"A year ago tonight, President Bush took the nation to war in Iraq with a grand vision for change in the Middle East and beyond," the Washington Post notes. "The invasion and occupation of Iraq, [the Bush] administration predicted, would come at little financial cost and would materially improve the lives of Iraqis. Americans would be greeted as liberators, Bush officials predicted, and the toppling of Saddam Hussein would spread peace and democracy throughout the Middle East."Things have not worked out that way, for the most part."
There is evidence that the economic lives of Iraqis are improving, thanks to an infusion of U.S. and foreign capital. But the administration badly underestimated the financial cost of the occupation and seriously overstated the ease of pacifying Iraq and the warmth of the reception Iraqis would give the U.S. invaders. And while peace and democracy may yet spread through the region, some early signs are that the U.S. action has had the opposite effect...On April 23, 2003, Andrew S. Natsios, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, laid out in a televised interview the costs to U.S. taxpayers of rebuilding Iraq. "The American part of this will be $1.7 billion," he said. "We have no plans for any further-on funding for this..."...The administration has already sought more than $150 billion for the Iraq effort.In its predictions a year ago, the Bush administration similarly underestimated the resistance the United States would face in Iraq. "I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators," Vice President Cheney said in a March 16 interview.Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz derided a general's claim that pacifying Iraq would take several hundred thousand U.S. troops. And Rumsfeld, in February 2003, predicted that the war "could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months..."Considerable economic activity has resumed in Baghdad and other major cities, while living standards are better than at any time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the country's oil revenue is gradually climbing. "What's impressive -- and maybe more credit goes to Iraqis than to us -- is that economic activity has picked up. Clearly, there's money out there. People are going to jobs and working," said Henri Barkey, former State Department expert on Iraq and now chairman of Lehigh University's International Relations Department.[An] ABC News poll confirms this. Fifty-six percent of Iraqis said things are better than before the war, and 71 percent expect that their lives will be even better next year.THERE'S MORE: Are Iraqis better off now than they were a year ago? The Christian Science Monitor offers a detailed scorecard.