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Thread: Iraq: Pre-War Planning

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    Default Iraq: Pre-War Planning

    Posted at GWU's National Security Archive on 1 Sep 06:

    New State Department Releases on the "Future of Iraq" Project
    (Includes the entire 13 volume study, released under FOIA)
    Less than one month after the September 11 attacks, the State Department in October 2001 began planning the post-Saddam Hussein transition in Iraq. Under the direction of former State official Thomas S. Warrick, the Department organized over 200 Iraqi engineers, lawyers, businesspeople, doctors and other experts into 17 working groups to strategize on topics including the following: public health and humanitarian needs, transparency and anti-corruption, oil and energy, defense policy and institutions, transitional justice, democratic principles and procedures, local government, civil society capacity building, education, free media, water, agriculture and environment and economy and infrastructure.

    Thirty-three total meetings were held primarily in Washington from July 2002 through early April 2003. As part of the internal bureaucratic battle for control over Iraq policy within the Bush administration, the Department of Defense's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), itself replaced by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in May 2003, would ultimately assume responsibility for post-war planning in accordance with National Security Presidential Directive 24 signed on January 20, 2003. According to some press accounts, the Defense Department largely ignored the report, although DOD officials deny that.

    The result of the project was a 1,200-page 13-volume report that contains a multitude of facts, strategies, predictions and warnings about a diverse range of complex and potentially explosive issues, some of which have since developed as the report's authors anticipated...
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-06-2006 at 03:01 PM. Reason: ...figured this old post amplified the topic of this thread...

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    Default 1999 War Game - Desert Crossing

    5 November Associated Press - 1999 War Games Foresaw Problems in Iraq by John Heilprin.

    The U.S. government conducted a series of secret war games in 1999 that anticipated an invasion of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, and even then chaos might ensue.

    In its "Desert Crossing" games, 70 military, diplomatic and intelligence officials assumed the high troop levels would be needed to keep order, seal borders and take care of other security needs.

    The documents came to light Saturday through a Freedom of Information Act request by the George Washington University's National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library.

    "The conventional wisdom is the U.S. mistake in Iraq was not enough troops," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director. "But the Desert Crossing war game in 1999 suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground."...

    The war games looked at "worst case" and "most likely" scenarios after a war that removed then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power. Some are similar to what actually occurred after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003:

    • "A change in regimes does not guarantee stability," the 1999 seminar briefings said. "A number of factors including aggressive neighbors, fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines, and chaos created by rival forces bidding for power could adversely affect regional stability."
    • "Even when civil order is restored and borders are secured, the replacement regime could be problematic - especially if perceived as weak, a puppet, or out-of-step with prevailing regional governments."
    • "Iran's anti-Americanism could be enflamed by a U.S.-led intervention in Iraq," the briefings read. "The influx of U.S. and other western forces into Iraq would exacerbate worries in Tehran, as would the installation of a pro-western government in Baghdad."
    • "The debate on post-Saddam Iraq also reveals the paucity of information about the potential and capabilities of the external Iraqi opposition groups. The lack of intelligence concerning their roles hampers U.S. policy development."
    • "Also, some participants believe that no Arab government will welcome the kind of lengthy U.S. presence that would be required to install and sustain a democratic government."
    • "A long-term, large-scale military intervention may be at odds with many coalition partners."
    Here are the reports as posted by George Washington University's National Security Archive - Post-Saddam Iraq:The War Game. Scroll down for the AARs contained in the electronic briefing book.

    In late April 1999, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), led by Marine General Anthony Zinni (ret.), conducted a series of war games known as Desert Crossing in order to assess potential outcomes of an invasion of Iraq aimed at unseating Saddam Hussein. The documents posted here today covered the initial pre-war game planning phase from April-May 1999 through the detailed after-action reporting of June and July 1999.

    The Desert Crossing war games, which amounted to a feasibility study for part of the main war plan for Iraq -- OPLAN 1003-98 -- tested "worst case" and "most likely" scenarios of a post-war, post-Saddam, Iraq. The After Action Report presented its recommendations for further planning regarding regime change in Iraq and was an interagency production assisted by the departments of defense and state, as well as the National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency, among others.

    The results of Desert Crossing, however, drew pessimistic conclusions regarding the immediate possible outcomes of such action. Some of these conclusions are interestingly similar to the events which actually occurred after Saddam was overthrown. (Note 1) The report forewarned that regime change may cause regional instability by opening the doors to "rival forces bidding for power" which, in turn, could cause societal "fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines" and antagonize "aggressive neighbors." Further, the report illuminated worries that secure borders and a restoration of civil order may not be enough to stabilize Iraq if the replacement government were perceived as weak, subservient to outside powers, or out of touch with other regional governments. An exit strategy, the report said, would also be complicated by differing visions for a post-Saddam Iraq among those involved in the conflict.

    The Desert Crossing report was similarly pessimistic when discussing the nature of a new Iraqi government. If the U.S. were to establish a transitional government, it would likely encounter difficulty, some groups discussed, from a "period of widespread bloodshed in which various factions seek to eliminate their enemies." The report stressed that the creation of a democratic government in Iraq was not feasible, but a new pluralistic Iraqi government which included nationalist leaders might be possible, suggesting that nationalist leaders were a stabilizing force. Moreover, the report suggested that the U.S. role be one in which it would assist Middle Eastern governments in creating the transitional government for Iraq.

    General Zinni, who retired in 2000 shortly after the completion of Desert Crossing, brought the report to the attention of the public after the war. Even before the invasion, he had made his opposition to an imminent war widely known. In a major address at the Middle East Institute in October 2002, he disputed the view that war was either inevitable or desirable. On the question of establishing a new government to replace Saddam Hussein, he said, "God help us if we think this transition will occur easily." (Note 2)

    Zinni disparaged the views of pro-war advocates who minimized the significance of Arab opinion: "I'm not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one I travel." In a Q&A after the speech, he declared that while it was necessary to deal with Saddam Hussein "eventually," "[t]hat could happen in many ways" short of war. "The question becomes how to sort out your priorities .... My personal view, and this is just personal, is that I think this isn't No. 1. It's maybe six or seven, and the affordability line may be drawn around five." (Note 3)

    Zinni commented in depth publicly about Desert Crossing at UCLA in 2004 where he discussed the origins of the plan in the wake of the Desert Fox bombing campaign in 1998:

    And it struck me then that we had a plan to defeat Saddam's army, but we didn't have a plan to rebuild Iraq. And so I asked the different agencies of government to come together to talk about reconstruction planning for Iraq. . . . I thought we ought to look at political reconstruction, economic reconstruction, security reconstruction, humanitarian need, services, and infrastructure development. We met in Washington, DC. We called the plan, and we gamed it out in the scenario, Desert Crossing. (Note 4)

    Zinni noted the parallels to what eventually happened after the invasion as well as to the lack of interest elsewhere in the U.S. government for tackling the problems of reconstruction:

    The first meeting surfaced all the problems that have exactly happened now. This was 1999. And when I took it back and looked at it, I said, we need a plan. Not all of this is a military responsibility. I went back to State Department, to the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Department of Commerce and others and said, all right, how about you guys taking part of the plan. We need a plan in addition to the war plan for the reconstruction. Not interested. Would not look at it. (Note 5)

    So the General decided to take action himself -- "because I was convinced nobody in Washington was going to plan for it, and we, the military, would get stuck with it."

    Zinni claimed that his report had been forgotten only a few years later, stating: "When it looked like we were going in [to Iraq], I called back down to CENTCOM and said, 'You need to dust off Desert Crossing.' They said, 'What's that? Never heard of it.' So in a matter of just a few years it was gone. The corporate memory. And in addition I was told, 'We've been told not to do any of the planning. It would all be done in the Pentagon.'" (Note 6)

    The planning done at the Defense Department changed Zinni's original conception in some fundamental ways. For example, Zinni proposed a civilian occupation authority with offices in all eighteen Iraqi provinces, whereas the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was actually established only in Baghdad.

    Even more significantly, the former CENTCOM commander noted that his plan had called for a force of 400,000 for the invasion -- 240,000 more than what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved. "We were concerned about the ability to get in there right away, to flood the towns and villages," USA Today quoted Zinni as saying in July 2003. "We knew the initial problem would be security." (Note 7)

    Army General Thomas "Tommy" Franks adjusted the concept when he assumed command of CENTCOM upon Zinni's retirement. Yet even his initial version of OPLAN 1003-98 envisioned a need for 385,000 troops, according to the book, COBRA II, (Note 8) -- before Rumsfeld insisted that the number be sharply reduced.

