Fox News Channel is considered by many to be pro-Bush, pro-war, and pro-occupation. Yet one of the harsher critics in the media of the Bush administration’s postwar actions has been retired Major Bob Bevelacqua, a Fox News military analyst. “Major Bob,” as he is called on air, served thirteen years in the Army Special Forces, which included a nation-building stint in Haiti. He also put in three years at the Pentagon. Fox enlisted him as a commentator eight days after 9/11. When not deconstructing developments in Iraq for Fox viewers, he works with William Cowan, another former military officer who is a Fox analyst, in a company trying to provide security assistance to the U.S. occupation authority and private enterprises in Iraq. Bevelacqua, who supported going to war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant and a threat to stability in the region but not a direct threat to the United States, is clearly unhappy with the whole contracting process under way in Iraq–which certainly colors his opinions, as does his time in the Special Forces. After hearing him challenge the administration’s handling of the occupation on the air and in the corridors of the Fox News Washington bureau–I, too, am a Fox News contributor–I asked Bevelacqua to spell out his objections and talk about what he saw in Iraq during a recent month-long visit there.
What’s going wrong in Iraq?
We didn’t make the transition from a conventional war to an unconventional war. That occurred when President Bush said the major combat is over and now we focus on the rebuilding. We were still fighting in a conventional mindset–war done, move on to the postwar–when we needed to be fighting in an unconventional mindset against what was now an unconventional enemy.
Was it unforeseen that the invasion of Iraq would lead to a vicious insurgency? Was there no plan for that?
It was unforeseen by the politicos, but it was foreseen by the guys who had worked in and around the military. Some were looking down the road and thinkin [bad text] tion Provisional Authority (CPA) would look like and who some of the key players would be. They took questions, and I asked two questions. First, what are you going to do with the military? Then what are you going to do with the police? There was no answer. I got a shoulder shrug: “We don’t know.” So I got on my soap box for 30 seconds and went over what happened in Haiti and the lessons learned. We got the military to become police there. We changed their uniforms and changed their appearances. We gave them classes on human rights. We did not collapse them. The reaction was silence, “Thank you very much, next question.” A few of us looked at each other and raised our eyebrows. After the meeting some of us huddled up in the hallway and said, “We don’t have a plan.” In the small circle that I run within, the Special. Forces, this way of doing business is known as a “guided discovery.”