Ex-White House Aide: 'Surge' Wasn't Just About More Troops
Meghan O'Sullivan, the former national security adviser to the Bush administration and a chief architect of the president's surge strategy for the Iraq War, says it is a mistaken notion that the reason for the surge's success was simply that it sent more U.S. troops to Iraq.
"Perhaps more important than the insertion of additional U.S. troops into Iraq was the change in the mission these troops were given," she said in an online chat today with Post readers.
O'Sullivan said the new strategy "designated the primary mission of U.S. forces to be to help the Iraqis protect the population, to provide security to people. This new mission was deemed to be essential to bringing down the violence and creating an environment in which Iraqi leaders could decide how they would share power and resources -- and thereby address the root of the violence."
Sullivan, now a lecturer at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, resigned last year having been central to the administration's reformulation of its Iraq policies.
Critics questioned whether O'Sullivan, who was 33 when she started at the White House, was "too young for such a challenge and whether the former Brookings Institution scholar with a master's degree and doctorate from Oxford University was too steeped in theory for the job."
At 36, Sullivan had a year's experience in Iraq, The Post's Bob Woodward writes in his new book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008." Eventually, she began to think that the strategy of drawing down, as violence increased in war-torn Iraq, had become "indefensible."
At one point, after an intelligence briefing, Bush asked O'Sullivan: "What are you hearing from people in Baghdad? What are people's daily lives like?"
"It's hell, Mr. President," she replied.
"...she was one of the first, and perhaps most aggressive in telling the president that 'it's hell' in Baghdad, and that the old strategy of training Iraqis was indefensible," Woodward wrote in a recent online chat.
By Derek Kravitz |
September 15, 2008; 3:23 PM ET
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