institutional worldview of the State Department. There it remains today.

Those who expect an Obama foreign policy to differ significantly from the most recent policy of the outgoing administration will be surprised by what is likely to be a seamless transition: not from White House to White House, but from State Department to State Department. On all the main issues—Iraq, Iran, Russia, China, Islamist terrorism, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, relations with allies—Obama’s first term is likely to look like Bush’s second.

It will not be easy to assess objectively the foreign and security policy of the Bush administration anytime soon. Its central feature, the war in Iraq, has generated emotions that all but preclude rational discourse. And it will be nearly impossible to persuade those whose minds are made up—often on the basis of tendentious reporting and reckless blogs—to reconsider what they firmly believe they know. Too much has been written and said that is wildly inaccurate and too many of those who have expressed judgments have done so, not as disinterested observers, but as partisan participants in a rancorous debate. Nevertheless, I have tried in what follows to offer a view of what the Bush policy was in the beginning and what it became in the end.

I SHOULD say at once that while I believe Bush mostly failed to implement an effective foreign and defense policy, I also believe he got some very large issues right, especially the immediate response to 9/11 and a still-developing strategy for countering terrorism. And, right or wrong, he acted honestly and courageously, doing what he thought necessary to protect the country that elected him and the Constitution to which he swore fidelity. The charge that he lied about Iraq is itself a lie, and an unrelenting effort to show he was untruthful has not produced a shred of evidence. Guileless to a fault, George W. Bush has been among the most straightforward American presidents in my lifetime. And, contrary to his critics, he was far less inclined to play politics with national security than either his predecessors or his opponents in Congress. Becoming president at a moment of unprecedented American primacy, he could not have anticipated that he would lead a White House at war, a fractious, dysfunctional executive branch and a deeply divided nation.


UNDERSTANDING BUSH’S foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administration’s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative “ideologues” who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oil—or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument.

I may have missed something, but I know of no statement, public or private, by any neoconservative in or near government, advocating the invasion of Iraq primarily for the purpose of promoting democracy or advancing some grand neoconservative vision. As for oil, most neoconservatives believe in markets and think the best way to obtain oil is to buy it. And as for Israeli interests, well, the Israelis, who believed that Iran posed the greater threat, were strongly and often vociferously against the United States going into Iraq.

There are, however, a great many wrenched-from-context or even fabricated quotations in circulation. They are easy to spot since they are never sourced.1 Sometimes the attempt to defend these insupportable claims is laughable, as when Vice President Dick Cheney is first misrepresented and then described as a “neoconservative,” or when two subcabinet Defense Department officials, the vice president’s national-security adviser, one or two members of the NSC staff and a handful of commentators are said to have bamboozled the president, the vice president, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On the Left, George Packer’s Assassins Gate and Jacob Heilbrunn’s They Knew They Were Right share an obsession with neoconservative influence, but they fail utterly to describe or document that influence. The same is true of much of what has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, the Guardian and the New Yorker, among others. Pat Buchanan and his acolytes on the Right mirror the Left’s obsession, along with Lyndon LaRouche, David Duke, Paul Craig Roberts and any number of conspiracy theorists. This neoconservative conspiracy is nonsense, of course, and no serious observer of the Bush administration would argue such a thing, not least because there is not, and cannot be, any evidence to substantiate it.

So if it was not a neocon master plan, how did we end up invading Iraq? What were the considerations that led Bush to bring down Saddam Hussein’s regime by force? What was the role of neoconservatives in his decision to go to war in Iraq? Many people believe they know the answer to these questions because so much has been written, with seeming authority, by so many commentators. Could 50 million blogs be wrong?

I BELIEVE that Bush went to war for the reasons—and only the reasons—he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. To recall his thinking we must go back to 9/11—which was, for Bush’s foreign and security policy, the beginning of time.

The shock of 9/11 was followed by the chilling realization that the people who killed three thousand Americans that day would inflict even more damage if they had the means and opportunity. Within the government it was widely believed that 9/11 had been incubating for twelve to eighteen months and that at any given time al-Qaeda was working on multiple schemes to kill Americans. Were there other plots in preparation? What were the most serious immediate threats? And what could we do to protect against them?

