Details, Details

Last night I wrote about the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction’s draft report. The NYT has put the draft online here. I’m still reading through it, but here’s a bit from p. 65. The scene is an interagency conference on reconstruction about a month before we invaded:

“Ambassador George Ward, head of ORHA’s humanitarian pillar, asked, “How am I going to protect humanitarian convoys, humanitarian staging areas, humanitarian distribution points?” A flag officer who had flown in from CENTCOM said, “Hire war lords.” “Wait a minute,” Ward thought, “folks don’t understand this. There are warlords in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. There were no warlords to rent.” “At that point,” Ward says, “I thought this was going to fail because no one is paying serious attention to civilian security.””

A month before the invasion, and people still didn’t understand absolutely basic facts about the country they were planning to invade.

It’s not news, but every new instance of this kind of basic ignorance about a country whose government we were proposing to topple, and which we were proposing to rebuild, still takes my breath away.