The war in Iraq has become ''a major debacle'' and the outcome ''is in doubt'' despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.
The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.
The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations. It was published by the university's National Institute for Strategic Studies [SWJ Note: Institute for National Security Studies], a Defense Department research center...
The Miami Herald piece on a NDU "occasional paper" (Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath), quoted alternately as a Pentagon or NDU study, raised some flags here at SWJ. So we asked the author, Joseph Collins, to provide some context. His reply:
The Miami Herald story ("Pentagon Study: War is a 'Debacle' ") distorts the nature of and intent of my personal research project. It was not an NDU study, nor was it a Pentagon study. Indeed, the implication of the Herald story was that this study was mostly about current events. Such is not the case. It was mainly about the period 2002-04. The story also hypes a number of paragraphs, many of which are quoted out of context. The study does not "lay much of the blame" on Secretary Rumsfeld for problems in the conduct of the war, nor does it say that he "bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff." It does not single out "Condoleeza Rice and Stephen Hadley" for criticism.
Here is a fair summary of my personal research, which formally is NDU INSS Occasional Paper 5, "Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath."
This study examines how the United States chose to go to war in Iraq, how its decision-making process functioned, and what can be done to improve that process. The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance. With the best of intentions, the United States toppled a vile, dangerous regime but has been unable to replace it with a stable entity. Even allowing for progress under the Surge, the study insists that mistakes in the Iraq operation cry out in the mid- to long-term for improvements in the U.S. decision-making and policy execution systems.
The study recommends the development of a national planning charter, improving the qualifications of national security planners, streamlining policy execution in the field, improving military education, strengthening the Department of State and USAID, and reviewing the tangled legal authorities for complex contingencies. The study ends with a plea to improve alliance relations and to exercise caution in deciding to go to war.
SWJ Editors Note: Unfortunately this is not the first instance - nor will it be the last -- of highly selective use of source quotes and excerpts as well as distortion of context by members of the "mainstream media" in reporting on recent events and trends in Iraq...
Update 1: The Herald article is a McClatchy News item picked up by the former (H/T Charles Bird).
Update 2: SWJ Editors' Links
The "NDU" Report - Abu Muqawama
Distorted Antiwar Propaganda from McClatchy - Protein Wisdom
'Classic Case Of Failure' - Think Progress
Liberal Narrative on Iraq Might Not Be Going Official Yet! - Washington Independent
Not So Fast With That "Pentagon Study" - Outside the Beltway
The McClatchy Narrative on Iraq - Red State
McClatchey Misreports Iraq War Report - Flopping Aces
Less Than Meets the Eye in "Pentagon Story" - The Glittering Eye
Small Wars Has the Details - Argghhh!
Misrepresentation at the Miami Herald - Instapundit
Iraq War "A Major Debacle," Outcome "Is In Doubt" - The Huffington Post
MSM Distorts War Report - The Jawa Report