Blueprint For A Mess - New York Times Magazine, November 2, 2003
November 1, 2003 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Despite administration claims, it is simply not true that no one could have predicted the chaos that ensued after the fall of Saddam Hussein... What went wrong was not that no one could know or that no one spoke out. What went wrong is that the voices of Iraq experts, of the State Department almost in its entirety and, indeed, of important segments of the uniformed military were ignored. As much as the invasion of Iraq and the rout of Saddam Hussein and his army was a triumph of planning and implementation, the mess that is postwar Iraq is a failure of planning and implementation (pdf). See also, from June 24, 2003: A marred follow-up to a brilliant military campaign by Tim Carney. (Added to illustrate a very slow learning curve indeed.)
posted by y2karl (107 comments total)
 
One of several salient sections of a very comprehensive review:

The planning stages of the invasion itself were marked by detailed preparations and frequent rehearsals. Lt. Col. Scott Rutter is a highly decorated U.S. battalion commander whose unit, the Second Battalion, Seventh Infantry of the Third Infantry Division, helped take the Baghdad airport. He says that individual units rehearsed their own roles and the contingencies they might face over and over again. By contrast, the lack of postwar planning made the difficulties the United States faced almost inevitable. ''We knew what the tactical end state was supposed to be at the end of the war, but we were never told what the end state, the goal was, for the postwar,'' Rutter said. (Rutter was on active duty when I spoke to him, but he is scheduled to retire this month.)

Rutter's unit controlled a section of Baghdad in the immediate postwar period, and he was forced to make decisions on his own on everything from how to deal with looters to whether to distribute food. When I asked him in Baghdad in September whether he had rehearsed this or, indeed, whether he received any instructions from up the chain of command, he simply smiled and shook his head.

Rutter's view is confirmed by the ''After Action'' report of the Third Infantry Division, a document that is available on an Army Web site but that has received little attention. Running 293 pages and marked ''official use only,'' it is a comprehensive evaluation of the division's performance during the war in Iraq, covering every aspect of operations, from the initial invasion to the postwar period. The tone of the report is mostly self-congratulatory. ''Operating considerably beyond existing doctrine,'' it begins, ''the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) proved that a lethal, flexible and disciplined mechanized force could conduct continuous offensive operations over extended distances for 21 days.''

If the report contains one pre-eminent lesson, it is that extensive training is what made the division's success possible. ''The roots of the division's successful attack to Baghdad,'' the authors of the report write, ''are found on the training fields of Fort Stewart'' -- the Third Infantry Division's Georgia base. ''A direct correlation can be drawn between the division's training cycle prior to crossing the line of departure and the division's successful attack into Iraq.''

But as the report makes clear, no such intensive training was undertaken for postwar operations. As the report's authors note: ''Higher headquarters did not provide the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) with a plan for Phase IV. As a result, Third Infantry Division transitioned into Phase IV in the absence of guidance.''

The report concludes that ''division planners should have drafted detailed plans on Phase IV operations that would have allowed it'' -- the Third Infantry Division -- ''to operate independently outside of guidance from higher headquarters. Critical requirements should have been identified prior to'' the beginning of the war, the report states. The division also should have had ''a plan to execute'' a stability-and-support operation ''for at least 30 days.''

The report says that such an operation should have included ''protecting infrastructure, historic sites, administrative buildings, cultural sites, financial institutions, judicial/legal sites and religious sites.'' It notes, with hindsight, that ''protecting these sites must be planned for early in the planning process.'' But as the report makes clear, no such planning took place.

Without a plan, without meticulous rehearsal and without orders or, at the very least, guidance from higher up the chain of command, the military is all but paralyzed. And in those crucial first postwar days in Baghdad, American forces (and not only those in the Third Infantry Division) behaved that way, as all around them Baghdad was ransacked and most of the categories of infrastructure named in the report were destroyed or seriously damaged.

Some military analysts go beyond the lack of Phase IV planning and more generally blame the Bush administration's insistence, upon coming into office, that it would no longer commit American armed forces to nation-building missions -- a position symbolized by the decision, now being reconsidered, to close the Peacekeeping Institute at the Army War College in Carlisle, Penn. According to Maj. Gen. William Nash, now retired from the Army, who commanded U.S. forces in northern Bosnia after the signing of the Dayton peace accords: ''This is a democratic army. If the national command authority tells it that it doesn't have to worry about something anymore'' -- he was talking about peacekeeping -- ''it stops worrying about it.''

It is hardly a secret that within the Army, peacekeeping duty is not the road to career advancement. Civil-affairs officers are not the Army's ''high-fliers,'' Rutter notes.

Nash, understandably proud of his service as commander of U.S. forces in postconflict Bosnia, is chagrined by the way American forces behaved in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. ''I know they expected to be greeted with flowers and candy,'' he says, ''or at least the civilians in the Pentagon had assured them they would be. But we know from experience that this kind of welcome lasts only a few days at most. You are welcomed with roses -- for one day. Then you have to prove yourself, and keep on proving yourself, every succeeding day of the mission. There are no excuses, and few second chances. That was why, when we went into Bosnia, we went in hard. The only way to keep control of the situation, even if people are initially glad to see you, is to take charge immediately and never let go of control. Instead, in postwar Iraq, we just stood around and responded to events, rather than shaping them.''

posted by y2karl at 12:10 PM on November 1, 2003


is y2karl the new postroad?
posted by andrew cooke at 12:26 PM on November 1, 2003


does andrew cooke always attack the messenger?
posted by y2karl at 12:30 PM on November 1, 2003


He's right. This administration will never die a death of a thousand cuts, but we sure as hell might from continual posting.
posted by machaus at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2003


All this posting is just future "history" leaking into the present. This administration is not going to be well regarded 50 years from now, or even 20, if anybody's around to read about it. The more we post, the less people in the future will shake their heads wondering how Americans could have been so asleep.
posted by digaman at 1:00 PM on November 1, 2003


This from Postroad to my new-found pal, Andrew Cooke.
How we botched another occupation (see upper right hand of photo) click, Andrew
posted by Postroad at 1:03 PM on November 1, 2003


does andrew cooke always attack the messenger?

I truly hope you're joking, Karl.

Obligatory self-link.

Funny, since I know you've already read the above linked comment, I have to ask, are you completely oblivious to your own ax-grinding?
posted by BlueTrain at 1:09 PM on November 1, 2003


yeah, fuck y2karl for lying about WMD's, for starting an unnecessary war and botching the occupation, fuck him
posted by matteo at 1:12 PM on November 1, 2003


Instead, in postwar Iraq, we just stood around and responded to events, rather than shaping them.''

Hey, lay off. Maybe they haven't got the time to devote to little matters like war, the welfare of their soldiers, and the future of the civilians whose country they just devastated through a preemptive war. After all, Bush et al are working feverishly on what's most important to them, even if they couldn't be bothered to do much postwar planning:

Bush Campaigning a Year Before Election

does andrew cooke always attack the messenger?

You'd hope not, as that kind of behavior is pretty craven. If he wasn't interested in the situation in Iraq, he could have just easily skipped the front page post. Maybe another question would be "is andrew cooke merely the latest in a long line of MeFi whiners to bleat 'I can't debate, refute, contribute or even ignore that other people have those abilities on these issues, so I'll just ineffectually attempt to childishly stifle any dissent or any questioning on minor matters like war -- which dissent flies in the face of my own cozy worldview and we can't have that and by the way how did all this sand get in my auditory canals?'"

Unfortunately, there is a whole class of people in America we're asking that same question about. Right, Blue Train?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:14 PM on November 1, 2003


This war is/was a waste of resources better spent fighting terrorism. 87 billion dollars for Homeland Security, anyone?
posted by moonbiter at 1:18 PM on November 1, 2003


87 billion dollars for Homeland Security, anyone?

