Irak, Medio Oriente y Asia
Se Cometieron Errores
AnalÝ T.B., especial para P.I.
New York Times
What if, by some miracle, everyone 'fessed up to mistakes
made about the surprisingly easy overthrow of Saddam and
its unexpectedly bloody aftermath, and mistakes now being
made in building democracy?
(1) In London, the amalgam of isolationists, pacifists and
anti-Blair leftists - once certain they would spoil a state
visit by branding the U.S. president a monster militarist -
would generously admit that they had been a noisy minority,
and that their discourtesy triggered a reaffirmation by
most Britons of the ties between two freedom-speaking
nations that lead the world in defeating tyrants.
(2) Gen. Wesley Clark would have to admit that his early
reading of the Pentagon war plan on CNN was unduly panicky.
Other analysts who feared heavy civilian casualties, masses
of refugees, environmental disaster in the torching of oil
fields and the mother of all battles in the narrow streets
of Baghdad were in egregious error.
(3) Hawkish idealists like me who believed that Iraqi
scientists, including "Dr. Germs," would come forward
promptly to reveal where supplies of biological weapons
were hidden were mistaken, at least for now.
(4) SecDef Donald Rumsfeld would freely admit that he did
not anticipate the disappearance of Saddam's intact
Republican Guard and the formation of a Baathist terrorist
insurgency that would kill coalition soldiers and drive out
U.N. and other relief agencies. On the same day, SecState
Colin Powell and spymaster George Tenet would admit that
their bureaucracies' resistance to the pre-invasion
training in Europe of Iraqi expatriate volunteers to
perform police and anti-guerrilla duties was unfortunate.
(5) Chancellor Gerhard Schr÷der, who became Jacques
Chirac's toy spitz in opposing America as well as neighbors
in Europe, would confess that his positioning of Germany as
an unreliable Atlantic ally and a Central European bully
was a diplomatic and economic blunder that his current
attempt to sweet-talk U.S. investors is not about to
(6) Former spooks who convinced reporters that there was
never any connection between Saddam's Iraqi regime and
Osama bin Laden's terror network would forthrightly assert
they were uninformed about the decade-long links that were
revealed in the classified memo the Senate Intelligence
Committee requested from Under Secretary of Defense Douglas
Feith. (The secret memo detailing 50 instances has gone
relatively uncovered by major media because it surfaced in
the current Weekly Standard, but is the subject of an
automatic leak investigation - yet another time-wasting
(7) Kurdish leaders on Iraq's Governing Council who
indulged past grievances by spurning Turkey's offer of
10,000 troops to help suppress the terror campaign would
realize, too late, that they not only dismayed Americans
who supported the Kurdish cause through thick and thin, but
also missed their historic opportunity to reverse the tide
of ill will that hurts the Kurds more than the Turks.
(8) Paul Bremer has already as much as admitted that his
disbanding of Saddam's army, especially officers, was a
mistake. But if this military group, made up almost
completely of Saddam's ruling Sunni minority, is to be
reconstituted and re-armed, who is to say that - after
elections are held giving most power to the majority
Shiites and coalition troops leave - it won't stage a coup?
Those now so certain that disbanding Saddam's army was a
mistake would have to own up to their greater error.
(9) In the same way, the U.S. has now admitted being
mistaken for months in following the wishes of the Shiite
leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, that the Governing
Council draft a constitution before holding elections and
transferring sovereignty. Sunnis on the council balked;
they fear the Shiite majority. Under White House pressure,
Bremer prevailed on the ayatollah to go along with
sovereignty first, elections later.
(10) On that Great Mea Culpa Day, what would be the biggest
mistake admitted? It would come from Western experts who
for years have been saying, in pessimistic condescension,
that Arabs in their culture and religion are unsuited to
Mistakes have been made in overcoming that notion. Mistakes
will be made in winning this war. But advancing freedom is
never a mistake.