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Ex-Army official blasts US plan

Rebuilding policy underestimated dangers, book says

WASHINGTON -- Thomas E. White, forced to resign as Army secretary in May, has fired back in a book that describes the Bush administration's postwar effort in Iraq as "anemic" and "totally inadequate."

The book, which presents a blueprint for revitalizing Iraq, asserts that the administration underestimated the difficulty of putting that country back on its feet after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"Clearly the view that the war to `liberate' Iraq would instantly produce a pro-United States citizenry ready for economic and political rebirth ignored the harsh realities on the ground," White wrote in a preface to "Reconstructing Eden," which is to be published tomorrow.

In a letter to news organizations announcing the book's release, White was even tougher on the administration. "Unbelievably, American lives are being lost daily," he wrote. White said the administration lacks a cohesive, integrated plan to stabilize and rebuild Iraq.

"We did not conduct the war this way and we should not continue rebuilding the country in a haphazard manner," he wrote. "The result will be a financial disaster, more lives lost, chaos in Iraq, and squandered American good will."

White, who as a civilian service secretary was not in the military chain of command, served as Army secretary from May 2001 to May 2003. He clashed with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on a number of issues, including the service's plan for the Crusader artillery system, which Rumsfeld viewed as too heavy and cumbersome for the lighter, more agile Army he envisioned.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Cassella, a Defense Department spokesman, said the department does not comment on books. He acknowledged that US occupation authorities in Baghdad face severe problems with security in Iraq but believe they are on track toward success.

In the book, White noted the postwar violence in Iraq.

"It is quite clear in the immediate aftermath of hostilities that the plan for winning the peace is totally inadequate," he wrote.

White wrote that the administration's Iraq policy "threatens to turn what was a major military victory into a potential humanitarian, political, and economic disaster." The administration's "anemic attempts at nation building" will be viewed with disdain by other countries, he said.

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