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    Default This will stir debate

    The planners did a good job of identifying many of the problems we face today, and so far (I haven't read all the enclosures yet) I haven't seen where they identified any solutions (the recommendation was normally further interagency planning). Two quick take aways for me, is that the Clinton Administration was looking hard at Iraq, so it was perceived as a threat, but they couldn't figure out how to do it, nor could the Bush senior administration, thus the wise call not to go to Baghdad. The current administration decided to address the threat, but without having a feasible plan, and in my opinion with a very unrealistic end state of establishing a stable democracy in Iraq.

    Our military tactics during phase III were adequate, though I think we assumed more risk than we needed to (we didn't have a lot of room for Murphy), but since we won the conventional engagement that will probably never be seriously discussed. The administration had a plan for phase IV, but they had no contingenies if their shallow plan failed (shallow because it based on some pretty lame assumptions), which created a void that various insurgent groups and others were able to exploit and thus get a foot hold. Perhaps I'm bias, but I sensed we could have won this war rather quickly if we were more realistic. The Iraqi people I talked to were expecting the invasion for years, and they wondered what took us so long. They wanted us to replace Saddam and then leave. Replacing a government doesn't necessarily mean changing the system of government, there is a big gap between the two. I think they would have accepted our man (at least for a couple of years, which would have allowed us to get out and focus on other problems), whoever that might have been if we didn't disband the military, etc. If they could turn on their lights, have drinking water, safely send their kids to school, go to work etc., there would have been little steam for an insurgency.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 11-05-2006 at 04:52 PM.

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    Default Sad, but not surprising

    This is at the same time sad, but not surprising. The U.S. has the best training and most motivated troops on earth, and there were clearly enough troops to effect victory given the strategic plan. It was the strategic plan that was flawed. We bypassed large urban areas as we have done in every war in our history, leaving many of the Saddam Fedayeen and Sunni fighters behind (along with elements of the Iraqi military). Of couse, we ended up having to fight them as insurgents later. I agree with the comment above.

    If we had blanketed the cities with troops, it seems to me that there would not have been much time or steam for an insurgency to develop and establish itself. Force projection was inadequate. This can be forgiven, since the Small Wars Manual itself says that the strategy must be flexible, adding troops until you no longer need to add troops. Stubornly, we (or rather, the brass) have ignored this advice from the SWM.

    I find it a little bit difficult to believe that 400,000 troops still would not have been able to effect stability and security. But in order to pull it off, it would have required fast movement, flexibility, quick addition of troops, and forceful ROE.

    Finally, we went to war believing in the healing powers of democracy. Only with this presupposition would the brass believe that the numbers we had were adequate. These healing powers are a phantom, and the goal should not now be democracy, but rather, a stable Iraq and an ally in the GWOT.

    These goals might be able to be achieved. Democracy is neither realistic nor even useful at the present. Maliki's coalition prevents him from cracking down on al-Sadr, and so the Parliamentry system of government is now not our ally in stabilizing Iraq. Maliki loses his coalition when he cracks down on the Shi'ite militias.

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    I find the timing of this release rather interesting, since Ricks (for one) mentions this game and plan in "Fiasco."

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    For those with access to the USMC Warfighting Lab website:

    Project Fast Train Game 4 Assessment Report
    Project Fast Train Game 4 was conducted 30 January 2003 at Quantico, VA. Sponsored by CG, MCCDC, it brought together a number of retired general officers, former senior Department of Defense officials, and retired and active duty subject matter experts to examine several issues regarding follow-on military operations in a post-Saddam Iraq.

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    Posted at GWU's National Security Archive on 14 Feb 07:

    Polo Step: Iraq War Plan Assumed Only 5,000 U.S. Troops Still There by December 2006
    The U.S. Central Command's war plan for invading Iraq postulated in August 2002 that the U.S. would have only 5,000 troops left in Iraq as of December 2006, according to the Command's PowerPoint briefing slides, which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and are posted on the Web today by the National Security Archive (http://www.nsarchive.org).

    The PowerPoint slides, prepared by CentCom planners for Gen. Tommy Franks under code name POLO STEP, for briefings during 2002 for President Bush, the NSC, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the JCS, and Franks' commanders, refer to the "Phase IV" post-hostilities period as "UNKNOWN" and "months" in duration, but assume that U.S. forces would be almost completely "re-deployed" out of Iraq within 45 months of the invasion (i.e. December 2006)....
    The complete PPT brief is available for download in black-and-white pdf - image quality is poor for the most part.

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    Economist, 22 Mar 07: Mugged by Reality: How it all went wrong in Iraq
    ...The prevalence of violence and the absence of law erodes the legitimacy of the elected government and makes it almost impossible to rebuild an economy that even before the war had been prostrated by a dozen years of UN sanctions....

    ...It is not enough to say with the neocons that this was a good idea executed badly. Their own ideas are partly to blame. Too many people in Washington were fixated on proving an ideological point: that America's values were universal and would be digested effortlessly by people a world away. But plonking an American army in the heart of the Arab world was always a gamble. It demanded the highest seriousness and careful planning. Messrs Bush and Rumsfeld chose instead to send less than half the needed soldiers and gave no proper thought to the aftermath.

    What a waste. Most Iraqis rejoiced in the toppling of Saddam. They trooped in their millions to vote. What would Iraq be like now if America had approached its perilous, monumentally controversial undertaking with humility, honesty and courage? Thanks to the almost criminal negligence of Mr Bush's administration nobody, now, will ever know.

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    RAND, 30 Jun 08: After Saddam: Prewar Planning and the Occupation of Iraq
    This report provides an unclassified treatment of the post–major combat military and stabilization activities. It begins by examining prewar planning for postwar Iraq, in order to establish what U.S. policymakers expected the postwar situation to look like and what their plans were for stabilization. The report then examines the role of U.S. military forces after major combat officially ended on May 1, 2003. Finally, the report examines civilian efforts at reconstruction, focusing on the activities of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and its efforts to rebuild structures of governance, security forces, economic policy, and essential services prior to June 28, 2004, the day that CPA dissolved and transferred authority to the Iraqi Interim Government.

    The purpose of this analysis is to find out where problems occurred and to suggest possibilities to improve planning and operations in the future. The results of such analysis can seem therefore to be overly focused on the negative. This should not be taken to mean that no good was done. In fact, dedicated U.S. and coalition personnel, both military and civilian, engaged in many positive and constructive activities, individually and collectively. That this analysis does not highlight all those activities should not in any way detract from their value. Our focus, however, remains on finding ways to improve.....

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    Danny makes some good points.

    If Zinni's plan called for 400,000 troops to take down the regime then occupy the country in order to pacify it to allow nation building to begin, why do we think that we can maintain the current nation building plan in Iraq with on about 140,000 troops? What is different between then--Zinni's conception of 400,000--and now, the current set in Iraq?

    gg

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    Default "You can do a lot of things with bayonets; but one thing you can't do is sit on them.

    What is missing in all this discussion is common sense (The Thomas Paine variety).

    The United States didn't have to do it! We didn't have to invade Iraq and destroy its infrastructure. But even after invading, we could have turned responsibility to govern over to the Sunni-dominated Army in the center, the Kurdistan nationalists in the North, and the Shiite-mullah Sistani in the south, AND LEFT! with the admonition that they sort it out for themselves lest someone else try to do it for them. At the same time -omnipotent and victorious as we appeared to the rest of the world- we could have warned the Iranians not to invade iraq...or else! It would hvae been a warning they would have been very keen to heed.

    The assumption that this was an opportunity to reconstruct the Moslem mind, to change its culture, and create "Democracy" (the kind in which the people vote the way we want them to) is and was ridiculous. How arrogant and naive were the 'experts' in all those "think(?) tanks"!

    Imperialism amd colonialism is wrong no matter what veneer of "good intentions" is used to disguise them. Rightfully, Imperialism/Colonialism is a hard thing to pull off. That's why it would have been difficult even if we had 400,000 men. If all men have the unalienable right to their own version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then once the tyrant had been deposed, no power on earth -not even ours- should have forced the Iraqis to accept our terms for self-rule.

    "You can do a lot of things with bayonets; but one thing you can't do is sit on them."
    Last edited by AGBrina; 06-30-2008 at 05:28 PM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Woulda. Coulda

    Didn't.

    Story of mankind. We are where we are and all the whining in the world won't change that. Lessons learned? Perhaps, perhaps not. Human egos drive a lot of things including "my ideas are better than your ideas." Been my observation that they rarely really are all that much better and that to cite them after the fact is to obscure the issue of what might have been the flaws -- possibly even greater flaws -- in those ideas had they been executed...

    Long way of saying that what might have been is sort of irrelevant.

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    Default Question on "invade & leave"

    re: comments by

    Bill Moore ... The Iraqi people I talked to were expecting the invasion for years, and they wondered what took us so long. They wanted us to replace Saddam and then leave.