I'm thinking more of one big giant bowl of nachos. Drown the enemy in hot, gooey cheese based sauce.
posted by Stynxno at 1:26 PM on November 1, 2003


cheese product based sauce, if you please.

And digaman, while I try to remain optimistic about our progeny, if there's one lesson I've learned from observing humanity and what we know about our ancestors, I'd say that we never ever learn from the mistakes of our elders, no matter how much we know about them.

Mainly because we don't want to admit they're mistakes.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:32 PM on November 1, 2003


what Stynxno said, with mayonnaise.
posted by poopy at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2003


Good post. Thanks, y2karl.
posted by homunculus at 1:52 PM on November 1, 2003


This administration is not going to be well regarded 50 years from now, or even 20...

I would submit to you that the opposite may also prove true: Perhaps Bush will be revered as America's savior, while the people who are currently badmouthing him will be seen as traitors who need to be tracked down and destroyed.

Perhaps in 20 or 50 years, if the world goes a little radical/crazy (as it's apt to do) bureaucrats will be digging through Metafilter's archives, carefully noting the numerous anti-Bush statements and who made them. (And what zip code they conveniently provided on their user page.) And then perhaps those of you who took shots at the administration in your youth will find yourselves in an internment camp instead of a retirement home.

In short, unless you've already crossed the point of no return, like quonsar or y2karl or foldy (the latter of which is my pick for "first MeFi member to be indefinitely detained") remember the advice of the former White House press secretary and be careful what you say.

P.S. The decision to attack Iraq was totally bodacious.
posted by Ljubljana at 1:55 PM on November 1, 2003


Jeez, they could have just asked me. I could have told them all this a year ago, but did they listen? Did they call me up? Did they even speak to their Aunt Sadie in Newark, who could have told them in no uncertain terms that this thing was going to be a complete fuck up from beginning to (let's hope it has one) end?

Have you ever spent any time reading German newspapers from the 1930s, and wondering why people weren't screaming and running for cover in the streets, that they couldn't see the shitstorm about the break? I've felt that way for two years now.

(Note: Yes, I know, people were screaming in the streets, but they were effectively shut up.)

(Further note: my very first Godwin! Whoo hoo!
posted by jokeefe at 2:30 PM on November 1, 2003


i would be attacking the messenger if i was criticing the source of information because i didn't like the information.

so, for example, if fred came up to me and said "hey, y2karl has made another post banging on about the same old point that's going to do nothing more than generate the same predictable responses" and i said "fred, you are a fool to say such a thing, for everyone knows that it is good to hear this again and again" then i would be attacking the messenger.

on the other hand, if someone posts the same old points again and again and generates the same tedious discussion and i say "hey, i think this is pretty tedious. if you were doing this from a right wing vp then people would be complaining like crazy by now" then i'm criticising someone for their actions. not attacking the messenger.

is that clear enough? oh should i post the same point again and again, week in, week out? (of course, *i* won't do that).
posted by andrew cooke at 2:38 PM on November 1, 2003


History will see Bush for what he is, and that remains to be seen.
posted by stbalbach at 3:59 PM on November 1, 2003


Rest assured that if there was as credible or convincing an article or argument on what a blueprint for success the post war planning has been as any of those linked above are so crushingly to the contrary, it would be posted in a nanosecond of its discovery.
posted by y2karl at 4:00 PM on November 1, 2003


I don't think it's fair to parallel America to Germany of the 1930s. We can debate the whole "should we have attacked Iraq?" decision all over the map, but the bigger question now appears to be "We're in it, how do we effectively restore order to this country?" That seems to be the whole point of the article as well.

ps) Andrew's right as well, y2karl, perhaps when you post an Iraq issue it might be worth noting in that first comment of yours (that's already a good hundred lines) WHY you brought it to our attention.
posted by Happydaz at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2003


Actually the oil ministry was very well protected as were most of the major wells and a few of the big pipelines. So I would say the post-war scenario went exactly as planned.
posted by chaz at 4:20 PM on November 1, 2003


History will see Bush for what he is

and we can only hope that history will soon see bush for what he was.
posted by quonsar at 4:25 PM on November 1, 2003


This administration will never die a death of a thousand cuts

You have any proof to offer up behind that claim?

We can debate the whole "should we have attacked Iraq?" decision all over the map, but the bigger question now appears to be "We're in it, how do we effectively restore order to this country?"

Ah, the "fait accompli" argument...thus are empires born. Syria, anyone? Iran?
posted by rushmc at 4:26 PM on November 1, 2003


I agree with Happydaz that "we're in it, how do we effectively restore order," etc. are the right questions, but I think that *first* we have to ask how we got in it, who was responsible for getting us there, and what steps we can take to ensure that we know how to restore order without making a much bigger mess not only in Iraq but all over the Middle East.

In other words, we need to have a wider, more truthful accounting. While (as noted above) we should avoid pronouncing for History on this adventure, I think we can conclude a few things: a) the military conquest of Iraq went quickly, but the pacification is looking very distant indeed; b) the Bush administration ignored diplomats, intelligent agents, and most people outside the US, unless they told them what they wanted to hear (a news filter); c) the public heard very little of the cost of this war, in dollars and US lives (no one pays much attention to Iraqi lives in these discussions), until we were unavoidably committed to war; d) the party in power is working frantically to make sure that the political damage is contained, by making sure that information is wrapped up until the next election is over.

Anyone else remember the line shortly after the inauguration that the adults are now in charge? . . .
posted by palancik at 4:31 PM on November 1, 2003


You forgot what is arguably the most important point: e) the administration actively disguised its true intent and purpose in starting a preemptive war in our name and executing it with our resources. They not only badly misjudged both the need for such an extreme action and the outcome, they lied again and again about why they were doing it.
posted by rushmc at 4:38 PM on November 1, 2003


chaz: "Actually the oil ministry was very well protected as were most of the major wells and a few of the big pipelines. So I would say the post-war scenario went exactly as planned."

I find myself wondering if the importation of oil based products into Iraq is a part of the plan?
posted by cedar at 5:18 PM on November 1, 2003


Sorry to say but, regardless of all of the propaganda and misguided opinions posted here,

I'll still be voting for Bush again in 04
posted by WLW at 5:32 PM on November 1, 2003


I would rather all the money that is supposedly going to Iraq, goes to Haliburton and Bechtal.

At least their American companies. Unlike the money that Clinton gave to the Chinese Military.
posted by WLW at 5:36 PM on November 1, 2003


Well, at least you will never suffer a sore neck, WLW.
posted by rushmc at 5:38 PM on November 1, 2003


i would be attacking the messenger if i was criticing the source of information because i didn't like the information.

yeah you were criticising y2karl, because you didn't like what he posted. so whats your point?

oh should i post the same point again and again, week in, week out?

Bring it on.
posted by carfilhiot at 5:40 PM on November 1, 2003


(no one pays much attention to Iraqi lives in these discussions)

Well, for a fact, there is this: The Wages of War Iraqi -Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict

Our analysis of the evidence leads to the conclusion that between 10,800 and 15,100 Iraqis were killed in the war. Of these, between 3,200 and 4,300 were noncombatants -- that is: civilians who did not take up arms. Expressed in terms of their mid-points, our estimates are:
Total Iraqi fatalities: 12,950 plus or minus 2,150 (16.5 percent)
Iraqi non-combat fatalities: 3,750 plus/minus 550 (15 percent)
Iraqi combatant fatalities: 9,200 plus/minus 1,600 (17.5 percent)

Calculated on the basis of these mid-points, approximately 30 percent of the war's fatalities were noncombatant civilians.


The Project on Defence Alternatives said its estimate was based on a review of US combat data, battlefield press reports, and Iraqi hospital surveys. The study covered the period from March 19 to the end of April. The Pentagon has refrained from making estimates of Iraqi dead in either the 1991 Gulf War or the latest conflict.

The study, authored by Carl Coneta, found that deaths of Iraqi civilians who did not take up arms in the fighting was as high or higher than in the 1991 Gulf War despite advances in precision weaponry.

I posted this to Warfilter rather than MetaFilter, let it be noted--a self-link possibly unobligatory but certainly not fatuous.

I don't feel like the burden of proof belongs to me. If posters feel like they don't have to present a convincing, credible argument, why must I waste my time debating the topic?

In this matter, too, the information is credible and convincing. Therefore, I don't feel the burden of disproof belongs to me.

On review: That's Halliburton and Bechtel, WLW--and, speaking of credible and convincing, how about backing up your assertion?
posted by y2karl at 5:43 PM on November 1, 2003


On review: That's Halliburton and Bechtel, WLW--and, speaking of credible and convincing, how about backing up your assertion?




posted by WLW at 5:49 PM on November 1, 2003


Try these links

www.gertzfile.com

www.google.com, Clinton and Chinese miltary
posted by WLW at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2003


WTF? Chaos? 50 dinars says there's 1/10th the death and mayhem and death per-week than there was under Saddam; the only problem is that now American are part of the casualty count. Our occupation is going well. Get real.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:55 PM on November 1, 2003


Actually, The Chinese Army Spy and Condoleezza Rice is a tad more ''credible''.
posted by y2karl at 5:59 PM on November 1, 2003


Actually, The Chinese Army Spy and Condoleezza Rice is a tad more ''credible''.

When did Newsmax links become more "credible" than Google and a well established Pentagon reporter? You better try harder... Mayber someday you'll understand.
posted by WLW at 6:20 PM on November 1, 2003


Truly more credible is the matter of KatrinaLeung.
posted by y2karl at 6:21 PM on November 1, 2003


When did Newsmax links become more "credible" than Google and a well established Pentagon reporter?

Well, I was making fun of you.
posted by y2karl at 6:23 PM on November 1, 2003


Our occupation is going well. Get real.

I can't believe someone could seriously make this claim. The U.S. forces are suffering casualties at a rate similar or greater than early vietnam numbers or early russian occupation of afghanistan despite the incredible advances in infantry body armour and greater military superiority.

The American youngsters over there are on the receiving end of some seriously underrepresented heat.
posted by srboisvert at 6:58 PM on November 1, 2003


This fact cannot be repeated enough: America has elected (no snarky Florida comment here) a president who admits that he does not read the papers. How has this come to pass? And how can thinking people (who read the papers) continue to support this guy?

It could be that a more educated man (like, say, for the purposes of irony, a President Henry Kissinger) might ignore the advice of his State Department for partisan purposes.

But, in the meantime, our country is in trouble. I don't know how it came to this.
posted by kozad at 7:53 PM on November 1, 2003


[tongue in cheek]

I like the "Chicago" comparison. That is, an evil dictator ruled over Chicago for 10 years and let everything go to hell in a handbasket. No garbage collection, degenerate gas & electric, secret police everywhere. A disaster. He managed to dominate the entire State, and it's a mess.
So you, the guy who is sent in there with a hundred thousand *soldiers*, kick his ass. His secret police disappear into the woodwork, and now it's your job to fix Illinois.
What do you do first? Have your soldiers drive garbage trucks, or have your soldiers try to figure out how to fix a gas main and re-wire telephone poles? And while, granted, the dictator's buddies are still trying to snipe you and the whiny Suckers (as in Illinoians) constantly complain that you haven't fixed everything yet.
On top of everything else, Peoria, the dictator's hometown is pissed off, because they *liked* oppressing Chicago and the rest of upstate. AND the Hoosiers (Indianans) are trying to foment discord just because they're Hoosiers.

Okay, fix what is broke. You have 87B dollars, a timetable subject to change without notice, and a bunch of civilian idiots who think they can do it better than you trying to get their nose in the tent. And remember, all bids have to be submitted to three different committees in Washington for approval. Which should only take a few weeks or so for each one.

And the French want to help.

[/tongue in cheek]
posted by kablam at 8:07 PM on November 1, 2003


I don't think it's fair to parallel America to Germany of the 1930s.

Just to clarify here, I wasn't attempting to make an exact historical comparison, which would be spurious, but instead was trying to evoke the feeling I have been experiencing of watching the machineries of power grinding away in an inevitable and deadly course, and feeling helpless to stop them. Attempting to exactly parallel different historical situations (as opposed to trying to learn from their actions and consequences) is something I find reductive at best and utterly misleading at worst.

And I do tire of the "it doesn't matter how we got here, the most important question is how are we going to impose our will on this place" line. Your means are your ends: you can't walk into a house, kick over all the furniture and set stuff on fire and then look around wondering what the heck happened.
posted by jokeefe at 8:21 PM on November 1, 2003


I'll still be voting for Bush again in 04

I'll be voting for the candidate that shows the most promise in fighting the terrorist threat that faces the United States. This will not be George W. Bush.
posted by moonbiter at 8:24 PM on November 1, 2003


"....perhaps those of you who took shots at the administration in your youth will find yourselves in an internment camp instead of a retirement home.

In short, unless you've already crossed the point of no return, like quonsar or y2karl or foldy (the latter of which is my pick for "first MeFi member to be indefinitely detained") remember the advice of the former White House press secretary and be careful what you say." ( ljubljana )

Most typical fascist threat ever.

Come on now, please. Let me rephrase that tired, vicious sentiment and cut out the extraneous words: : "Shut up!....or, perhaps, one day you'll be sent to a concentration camp because of your political opinions."

I find such veiled threats quite repulsive.
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 PM on November 1, 2003


I don't know how it came to this.

I do. It came to this because half the country chose to abdicate their responsibility to be an informed electorate.

Well, half those who bother to vote. Which, of course, is less than half the country to begin with.
posted by rushmc at 9:03 PM on November 1, 2003


Paranoia for any political policy that's not left of center is not going to turn Iraq into Vietnam (where solidiers were killed at many times the rate of Iraq). Many of you should grow up; stop politically masterbating over Howard Dean; and be happy that, in addition to liberating Iraq, and the world from an evil regime, the US occupation of Iraq is serving as a terrorist "roach motel," attracting the muslim wackos to where they can be killed before causing death and destuction elsewhere.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:43 PM on November 1, 2003


Paranoia for any political policy that's not left of center is not going to turn Iraq into Vietnam (where solidiers were killed at many times the rate of Iraq). Many of you should grow up; stop politically masterbating over Howard Dean; and be happy that, in addition to liberating Iraq, and the world from an evil regime, the US occupation of Iraq is serving as a terrorist "roach motel," attracting the muslim wackos to where they can be killed before causing death and destuction elsewhere.

Vietnam wasn't a tragedy simply because so many American soldiers died, but the attitude that says that's the tragedy is the same one makes people hate America enough to fly airplanes into buildings.
posted by The God Complex at 10:34 PM on November 1, 2003




These are some interesting lyrics. They're somewhat tangential in nature, but such is life. Some of you might find them interesting, and if you're a fan of hip-hop (or, even, good music) check out Warsaw Pack or their label, G7 Welcoming Committee.

the stockholders are showing slight relief
and the children are showing signs of diseases
and the skies are streaking, jet stream
this means business--sorry, sorry, this means war
for the oil sources
we'll restore your freedoms
it's peace accord--but the beast will beat you some more.


(that one is from a song called Wolfblitzer)

-----

it goes back to the romans
the control of colonial holdings--of gold, grain
nations tradin', slaves wasted for the sake of the profit margins
and the soverigns coffers
parliaments, monarchs, senates, and congresses
they called for it with false providence
till the whole world's shores were explored
and the resources had been fought and accounted for
it's church-endorsed and state-sanctioned
it's a smallpox-infested gift blanket
and it seems like it's stayed the same way
since the birth of the european imperial agent
whole nations, regions, and continents is just bleeding
under the european dominance
it's no longer tanks and guns
it's the age of banks and multinational corporations


(if you're interested in that one, it's called "We Conquer" and you can download it from their website if you go to the samples section)

You guys can carry on now ;)

posted by The God Complex at 11:11 PM on November 1, 2003


in addition to liberating Iraq, and the world from an evil regime, the US occupation of Iraq is serving as a terrorist "roach motel," attracting the muslim wackos to where they can be killed before causing death and destuction elsewhere.

Excellent! So this is all actually part of the Master Plan!

Whew, they sure had me fooled for a minute there.

What kind of bait does one use for attracting muslim, uh, "roaches", anyway?
posted by jokeefe at 11:19 PM on November 1, 2003


justification for the war of the week, 11/2 - 11/8: we had to make a roach motel for terrorists.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:46 PM on November 1, 2003


See, the beauty of said motel, is that once you kill them all, they can't propagate. Thus, terrorism, like white-collar corporate crime before it, has been bested by Caesar and his band of burly oil-wranglers.
posted by The God Complex at 11:53 PM on November 1, 2003


"I'll say that the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership, and America is more secure,'' Bush said.
The economy has shed some 3 million jobs since Bush took office, and deficits have soared amid wartime spending, tax cuts and Iraqi reconstruction. - Scott Lindlaw [AP]
Someone in one of these statements either has their head in the sand or choose to ignore the obvious.
The official line from the White House and the Pentagon is that things in Baghdad and throughout Iraq are improving. But an average of 35 attacks are mounted each day on American forces inside Iraq by armed resisters of one kind or another, whom American commanders concede are operating with greater and greater sophistication. - David Rieff [NYTimes]

From that article from the NYTimes, it seems the American forces have replaced Saddam Hussein in his palace, hunkered down, not venturing outside the compound except under heavy security. The only difference is that the Americans haven't brainwashed an equal amount of supporters, yet.

Musical chairs? Replacing one control freak with another? What about the freaking control exercised currently on the citizens of the USA? Granted, there's no comparing the two in some aspects, yet.

I'm troubled how one lie is followed by another. I'm troubled how easily many choose to believe those lies. In World War II, no one believed the atrocities, human extermination, perpetrated by Hitler for a long, long time. To this date, some are still in denial.

I don't like getting the wool pulled over my eyes. I find it insulting. Baaaaaa.

troutfishing, what ljubljana wrote I took it as tongue in cheek, to date.
posted by alicesshoe at 12:07 AM on November 2, 2003


U.S. Chinook downed in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 12:19 AM on November 2, 2003


I find such veiled threats quite repulsive.

You probably wouldn't have liked my original post either, which was: The function of a citizen and a soldier are inseparable. Believe! Obey! Fight! (also: what alicesshoe said)

WLW: I would rather all the money that is supposedly going to Iraq, goes to Haliburton and Bechtal. At least their American companies.

This article, about Dulles and the post-WWII period, suggests that Germany's successful reconstruction was partly due to the fact that German companies were allowed to rebuild their own country. This also did a lot to curb resentment against the occupying forces.
posted by Ljubljana at 12:53 AM on November 2, 2003


>U.S. Chinook downed in Iraq

Damn liberal media. Its only 20 injured! Not 13 killed!
posted by skallas at 4:40 AM on November 2, 2003


...be happy that, in addition to liberating Iraq, and the world from an evil regime, the US occupation of Iraq is serving as a terrorist "roach motel," attracting the muslim wackos to where they can be killed before causing death and destuction elsewhere.

So PP - we should be happy that last night only 13 'hotel security personnel' (or should that be 'bait') lost their lives?
posted by niceness at 5:25 AM on November 2, 2003


I would rather all the money that is supposedly going to Iraq, goes to Haliburton and Bechtal

Instead of free market competition which would allow Taxpayers and Iraqis to get the best value for the money?

Say, that would be like imposing privatization on a nation before you let it have it's own democratically elected officials decide...
posted by srboisvert at 6:39 AM on November 2, 2003


No one should be happy at death, only actions which reduce the number of deaths.

"What kind of bait does one use for attracting muslim, uh, 'roaches', anyway?" The existence of the United States is bait, enough; a strong force which threatens neo-medieval religion (or, perhaps, just medieval) and society.

Just consider that, however little you like George Bush, something similar to what's going on would have to, even if he wasn't in office. Sorry, but it's really true.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:42 AM on November 2, 2003


I would rather all the money that is supposedly going to Iraq, goes to Haliburton and Bechtal

Instead of free market competition which would allow Taxpayers and Iraqis to get the best value for the money?


Just how many bidders for general contracting on the scale necessary do you think there are? Think of bidders for a large company's IT needs. This is just a lame complaint
posted by ParisParamus at 6:45 AM on November 2, 2003


From the Coalition Provisional Authority site:

One story reads: "You, the people of Iraq will rule. You will rule through those you elect to represent you. And those elections will be fair, open and honest."

Followed immediately underneath by an article that quotes President Bush saying, "We're not leaving."

Haven't these people read Machiavelli?

"But when states are acquired in a country differing in language, customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside there. This would make his position more secure and durable, as it has made that of the Turk in Greece, who, notwithstanding all the other measures taken by him for holding that state, if he had not settled there, would not have been able to keep it. Because, if one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they heard of only when they are one can no longer remedy them. Besides this, the country is not pillaged (plundered) by your officials; the subjects are satisfied by prompt recourse to the prince; thus, wishing to be good, they have more cause to love him, and wishing to be otherwise, to fear him. He who would attack that state from the outside must have the utmost caution; as long as the prince resides there it can only be wrested from him with the greatest difficulty."
posted by ed at 7:09 AM on November 2, 2003


Paris, even Rumsfeld believes that we're creating more radicals and terrorists than we're killing nowadays, making the "roach motel" thing just another lie...didn't you read that memo they leaked?

And where are the Al-Quaeda that are still here, and have been here all along, in the US? Did they leave here to go to Iraq too? (not likely.) Did Osama? On that note, where's Saddam? And on reconstruction: Why are there no Iraqi companies doing any of this work? (they're qualified, and cheaper)
posted by amberglow at 7:12 AM on November 2, 2003


it's amazing how our resident Bush apologists seem to be able to wrap themselves in the flag and be contemptuous of the safety of American troops, all at the same time

but I have to admit that this week's reason for this unnecessary, illegal war declared on the basis of discredited intelligence, ie the "roach motel" argument, is particularly appalling. right wingers would be almost funny in their shamelessness if GI's weren't dying every day because of the White House's recklessness and desire to hand out Iraq money to their friends and supporters. before wrapping myself in the flag I'd think about people like him, too. declaring war should be extrema ratio, not business as usual to make Halliburton happy.

but, hey, I'm so liberal that I can't bring myself to consider those poor grunts risking their lives in Iraq as expendable cannon fodder, it's probably my fault

as Professor Wolfowitz would say, How do you feel about building a new Middle East?

How?

ps I also wonder, do our "democracy in Iraq" disingenous friends have an idea of what kind of government might get out of a regular, "one person-one vote", election in Iraq? Are you really sure that they'd elect a Western-style secular government committed to equal rights under the law, the kind Wolfowitz and his neocon buddies have the hots for? That they wouldn't like a nice sprinkling of Koran spread on their government? That the ayatollahs could win? Or do you really think Ahmad Chalabi could get more than a handful of US-bought, INC-related votes?

Iran 1979, anybody?

but I guess a basic knowledge of history is unpatriotic per se these days


and even Fox right now has to admit that 15 soldiers have died.

how do you say "cakewalk" in Arabic?


posted by matteo at 7:24 AM on November 2, 2003


Just how many bidders for general contracting on the scale necessary do you think there are? Think of bidders for a large company's IT needs. This is just a lame complaint

I think the real issue here is that the fact that these companies' services are necessary and the close ties they had to the people that wanted this war so badly in the first place (not referring to you) brings into question their motives for starting this mess in the first place (which, if you'll recall for this week, was to turn a huge country where LOTS of people lived into a roach motel).
posted by mcsweetie at 7:37 AM on November 2, 2003


A War in the Dark

What the Americans still don't know is who, exactly, they're fighting. Last week, after four suicide-bombing attacks in the heart of Baghdad left more then 30 people dead, Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, deputy commander of the First Armored Division, told reporters that the attacks were the work of "foreign fighters." Yet just 24 hours earlier his division commander, Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told a news conference that he had not seen "any infusion of foreign fighters in Baghdad." On Sunday, the hidden enemy struck again. At least 15 U.S. troops were killed and some 21 injured when a U.S. Chinook helicopter was shot down in Western Iraq. It was the deadliest single strike against American soldiers since the start of the war.

