Wolfowitz says U.S. was ‘clueless on counterinsurgency’

Eli Lake catches Paul Wolfowitz making rare public comments on Iraq: Paul Wolfowitz, in his first public remarks on the Iraq war in years, said the American government was "pretty much clueless on counterinsurgency" in the first year of the war. The former deputy secretary of defense said yesterday that the force sent to Iraq ...

Eli Lake catches Paul Wolfowitz making rare public comments on Iraq:

Eli Lake catches Paul Wolfowitz making rare public comments on Iraq:

Paul Wolfowitz, in his first public remarks on the Iraq war in years, said the American government was "pretty much clueless on counterinsurgency" in the first year of the war.

The former deputy secretary of defense said yesterday that the force sent to Iraq was adequate for fighting Saddam Hussein’s military, citing the speed with which American troops toppled the regime. But Mr. Wolfowitz said no one in the Bush administration anticipated that Saddam would order his security services to wage an insurgency after their formal defeat on the battlefield.

It’s important, however, to unpack Wolfowitz’s definition of "counterinsurgency." In his mind, the United States should have armed and trained tens of thousands of Iraqi exiles and put Ahmad Chalabi in charge of an interim government. It’s the same fantasy Wolfowitz and his colleague Douglas Feith have been pushing for years now, not some kind of new candor on Wolfowitz’s part.

(Hat tip: Laura Rozen)

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.

Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?

The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.

Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.
Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.

Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World

It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

It’s a New Great Game. Again.

Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.

Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.
Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing

The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.