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A reality check on Iraq - from today's NY Times



nabadip - Tue, 29 Jun 2004 15:55:31 +0530
Iraq is on the way to India from Europe. Some thougths in this respect are in place for a Gaudiya. Nabadip

OP-ED COLUMNIST
Who Lost Iraq?
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: June 29, 2004

The formal occupation of Iraq came to an ignominious end yesterday with a furtive ceremony, held two days early to foil insurgent attacks, and a swift airborne exit for the chief administrator. In reality, the occupation will continue under another name, most likely until a hostile Iraqi populace demands that we leave. But it's already worth asking why things went so wrong.

The Iraq venture may have been doomed from the start but we'll never know for sure because the Bush administration made such a mess of the occupation. Future historians will view it as a case study of how not to run a country.

Up to a point, the numbers in the Brookings Institution's invaluable Iraq Index tell the tale. Figures on the electricity supply and oil production show a pattern of fitful recovery and frequent reversals; figures on insurgent attacks and civilian casualties show a security situation that got progressively worse, not better; public opinion polls show an occupation that squandered the initial good will.

What the figures don't describe is the toxic mix of ideological obsession and cronyism that lie behind that dismal performance.

The insurgency took root during the occupation's first few months, when the Coalition Provisional Authority seemed oddly disengaged from the problems of postwar anarchy. But what was Paul Bremer III, the head of the C.P.A., focused on? According to a Washington Post reporter who shared a flight with him last June, "Bremer discussed the need to privatize government-run factories with such fervor that his voice cut through the din of the cargo hold."

Plans for privatization were eventually put on hold. But as he prepared to leave Iraq, Mr. Bremer listed reduced tax rates, reduced tariffs and the liberalization of foreign-investment laws as among his major accomplishments. Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics.

If the occupiers often seemed oblivious to reality, one reason was that many jobs at the C.P.A. went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen, a prominent neoconservative, told a forum that "the level of casualties is secondary" because "we are a warlike people" and "we love war."

Still, given Mr. Bremer's economic focus, you might at least have expected his top aide for private-sector development to be an expert on privatization and liberalization in such countries as Russia or Argentina. But the job initially went to Thomas Foley, a Connecticut businessman and Republican fund-raiser with no obviously relevant expertise. In March, Michael Fleischer, a New Jersey businessman, took over. Yes, he's Ari Fleischer's brother. Mr. Fleischer told The Chicago Tribune that part of his job was educating Iraqi businessmen: "The only paradigm they know is cronyism. We are teaching them that there is an alternative system with built-in checks and built-in review."

Checks and review? Yesterday a leading British charity, Christian Aid, released a scathing report, "Fueling Suspicion," on the use of Iraqi oil revenue. It points out that the May 2003 U.N. resolution giving the C.P.A. the right to spend that revenue required the creation of an international oversight board, which would appoint an auditor to ensure that the funds were spent to benefit the Iraqi people.

Instead, the U.S. stalled, and the auditor didn't begin work until April 2004. Even then, according to an interim report, it faced "resistance from C.P.A. staff." And now, with the audit still unpublished, the C.P.A. has been dissolved.

Defenders of the administration will no doubt say that Christian Aid and other critics have no proof that the unaccounted-for billions were ill spent. But think of it this way: given the Arab world's suspicion that we came to steal Iraq's oil, the occupation authorities had every incentive to expedite an independent audit that would clear Halliburton and other U.S. corporations of charges that they were profiteering at Iraq's expense. Unless, that is, the charges are true.

Let's say the obvious. By making Iraq a playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors, the administration did terrorist recruiters a very big favor.
nabadip - Thu, 28 Jul 2005 17:12:27 +0530
July 28, 2005
Oil and Blood
By BOB HERBERT, The New York Times

It is now generally understood that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has become a debacle. Nevertheless, Iraqis are supposed to have their constitution ratified and a permanent government elected by the end of the year. It's a logical escape hatch for George W. Bush. He could declare victory, as a senator once suggested to Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam, and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

His mantra would be: There's a government in place. We won. We're out of there.

But don't count on it. The Bush administration has no plans to bring the troops home from this misguided war, which has taken a fearful toll in lives and injuries while at the same time weakening the military, damaging the international reputation of the United States, serving as a world-class recruiting tool for terrorist groups and blowing a hole the size of Baghdad in Washington's budget.

A wiser leader would begin to cut some of these losses. But the whole point of this war, it seems, was to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq to ensure American domination of the Middle East and its precious oil reserves, which have been described, the author Daniel Yergin tells us, as "the greatest single prize in all history."

You can run through all the wildly varying rationales for this war: the weapons of mass destruction (that were never found), the need to remove the unmitigated evil of Saddam (whom we had once cozied up to), the connection to Al Qaeda (which was bogus), and, one of President Bush's favorites, the need to fight the terrorists "over there" so we won't have to fight them here at home.

All the rationales have to genuflect before "The Prize," the title of Mr. Yergin's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book.

It's the oil, stupid.

What has so often gotten lost in all the talk about terror and weapons of mass destruction is the fact that for so many of the most influential members of the Bush administration, the obsessive desire to invade Iraq preceded the Sept. 11 attacks. It preceded the Bush administration. The neoconservatives were beating the war drums on Iraq as far back as the late 1990's.

Iraq was supposed to be a first step. Iran was also in the neoconservatives' sights. The neocons envisaged U.S. control of the region (and its oil), to be followed inevitably by the realization of their ultimate dream, a global American empire. Of course it sounds like madness, which is why we should have been paying closer attention from the beginning.

The madness took a Dr. Strangelovian turn in the summer of 2002, before the war with Iraq was launched. As The Washington Post first reported, an influential Pentagon advisory board was given a briefing prepared by a Rand Corporation analyst who said the U.S. should consider seizing the oil fields and financial assets of Saudi Arabia if it did not stop its support of terrorism.

Mercifully the briefing went nowhere. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it did not represent the "dominant opinion" within the administration.

The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

But dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.'s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but the primary consideration is that there is still a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. And neocon fantasies aside, the global competition for the planet's finite oil reserves intensifies by the hour.

Lyndon Johnson ignored the unsolicited advice of Senator George Aiken of Vermont - to declare victory in Vietnam in 1966. The war continued for nearly a decade. Many high-level government figures believe that U.S. troops will be in Iraq for a minimum of 5 more years, and perhaps 10.

That should be understood by the people who think that the formation of a permanent Iraqi government will lead to the withdrawal of American troops. There is no real withdrawal plan. The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com
Kulapavana - Thu, 28 Jul 2005 17:50:31 +0530
"The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely"

so will the huge profits to companies like Haliburton, owned and controlled by Bush's buddies and sponsors

the saddest thing is that most Americans (even devotees) are completely clueless as to what is really going on, and support this unjust war.
jijaji - Thu, 28 Jul 2005 21:31:01 +0530
QUOTE(Kulapavana @ Jul 28 2005, 03:20 PM)
"The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely"

so will the huge profits to companies like Haliburton, owned and controlled by Bush's buddies and sponsors

the saddest thing is that most Americans (even devotees) are completely clueless as to what is really going on, and support this unjust war.

It's unbelievable really, this administration was given over $150 Billion this year to continue the War over there, while people here have no health insurance and many are below the poverty line. And yes it's true most americans are completely 'brainwashed' as to what the administration is doin over there and how we are literally destroying the world.

Americans are hypotized by the 'american dream', a fine career, an SUV, pop culture, christianity, macdonalds..its' just sick and ugly!

Congress reinstated 'The Patriot Act' the other week literally 'Forever' which is another good reason to get the hell outta dodge!


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