When President Bush officially announced an end to combatoperations in Iraq aboard an aircraft carrier last April, manyAmericans believed that the Iraqi people were now liberated,weapons of mass destruction would soon be found, and United Statesforces could withdraw from the country immediately.
Instead, less than one year later, the Iraqi people are strugglingto gain full sovereignty of their country amid constant turmoil,the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has proven to befruitless, and well over 100,000 troops remain in the countryengaged in a reconstruction effort that appears to be lackingdirection.
Ann Joyce, head of the D.C. based Middle East Policy Council saidthat the Bush Administration grossly underestimated the task ofrebuilding Iraq. “The State Department had a plan forreconstruction that was presented before going to war, but thatplan wasn’t followed,” she said.
Karl F. Inderfurth, Director of the Elliot School of InternationalAffairs and a former state department official under President BillClinton agrees that the Bush Administration had no coherent policyfor rebuilding Iraq before going to war. “The military planning wasexquisite, but the reconstruction effort obviously raises somequestions,” he said.
Inderfurth believes that the Bush Administration’s first mistake inthe reconstruction process was allowing the Pentagon to have somuch prowess outside of its military responsibilities.
He says more responsibility should have gone to the statedepartment and that Bush should take some accountability for themisjudgment.
“President Bush should be held accountable for what has happened inIraq,” he said. “This is an election year and how he has conductedthe war if Iraq will definitely be a part of the nationaldebate.”
Despite the acknowledgement by most experts that American forceswill have to remain in Iraq for years to come, the news from theembattled country has not been all bad. Only three months ago,after a long and exhaustive manhunt, American forces successfullyapprehended Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in a small undergroundhiding space near his hometown of Tikrit.