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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mission Not Accomplished

One of the reasons given for going into Iraq was to set up a successful democracy and thus provide a model for other Mideastern countries. A sort of Neocon Domino Theory.

One would think, then, that, after the fall of Baghdad, we would have sent in our best and brightest to accomplish our task. Right?

Lots of people wanted to go and help, to be part of the reconstruction of Iraq – restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers, according to the Washington Post, wanted to go.

So how did the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) select who would take part in their grand undertaking? I appears, as with all things Bushonian, politics was the main prerequisite:
But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon. To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade.
And who was chosen?
Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance – but had applied for a White House job – was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation that sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.
What were the powers of the CPA?
The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue.

....Endowed with $18 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds and a comparatively quiescent environment in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the CPA was the U.S. government's first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq – to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war. Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq – training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation – could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA.
Had we accomplished those goals – training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation – we might have nipped the insurrection in the bud. Had we created a functioning society, instead of chasing a Neocon wet dream of Capitalism Unleashed, we might have stability and success in Iraq, instead of a civil war between fundamentalist militias.

And what did these young Neocons with political connections do in Iraq?
...[M]any CPA staff members were more interested in other things: in instituting a flat tax, in selling off government assets, in ending food rations and otherwise fashioning a new nation that looked a lot like the United States. Many of them spent their days cloistered in the Green Zone, a walled-off enclave in central Baghdad with towering palms, posh villas, well-stocked bars and resort-size swimming pools.

By the time Bremer departed, Iraq was in a precarious state. The Iraqi army, which had been dissolved and reconstituted by the CPA, was one-third the size he had pledged it would be. Seventy percent of police officers had not been screened or trained. Electricity generation was far below what Bremer had promised to achieve. And Iraq's interim government had been selected not by elections but by Americans. Divisive issues were to be resolved later on, increasing the chances that tension over those matters would fuel civil strife.
Civil strife? You mean, like this:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi police have found the bodies of 47 more death squad victims in Baghdad, the latest in a wave of sectarian killings which prompted the United States to divert troops from other parts of Iraq to the embattled capital.

The bodies were found early Saturday. Most victims had been bound, tortured and shot, bringing the toll from such killings to nearly 180 in four days.

Heckuva job.....as always. Brownie would be proud.


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