Destroying the sanctuary that al-Qaeda enjoyed in Afghanistan was essential and so became the first order of business. With it, al-Qaeda could plan, recruit, train, communicate, and manage the intelligence, logistics, and organization that 9/11 and its possible successors required. Without a sanctuary, al-Qaeda’s capacity to carry out another 9/11 would be greatly diminished. Moreover, the destruction of the Taliban regime would send a signal to other governments that allowed terrorists to operate from their territory: we would no longer regard terrorist acts of mass murder as crimes to be dealt with by the institutions of law enforcement alone. A state found to be complicit in, or even hospitable to, acts of terror would be treated harshly. As the president put it: “From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” With a sustained effort to discourage the granting of sanctuary or other forms of assistance to terrorists, a threat that could not be wiped out could at least be diminished.

The president’s approach, later elaborated, took shape on 9/11 itself, when he advanced a new policy just hours after the attack. He said, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”2

I believe these will turn out to have been the most important words of the Bush presidency. No longer would we respond to acts of terror solely by chasing the individuals who pulled the triggers. They could move; they could hide—and there was a generous supply of would-be martyrs waiting for their turn to kill and die. No longer would we watch as our troops, our citizens, our embassies, our ships and now our homeland came under attack. We would strike back at those who harbored terrorists—at governments that could neither run nor hide, but that could certainly be replaced.

I believe the decision to respond to 9/11 by removing the Taliban regime was right. Predictions about the “Arab street” rising up against us proved to be wrong. Al-Qaeda was driven into hiding and the people of Afghanistan, especially Afghan women, were liberated from a brutal, repressive Taliban regime. I also believe the subsequent decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right. In neither case were the considerations “ideological,” not for the president or vice president, not for the secretaries of state and defense, not for the national-security adviser—not for neoconservatives and certainly not for me. Let me explain.

OUR PRE-9/11 concept of security assumed that terrorists wished to survive their attacks. Al-Qaeda’s recruitment and training of suicidal terrorists eager for martyrdom meant that would have to change. The main concern was understood immediately: if men with box cutters could kill three thousand people, what could they do with weapons of mass destruction? What if nuclear weapons or radioactive material or chemical or biological agents wound up in the hands of terrorists eager to die as they committed mass murder? The possibility of a future attack with tens or hundreds of thousands of victims had to be taken seriously.

So the administration did the obvious: it made up a list of hostile states thought to possess WMD and set about developing plans to protect against their use either directly or, more ominously, if made available to terrorists. Heading the list was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Alone among heads of state, Saddam had cheered the attacks of 9/11. He had a long history of building WMD, actually using nerve gas in attacks against Kurdish civilians and Iranian troops. He had successfully concealed a nuclear-weapons program found, after the Gulf War in 1991, to be far more advanced than had been suspected—even though Iraq was then under IAEA international inspections. After defecting in 1995, Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, revealed a well-concealed chemical-and-biological-weapons program, directing us to a stash of documents hidden on a chicken farm.

Those following Iraq, both UN inspectors and American and allied intelligence organizations, reported a history of Saddam’s deceit and deception. Components of WMD that were known to have been produced or imported could not be accounted for. On one occasion we were able to photograph boxes being loaded onto trucks at the back entrance to a military installation while UN inspectors were prevented from entering at the front. The presumption that what could not be audited had been hidden, though later proved incorrect, was logical and widely accepted.

The former–UN arms inspector David Kay told me he was never able to surprise the Iraqis—they always learned inspectors were en route well before the UN could hope to arrive in time to catch them red-handed. During the time Bush was thinking about whether to remove Saddam, the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies were certain that he possessed WMD. I have often been critical of the CIA. But in this case everything seemed to point toward a concealed Iraqi program.

In any case, the salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administration’s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddam’s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.

