One of the things that caused the Vietnam War to be such an abysmal failure was because the Johnson Administration was essentially telling the President everything he wanted to hear — an extreme example of “Groupthink,” which is defined specifically as a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome.
The major tenet of the Iraq War, one of the things the George W. Bush Administration is remembered for, was the disastrous intelligence regarding Iraq’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction — or lack thereof. Indeed, George W. Bush‘s opening statement in his 19 March 2003 address to the nation from the Oval Office announcing the war was:
“At this hour, American and Coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”
When George W. Bush later was told there were no WMDs in Iraq to be found, however, his response was surprising — and indeed, very humbling, as told in his memoir:
“No one was more shocked and angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons… I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.”
I, along with everyone else in the world, I’m sure — continue to ask myself, “What could cause such a disastrous and cataclysmic error in intel?” “Was the intel plain wrong?” “Were people seeing boogeymen where none actually existed?” “Was Saddam just a scapegoat for a larger plan?” “How could the largest and most well-funded and connected intelligence organization on the PLANET get such information wrong?”
Or… even more frightening — Did the Bush Administration fall, willingly or otherwise; into the same disaster that the Johnson Administration did… groupthink.
Intelligence is far from perfect. Indeed, often it casts shadows where none exist. Other times, there’s a gap in intelligence. But such a gap or shadow in this instance is about a LIGHT YEAR wide. What could have caused such a catastrophe? How much damage was done? How many lives have been lost? And what is yet to come? All from, the blame of, faulty intelligence.
Or… was it the simple psychological condition: groupthink. Were the people who Bush surrounded himself with and trusted the most so “caught up in the moment,” or even willingly lying to the Commander-in-Chief, just to get the job done — at any expense possible? Or were they simply “going along with the program…” the program of groupthink.