Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tips to Liberate/Occupy/Ruin a Country/Civilization

Rajiv Chandrasekaran provides these tips....since, as the Washington Post's reporter during 2003-04, he was a witness to the "history in making"...

    Unlike almost anywhere else in Baghdad, you could dine at the cafeteria in the Republican Palace for six months and never eat hummus, flatbread, or a lamb kebab. The fare was always American, often with a Southern flavor. A buffet featured grits, cornbread, and a bottomless barrel of pork: sausage for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, pork chops for dinner. There were bacon cheeseburgers, grilled-cheese-and-bacon sandwiches, and bacon omelets. Hundreds of Iraqi secretaries and translators who worked for the occupation authority had to eat in the dining hall. Most of them were Muslims, and many were offended by the presence of pork. But the American contractors running the kitchen kept serving it. The cafeteria was all about meeting American needs for high-calorie, high-fat comfort food.

    None of the succulent tomatoes or the crisp cucumbers grown in Iraq made it into the salad bar. U.S. government regulations dictated that everything, even the water in which hot dogs were boiled, be shipped in from approved suppliers in other nations. Milk and bread were trucked in from Kuwait, as were tinned peas and carrots. The breakfast cereal was flown in from the United States–made-in-the-USA. Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes at the breakfast table helped boost morale.

    Whatever could be outsourced was. The job of setting up town and city councils was performed by a North Carolina firm for $236 million. The job of guarding the viceroy was assigned to private guards, each of whom made more than $1,000 a day. For running the palace–cooking the food, changing the lightbulbs, doing the laundry, watering the plants– Halliburton had been handed hundreds of millions of dollars.

    From inside the Green Zone, the real Baghdad — the checkpoints, the bombed-out buildings, the paralyzing traffic jams — could have been a world away. The horns, the gunshots, the muezzin’s call to prayer, never drifted over the walls. The fear on the faces of American troops was rarely seen by the denizens of the palace. The acrid smoke of a detonated car bomb didn’t fill the air. The sub-Saharan privation and Wild West lawlessness that gripped one of the world’s most ancient cities swirled around the walls, but on the inside, the calm sterility of an American subdivision prevailed. … It was 130 degrees outside … Inside the Green Zone, air-conditioners chilled buildings to a crisp sixty-eight degrees.

    The recruiting process worked fastest when there were no requirements other than political loyalty. When Bremer's budget chief asked for "ten young goofers" to perform administrative tasks, O'Beirne's staff had a list of names at the ready. It included Simone Ledeen, the daughter of neoconservative commentator Michael Ledeen; Casey Wasson, a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children, and Todd Baldwin, a legislative aide for Republican senator Rick Santorum. A few days later, all ten received an e-mail from O'Bierne's office. It wasn't until they arrived in Baghdad that they discovered how they had come to the Pentagon's attention: they had all sent their resumes to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.

    Because of the personnel shortage in Baghdad, six of the goofers were assigned to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they had no previous financial-management experience. They quickly earned the nickname the "Brat Pack.""

    The responsibility for pulling together a civil administration plan rested with Mobbs, Feith's former law partner and a former arms control official in the Reagan administration. Mobbs had spent months in the Pentagon working up strategies to fight the oil well fires that Iraqi troops were expected to ignite as American troops invaded. He had no prior experience in the Middle East, no history of working with Iraqi exiles, and no exposure to other post-conflict reconstruction operations."

    David Dunford, a retired ambassador who was put in charge of the Foreign Ministry, was among the fortunate few to receive a briefing packet before his deployment. In it was a four-page memo about the ministry that seemed to Dunford as though it had been written by a summer intern at the State Department. When his requests for more information from State went unanswered, he posted a plaintive query for advice on an Internet message board frequented by Middle East specialists. The gist of his message, Dunford said, was "Here I am and I don't have a clue as to what to do.""

    One day early in 2004 as I was eating a meal in the green zone, the seven-square-mile enclave of air-condi-tioned comfort in Baghdad, I asked one of the Americans at my table what he thought of the massive suicide bombs that had killed dozens of people at a Shi’ite shrine in the city that morning. “Yeah, I saw something about it on my office television,” he replied. “But I didn’t watch the full report. I was too busy working on my democracy project.”


in an earlier post, I had once noted that:

    During the last century, US has made around 200 military interventions around the world.

    Based on 3 criteria, viz.,

  • declared goal of "regime change" or "saving a regime",

  • deployment and long-term commitment of large number of ground troops, and

  • deep involvement in the political process through use of American military and civilian processes),

    only 16/200 would qualify as efforts towards "Nation Building"

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