The standard explanation for this lack of preparedness among most defense and foreign policy specialists, and the U.S. military as well, is that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and much of the rest of the Bush administration insisted on fighting the war with too few troops and too Pollyannaish a view of what would happen inside Iraq once Saddam was overthrown. This explanation is largely right.
From an interview on The Diane Rehm Show, September 28, 2004:
President Bush's assessment of the situation in Iraq is too optimistic. Things are not going well. The insurgency, in combination with an increasing rate of crime is making it hard for regular Iraqis to feel secure in their daily lives.
From these quotes and others I didn't include in the interest of space, three things are quite clear about O'Hanlon.
• He's no friend of the administration. He has opposed or criticized them on almost every major policy issue, not just on the Iraq war or the war on terror.
• He clearly blames the administration for the situation in Iraq and the incompetence of the post-invasion period, laying blame for the lack of any planning firmly at the feet of Rumsfeld in multiple articles.
• Far earlier than most experts in the field, he was strongly advocating a change of strategy to a troop reduction. His oft repeated plan, starting in 2004, has been to rapidly reduce the size of US forces in Iraq to a training and special ops force of 30-50,000 men, transfer command to NATO or the UN and thereby reduce the negative impact of a large US presence and reduce hostility to the US.
If you read his articles these three facts are indisputable, and it is clear he has had issues with the war and how it is being conducted for at least two and probably three years. This does not make him as rabidly anti-war as many who are less informed and less experienced. He's not accusing Bush of war crimes or calling for instant withdrawal. But what it does make O'Hanlon is exactly what he has been portrayed as, a prominent critic of administration policy both in Iraq and in the war on terror. His arguments may be rational rather than radical, but he's still not toeing the administration line. The evidence supports no other interpretation.
Lest it appear that I'm ignoring him, which would inevitably lead to someone saying that he's the neocon and O'Hanlon is just along for the ride, let's look at some of Pollack's articles from the Brookings Institution, where he's the Director of Research. If anything, he's harder on the administration and more critical of the status of the war than O'Hanlon is, but he's also coming from a moderate position and offering possible solutions along with his criticism. Here are quotes from a couple of articles: