Mission Not Accomplished

What Went Wrong with Iraqi Reconstruction

Published in: Journal of Strategic Studies, v. 29, no. 3, June 2006, p. 453-473

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Nora Bensahel

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This article argues that the prewar planning process for postwar Iraq was plagued by myriad problems, including a dysfunctional interagency process, overly optimistic assumptions, and a lack of contingency planning for alternative outcomes. These problems were compounded by a lack of civilian capacity during the occupation period, which led to a complicated and often uncoordinated relationship with the military authorities who found themselves taking the lead in many reconstruction activities. Taken together, these mistakes meant that US success on the battlefield was merely a prelude to a postwar insurgency whose outcome remains very much in doubt more than three years later.

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