Foreigners or locals? Which is it? U.S. intelligence officials split the difference and suggested that Baathist dead-enders had hired foreign jihadists (or, possibly, local fanatics) to drive the suicide vehicles. But they couldn't really know for sure. The level of confusion and guesswork was telling and unsettling. How can Americans know whether to support the occupation of Iraq if their own leaders don't know what they've gotten into--much less how to get out?


Joe Galloway: Attacks Show Enemy Improving Against Troops

Far from being a desperate act, the attack on the al-Rashid was almost a graduation ceremony. The people of the night and the back alleys not only built and employed a crude mobile missile launcher but they also succeeded in adapting ground-to-air missiles so they could hit a building from three blocks away.

The rocket blasts, the suicide bombings and the ambushes of Americans with remote-controlled "improvised explosive devices" ought to be a wakeup call.

It's not the enemy's strategy and tactics that are failing and desperate; it's ours.

What these attacks signal is that our current strategy of training a new Iraqi army and police force as quickly as possible -- and getting the American troops out of there -- isn't going to work.

posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on November 2, 2003


contracts and rebuilding.....hmmm
well i stated my point on the bidding system concerning construction. For example, in Tikrit, i believe the U.S. wanted to build some 20-30 security posts for 25$ million. Now that price is out the door, all labor, machinery, plans, materials, engineering talent, manual labor and financing and all the extras a police bunker should have (radios, tow missiles...whatever)
i heard the iraqis' said they would do for 5 million....

hmmm 20 million saved?
we will find out. how can they do it for 5 mill? do they have the plans, equipment etc. I don't think so but we can only know if we allow the iraqis' to go ahead and build them but i would hazard a guess to say the iraqis could not do it for 5 million. So, I say let them build whatever they want just do it quick so when get our people home. If they fail, then they can learn from it, if they succeed in a timely manner, all the better.
reconstruction and new construction is difficult at best. allot of these companies have had contracts in Arabia for 30-40 years 9bectel being one) and they understand the business aspect concerning middle east construction and cultural differences. (Bectel help build many large projects in Saudi)

Why are there no Iraqi companies doing any of this work? (they're qualified, and cheaper)

I would like to see supporting links, i don't think they can rebuild allot of what they need plus they need education on whatever new technology they will get.
how many companies have this for a project list

well, there is always Bin Laden Co.........No?


but I have to admit that this week's reason for this unnecessary, illegal war declared on the basis of discredited intelligence, ie the "roach motel" argument, is particularly appalling

is that a speech, you running for office?

when has there been a necessary war let alone a "legal one" nothing was "Declared", the U.S. President can bomb whomever he needs too.

one word for that shaky nuke doc from africa.

Zimmerman telegram.

how many wars have other nations dragged the U.S. into over the last 220 years?

declaring war should be extrema ratio

right, i agree, and if you knew anything about Halliburton, they are small taters in the big picture. what about a new iraqi army. WOO DOGGY, think of all that cash going to....

what,russian arms, french, british
american?
think off all the new generators, medical equipment...
this is not chicklet diplomacy.

but, hey, I'm so liberal that I can't bring myself to consider those poor grunts risking their lives in Iraq as expendable cannon fodder, it's probably my fault

most likely M, Napoleons conquests and model canons are two doors down and on your left.

Are you really sure that they'd elect a Western-style secular government committed to equal rights under the law, the kind Wolfowitz and his neocon buddies have the hots for

right, i agree to some extent. like i said in my plan for getting out our troops.

"dispel any cultural epistemic naivety"

but I guess a basic knowledge of history is unpatriotic per se these days

sure would, go re-read what our buddy bob Baer says about Iran extremists Matteo.

hell, america was created on this 'Roach motel' theory
you posit. "ya know, let all them crazies go over there"
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 AM on November 2, 2003


is that a speech, you running for office?

heh. I wouldn't rule that out, no. care to donate a few bucks? I'll make you a Pioneer, even a Ranger

re "necessary wars": not to go too far back (we don't want to Godwinize the thread, don't we, but WWII sounds pretty necessary to me) , I'd say Afghanistan. maybe not "necessary", but certainly justified by the fact that the guy who erased the WTC from Manhattan's skyline a few weeks earlier was hiding there and his Taliban buddies were giving the finger to Washington. the fact that the US let most of the real bad guys escape (the infamous ISI air lift to Pakistan in the middle of the operation) did not strike me as a good idea, anyway. I just hope nobody fucks with Karzai

re "legal" wars: what about international law? the UN? UNMOVIC? that kind of legality, clav. also, one word: preemption. dig that? I don't, silly me, when it comes to a so-called War On Terror where you attack countries that didn't have anything to do with 9-11 (not even Condi can defend the Mylroie-Woolsey "Saddam-did-it" BS, clav. too bad the damn liberal media didn't do anything to tell it to that 70 per cent of Americans who somehow think that Saddam did it, anyway).

the U.S. President can bomb whomever he needs too.

this is just a tad too macho. even for you, clav

;)


hell, america was created on this 'Roach motel' theory
you posit. "ya know, let all them crazies go over there"


yes, but it's not that they got murdered after getting to America. to be more precise, they began murdering people as soon as they unpacked their bags. but nevermind
posted by matteo at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2003


I think it was more like "Let all those fundies go over there," but far be it from me to nickpick.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2003


Cheney was secretary of defense when Brown & Root first began to supply logistical services to the army. It was his idea. In 1992, the Pentagon paid Brown & Root $3.9 million to produce a classified feasibility study on private outsourcing as a way to reduce the military's dependence on troops for basic logistics. The Pentagon subsequently added $5 million to the contract and the chose Brown & Root to implement its own plan--namely a five year logistics contract from the Army Corps of Engineers to work alongside G.I.'s in places like Zaire, haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, the Balkans and Saudi Arabia. After Cheney became head of Halliburton in 1995, Halliburton in 1995, Brown & Root took in $2.3 billion, almost double the $1.2 billion it earned from government in the five years before he arrived. In the late 1990s, Halliburton rebuilt Saddam Hussein's war-damaged oil fields for some $23.8 million--fields Cheney, as secretary of defense during the first Gulf War, had been instrumental in destroying.

...During Cheney's reign as Halliburton's chief, the company advanced from seventy-third to eighteenth on the Pentagon's list of top contractors, increasing its government contracts by 91 percent. Meanwhile, the number of Halliburton subsidiaries located in offshore tax havens increased from nine to forty-four. The company went from paying $302 million in taxes in 1998 to getting an $85 million tax refund in 1999. Cheney resigned from the company on August 16, 2000, but his ties did not end there. According to the White House, Cheney had an adjusted gross income for 2000 of $36,086,635, which included $4,333,500 in bonuses and deferred compensation from Halliburton. Cheney's financial disclosure statement was not his actual income tax statement but a White House press release. Cheney continues to receive payments from Halliburton in excess of $150,000 annually.

...According to White House projections, which are traditionally low, the Bush administration expects, if reelected, to spend an inflation-adjusted $3.2 trillion on defense over its two terms--about a half a trillion more than the Clinton Administration did in its two terms. By comparison, the United States spent $3.1 trillion on defense between 1941 and 1948. In real dollars, the "war on terror" will cost more than World War II.


The War Business - Squeezing A Profit From The Wreckage In Iraq
Chalmers Johnson
Harpers
November 2003
posted by y2karl at 12:58 PM on November 2, 2003




also, here's an interesting read from a DC lawfirm advising Saudi subcontractors on getting contracts in Iraq.
...For obvious political reasons, prime-contractors will nevertheless be looking for ways to meet their contractual obligations, while visibly using local Iraqi contractors. At the same time, regional contractors concerned about risking their long-term prospects in Iraq for short-term subcontracting opportunities will be looking for ways to dress their subcontracting efforts in Iraqi clothing...
posted by amberglow at 1:40 PM on November 2, 2003


yes, but it's not that they got murdered after getting to America

oh yes, and in frightening numbers, America has committed genocide no doubt, it is reality 101 in american history. But fleeing or leaving because one may be or has had family members murdered is the point. WHY?. That requires allot of compellation of individual accounts, records etc. of those whom came to america, even before it was the United States (and boy what a different map it was then...add your own starting date)

the speech thing is vigor, the bomb comment was my Nixon improv, a latent effect of the halloween season. Your right, its so....Kubrick like and Hopkins shifting jaw and twitches...)
but the fact remains the POTUS can bomb whomever he needs too. its in the manual, and you my penchant for laziness concerning exact citation.

War, to me, is the most insane thing human kind has ever "created". So, in my strictest view, any hostile action is seen as a violation of the most basic principal "governing human conduct". One that should be responded with a ferocity of a calm wind or a 1000 suns.

yes, that is moralistic fallback position, yes most humans would most agree war=bad on the chalkboard.

your international law response is most deft and i mostly agree with it

re "legal" wars: what about international law? the UN? UNMOVIC? that kind of legality

yes an ASEAN and the new Europe...what do you all call that? well, preemption is an option, not new nor NEO or what have you. Japan did it, Russia did it, hell it was/is the norm in modern times concerning war.
well, is preemption our "orders" to the Philippines to hunt out terrorists? Because they use that strategy only on a more low key basis.
They strictness of history tells me world war II was a war that could have been avoided if only somebody would have popped some dictators.
the brits tried to get Hitler, the saudis, Bin laden, and on and on.
Half measures avail us nothing.
the age of conventional warfare based upon large mobile forces is not quite over, IMO, warfare has regressed back into secretive operations, overt moves with little actual wide scale invasion.
hey, i would have invaded Iraq without the WMD as a clear and present danger, i would have on principal alone no matter we helped prop the guy up. Not my choice in policy just my view. I see the Zimmerman telegram did not set in with you.
AG-i have time now for two of your links (Beefstew tonight, in a few minutes:)

Bechtels' Menaker called Waxman's allegations not only wrong but "an insult to the men and women working in an extremely challenging environment to rebuild Iraq."
it sounds like how to believe at this point.

Last month the Iraqi Governing Council questioned why the American occupation authority had issued a $20 million contract to buy new revolvers and Kalashnikov rifles for the Iraqi police when the United States military was confiscating tens of thousands of weapons every month from Saddam Hussein's abandoned arsenals.
that "example is specious to me. the idea of new weapons is to be able to confirm older, most likely outlawed weapons will be confiscated or even some form of sanction to possess them. Bad idea?
again i specified Bechtel not some oil hauling firm. yes, corruption must be around i guess, my point is about Bechtel. i will look at the rest though.
posted by clavdivs at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2003


(shes yelling:)
posted by clavdivs at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2003


(Beefstew tonight, in a few minutes :)
mmmm : >

Didya notice Bechtel's spokesperson didn't say: "an insult to the Iraqi men and women working....." and, I'd rather believe a guy who lives there: "We built hospitals, mosques and palaces before the war," Alduleimi said. "Since the war, we are unemployed. This is our country, and we want to be part of rebuilding it."
posted by amberglow at 2:02 PM on November 2, 2003


the popped comment should not have made it and pardon the obvious typos.
(Good stew)
No offense but Bechtel is there, they have always been there. Now hold on, yes that sounds ominous but it is partly true. I believe that what one may mean as a bribe may mean a "finders fee" in different circles. I will and moreover cannot really debate the ethics of middle eastern business practices. My point is Bechtel is one of the few companies who want to keep out bribes, cronyism (oh boy on the macro Schultz, Cap Weinberger, Bush, Reagan, saudi, oil, guns etc level, that sounds odd) and having the job incomplete when the schedule date comes. No doubt these Iraqi men and woman are fine talent but do they have the modern techniques and machinery in place to do the job in a timely fashion, timely fashion means when done, the closer to a more stable Iraq hence troops get to leave.

The fence between them and me is too high, I can't reach them," he said.

There is a reason for this.

We have ambitions to build large complexes and projects and undertake major operations...but what's on offer is peanuts," Bunnia said.

one must walk before running and what "large" and "major" projects does he envision?

Look, the key to large construction is who can get the dozers cheaper, who can get the cement cheaper...etc.
It boils done to that who can co-ordinate all this and fiance it. So, give the iraqi people just the material and have them do it all on there own?, does iraq have or even had that kind of clout? ( i believe it was german firm who built saddams uberbunker)
they cannot do it alone. and to be frank, i think if someone like France or Russia put in a cheaper bid for say an airport?, they would not get it done on time.
posted by clavdivs at 2:36 PM on November 2, 2003


No doubt these Iraqi men and woman are fine talent but do they have the modern techniques and machinery in place to do the job in a timely fashion...
Clav, Iraq was a modern country, with schools and hospitals and police and roads and oil wells and machinery and ports, etc, etc, etc...Of course they have the techniques and machinery, and if they don't, they know how to get it. And, once American companies smell profit, they'll never leave...there's now a law in Iraq (approved by our puppet governing council) allowing for 100 percent foreign ownership of companies there--what does that tell you?
posted by amberglow at 2:42 PM on November 2, 2003


look clav,

unpleasant as it might sound, I think obsessing about corruption in the Iraqi reconstruction process (corruption on the Iraqi side of course) is a waste of time and, ultimately, counterproductive.
simple pragmatism will show you that the quickest, safest and relatively less painful way to wrap up the Iraqi war (because with these kind of increasingly successful and organized attacks it is still a war, not an afterwar) is to get infrastructure back on track, jumpstart the economy and prop up some kind of acceptable Iraqi President, not Chalabi but somebody like him, only less ridiculous (I see we all agree that "one person one vote" is right now a pretty risky proposition in Iraq) who won't hopefully torture the opposition and will offer some kind of prudent social reform.
BUT
any prudent historian of the Marshall Plan will tell you that it generated some appalling corruption in the countries that were on the receiving end of American help, like a third or even a half of the US aid went in the pocketsb of local people. Truman wisely chose to keep the eyes on the final prize, ie reconstruction, Europe's economy back on track and ready to buy for the next 50 or 150 years all kinds of American stuff. It'll make things more expensive? yes. but kickbacks to local construction/leaders/tribal chiefs/whatever will be part of doing business there.
it'd be wise to share the most reconstruction money with Iraqis in order to speed things up, even if it's sad to have to grease local scumbags. but it's part of the ugly business of reconstruction, if one is keen on Marshall Plan-style aid

re: Zimmerman Telegram
it didnt really impress me because, can you really imagine 1917 Mexico attacking Wilson?
aluminum tubes at least did sound more realistic

anyway,

130 13042 13401 8501 115 3528 416

OK?

on preview: what amberglow just said

btw I see you're reluctant to commit funds to my campaign. I also accept PayPal. and anyway ms clav's stew must be really good. I'll also accept a tax-deductible dinner invitation
posted by matteo at 3:03 PM on November 2, 2003


My point is Bechtel is one of the few companies who want to keep out bribes, cronyism (oh boy on the macro Schultz, Cap Weinberger, Bush, Reagan, saudi, oil, guns etc level, that sounds odd) and having the job incomplete when the schedule date comes.

Boomtime for Bechtel

small selection of the controversies surrounding the company include:

Its handling of water privatisation in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. A subsidiary of Bechtel, Aguas del Tunari, was given the contract and proceeded to raise the rates for water by up to 200%, literally forcing some people to choose between buying water or food. After massive protests the company eventually withdrew from the city, in what has become a landmark event in resistance to globalisation.

Just to show who's boss, however, the company is now trying to sue the Bolivian government for a $25 million loss of income from the cancelled project, using the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an arm of the World Bank.

The company is currently involved with the Central Artery/Tunnel project (also known as the Big Dig) in Boston, Massachussets. The Boston globe has conducted an excellent year-long investigation into the ways the company has repeatedly made mistakes and then got the government to pay for them.

Bechtel has built or designed 45 nuclear power stations in 22 states in the US. Thanks Bechtel.

Bechtel has also managed to make money out of clearing up the mess created by nuclear power. In 1985 the company was fined $64 000 for deliberately circumventing safety procedures, and harassing workers for reporting safety violations, during the cleanup operation after the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear disaster.

Bechtel Nevada manages operations at the Nevada Test site, where defence-related nuclear experiments and national security experiments are conducted for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

In July 1997 Bechtel, along with its business partners Enron and General Electric, was criticised by Amnesty Internation for its collusion in the suppression of protests against the Dabhol power plant, which was to be built by the companies in Maharashtra, India.

George Schultz is not the only link between Bechtel and the White House.

Key Bechtel alumni are:
Casper Weinburger - Reagan's Secretary of Defence and former Bechtel general counsel.
W. Kenneth Davis - Bechtel's former vice-president for nuclear development became deputy secretary of Energy and head of the Atomic Energy Commission under Reagan.
William Casey - was chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission under Nixon, head of the Export-Import bank under Ford, Reagan campaign manger and head of the CIA under Reagan, as well as being a Bechtel consultant.
Richard Helm - was CIA director under Nixon and eventually became a Bechtel consultant.
Peter Flanigan - White House political advisor under Nixon became a senior partner in the Bechtel owned investment house Dillon, Read and Company. Robert L. Hollingsworth - AEC's general manager under Nixon became manager of manpower services at Bechtel.
William Simon - Nixon's Treasury secretary became a Bechtel consultant.

Such links between Bechtel and the US administration have led to allegations that it was involved in a spate of coups, firstly in Syria in1948, then in Iran in 1956 and later in Indonesia, overthrowing President Sukarno in favour of the notorious Suharto.

Bechtel is active in West Papua, which is the site of a struggle for independence from Indonesia. The company also helped to build Freeport McMoRan's notorious Grasberg gold mine, which has devastated the nearby rainforest with toxic waste.

The company has built countless oil and gas pipelines and is involved in the controversial Baku-Ceyhan pipeline14, along with another BP pipeline in Algeria, that haven of stability and human rights.


Leasing The Rain

Then, in 1999, the Bolivian government conducted an auction of the Cochabamba water system as part of its privatization program. The auction drew only one bidder: a consortium called Aguas del Tunari. The controlling partner in the consortium was International Water, a British engineering firm that was then wholly owned by Bechtel. (An Italian company later bought a half interest.) But the government, unfazed by its own weak bargaining position, decided to proceed.

The terms of the two-and-a-half-billion-dollar, forty-year deal reflected the lack of competition for the contract. Aguas del Tunari would take over the municipal water network and all the smaller systems—industrial, agricultural, and residential—in the metropolitan area, and would have exclusive rights to all the water in the district, even in the aquifer. The contract guaranteed the company a minimum fifteen-per-cent annual return on its investment, which would be adjusted annually to the consumer price index in the United States. On coöperative wells such as Villa San Miguel's—which the government hadn't even helped build—the new water company could install meters and begin charging for water. Residents would also be charged for the installation of the meters. These expropriations were legal under a new water law that had been rushed through the Bolivian parliament.

The first Cochabambinos to question the terms of the water privatization were not the small water coöperatives that faced expropriation and crushing bills but local professionals—mainly engineers and environmentalists—and a federation of peasant farmers who rely on irrigation. They began calling public meetings to air their concerns. The government ignored them. At a contract-signing ceremony, the President of Bolivia and the mayor of Cochabamba drank champagne with consortium executives. The news of impending expropriations and rumors of big water-price hikes began to circulate. The list of alarmed groups—neighborhood associations, water coöperatives, the labor unions—grew. There were street protests, and a broad coalition emerged, called the Coördinator for the Defense of Water and Life, or simply La Coordinadora, led by Óscar Olivera.


long story short
The day the state of siege was declared, the main plaza in Cochabamba was filled with people. The Army fired tear gas into the narrow streets of the old city, where protesters had built barricades. Demonstrators blocked all roads into the city; the government cut off power to local radio and television stations. Middle-class matrons took wounded protesters into their homes and beauty salons to nurse them, and bowls of vinegar mixed with water and baking powder—useful for soaking bandannas for protection from tear gas—appeared outside a thousand respectable doorways.

Then, from behind a line of military police, a sharpshooter in civilian clothes fired a rifle into a crowd of unarmed civilians. He was caught on video by a Bolivian television crew, and was later identified as Robinson Iriarte de la Fuente, a Bolivian Army captain who had been trained in the United States. Víctor Hugo Daza, the seventeen-year-old student, who was on his way home from a part-time job, was, according to eyewitnesses, among the crowd that Iriarte fired into. He was hit in the face and died instantly. Dozens of other people were treated for bullet wounds. By the time Daza had been raised onto his bier and the police and the Army had been repeatedly prevented from seizing his body, there was clearly no future for Aguas del Tunari in Cochabamba.

The company's executives were told that the police could no longer guarantee their safety, and fled Cochabamba for the lowland city of Santa Cruz. They may have noted that, several weeks earlier, Mayor Reyes Villa had left their side. When the people took to the streets en masse, Bombón had assessed their mood and stepped away from Aguas del Tunari so fast that it was as if he had never seen these foreigners before. He was not the only one trying to distance himself; when water privatization collapsed in Cochabamba, the World Bank's representatives insisted that the fiasco had nothing to do with them. The government informed Aguas del Tunari that, because the company had "abandoned" its concession, its contract was revoked. (The company argued that it had not left voluntarily but had been pushed out.) The day after Víctor Hugo Daza's funeral, Óscar Olivera announced the consortium's departure to thousands of exhausted, disbelieving demonstrators from the balcony of his union's offices above the plaza.

The Coordinadora had swept the field so completely that a new national water law was immediately passed—"written from below," as the water-rights campaigners say. Banged together by parliamentarians and water specialists from the Coordinadora who gathered in La Paz, the new law gave legal recognition to usos y costumbres—traditional communal practices—by protecting small independent water systems, guaranteeing public consultation on rates, and giving social needs priority over financial goals. This triumph seemed to the water warriors too good to be true, and it was. Laws in Bolivia are implemented—if, indeed, they are ever implemented—only after bylaws have been attached and approved, and the government soon made it clear that, in the case of the new water law, this process could take years.

posted by y2karl at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2003


Inexperienced Hands Guide Iraq Rebuilding
US Military Lacks Skills for Task, Some Officials Say


Bechtel: Profiting from Destruction (June 2003 - pdf)

Questions are Raised on Awarding of Contracts in Iraq

An Iraqi executive, who made millions of dollars as an insider under the Hussein government and would not allow his name to be used, said a relative outside Iraq had asserted that a Bechtel executive was looking to become a silent partner in an Iraqi company that would be favored with subcontracts from Bechtel...

Looking at a list of companies that received subcontracts from Becthel, Mr. Othman, the Governing Council member, said he recognized at least a half-dozen that had profited from close relations with Mr. Hussein or members of his family...

