CAKEWALK?….I forgot to blog this article from the Kansas City Star this weekend, so I’ll make up for it now. The basic story: unlike World War II, in which “American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for administering postwar Germany and Japan,” Pentagon planners for Gulf War II didn’t bother with all that fiddly planning stuff because they were convinced that postwar Iraq could be quickly brought under control by their pet exile, Ahmad Chalabi:

The officials didn’t develop any real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader as the country’s leader. The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan.

….”It was very clear that there was an expectation that the exiles would be the core of an Iraqi interim (governing) authority,” retired U.S. Ambassador Timothy Carney said. He was in Iraq in April to help with postwar reconstruction.

Once Saddam’s regime fell, American authorities “quickly grasped” that Chalabi and his people couldn’t take charge, Carney said.

However, the Pentagon had devised no backup plan. Numerous officials in positions to know said that if Pentagon civilians had a detailed plan that anticipated what could happen after Saddam fell, it was invisible to them.

Read the whole story to get the background on the intense level of mistrust between the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House that led to this fiasco. And then say a little prayer that the ideologues have truly been sidelined and Paul Bremer can pick up the pieces and put Iraq back together again.