The real intelligence failure

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Now that the US is ruling Iraq in the precise way that war propaganda only recently attributed to the Saddam regime—shutting down opposition press, arresting and killing political competitors, suppressing rights to assemble and speak—let’s draw attention to the real intelligence failure here. Before the war, nearly every critic of the war predicted that the overthrow of Saddam—whom the Shiites hated and whose overthrow the Shiites celebrated—would inspire a fundamentalist uprising in Iraq that would result in a violent but ultimately unworkable US dictatorship of martial law, ending in a pullout that would put the Shiites in full control of the country. Everyone knew this. And yet the Bush administration seems stunned by events. The biggest intelligence failure of this regime doesn’t concern WMDs; it is its failure to foresee what just about everyone who looked at the religio-demographics of the country knew. The whole pathetic picture suggests that Hayek might have been understating things when he said that government doesn’t have sufficient knowledge to manage world affairs. Government seems to have far less knowledge than the rest of us.

3:53 pm on April 5, 2004