    AGBrina ... But even after invading, we could have turned responsibility to govern over to the Sunni-dominated Army in the center, the Kurdistan nationalists in the North, and the Shiite-mullah Sistani in the south, AND LEFT!
    Possibly, a set of limited policy considerations would have allowed that result (i.e., removal of Saddam & his sons; and verification of WMD or not). If that were the only end game, December 2003 would seem about the earliest point in time when leaving was possible.

    My question is whether that limited policy (and consequent military strategy) was considered within, or outside of, the administration - as to pros & cons, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Danny makes some good points.

    If Zinni's plan called for 400,000 troops to take down the regime then occupy the country in order to pacify it to allow nation building to begin, why do we think that we can maintain the current nation building plan in Iraq with on about 140,000 troops? What is different between then--Zinni's conception of 400,000--and now, the current set in Iraq?

    gg
    I'm very curious about this myself, for both phase 3 and 4 of OIF. If we list specific military and interagency operational objectives and track progress towards each, we should be able to model combinations of intelligence, kinetic, civil and relief, diplomatic tasks (and their necessary staffing levels) against factors of resistance to determine a relationship forces required to achieve to achieve strategic endgame in a given time frame (or find the point where manpower and equipment available leads to the duration diverging towards an inevitably failed mission). This is the sort of analysis I've not found in open sources before March 2003 or in any year after, although it is frustratingly hinted at in, for example, those vague, quintet assessments CIA leaks every now and then.
    PH Cannady
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    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    I'm very curious about this myself, for both phase 3 and 4 of OIF. If we list specific military and interagency operational objectives and track progress towards each, we should be able to model combinations of intelligence, kinetic, civil and relief, diplomatic tasks (and their necessary staffing levels) against factors of resistance to determine a relationship forces required to achieve to achieve strategic endgame in a given time frame (or find the point where manpower and equipment available leads to the duration diverging towards an inevitably failed mission). This is the sort of analysis I've not found in open sources before March 2003 or in any year after, although it is frustratingly hinted at in, for example, those vague, quintet assessments CIA leaks every now and then.
    Though I understand your terminology specifically sought operational objectives, if COIN is truely a small unit and organization endeavor, I would argue that tactical operations are so variable that a mathematical relationship would be impossible.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    Though I understand your terminology specifically sought operational objectives, if COIN is truely a small unit and organization endeavor, I would argue that tactical operations are so variable that a mathematical relationship would be impossible.
    A simple mathematical framework is almost certainly out of reach, but evidence-based crime prevention and law enforcement in the past two decades may show us a path for aggregating small to large unit data into a family of conditional models that can be used to drive macro-scale results. I suspect some similar effort is already underway in Iraq and probably has been for sometime; there's certainly a hint whenever newsies report some battalion commander's assessment of challenges and success in his area of responsibility. Thing is I've never seen anything in the public domain about if and how the underlying data filters up the chain of command and is processed.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default There is now and has always been an effort

    to produce the 'right metrics' for all phases of warfare, not just COIN. The effort waxes and wanes depending on whether the guy in charge is a numbers fan or not. Most such efforts fall by the wayside fairly quickly because war is an art, not a science and the very few numbers that can be ascertained with any accuracy at all are virtually meaningless.

    Still, folks will continue to try...

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    Smile In defense of those who try

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    to produce the 'right metrics' for all phases of warfare, not just COIN. The effort waxes and wanes depending on whether the guy in charge is a numbers fan or not. Most such efforts fall by the wayside fairly quickly because war is an art, not a science and the very few numbers that can be ascertained with any accuracy at all are virtually meaningless.

    Still, folks will continue to try...
    Numbers do mean a lot, and the problem really doesn't exist in trying to use them. It really comes down to which numbers, who is using them ,and what they are using them for.

    Awful lot of metrics in cards and they can help you win a lot, just no guarantees and thus that has to be remembered when their applied to human lives.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Default Iraq invasion was a 'f**king stupid idea'

    Iraq invasion was a 'f**king stupid idea'

    Dave Kilcullen saying it like it is!

    Sorry if this is well out of date. It just came up on my alerts.
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 07-29-2008 at 09:53 AM.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    William, you should know that about half of European's population said the same even before it happened...

    The invasion would even have been a stupid idea IF Hussein had had chemical weapons. After all, he would have safely stored them without using the stuff for at least 12 years. The only sure way to make him use them would be an invasion...

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