I am a huge NPR listener, especially on my commute and on Saturday, when “This American Life” is on. Today was part of a pledge drive, since they are “listener-supported” public radio, so this was a repeat. My internet connection wasn’t working, but I wrote the name “Conrad Crane” down on an envelope, because he warned that it was folly to invade Iraq and not plan for the Reconstruction. From his study of history, he knew that what would befall our country, the Iraqi people and their neighbors would dwarf what had been experienced under the government of Saddam Hussein.
As soon as my internet connection was up, I discovered Rod Dreher at BeliefNet had written “Conrad Crane Told Us So” after hearing the original NPR podcast. Concrad Crane knew .. and so did the man I photographed in late 2002.
From Rod’s piece:
I get “This American Life” via podcast, and listened to the latest one this morning. It was a stunner. One of the segments was about the work of Conrad Crane, a historian at the US Army War College, who with colleague W. Andrew Terrill produced this February 2003 monograph. It was a document, based on study of historical experience, intended to guide the American occupation of Iraq, by warning the military what would happen if they did, or failed to do, certain things. Like the TAL correspondent said, it reads like a letter from the future predicting exactly what did happen in Iraq. (See PDF at end of article) Note especially the warning that to disband the Iraqi army would be to annihilate one of the only sources of unity in the country, and could send its soldiers straight into the arms of sectarian militias.
This is not a new story; James Fallows reported on it a couple of years ago in The Atlantic. The point is, nobody in the administration can say they weren’t warned about what could happen in Iraq. They were. They chose to ignore it because it didn’t suit their ideological vision. Nothing that happened in Iraq after the end of the first phase of the war surprised Conrad Crane. It shouldn’t have surprised President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, or any of them. They chose not to believe it.
It seems that Rumsfeld et al chose to disbelieve it because if historian Crane was right, then he, Rumsfeld, was wrong in his theories about how the US military needed to be transformed. So he — and the commander in chief he served — chose theory over experience. The arrogance simply begs belief.