It's been a long-standing joke about Iraq that the NeoCon cabal which drove the US to war - Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney and friends - believed that US troops would be greeted as liberators, and that the postwar phase would consist solely of a victory parade through baghdad, in which smiling Iraqi children would shower victorious US troops with flowers and rosewater. However, it's not so funny when you realise that the US military believed it too. The National Security Archive - a US research institute which explores national security issues - has obtained prewar briefings which lay out the plan for the postwar occupation of Iraq. And according to the plan laid out in August 2002, the US expected to have only 5,000 soldiers in Iraq today.
The National Security Archive calls this "delusional" - and they're right. Among the assumptions which underlay the plan were that a credible provisional government would be in place on the day of the invasion, that Iraqi troops would stay in their barracks rather than fighting, and that the only tasks facing the US after Saddam had been toppled were to "gather intelligence, detain terrorists and war criminals, [and] free individuals unjustly detained". They couldn't have got it more wrong - and over 3,100 US troops and 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result.