Former Senator Gary Hart: NIE Confirms Iraq War Weakens U.S. Security

Washington, D.C. -- Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, the new chairman of Council for a Livable World, said that the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate confirms our worst fears over the impact of the Iraq War.

Senator Hart, formerly Co-Chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, suggested that the “The NIE clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has weakened our security by pursuing a historically ignorant occupation of Iraq.�

Senator Hart has long stood out as one of the nation’s foremost experts on national security. He possesses both a deep knowledge of defense policy and first-hand experience of the political realities that influence American security and defense strategy.

Senator Hart was recently selected as the new chairman of Council for a Livable World, a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on national security issues and elections founded in 1962.

“This NIE confirms what Middle East specialists have known for years. Invading and occupying a country in that region, particularly one created by former colonial powers, upending its political system, disrupting its social order, and attempting to rebuild its dismantled army and security forces is doomed to fail,� continued Hart.

The complete statement follows:

Statement by Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart On National Intelligence Estimate on the Iraq War’s Impact on Terrorism

The recent leak of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) confirming that the War in Iraq is intensifying global Islamic radicalism confirms our worse fears.

While politicians of both parties continue to debate the conduct of the Iraq War and how to extricate ourselves, the NIE stands apart as a non-partisan and authoritative evaluation endorsed by all sixteen American spy agencies. It has rightly sent political shockwaves throughout the nation

In articles first published over the weekend in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, officials closely involved with the preparation of the NIE, titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," reveal that the document describes the situation in Iraq “as promoting the spread of radical Islam by providing a focal point, with constant reinforcement of an anti-American message for disaffected Muslims.� (Washington Post, “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight,� 9/24/2006) All of the sources agreed that the report unabashedly concludes that “rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position.�

This NIE confirms what Middle East specialists have known for years. Invading and occupying a country in that region, particularly one created by former colonial powers, upending its political system, disrupting its social order, and attempting to rebuild its dismantled army and security forces is doomed to fail.

While a blossoming insurgency should have been anticipated by the Pentagon’s civilian leaders and the White House, our efforts to use the military as a substitute for a political settlement has failed, despite the able and heroic efforts of the American troops serving in Iraq.

Testifying before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on September 25, retired Marine Corps Colonel Thomas Hammes, author of The Sling and the Stone: On War in the Twenty-First Century, explained Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s failure to manage a successful counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq. Hammes pointed out that an insurgency is by definition a protracted struggle: the Chinese fought for twenty-seven years, the Vietnamese fought for thirty, and the Palestinians are approaching forty years with no end in sight.

American war planners clearly ignored the lack of successful foreign occupations in Iraqi history. Violent uprisings against British occupation began immediately after the cessation of World War I hostilities. The Great Iraq Revolution of 1920 resulted in 2,200 British casualties and was only quelled by the installation of the popular King Faisal bin Hussein. Ongoing domestic infighting during the 1930’s did not prevent the Iraqis from putting up a valiant effort to prevent British reoccupation during 1941. By 1948, the year of the al-Wathbah Uprising and the final expulsion of the British from Iraq, it was clear to all observers that despite sectarian differences, Iraqis were willing to die to preserve their sovereignty and sense of national identity. This history of fierce independence is clearly still present in Iraq today.

The Bush Administration failed to plan for post-war reconstruction and nation building despite being warned about the dangers of such a shortsighted policy. American war planners blatantly ignored the numerous difficulties involved in occupying an independent foreign country. Col. Hammes particularly emphasized our ongoing lack of cultural preparedness: “And, of course, we still have no system to provide the language and cultural training essential to working effectively with the Iraqis.�

A mature world power must always calculate the unintended consequences of its global actions. The NIE clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has weakened our security by pursuing a historically ignorant occupation of Iraq.