A war that started with a good deal of support from the American political class has now reached its lowest point in its support from the American people and politicians alike. Reasons for this loss of support are many, but chief among them are the great deal of dishonesty on the part of its instigators and the mismanagement of the whole operation from day one.
The American people were duped into this war by the Bush administration's claim of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the hands of a tyrant with a cozy relationship with terrorists. WMD was scary enough, but WMD in the hands of terrorists was absolutely over-the-line. So, the American people trusting their administration signed up for a quick war. Unfortunately, not only was the administration less than truthful about its intentions, it was arrogant about its powers and clueless about the Iraqis' resolve in defending their country.
Of course, the Iraqi armed forces were weak; they had already been through a devastating war 10 years previously and had been under full worldwide economic sanctions since. But to start a war without the full strength of the military and a crooked expatriate Iraqi as the post-war head of the government smacks of a weird combination of arrogance, cluelessness and optimism.
The Secretary of Defense and his political underlings tried to teach the generals how to run the defense department like a lean business, but they did not know how to run either. Even worse, they started the lesson with a war. So the invasion started with a bang and soldiers reached Baghdad in no time, but the immediate post invasion looting clearly demonstrated lack of enough manpower to handle the occupation.
On top of that, the masterminds in the administration put another clueless gentleman in charge of the Occupation Provisional Authority. Not only had the gentleman in question not run anything bigger than a small office prior to this event; he had absolutely no knowledge of Iraq or for that matter any other Arab countries. He was a terrorist expert in name and in his vast wisdom dissolved the Iraqi army amongst many other strategic blunders in his tenure. Overnight, he offered the insurgents two hundred thousand resentful, ready for use armed and trained marksmen and militiamen. Additionally, he dealt with Iraqi leaders as Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, and not as Iraqis.
Three years on, thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's are dead or injured; the country is at low-level civil war. The elected representatives in parliament are unwilling to meet and the government is unable to form. Nobody is safe except perhaps for the people in the fortified green zone. Sectarian killings have already started, every sect has it's own militia despite the central government, and the new Iraqi army and police are still ineffective.
The administration not only miscalculated in Iraq, it also misjudged the American people's appetite for imperial power. The American political system in general is incongruent with Empire. Additionally, the American people have too many things on their plate to care about an imperial government. For one thing, we don't have the patience or the attention span necessary for a long drawn-out conflict, especially if that includes American casualties and exorbitant costs.
I am convinced that Bush administration will be judged by history as one that miscalculated strategically and executed poorly; however it'll get high marks as one that misled its people brilliantly.
Abtin Assadi is member of the board of directors at Bay Area Iranian American Voter Association baivoter.org.