Former Bush officials teaching course on Iraq War 'decision-making'

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Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, two key players in the George W. Bush administration, are teaching a course this fall on decision-making in the 2003 Iraq War.

The course, titled "The War in Iraq: A Study in Decision-Making", will examine some "key strategic decisions" during the war, according to a description by the Hertog Foundation in D.C., which will offer the week-long course. 

Wolfowitz, who served as deputy defense secretary between 2001 and 2005, and Libby, who served as national security adviser to then-Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush during that time, both advocated for the war. 

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"History takes on a different aspect when viewed not from years removed and with the consequences of decisions taken known, but from the viewpoints of the actual policymakers as decisions approached and as unexpected events, rivalries, counter-moves, mistakes, and imperfect understandings intervened," a course description reads. 

The course comes as Iraq is back in the headlines. President Obama has ordered about 3,500 U.S. troops to the country, to train and advise Iraqi forces to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq successor's, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

Iraq has also been in the headlines as 2016 presidential candidates struggle to answer whether they supported the 2003 war and what should be done in the current conflict. 

The question has been particularly sensitive for candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother launched the war. Wolfowitz is also serving as one of his foreign policy advisers. 

The decision to launch the war has become one of, if not the most, controversial decision in the Bush administration's tenure, premised on Iraq's suspected possession of weapons of mass destruction. 

Coalition troops had successfully toppled the Saddam Hussein regime, but the mission became mired in sectarian warfare, and Shiite militia and Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni terrorists targeted each other and U.S. troops. About 3,500 U.S. troops were killed in combat.  

Bush ordered a troop surge in 2007 that is credited with stabilizing Iraq. However, stability deteriorated after the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the Obama administration in 2011. 

In August, Wolfowitz told The Hill the U.S. had "won" the Iraq War in 2009.

He also said the Obama administration did not try hard enough to secure an agreement with Iraq to leave U.S. forces there after 2011.  

The course description acknowledges the consequences of the U.S. invasion.  

"The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 quickly removed the regime that had repeatedly defied America and gave Iraqis a chance to devise their own future. However, the war soon devolved into a messy combination of insurgency and sectarian fighting that brought thousands of U.S. casualties, sapped American will and credibility, and worked to the benefit of America’s other regional nemesis, Iran," it said. 

However, it adds, "These events occurred not in isolation, but against the backdrop of broader international developments, particularly the ending of the Cold War, the attacks of 9/11/2001, and the on-going U.S. confrontation with radical Islam."