Key Bush adviser on security 'ambivalent' about end of Iraq war

A key player in the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq war effort said Friday she feels “ambivalent” about the formal end to the nine-year conflict.

Meghan O’Sullivan explained Friday that friends and colleagues have been interacting gingerly with her this week as the Obama administration and Pentagon prepared to formally declare the war’s end, which occurred in a Baghdad ceremony on Thursday.

She admitted to “struggling” with how she should feel, given her role in that administration’s controversial war. In the end, O’Sullivan realized she feels “ambivalent.”

O’Sullivan was Bush’s deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2007. Before that White House stint, she was a top aide to L. Paul Bremer from 2003 to 2004 while he was Washington’s top civilian ambassador to Baghdad in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Her comments came during a Council on Foreign Relations conference call focused on the formal end of the U.S. military’s involvement in Iraq.

O’Sullivan said she feels “a lot less emotional” than she anticipated, something she pinned on the many ups and downs of the war.

“I feel ambivalent,” she said about the last U.S. soldier leaving Iraq soil.

About 30,000 U.S. troops were wounded and nearly 4,500 died, according to the White House. The White House has said the war cost nearly $1 trillion; the Congressional Research Service has put the tab at just over $800 billion.

When asked by DEFCON Hill, given her role and the amount of U.S. and Iraqi blood and treasure expended, why she only feels “ambivalent,” O’Sullivan said it was a combination of feelings.

She said she is “not ambivalent at all” about the remaining problems that stand before Iraq becoming a truly functional democratic state.

Now a professor at Harvard, O’Sullivan said her stint in the lecture halls of the Ivy League have given her an “opportunity to reflect.”

She said she is “proud” of some of the things she and the Bush administration did. But O’Sullivan also said there are things she wishes she and her Bush administration colleagues could have a second shot at.

“Ambivalence,” O’Sullivan concluded, “is the net effect of a lot of competing emotions.”