I Could Watch for Hours

Sunday, December 14th, 2008


An unpublished US government report says US-led efforts to rebuild Iraq were crippled by bureaucratic turf wars, violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society, resulting in a 100-billion-dollar failure, The New York Times reported on its website.

The newspaper said it had gotten hold of a copy of the 513-page federal history of the reconstruction effort that is circulating in Washington in draft form among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials.

The document has former secretary of state Colin Powell complaining that after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.'”

The overarching conclusions of the history is that the US government has in place neither the policies nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake the largest reconstruction program after the Marshall Plan, the report said.

All in all, the document concludes that the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the pervasive looting that followed, The Times pointed out.

By mid-2008, according to the history, 117 billion dollars had been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, including about 50 billion in US taxpayer money, the paper noted.

At one point, an official at the US Agency for International Development was given four hours to determine how many miles of Iraqi roads would be needed to be repaired and reopened, according to the newspaper report.

The official searched through the agency’s reference library, and his estimate went directly into a master plan.

I’m still torn over whether the Bush administration’s post-war efforts over there are just ass-covering to make up for the war and lack of WMD, or if they really truly believed they could send a bunch of Heritage Foundation interns to run Baghdad, and a liberal society would magically arise from the rubble, sand, and centuries of ethnic violence and bloody factionalism.

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61 Responses to “I Could Watch for Hours”

  1. #1 |  Elliot | 

    #43 Cynical:
    “cheering attacks on those who presume to represent us, lends itself to that whole undignified self-loathing pose”

    So many collectives, the ambiguous “us.” Good god, man. Speak for yourself.

    I think you’re unfamiliar with the word “presume” and didn’t pay attention to notice that I wrote:

    I despise the very concept that someone who only some of the people picked could truly be considered a “representative” of everyone.

    I know that American politicians’ presumption to represent us is a lie. The point is that a good portion of people who pay attention to the news regard him as such.

  2. #2 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Mea culpa, Elliot. Thanks for setting me straight.

  3. #3 |  Andrew Williams | 

    The reporter who threw those shoes at Bushit is being lauded as a hero by many Iraqis. And by many Americans, I imagine–myself included.

  4. #4 |  Billy Beck | 

    “Given the right circumstances, a direct hit would be hilarious, and worth watching multiple times.”

    See, kids? He took the head shot.

    Always aim for center-mass.


    With all that hilarity, I also say that the coolest possible move would have been for Bush to walk out in the hall and personally spring the guy.

  5. #5 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Just watched it while listening to Yakkity Sax. Sorry, it DOES make it even funnier.

  6. #6 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Ron wrote: “When you can’t compete in the arena of ideas, throw shoes at people, or cheer on those who do.”

    I would propose that when the most powerful military in the history of mankind has invaded your country and created a huge mess while killing hundreds of thousands, ducking just about any and all responsibility, and outlawing pretty much any recourse you might have against them; it AIN’T an arena of ideas you am in.

    Hence, “symbolic defiance” might be your only option.

  7. #7 |  perlhaqr | 

    Billy: I dunno, I was thinking it’d have been pretty cool if he’d caught one of ’em and thrown it back.

    elliot: Back when Iraq attacked Kuwait, that was a different story.

    Why? Why the hell was that our problem? Shit, Saddam Hussein called us on the phone and asked permission to invade and we gave him the go-ahead.

  8. #8 |  Jason | 

    The NY Times is an excellent source for accurate and unbiased reporting on this issue.

  9. #9 |  Rich | 

    Radley, I have deeply mixed feelings about Bush, but being amused by this is simply beneath you.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    This is just bad behavior that you excuse because you don ‘t like the recipient.

    It’s wrong whether the person on the receiving end is Bush, Obama, McCain, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, or Tom Friedman.

    Enough already.

  10. #10 |  ktc2 | 

    This should be the default reaction henceforth whenever Bush dares to show his face in public, a hail of shoes from bystanders.

  11. #11 |  I’m just sorry it wasn’t an American | Miscellaneous Heathen | 

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