Sunday, September 17, 2006

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer noted to a reporter over lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."

This staffer might as well as admitted he or she wasn’t there for the American people either.

The story in today’s Washington Post tells of how qualified people with expertise in Middle East culture and politics or post-conflict reconstruction were skipped over in favor of those unqualified but loyal to the Republican Party and the Bush administration. They went to Iraq to put their neo-conservative stamp on that society. Iraq today is an example of what neo-conservatism can do for America.

The article consists of excerpts from a book written by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. He tells of how the staff for the Coalitional Provision Authority (CPA) was screened by Jim O’Beirne, husband of National Review's Kate O'Beirne, for political correctness before being hired. The CPA, under the leadership and heavy hand of L. Paul Bremer, is largely responsible for the squandering of the victory over Sadam Hussein by American troops. While reading this, think of the suffering by the Iraqi people and the casualties of American soldiers that could have been avoided had the reconstruction efforts by the CPA not been so corrupted. And ask yourself; where in the Hell was the Congressional oversight?

A few tidbits:

… 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 .

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.

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.

But many 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 in June 2004, Iraq was in a precarious
state. The Iraqi army, which had been dissolved and refashioned 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.

To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the
offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists.
He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect,
even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding

As more and more of O'Beirne's hires arrived in the
Green Zone, the CPA's headquarters in Hussein's marble-walled former Republican Palace felt like a campaign war room. Bumper stickers and mouse pads praising
President Bush were standard desk decorations. In addition to military uniforms
and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" garb, "Bush-Cheney 2004" T-shirts were among the most common pieces of clothing.

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer noted to a reporter over
lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."

You can read the entire article here.

No comments: