The Army has buried a comprehensive study of the planning for postwar Iraq, conducted by RAND.
The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” it said.
The Army’s explanation sounds weak:
“After carefully reviewing the findings and recommendations of the thorough RAND assessment, the Army determined that the analysts had in some cases taken a broader perspective on the early planning and operational phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom than desired or chartered by the Army,” Mr. Muchmore said in a statement. “Some of the RAND findings and recommendations were determined to be outside the purview of the Army and therefore of limited value in informing Army policies, programs and priorities.”
This is a familiar story, and redounds entirely to RAND’s credit. When I worked at RAND I had a similar experience with a research sponsor that didn’t like the results and tried to sweep the report under the rug. RAND’s leadership stood its ground, and the report was published. This is not the first time that service brass or OSD or JCS has been irked by RAND’s findings (most famously, the gays in the military study.) And still, most otherwise well-informed people I meet regard RAND as a right-wing propaganda shop. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s so non-partisan and non-ideological that it’s not even centrist. It’s a national treasure.
End of rant.