I am not alone in having been asked, “If you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?” But what appears to some to be a “gotcha” question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on one’s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didn’t burn down or health insurance because you didn’t become ill. No one would take seriously the question, “Would you have bought Enron stock if you had known it would go down?” and no one should take seriously the facile conclusion that invading Iraq was mistaken because we now know Saddam did not possess stockpiles of WMD.

Bush might have decided differently: that the safer course was to leave Saddam in place and hope he would not cause or enable the use of WMD against the United States. How would we now assess his presidency if, say, Iraqi anthrax had later been used to kill thousands of Americans? He would have been accused—rightly in my view—of having taken a foolish risk by not acting against a regime we had good reason to consider extremely dangerous. (And no one would be so stupid as to ask: Would you have left Saddam in place if you had known he was going to supply anthrax to terrorists?)

THE REASON for dwelling on the question of risk management is because it explains why the administration decided as it did, and why many of us who supported and even urged that decision agreed with it. I, for one, was taught long ago to weigh the risks in these matters as objectively as possible and always to consider the consequences of a wrong choice. Between going to war to end Saddam’s regime and leaving him in place, I believed that war was, unhappily, the prudent choice for managing the risks we faced.3

The administration’s view, which I shared, was that few Iraqis would fight for Saddam while most would consider themselves liberated from the long nightmare of his reign of terror. I expected a quick victory and thought the cost was justified compared to the risk of another terrorist attack, this time with chemical or biological weapons.

When war came, Baghdad fell in twenty-one days with few casualties on either side. For several months thereafter there was relative calm. Sadly, the sense of liberation was squandered as the quick victory was followed by shockingly inept post-Saddam policies. The seminal error was, in my view, the failure to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis immediately after Saddam’s regime collapsed. History does not allow instant replays so we will never know whether that policy could have averted the disastrous insurgency—carried out by Saddam loyalists and foreign jihadists—sustained by terror, the incitement of confessional and ethnic divisions, and outside assistance. Had Iraq been enabled to stand up an interim government pending free elections to be held in, say, eighteen months, we might well have escaped the invidious role of an occupier. In blundering from liberation to occupation, we opened the way to nearly five years of suffering that only now, with the progress of the “surge,” is finally subsiding.

The administration’s failure to trust Iraqis with their own future was well-meaning—and yet arrogant. We sent thousands of Americans to Baghdad’s “green zone,” volunteers eager to help build a new Iraq—often in our image. Many had to secure passports because they had never been abroad; when they got there, most never left the protected area. Few knew anything of Iraq, its history or its culture.

Believing that we knew how to do things better than the Iraqis, we sidelined them, refused their counsel and frequently vetoed their ideas. A perfect example: when L. Paul Bremer III arrived in Baghdad to head the Coalition Provisional Authority he told Iraqi leaders, most of whom had long opposed Saddam from outside (or from the Kurdish north which was not under Saddam’s control), that he was in charge and the most he expected from them was advice, which he might or might not accept.

I believe the decision to attempt a comprehensive occupation of Iraq was the worst and most fateful of many mistakes. That decision followed a bureaucratic victory by the State Department, the CIA and the NSC that defeated proposals by Defense Department officials for a quick handover. (In fact, the Defense Department had actually supported training, preparing and equipping Iraqi exiles even before the invasion.) But then–Secretary of State Colin Powell, his deputy Richard Armitage and then–CIA Director George Tenet strongly opposed working with the Iraqi opposition both before and after the invasion. They distrusted long-time opponents of Saddam’s regime (many of whom have now emerged as Iraq’s political leadership). They waged a malicious campaign against the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a broad coalition umbrella group of Saddam’s opponents, in part because they intensely disliked the INC chairman, Ahmad Chalabi. A group of lesser officials, including State Department and CIA officers seconded to the NSC, joined them in sinking policy initiatives that might have enabled us to return Iraq quickly to the Iraqis. Condi Rice, then national-security adviser, was passive and indecisive. The result was an occupation that proved tragic for Americans and Iraqis alike.

