Who's to Blame for Chaos in Iraq?

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I don't live in Baghdad, so maybe it's just too easy for me to say things will get better.

But I read in the papers that opposed the war and that were disgruntled that it was fought without their approval that things are getting better. If war opponents say so, it must be true.

So what about all this criticism that the Bush team didn't adequately prepare for the post-war period, when Iraq fell into a lawless country of perpetual looting?

Okay, they could have done better. They could have planned it better. But let's look at a little reality here.

First, there's no question that leftover Saddam Hussein loyalists, Baathists (search) and maybe even the butcher of Baghdad himself have been organizing hit teams to shoot at Americans, to terrorize Iraqis through crime, looting and theft, and to make a mess of the infrastructure which Iraq needs to get along day-to-day.

There seems to be ample evidence, as well as common sense, that Saddam left his people with instructions to do these things. The fact that attackers who have been caught have been found carrying large amounts of money indicates somebody has been paying them to pillage.

How much of that kind of thing were the American war planners expected to anticipate?

Sixty percent of the Iraqi economy was run by government jobs. With its belief in free markets and so forth, there's no way Americans are going to just put 14 million people on the payroll.

Yes, Iraqis don't have jobs. But they can start an economy. Obviously, some Iraqis do run their own businesses, even now.

So how much of this chaos is really America's fault? And how much can be laid at the feet of the Iraqis themselves?

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