Walt Slocombe, senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority: Well, I think Mr. Mansoor has hit on a real difference of analysis here. It wasn't de-Ba'athification, it was de-Sunnification. And it really followed what Steve Hadley has described as President Bush's very serious and important question. Do we want to install another authoritarian? Which would have meant, in that context, Sunni regime in Iraq or not. You can argue that point, but that's what it was about. [Nobody thought the Iraqi army] could be reconstituted as anything other than a Sunni militia.
I think a fundamental error was having a divided command, one -- with a military command responsible for the military operations and a civilian structure under Ambassador Bremer responsible for the civilian side. The fact of the two of them, to put it mildly, General Sanchez and Ambassador Bremer, didn't exactly get along particularly well didn't help. But I think even with very good personal relationships, it was an unnecessary burden.
I think the biggest lack of committed resources was time and patience, that the assumption was, at the beginning, that it would be very easy, and then it was a period when the assumption was, well, this was going to be hard and we're going to have to stay a long time.
I don't think there was a sufficient analysis of how exactly we were going to create [a democracy], and it was certainly not a sufficient commitment of resources. I mean, I guess this is on the record so I probably shouldn't say it: We didn't let KBR waste enough money in the early days. We should have done things like tell KBR, we don't care what it costs or how you have to do it, but get the goddamned electricity fixed. That's one of the things which my sense was, was that there was an understandable sense of disappointment that things didn't suddenly get a lot better for the ordinary Iraqi, whatever their sectarian affiliations, and things like electricity would have made a big difference. It wasn't that we didn't try; it's that we didn't succeed.
It's all very well to say, well, we did very well in Germany and Japan, and for that matter Bosnia and Kosovo or Haiti, where we didn't do so well. But in none of those situations was there an active, armed insurgency opposition trying to stop us.
Kenneth Pollack, Brookings Institution: I think one of the mistakes that we made at the time, and we continue to make, is to think of Iraq as an insurgency. Iraq was an insurgency. There was an insurgency there. But that was not the primary problem in Iraq. The primary problem of Iraq was a civil war. It's a very quintessential inter-communal civil war. It was a civil war ultimately of our making because we created the security vacuum that gave rise to it.
The thing was that the insurgency was directed at us so that's what we tend to focus on. But when you think about the dynamics of Iraq and what was important to that country, and ultimately, what allowed us to achieve what we achieved in 2008/2009, it was really because we were solving the problems of the civil war, even though we oftentimes didn't refer to it that way explicitly.
Kalev Sepp, Naval Postgraduate School: I would like to go back to what Peter Feaver had raised before about counterfactuals. Related to the weapons of mass destruction, the counterfactual question would be, what if WMD had been discovered? Would that have changed the subsequent events at all?
The once-classified slide decks that talked about one of the proofs of WMD was the deception measures that the Iraqis were discovered to be making. Both deception and denial measures. And they were all correct -- all of the camouflage, the obstruction of UN weapons inspectors, signals deception that was clearly related to the WMD sites.
But there was a single presumption about what that meant. And at a very fundamental level deception is conducted for one of two purposes. You either hide strength, or you hide weakness. It does not seem anybody explored the idea that they were hiding the fact that they had no WMD at all. Of course, the target audience for that was the Iranians, and we were the unintended audience for the deception.