A second mistake of immense importance was the policy of dealing with Iraq in isolation. It was clear from the beginning that the problem of Saddam’s Iraq was in fact a broader, regional problem: only with well-integrated strategies for Iran and Syria (and beyond) could we hope to deal effectively with post-Saddam Iraq. But no such integrated strategy was forthcoming; while the president asked repeatedly for one to be developed, it never was.

Of course, responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Rice’s State Department, ordering instead the “surge,” a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom.

I BELIEVE the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.

But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government.

Some of the confusion on this point undoubtedly stems from the president’s rhetoric in 2002 and 2003, especially as it related to democracy in Iraq (claimed by critics a cornerstone of the neoconservative agenda). As Douglas Feith, described (wrongly) by his detractors as another “architect” of the war, has observed, Bush’s rhetoric on our mission in Iraq shifted dramatically after we concluded that WMD would not be found. The president’s emphasis on the benefits of bringing democracy to Iraq—for Iraqis and the region—began in the fall of 2003, six months after the invasion. In his excellent War and Decision, which stands out for its rich documentation and attention to context, Feith demonstrates that shift convincingly. The statistics are striking: from September 2002 until July 1, 2003, the number of paragraphs in Bush’s speeches and events that referred to the threat from Saddam averaged 13.7 while the number referring to Iraqi democracy averaged 3.4. From September 7, 2003, until September 2004 the threat was referred to an average of 1.1 times while references to democracy averaged 10.6 times per speech or event. Embarrassed and defensive about the absence of WMD stockpiles, the White House simply decided to change the subject.

The decision to go to war, judgments about prewar intelligence, decisions on the conduct of the war and its aftermath, the assessment of personalities in Iraq, the choice of the military and civilian leadership in and responsible for Iraq—none of these reflected anything that could properly be called an ideology. They were, rather, prudential judgments, pragmatic decisions—though sometimes ill-advised—made by the president, the secretaries of state and defense, the national-security adviser and the senior military and intelligence leadership.

THE SENIOR officials responsible for policy formation were advised by a small army of civil servants, some of whom had strong opinions and deep prejudices. These opinions and prejudices—of which the hostility to working with the Iraqi opposition is an important example—had a far greater influence on administration policies than any philosophy, ideology or doctrine.
Early in 2003 one senior foreign-service officer answered my question, “How many of your colleagues at the State Department share the president’s views on foreign policy?” with a quick and confident, “About 15 percent.” The number may well have been even smaller at the CIA, which made egregious intelligence errors and then applied its skill at tweaking and leaking to undermine the president who acted on its advice.4

Sometime early in the second term a wise and experienced journalist, himself critical of the administration, returned from visits to London, Paris, Berlin and Rome and told me that he was astonished at how blatantly our senior embassy officials—sent abroad to implement the government’s foreign policy—openly denounced it, frequently to, or in the presence of, foreign officials, opinion leaders and the press.5 Never in my experience—maybe never, period—has the resulting disconnect between a president’s policies and beliefs and the actions of his administration been so profound, so prolonged and so consequential.

The hijacking of foreign policy simply did not stop at Iraq’s borders. And I believe this disconnect between the president and his appointees explains the glaring inconsistencies of much of the Bush administration’s policy stance: tough talk on Iran, Syria and North Korea, followed by debilitating inaction. The soaring rhetoric about encouraging democracy, “implemented” with winks and nods by bureaucracies content to take favored dictatorships as we find them. Perhaps in one of the most egregious examples, consider Bush’s radically new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. His speech of June 24, 2002, put forward a new American policy, pledging for the first time to support a Palestinian state provided the Palestinians elected “new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror” and built “a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.” In only ten months this was neatly transformed by the State Department into yet another version of its preferred, well-worn “land for peace” policy. It is not clear whether the president understood that the “road map” substituted for, and effectively killed, his push for a new policy. This is why Obama’s promise of “change” at least on the foreign-policy front may be greatly exaggerated.

If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.

I BELIEVE Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.

Richard Perle, former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.