As the editorial director of, I have been in a good position to chart the failed predictions and laughable prognostications of the War Party—and, while it may be in somewhat bad taste to say, “I told you so,” as the latest news indicates that we have surpassed 3,000 American dead (not to mention 34,000 dead Iraqi civilians in 2006 alone), one cannot help but tote up the scorecard and note that the laptop bombardiers, who confidently projected a “cakewalk,” are batting zero.  On the other hand, even as the “mainstream” media and the neocons were hailing our glorious victory in the first weeks of the war, my March 24, 2003, column—presciently titled “A No-Winner: The first disastrous week of war foretells a dire future”—pretty much hit the nail on the head: “For the first few days, we saw only sanitized images of a clean, hassle-free war, amid hints of a winged victory beckoning in the near future.  But that is fast giving way to the gritty reality of the quagmire we are falling into.  The ‘cakewalk’ that Richard Perle and his fellow chickenhawks confidently predicted is turning into a forced march into Hell.”

Not that you had to be Nostradamus to see what was coming.  And that’s what gets me about this whole bloody episode: How could they not have known?  I mean, the U.S. government employs a myriad of analysts, diplomats, spooks, and high muckety-mucks to shape policy and construct likely scenarios in the foreign-policy sphere, spending millions—nay, billions—to guide the U.S. ship of state through stormy international waters.  So why didn’t they see the Iraq disaster coming?

It is utterly baffling to hear the expressions of shock and surprise from U.S.-government officials and their Amen Corner in the media now that Iraq is being torn apart by a sectarian civil war.  All that highfalutin presidential rhetoric about how everyone yearns for freedom, and how we’re igniting a “fire in the mind” with our efforts, rings hollow when we behold what the current government of Iraq has wrought: Shiite death squads, hundreds of bodies stacked up in the morgues every week, and an emerging alliance with Iran that bodes ill for U.S. interests in the region.  Given the ethno-religious composition of Iraq, what did anyone expect?  After all, they can’t say they weren’t warned.  As I pointed out in my Behind the Headlines column of December 15, 2003, “Resistance to the American occupation is now shifting from the infamous ‘Sunni triangle’ to the Shi’ite south, where Iranian influence is spreading.”  The party militias, I averred, would soon become a major problem: “Before the invasion, SCIRI officials predicted that they might one day fight the Americans just as they fought Saddam, and the hour may be fast approaching.”

As for the original rationale for going to war, we at always knew this was a mere pretext to invade and conquer a country that had never attacked or threatened the United States.  When Colin Powell supposedly “delivered the goods” in his now-infamous speech to the United Nations detailing Saddam’s alleged WMDs, my February 3, 2003, column couldn’t have been clearer or—in retrospect—more correct: “I don’t believe a word of it.”  Powell lived to regret that farrago of lies, cherry-picked half-truths, and outright fabrications compiled by Scooter Libby and his neocon elves in the White House.

As far back as February 2001, we were warning that Iraq’s fabled nuclear-weapons program was a myth promulgated by war proponents: “The myth of the Saddam Bomb will never die.  No matter how much UN nuclear inspectors praise Iraq—as the Associated Press headline put it—for its full cooperation, the War Party is determined to keep this one alive. The only problem for them is that, each time it is raised, and then dismissed as arrant nonsense, the myth of the Saddam Bomb seems less credible.”

Today, when the Vice President’s chief of staff is on trial for crimes committed in the course of pushing the lie that Iraq had or was about to acquire nuclear weapons, what seems incredible is that anyone believed the War Party’s transparent lies.

What seems particularly disturbing is the complete inability of the military establishment to foresee the rise of an insurgency against the occupation.  For many months, Donald Rumsfeld was telling us that the increasing number of attacks were just the fading efforts of the last remnants of resistance, the work of a few “dead-enders,” and one wonders why this huge mistake was made.  Perhaps the administration judged the Iraqis by Western standards and assumed them to be just as decadent, and as unlikely to resist, as the typical 21st-century American—who is, after all, standing idly by as our constitutional liberties are dissolved in the all-consuming fires of the “War on Terror.”