The Bush administration is acknowledging it failed to anticipate the severity of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's response to an uprising against him by his country's population of Kurds.
"One of the things we perhaps did not anticipate was the severity of Saddam Hussein's attack against the Kurds, with possibly the intention of solving his Kurdish problem by driving them out," President Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, said Sunday.Entire villages of Kurds began leaving northern Iraq in late February after Kurdish rebels failed to defeat Saddam's forces. Since then, tons of relief supplies have been airdropped and trucked to an estimated 2 million Iraqi Kurds huddled along the Turkish and Iranian borders or fleeing toward those nations.
"What we could have done is perhaps pre-position more supplies in Turkey," Scowcroft said on ABC's "This Week With David Brinkley" television program. "Perhaps we could have marginally improved that."
Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said on CNN's "Newsmaker Sunday" that the administration's mistake was to totally misjudge events subsequent to the cessation of hostilities.
However, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., interviewed on the same program, said, "No one could have predicted a refugee problem of this magnitude."
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" show that the relief effort should eventually be taken over by an international agency.
"We clearly are not going to withdraw and end the effort in a way that leaves those people vulnerable or results in more deaths than might otherwise occur," Cheney said.