Army General Calls Decision to Invade Iraq an “Intellectual Failure”

Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who as a major wrote “Dereliction of Duty,” a devastating indictment of US political and military leaders for the deceptions and misjudgments that led to the costly failure in Vietnam, was more circumspect Feb. 19 in analyzing the decision and planning to invade Iraq in 2003. McMaster told a Defense Writers breakfast that he did not believe “there was a deliberate effort to deceive the American public in the decision that led to intervene” in Iraq, and thought there was “a misunderstanding on the presence of” weapons of mass destruction. “That doesn’t mean the decision was right” or that it was “a wise decision,” he added. “I don’t think it was the kind of deception that led up to the Vietnam War,” McMaster said, referring to President Lyndon Johnson’s actions. And he said, the Joint Chiefs of Staff “compromised their principles for expediency and helped mask the long-term consequences of the war.” He added, “I think it’s pretty clear that the planning for the war in Iraq was inadequate. That was an intellectual failure, more than it was … dishonesty. You have to ask, in retrospect, how could you act to collapse the regime of Saddam Hussein and not plan for the actions necessary to consolidate those gains? The plans obviously were inadequate in that vein.”