Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, has publicly admitted that the current US administration made not one but thousands of tactical errors in Iraq.
Rice sought to engage her detractors more than to ask for forgiveness from the crowds gathered outside Blackburn Town Hall. If Rice had said the US government committed three mistakes, she would have had to enumerate them. However, with thousands of errors, no one would have expected a detailed explanation.
Rice spoke in troubled times. She found that admitting mistakes will shorten her trial in front of thousands of protesters. She sought to distort the argument and impose a comparison between the objective and the means, between wrong and blunders, between strategy and tactics.
Many mistakes have been made in the managements of the Iraqi crisis. Firstly, the decision to go to war was taken without cover from the United Nations, because the Bush administration had no patience for debate. It forgot that international legitimacy, like marital legitimacy, justifies all transgressions.
The past thousand mistakes started before the war, when President George W. Bush entrusted Donald Rumsfled, the War Secretary, with the administration of US policy in Iraq . It transpired he has limited knowledge of international affairs, as regional governments rallied against him when he threatened to invade. Another major mistake was taken by the occupation’s generals when they decided to dissolve the army and forgo security.
In the first week, liberation became an invasion and, consequently, occupation. The word even featured in the government’s official addresses and transactions.
Another grave tactical error occurred when a US official was appointed governor, while the opposition and its leaders were marginalized, despite coming to Iraq on the same plane as him. They were seated at the edges of the table with Bremer presiding. He was an apathetic contractor despite his past experience in the region.
Tactical mistakes were numerous and deadly. The administration’s actions, such as the appointments of Zalmay Khalilzad as its ambassador in Baghdad, are too late. He is the right person, in the right place, but at the wrong time.
I have to disagree with those who are longing for the situation under Saddam compared to what it is like now. In the past, a centralized oppressive regime governed. Nowadays, lawlessness rules, while gangs and different groups are meddling in Iraq’s domestic situation. In any case, it is irrational to consider an evil state of affairs can be justified because of the current bad situation.
Of course, the Americans have made deadly mistakes, even before the air raids were launched, and continued to do so for quite some time. When Rice said the strategy was correct but the implementation was mistaken, she wanted to minimize the significance of these errors. Yet, her words are not too far from the truth, if the rectification continues and succeeds. The principle of democracy as a means to rule Iraq is not disputed amongst the main players in Iraq, or even Arab bystanders.
Tactical errors can spoil the result; this is what happened with the electoral situation which is currently in the midst of a serious crisis. Iraqis voted by the different sides have yet to agree on a result.
Undeniably, tactical errors have practically marginalized all the strategic success.