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The What If's of Iraq

Miscalculation on WMDs and wishful thinking led to the invasion 10 years ago. Once we were there, the mistakes multiplied.

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
March 19, 2013
Los Angeles Times

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It is entirely fitting that the invasion of Iraq began, 10 years ago Tuesday, based on faulty intelligence: Our actions throughout the war were marred by miscalculation and wishful thinking time and again.

Ten years ago, we were wrong not just about whether Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (we now know that he had stopped his weapons of mass destruction program but didn't want anyone, not even his generals, to know for fear that it would dispel his aura of power). Another crucial bit of misinformation marked the start of the U.S.-led attack: Intelligence agencies reported that Hussein and his sons were hiding in a bunker beneath the Dora Farms palace complex south of Baghdad.

Acting on that tip, President George W. Bush ordered a flurry of bunker-buster bombs and cruise missiles dropped on Dora Farms on March 19, 2003, ahead of the planned start of the ground and air offensive. The complex was obliterated, but Hussein escaped unharmed. He had never been there in the first place. Later investigation showed there was no bunker either. It was all a giant misconception.

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