March 15, 2006

'No leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis.'

That's the assessment of the US occupation of Iraq in a confidential memo sent to UK PM Tony Blair just days after the fall of Baghdad. That memo is part of a trove of documents that have been surfacing as the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq approaches — much of that material connected to the publication of Michael Gordon and UK General Bernard Trainor's book, Cobra II: the Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.

As part of the research for the book, Gordon obtained a series of memos written in May and June of 2003 by John Sawers, who was the UK government's envoy in Baghdad right after the invasion. These memos do not paint the US in a very good light. Some of the memos' content has been published by the UK Guardian:

The British memos identified a series of US failures that contained the seeds of the present insurgency and anarchy.

The mistakes include:

  • A lack of interest by the US commander, General Tommy Franks, in the post-invasion phase.

  • The presence in the capital of the US Third Infantry Division, which took a heavyhanded approach to security.

  • Squandering the initial sympathy of Iraqis.

  • Bechtel, the main US civilian contractor, moving too slowly to reconnect basic services, such as electricity and water.

  • Failure to deal with health hazards, such as 40% of Baghdad's sewage pouring into the Tigris and rubbish piling up in the streets.

  • Sacking of many of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, even though many of them held relatively junior posts.

To be honest, this magpie wasn't surprised by much in the memos — the bulk of the information has been around for awhile. But what is new is the confirmation that Tony Blair's government knew how botched the invasion and occupation were right from the beginning — and that Blair decided to sit on top of that information, and lie about the situation in Iraq to the UK public and the rest of the world.

You can read the full Guardian article here.

Posted by Magpie at March 15, 2006 12:09 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |