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An unpublished US government report says US-led efforts to rebuild Iraq were crippled by bureaucratic turf wars, violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi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 |  perlhaqr | 

    Is that someone throwing a shoe at Pres. Bush?

  2. #2 |  Lee | 


    It looks like the Iraqis are showing more balls than we are with him.

  3. #3 |  edintally | 

    Wish he wasn’t so fast

  4. #4 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Hey Edin, apparently the Prez ducks quicker than he thinks. That was some hilarious shit right there. In the Arab world, to throw a shoe at someone or to hit someone with your shoe is a major insult (recall the U.S. orchestrated toppling of the Saddam statue in Baghdad). Judging by W’s reaction though, he still thinks he’s the shit and everybody else is crazy.

  5. #5 |  Balloon Maker | 

    Goddamn, the pres is like a cat when it comes to avoiding shoes

  6. #6 |  Mikestermike | 

    Nike: Just duck it….

  7. #7 |  Z | 

    They really believed that everyone will come to understand the joys of being exactly like them. Got any construction boots?

  8. #8 |  Fascist Nation | 

    Oh, you know the video version is coming!

  9. #9 |  Doug | 

    So those shoes you see on the sides of highways are from angry Iraqi drivers?

  10. #10 |  adam | 

    This is what happens when you have a faith based administration.

  11. #11 |  Packratt | 

    Someone really needs to set that to “pop goes the weasel”.

  12. #12 |  Ahcuah | 

    Hey, you have to admit Bush is really good at ducking.

    Ducking shoes . . .

    Ducking responsibility . . .

  13. #13 |  WSG | 

    It’s worth noting that Bush stood there and cracked jokes about the shoe-throwing, saying Iraq was a democracy, as the police tortured the man and he screamed, within Bush’s earshot.


    Mr. Maliki’s security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until “he was crying like a woman,” said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party, which is led by Mr. Maliki. Mr. Zaidi was then detained on unspecified charges.

    Other Iraqi journalists in the front row apologized to Mr. Bush, who was uninjured and tried to brush off the incident by making a joke. “All I can report is it is a size 10,” he said, continuing to take questions and noting the apologies. He also called the incident a sign of democracy, saying, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves,” as the man’s screaming could be heard outside.

  14. #14 |  Robin | 

    Pretty sure it’s a major insult to throw your shoe at someone, just about everywhere. If you watch the full video the secret service have a super lazy reaction to the incident. I’m curious about what’s going to happen to that guy.

  15. #15 |  Robin | 

    Thanks for that #13. You slipped that in there while I was still writing.

  16. #16 |  Marty | 

    #14 ‘I’m curious about what’s going to happen to that guy.’

    Bush has no problem with people being tortured and rotting in Guantanamo for little to no offenses at all… this guy’s gonna get the full CIA buffet.

  17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

    $50 billion in U.S. tax dollars to rebuild Iraq? After listening to recent news stories about bailouts, I’ve been under the impression the U.S. government doesn’t even write checks that small.

  18. #18 |  Chris in AL | 

    I see the problem. He didn’t pivot his hips. And he forgot to breath through his eyelids like the lava lizard from the Galapagos Islands.


  19. #19 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Wait a sec. They didn’t tase that guy? How can we claim they’re ready to be a proper government when they don’t even have tasers to control their population?

  20. #20 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Who throws a shoe? Honestly! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D5oKEVqQJg

  21. #21 |  Marty | 

    that would’ve been classic if Bush yelled, ‘You fight like a woman!’

  22. #22 |  cuernimus | 

    As much as I dislike Pres Bush, this shoe throwing is pretty much the equivalent of hitting someone’s face with a creme pie, which I’ve always viewed as childish and as a tool of the mentally inept (at least put in something that stains like cherries or chocolate, fuck). If you really want to insult him, bring him up on charges so that at the very least he has to hire a team of lawyers to cover his ass, with the added benefit of allowing every newspaper in the world to further drag his name through the mud.

    My theory is that the war was sold to the president as an easy way to kill a whole mess ‘a terrorists. Picture this: invade a pre-invaded country and allow all the terrorists from neighboring countries to come flooding into Iraq while your Special Forces and superior air power have themselves a turkey shoot. Terrorist casualties-Very High American casualties-practically nonexistent. Probably would of worked too, if you don’t really care about the lives of several million brown people and believed that democracy, instead of authoritarianism, was the natural order of the world. Sadly for the planners, some people do care, and the natural order of the world is that one asshole gets replaced by another which then leads to the mostly failed occupation and the multiple ways to try to legitimize it.

  23. #23 |  cuernimus | 

    Marty: Sadly Bush has said that the second not the first Austin Powers was his favorite movie of all time, which is just more evidence of his poor judgment.

  24. #24 |  Andrew | 

    As much as I hate to compliment him, Bush has some damn good reflexes.

  25. #25 |  jwh | 

    …..just think, in a little more than a month, we’ll have BO in the White House, and he’ll…..he’ll….he’ll…….what did he say he’d do about peace in the Middle East……oh yea…..NOTHING!!!!!

  26. #26 |  Cynical In CA | 

    That’s one video that “Yakkity Sax” can’t make funnier.

  27. #27 |  Mike Gogulski | 

    Follow the shoe! The holy shoe of Babylon!

  28. #28 |  Elliot | 

    A missed throw doesn’t impress me. Given the right circumstances, a direct hit would be hilarious, and worth watching multiple times.

    As much as I despise politicians, I don’t get it when Americans take joy in some foreigner attacking an American politician. We should take care of our own sons of bitches (tar and feathers comes to mind), and non-Americans should mind their own affairs. As far as that’s concerned, if the Iraqis had taken care of their sons of bitches, none of our last three presidents would have had an excuse to take military action there.

    I’m sick and tired of journalists taking polls of foreigners about American politics. My first reaction is to tell those foreigners to go fuck themselves and mind their own business. My second is to wonder why foreign journalists aren’t polling Americans on what we think about their ridiculous governments. Yeah, too many Americans are completely ignorant about such things–hell, the Obama voters didn’t even know the basics about national news stories. Still, I’d take our pieces of shit over their ultra nanny state oligarchs, or terrorist-coddling theocratic despots. It’s bad enough that government schools have squeezed out most of the inherited culture of freedom (admittedly imperfect) which made America a unique place, for the past few generations. Those assholes never had it, and they sure as hell have no place advising us, when our rights (not theirs) are on the line. Most of them would like us to be unproductive losers who surrender our freedom to the nanny state (or theocratic state), to make them feel better.

    So, excuse me if I am highly unimpressed by an American cheering such a thing happening overseas.

  29. #29 |  Onebrent | 

    Though he’ll probably be tortured and possibly killed, it would actually have been a great idea for Bush to have personally and publicly made sure that he was not harmed. This would have better demonstrated to Iraqi’s that America isn’t as evil as they might think. But he’s probably dead by now.

  30. #30 |  Ron | 

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

  31. #31 |  Stephen | 

    That is a pretty good reaction time for a 62 yr old. I’m impressed, you notice that the other guy did not even react until the 2nd shoe.

  32. #32 |  Whim | 

    The Shiite journalists would be eating his heart out sitting in one of Saddam’s torture cells if not for the munificence of the American people:

    4,400 military deaths, thousands more seriously maimed, and a Trillion dollars in U.S. treasure poured into the Iraqi sand…..


  33. #33 |  billy-jay | 


    Don’t you think that guy was minding his business?

  34. #34 |  David | 

    The video would be better if the president were six inches taller.

  35. #35 |  zevatron | 

    Cynical in CA, I beg to differ. What should appear in my rss feed from Neatorama today, but the Benny Hillifier.

    I love the internet.

  36. #36 |  MacK | 

    With moves like those maybe we’ll be seeing G.W.B. in the W.W.E. after January.

  37. #37 |  zevatron | 


  38. #38 |  robertl | 

    Shame on you….. if I want to throw my shoe at Obama, it’s OK?

  39. #39 |  H. Kelly Taylor | 

    67% favor public works projects to create jobs.

    55% favor expanding unemployment benefits.

    76% support tax cuts for lower- and middle-income people.

    71% say unions help their members; 53% say unions help the economy in general.

    80% support increasing the federal minimum wage.

    59% favor guaranteeing two weeks or more of paid vacation.

    75% want to limit rate increases on adjustable-rate mortgages.

    58% believe a court warrant should be required to listen to the telephone calls of people in the U.S.

    59% would like the next president to do more to protect civil liberties.

    79% favor mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions.

    90% favor higher auto fuel efficiency standards.

    75% favor clean electricity, even with higher rates.

    72% support more funding for mass transit.

    64% believe the government should provide national health insurance coverage for all Americans, even if it would raise taxes.

    55% favor one health insurance program covering all Americans, administered by the government, and paid for by taxpayers.

    81% oppose torture and support following the Geneva Conventions.

    76% say the U.S. should not play the role of global police.

    79% say the U.N. should be strengthened.

    85% say that the U.S. should not initiate military action without support from allies.

    63% want U.S. forces home from Iraq within a year.

    47% favor using diplomacy with Iran. 7% favor military action.

    67% believe we should use diplomatic and economic means to fight terrorism, rather than the military.

    86% say big companies have too much power in politics

    65% believe attacking social problems is a better cure for crime than more law enforcement.

    87% support rehabilitation rather than a “punishment-only” system.

    81% say job training is “very important” for reintegrating people leaving prison.

    79% say drug treatment is very important.

    56% believe NAFTA should be renegotiated.

    64% believe that on the whole, immigration is good for the country.

    A stunning portion of these choices of the American people are at odds with those of their leaders

  40. #40 |  Cynical In CA | 

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

    I’m you’re huckleberry, Ron. Which ideas did you have in mind?

  41. #41 |  Cynical In CA | 

    “A stunning portion of these choices of the American people are at odds with those of their leaders.”

    You sound surprised, Taylor. Why?

  42. #42 |  Elliot | 


    I don’t know the guy’s story. And, yes, just as we should mind our own business, the Bush administration should have let the Iraqis mind theirs. (Back when Iraq attacked Kuwait, that was a different story.) They hadn’t actually been linked to al Qaeda nor there was a credible threat from WMDs.

    I’m not a wild-eyed anti-Bush fanatic carrying “BUSHITLER” signs. Bush is not the devil, radically changing a benevolent government. Like Clinton and those before, his administration is a symptom of a terrible trend in American politics towards a more powerful, less accountable federal government. Had the government been kept more in check, an incompetent boob wouldn’t have been able to make such a mess.

    Furthermore, given whole history of foreign involvement in the Middle East, from the cold war and rise of Islamic theocracies, to the mass murders perpetrated by Hussein’s regime and geopolitics of oil, Bush was given a huge mess with no easy answers.

    So, yes, I can see the point that the Iraqis are justified in hating Bush for what he has done to Iraq, even considering the aforementioned issues.

    My issue was with Radley and others taking pleasure in a foreigner attacking a prominent symbol of America on foreign soil, even if I oppose that symbol myself. (I despise the very concept that someone who only some of the people picked could truly be considered a “representative” of everyone.)

    I may be off base with regards to Radley, but his response just reminds me of the Dixie Chicks and other arrogant and stupid celebrities, or of the people who joined that whole fad of posting pictures holding apology signs to the rest of the world after Bush’s reelection. Again, this may have nothing to do with Balko, but people who bend over backwards to try to placate foreigners strike me as rather pathetic. It’s too bad Americans don’t do more to keep our sons of bitches from having the power to make such magnificently awful blunders as the Iraq invasion. But the American spirit of individual freedom and productivity, which foreigners don’t get and to which they often react in jealousy, should be celebrated, not apologized for, and cheering attacks on those who presume to represent us, lends itself to that whole undignified self-loathing pose, which often tosses in those good aspects of American culture with the bad.

  43. #43 |  Cynical In CA | 

    “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.

  44. #44 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Love the -1 for an invitation to debate.

    Rabble with a pitchfork bereft of intellect.

  45. #45 |  Marty | 

    #39 | H. Kelly Taylor-

    ‘A stunning portion of these choices of the American people are at odds with those of their leaders’

    interesting conclusion- to me, most of the choices show vague, socialistic ideas that aren’t fiscally or morally responsible. Most of the politicians initiate vague, socialistic programs that aren’t fiscally or morally responsible. Looks like most of the people and the politicians are singing the same tune to me…

  46. #46 |  James J. B. | 

    My response is we ought to hire “shoe-man” to come to the US and “shoe” more of our braindead leaders – start w/ all those in favor of the bailout.

  47. #47 |  Phelps | 

    I could watch it for hours, for I’m sure the exact opposite reasons. The guy’s throw was dead on, and GWB dodged it cold and came up grinning. And I did like that Karzai (I think that was him) was there to help swat down the second one.

    I doubt George has had that much fun in 8 years.

  48. #48 |  Brandybuck | 

    If Bush had any stones, he would have demanded that the police release the man. “He missed. I’m fine. Let him go and let’s get on with things.” Instead he made jokes over the guy’s screams.

  49. #49 |  Andy Craig | 

    That article reminds me of the numbers games the Baltimore PD had to play fighting the drug war in The Wire.

    In fact, it’s an almost eerie similarity.

  50. #50 |  Lloyd | 

    Instant folk-hero. Too bad the next time his family sees him he’ll be missing his eyeballs and fingernails.

  51. #51 |  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.

  52. #52 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Mea culpa, Elliot. Thanks for setting me straight.

  53. #53 |  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.

  54. #54 |  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.

  55. #55 |  Boyd Durkin | 

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

  56. #56 |  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.

  57. #57 |  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.

  58. #58 |  Jason | 

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

  59. #59 |  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.

  60. #60 |  ktc2 | 

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

  61. #61 |  I’m just sorry it wasn’t an American | Miscellaneous Heathen | 

    […] Agitator has a little about what might’ve motivated this. This entry was posted in Politics by chet. Bookmark the permalink. […]