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Radically Inept
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
  Wow, now this is a memo

This is a tremendously revealing memo considering the author and the contents. I believe that corruption is going to be the down fall of any of our efforts to bring anything close to a democracy to Iraq. Corruption at all levels of the South Vietnamese government, was a major contributing cause to our debacle in Vietnam. You don't win the hearts and minds of the people, if they think only a few families are going to get all the goodies. The Village Voice: Features: Fables of the Reconstruction by Jason Vest explains his access to the memo and its relative importance:
As the situation in Iraq grows ever more tenuous, the Bush administration continues to spin the ominous news with matter-of-fact optimism. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Iraqi uprisings in half a dozen cities, accompanied by the deaths of more than 100 soldiers in the month of April alone, is something to be viewed in the context of "good days and bad days," merely "a moment in Iraq's path towards a free and democratic system." More recently, the president himself asserted, "Our coalition is standing with responsible Iraqi leaders as they establish growing authority in their country."

But according to a closely held Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) memo written in early March, the reality isn't so rosy. Iraq's chances of seeing democracy succeed, according to the memo's author?a U.S. government official detailed to the CPA, who wrote this summation of observations he'd made in the field for a senior CPA director?have been severely imperiled by a year's worth of serious errors on the part of the Pentagon and the CPA, the U.S.-led multinational agency administering Iraq. Far from facilitating democracy and security, the memo's author fears, U.S. efforts have created an environment rife with corruption and sectarianism likely to result in civil war.

Provided to this reporter by a Western intelligence official, the memo was partially redacted to protect the writer's identity and to "avoid inflaming an already volatile situation" by revealing the names of certain Iraqi figures. A wide-ranging and often acerbic critique of the CPA, covering topics ranging from policy, personalities, and press operations to on-the-ground realities such as electricity, the document is not only notable for its candidly troubled assessment of Iraq's future. It is also significant, according to the intelligence official, because its author has been a steadfast advocate of "transforming" the Middle East, beginning with "regime change" in Iraq.

I especially liked this:
"Developing this theme, the memo asserts that the U.S. 'share[s] culpability in the eyes of ordinary Iraqis' for engendering Iraq's currently cronyistic state; since 'we appointed the Governing Council members . . . their corruption is our corruption.' The author then notes that two individuals - names again redacte - have successfully worked to exclude certain strains of Shia from obtaining ministerial-level positions, and that for this 'Iraqis blame Bremer, especially because the [CPA] Governance Group had assured Iraqis that exclusion from the Governing Council did not mean an exclusion from the process. As it turns out, we lied. People from Kut [a city south of Baghdad recently besieged by Shiite forces loyal to Muqtada al Sadr], for example, see that they have no representation on the Governing Council, and many predict civil war since they doubt that the Governing Council will really allow elections.'

Fanning the embers of distrust is the U.S.'s failure to acknowledge that the constituencies of key Governing Council members 'are not based on ideology, but rather on the muscle of their respective personal militias and the patronage which we allow them to bestow,' according to the memo's author. Using the Kurds as an example, he reveals that 'we have bestowed approximately $600 million upon the Kurdish leadership, in addition to the salaries we pay, in addition to the USAID projects, in addition to the taxes which we have allowed them to collect illegally.' To underscore the point, the author adds that he recently spent an evening with a Kurdish contact watching The Godfather trilogy, and notes that 'the entire evening was spent discussing which Iraqi Kurdish politicians represented which [Godfather] character.'
I really like the 'Godfather' analogy. I wonder who winds up being Michael? Oh, and thanks to The Agonist--Fast Paced, Progressive News And Commentary From Around The World for directing me to this one.
 
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