O.K. folks, let's pick some scabs here...
It may be chalked up by historians as the most catastrophic intelligence failure of all time, but for the Air Force, it seems to be an opportunity to dance in the end zone.
One of the main justifications for the invasion of Iraq -- what many critics say offered the Bush administration a bumper sticker sales pitch for overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 2003 -- was the contention that Baghdad had stockpiles of WMD that was too great a risk to allow to potentially slip into terrorist hands.
Now, I beg you dear reader not to rehash this argument...that's not the point of the post. But while nearly everyone in the U.S. (and foreign) security establishment deserves at least some penalty for getting it wrong, the Air Force deserves laurels for making that crashing intel screw up possible.
Listening to Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, the Air Force's top Global Strike commander and 8th Air Force chief, at a breakfast meeting today with reporters in Washington I was struck by the contention that it was indeed the Air Force's success that led to the Bush administration (and nearly the entire intel community) failure on WMD in Iraq.
Listen to this:
"We're real excited about the success of Northern Watch and Southern Watch which was there to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolutions -- two of them, one for the north, of course, was to protect the Kurds, in the south, the Shiia, but the third one had to do with preventing Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction which was a pretty successful operation."
Of course, the logic follows that Elder has a point here. But I guess it took the passing of the previous administration for a top Air Force general to get the gumption to actually celebrate the service's contribution to an intelligence failure that led to an invasion of Iraq and its bloody aftermath.
All I can say is "Air Power!"