(CNN)This week, the British government released the Chilcot report on British involvement in the Iraq war. As the person who headed up the post-war transition and reconstruction efforts, I agree with much of it.
John Chilcot, who was tasked with producing the report, notes that British prewar planning was “inadequate” and blames many post-conflict difficulties on this lack of preparation.
The same can be said of American planning.
We also provided that any enlisted man or officer up to colonel could apply for the new army. When I left Iraq, 80% of the army was made of up former members. That army, with American help, defeated al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
Some members of the former military may have joined either AQI or its successor, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). If they did, though, it was not because they were not paid or given a role in post-Saddam Iraq. It is because they did not share the vision of a democratic Iraq.
Finally, I do not share Chilcot’s assumption that the “strategy of containment” was adequate to the challenges posed by Saddam’s Iraq and that therefore the war was unnecessary.
Context is essential. The September 11, 2001, attacks had brought home the reality that terrorists want to kill us by the thousands. No American president could ignore the possibility that terrorists might get their hands on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and use them against the American homeland.
Iraq — designated a state sponsor of terror by successive American presidents of both parties — had programs for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Saddam had used chemical weapons
against Iraqi Kurds in 1988. Since 1991, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) had passed 17 resolutions, with the force of law, demanding that Saddam come clean about his WMD programs. He didn’t.
Intelligence evidence — not just from American agencies, but also from the French, German, Russian and British services — concluded Saddam was continuing his WMD programs. International sanctions imposed by the UNSC were beginning to erode. Containment was no longer a viable option.
Later, it turned out the intelligence was wrong. But when the decision for war was made, neither Bush nor Tony Blair knew that. Moreover, after his capture, Saddam admitted that he fully intended to restart the programs.
I believe history will agree that it was a correct, but difficult, decision to remove Saddam Hussein. Had we not, today we would likely confront a nuclear armed Iraq facing off against a nuclear armed Iran. Troubled as the region is, that outcome would be worse.
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/08/opinions/chilcot-report-response-bremer/index.html