When it comes to U.S. casualties in Iraq, more damage has been done by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) than any other culprit. Thankfully, a more effective strategy in dealing with roadside bombs has saved countless American lives.
By early 2006, that strategy had begun to shift: Instead of hunting for the bombs, the soldiers hunted for bombmakers. [...] Today, that change has swept across Iraq, and attacks using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, have declined steadily for eight months. Casualties from the bombs are at their lowest point since 2003, the first year of the war.
Obviously, this is great news. In the interest of accountability, though, it’s worth remembering that the IED strategy that’s working now was recommended years ago — but was rejected by the Bush administration.
That plan and others mirroring the counterinsurgency blueprint that the Pentagon now hails as a success were pitched repeatedly in memos and presentations during the following two years, at meetings that included then-Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. [...]
Bush administration officials, however, remained wedded to the idea that training the Iraqi army and leaving the country would suffice. Officials, including Cheney, insisted the insurgency was dying. Those pronouncements delayed the Pentagon from embracing new plans to stop IEDs and investing in better armored vehicles that allow troops to patrol more freely, documents and interviews show. (emphasis added)
By all indications, this is yet another in a long line of examples in which the White House made decisions based on what it wanted to believe, rather than what the circumstances required.