Thursday, August 14, 2003

Democracy in Iraq? This FAIR AND BALANCED report says the CIA had doubts of whether that was going to be possible in matter what we did:
WASHINGTON -- US intelligence officials cautioned the National Security Council before the Iraq war that the American plan to build democracy on the ashes of Saddam Hussein's regime -- as a model for the rest of the region -- was so audacious that, in the words of one CIA report in March, it could ultimately prove "impossible."

That assessment ran counter to what the Bush administration was saying at the time as it sought to build support for the war. President Bush said a democratic Iraq would lead to more liberalized, representative governments, where terrorists would find less popular support, and the Muslim world would be friendlier to the United States. "A new regime in Iraq would serve as an inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region," he said on Feb. 26.

The question of how quickly, and easily, the United States could establish democracy in Iraq was the key to a larger concern about how long US troops would be required to stay there, and how many would be needed to maintain security. The administration offered few assessments of its own but dismissed predictions by the army chief of staff of a lengthy occupation by hundreds of thousands of troops.

Now, frustration among Iraqis about a lack of stability and the slow pace of reconstruction -- and new evidence that Islamic militants are slipping into Iraq to take up arms against the Americans -- are leading the administration to lengthen its plans to keep troops in Iraq for up to four years. And the Pentagon is moving to lower expectations for a shift to democracy, suggesting that a liberal democracy is an ideal worth fighting for, but acknowledging the difficulty of creating one.

"The question isn't whether it is feasible, but is it worth a try," Lieutenant Colonel James Cassella, a Pentagon spokesman, said yesterday.

The intelligence community's doubts were fully aired to top Bush administration officials in the months before the war in multiple classified reports. The National Intelligence Council, which represents the consensus view of American spy agencies, reported to top policy makers at the start of the year that "what the administration was saying was a rosy picture," said a senior intelligence official who read the report and asked not to be named. "The report's conclusions were totally opposite."