Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wishing you a very happy 2003

Back in 2003, it is well documented that the US expected to be greeted with flowers, as liberators, in Baghdad. It is also well documented that they had an elaborate programme for the Iraqi economy, which they set about implementing as soon as they entered Baghdad. This basically consisted of closing down state-owned factories (that employed over 100,000 Iraqis), radical privatisation, and of course, getting control of the oil.

General Jay Garner was the first man put in charge to oversee the "new Iraq" -- but they didn't tell him what they wanted upfront. When he expressed his opposition to the plans and his preference for putting the Iraqis in charge, he was replaced almost overnight with Paul Bremer. Bremer (obeying his neo-con bosses) disbanded the Iraqi army (only to be forced to put them back on rations), fired the civil servants with Baathist connections (that's all of them, obviously), closed down the state-run industries, put hundreds of thousands out of work, and generally led the country into the chaos where it still is today. Dissenters were regarded as disloyal, and we know how highly Bush values loyalty.

Today? According to the Washington Post, Bush thinks the dissenters who quit under Bremer may have been right, and wants them to return to Baghdad. Some quotes:

Timothy M. Carney went to Baghdad in April 2003 to run Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Minerals. Unlike many of his compatriots in the Green Zone, the rangy, retired American ambassador wasn't fazed by chaos. He'd been in Saigon during the Tet Offensive, Phnom Penh as it was falling to the Khmer Rouge and Mogadishu in the throes of Somalia's civil war. Once he received his Halliburton-issued Chevrolet Suburban, he disregarded security edicts and drove around Baghdad without a military escort. His mission, as he put it, "was to listen to the Iraqis and work with them."

He left after two months, disgusted and disillusioned...

The decision to send Carney back to Iraq -- and to abandon the policies that so rankled him in 2003 -- represents a fundamental shift in the Bush administration's approach to stabilizing the country.


[Lt Gen David H.] Petraeus, who spent 2003 commanding the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, grew dismayed by the heavy-handed tactics fellow military commanders were using to combat insurgents. He also opposed the methods by which Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army and fired Baathists from government jobs. And he chafed at the way reconstruction funds, personnel and decision-making were centralized in Baghdad. The CPA's policies, he said in 2004, should have been "tempered by reality."

It's a view the White House now seems to accept.

The plan unveiled by Bush last week calls for many people who lost their jobs under Bremer's de-Baathification decree to be rehired. It calls for more Sunnis, who were marginalized under the CPA, to be brought into the government. It calls for state-owned factories to be reopened. It calls for more reconstruction personnel to be stationed outside the Green Zone. It calls for a counterinsurgency strategy that emphasizes providing security to the civilian population over transferring responsibility to local military forces.

Carney believes such measures could have been effective three years ago. Today, he worries they will be too little, too late.

Indeed. I'm amazed Carney, and people like him, want to go back at all after being once bitten by the Bushies.

On another note, it is risible that the neocons -- Adelman, Perle, and the rest -- who dictated not just the course of the war but the course of the "reconstruction" effort (really the effort at destroying Iraq's economy) now blame the administration for mismanaging it all.


Tabula Rasa said...

you must watch "children of men".

and no, i don't think this is off-topic :-D

Rahul Siddharthan said...

The relevance being, today's Iraq is like the world depicted in that movie? Or that we have somehow castrated Iraq (or choice of metaphor to indicate rendering it infertile)?

Tabula Rasa said...

well, we're all getting there -- to that world, with or without the infertility. (i think they needed the whole infertility thing so soften any message in the movie.)