Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously stated that "stuff happens" when asked about the death and destruction that followed the invasion of Iraq. Rumsfeld's point was to dismiss criticism of his decisions as 20/20 hindsight.
But there is ample evidence that Rumsfeld regularly made his decisions against the advice of military commanders, State Department officials and members of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid (later the Coalition Provisional Authority). That is not "stuff happens". The question is whether it was incompetence or whether his intention was to destabilize Iraq.
One indication that Rumsfeld meant to perpetuate a state of chaos in Iraq, was the way the Coalition Provisional Authority was staffed. The stated purpose of the CPA was to stabilize Iraq and get it back up and running. But staffers were typically recent college graduates with no work experience. They were typically the children of large contributors to Republican party candidates and were in Iraq for short three-month stints. One such staffer was hired to develop a traffic plan for the city of Bagdad, an incredibly complex endeavor even for the most seasoned urban planner and an impossible task for a twenty-year old.
Among the many decisions Rumsfeld made against advice of diplomats, military commanders and ORHA, are the following:
Rumsfeld opposed a request from Army Chief of Staff Shinseki for several hundred thousand troops. He got approximately 167,000 which proved insufficient to stabilize the country.
When looting began, Rumsfeld rejected recommendations to impose Marshall Law. Failing to stem the tide of looting led to widespread violence.
When stockpiles of mortars, rifles and rockets were discovered, there weren't enough U.S. troops to guard them. These weapons got into the wrong hands, putting U.S. troops in avoidable danger.
The U.S. Defense Department fired every civil servant in Iraq who was a member of the Baathist party (Saddam Hussain's political party). This was done indiscriminately and ultimately shut down every government service and created serious unemployment.
The Defense Department fired every member of Iraq's military, police and intelligence leaving them armed and unemployed.
In May 2003, the United States legally became an occupying country. Was the war in defense of the United States, as Rumsfeld said, or was it an imperialistic land grab in disguise?
No End In Sight, Directed by Charles H. Ferguson, Magnolia Pictures, 2007 (includes interviews with Retired Army General Jay Garner, Administrator of ORHA, Army Colonel Paul Hughes, Director of Strategic Policy for ORHA and Ambassador Barbara Boden)