Mr. Heatly said logistical problems associated with buying so many Kalashnikovs in small lots from the Iraqi market would be excessive. There would be no cost if the occupation authority obtained them from the United States military, which is now the custodian of countless thousands of Iraqi weapons, many of them said to be in mint condition. Mr. Heatly did not have figures for the number of Kalashnikovs in allied hands, but he said there were not enough of them to satisfy the requirements of the contract. ..
posted by y2karl at 3:50 PM on November 2, 2003


y2karl - the copy and paste ninja.
posted by poopy at 4:01 PM on November 2, 2003


yap yap yap yap little cokapoopy.
posted by y2karl at 4:23 PM on November 2, 2003


karl, i really love your contributions, but paragraphs and paragraphs of italics get really tiresome on the eyes. would quotes or blockquotes be asking too much? the content is great, thanks.
posted by muckster at 4:58 PM on November 2, 2003


y2karl: i don't have a problem with copying and pasting as long as it doesn't hog multiple screens of a 1152x864 resolution! if you're going to suck up that kind of real estate, at least have the decency to write something from your own hand.
posted by poopy at 5:00 PM on November 2, 2003


I realize im 20th century dial-up and that im no techie but i lost about 15 minutes of rant because of this frikkin slow format, hey, thats my problem right. I'm responsible for upgrading and accepting the slowness and occasional interruptions in posting comments.

Look Amber, it is about TIME. Also, let us re-think the criteria here. i am referring to many large and complex constriction projects. I should hope Iraqis could build a school on there own.

Of course they have the techniques and machinery, and if they don't, they know how to get it.

i think your right, then why are they not doing it...they are amber, daily, hourly. also, if they had all this know-how, why didn't saddam upgrade his country? Because we told saddam in a wink and nod that we would not bother him if he invaded a foreign power, because we propped him up. Who sold the Middle East nations their first real military hardware...the russians. The brits wouldn't let the arab armies have howitzers until late in ww I.

it didn't really impress me because, can you really imagine 1917 Mexico attacking Wilson?

On Jan. 10, 1916, Villa stopped a train in Mexico, removed 18 U.S. citizens, stole their possessions, and executed them. Escalating his terror campaign, he crossed the border into New Mexico and attacked Columbus on March 9 in a direct assault on the United States. Villa escaped back across the border and disappeared into the Mexican hills.

Villa, another american unholy alliance gone bad.

you missed the point, the point is not the lie in the info but the info in the lie.

is to get infrastructure back on track, jumpstart the economy and prop up some kind of acceptable Iraqi President, not Chalabi but somebody like him, only less ridiculous (I see we all agree that "one person one vote" is right now a pretty risky proposition in Iraq) who won't hopefully torture the opposition and will offer some kind of prudent social reform.
i agree, my point is that people are saying Bechtel is some sort of boiler room and that is just not so.

hey matteo, you run and i will vote at least once maybe 5 times.

ok karl, you forgot the oppressive nature of the five companies when building Hoover or whatever its called dam.
posted by clavdivs at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2003


Since I have no ambition to be either a chickenblogger wannabe nor reserve officer in the 82nd Couchborne, why should I replace perfectly lucid statements of fact with shot from the hip--or rather, a place close to it--not even close-to-half-baked opinions?

As for quoting people who know what they are talking about, sound bite buddies, my apologies--but to paraphrase Lauren Bacall in To Have And Have Not,

You do know how to read, don't you? You just put your lips together and move them...

It gets easier with practice. Try this, for example.
posted by y2karl at 8:29 PM on November 2, 2003


y2karl - the copy and paste ninja.

Not all of us spend our time tracking Bechtel.

So keep it up y2karl.

Hey and clavdivs... you make a comment like this: you forgot the oppressive nature of the five companies yet you don't follow it up with the 'opressive nature'.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:53 PM on November 2, 2003


this is an interesting read too--on Falluja.
posted by amberglow at 9:00 PM on November 2, 2003


Just how many bidders for general contracting on the scale necessary do you think there are? Think of bidders for a large company's IT needs. This is just a lame complaint

I am fascinated by how right wing free marketers can suddenly drop their ideologies! How many companies are there that could meet these needs in the international field? Who knows? Certainly not the American people nor the American government.

Nor is it necessary that the contracts all go to one or two companies.
posted by srboisvert at 4:41 AM on November 3, 2003


That sounds clever, except that there aren't that many, particularly with any experience on a multi-national scale. And believe me, I find large corporations of the kind in question at least as odious as you do.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:16 AM on November 3, 2003


nofundy loves y2karl. keep up the excellent work. posts like yours are why I come to Me Fi. I learn lots from your links and that makes me a better, more informed citizen. sorry if that rankles the right wingers but perhaps if they actually read this shit they would no longer be crazy wingers!
posted by nofundy at 8:06 AM on November 3, 2003


nofundy: and the best part of it, is that he tells you exactly what you already know! He confirms every belief you have, with no questions or doubts or consequences. Dharma is yours, your knowledge is nothingness.
posted by kablam at 10:18 AM on November 3, 2003


perhaps if they actually read this shit they would no longer be crazy wingers

Why should people read something that even its advocates admit is "shit"?
posted by kindall at 10:25 AM on November 3, 2003




Why should people read something that even its advocates admit is "shit"?

Same reason Andrew Sullivan would bareback you knowing it would be shit. Just to hear you cry.
posted by nofundy at 11:59 AM on November 3, 2003


nofundy: I learn lots from your links and that makes me a better, more informed citizen.

kablam: and the best part of it, is that he tells you exactly what you already know!


Typical. Up is down, even in paraphrasing.
posted by soyjoy at 12:00 PM on November 3, 2003


130 13042 13401 8501 115 3528 416

this IS your old locker com...you, you.
:) wait, those are lotto numbers.
well, i don't do crypto, numbers make me woosley

heh. SO, this conversation, other then a few very candid comments, has devolved into sniping.

'opressive nature'.
I think you forgotto a 'P'.

take elsewhere shinebox.
karls karpet bombing of 'facts' that are wavy to see are a method, so why call him out? unless you ask a question, then it is up to him to answer (i guess)
So, Matteo. You said mexico invading Wilson?

-San Diego Plan
-IWW uprising, civilian and military.
-Anton Dilgers anthrax and glanders lab in Chevy Chase.
-Kurt Jahnke, von Eckardt, von Bopp
-espionage Act 1917
-Cecil B deMille (added bonus)
-Black Tom Island (2,132,000 of tnt and other goodies BLOWN UP, woke up the whole city)
-Irish-american trying to get Hindu-Americans to rise up against England (SAI)
-Dupont fire, 1914
-Meana Edwards (that will be fun for you)
-japanese troops in mexico (1916 i believe...go figure)

the list does go on....

SO, here are some keywords for your googling pleasure to counter the, im sorry, lame tube comment. Wilson was a brilliant man and admitted he was weak on FP but he learned.

also, its not the 50 grand to mr. X so the trucks or cranes fly, it's mr. X coming back for more that is the problem HENCE my analogy of bribe to "finders fee" i did leave out one time only but hey, its part of the meaning so...

man, you be don, i'll be tubbs, get me some Italian lessons and a plane ticket the script is just correspondence.

(to be serious, It appears that every major power during this period (1900-1918) spied the daylights right outta the U.S., except for Italy, they may have no doubt, but Italy did not use sabotage and odious means to collect intel as far as my limited reading has taken me.)
posted by clavdivs at 12:43 PM on November 3, 2003


22464
15874
18502
18500
15857
2188
5376
7381
posted by clavdivs at 1:58 PM on November 3, 2003


War correspondent Chis Bauman's reaction to Rieff's article via Atrios:

Rieff interviews a battalion commander, who tried as best as he was able to take care of some things on his own: "...he was forced to make decisions on his own on everything from how to deal with looters to whether to distribute food. When I asked him in Baghdad in September whether he had rehearsed this or, indeed, whether he had recieved any instructions from up the chain of command, he simply smiled and shook his head."

This reminds me of a comment former reporter Sara Chayse said on NPR's Fresh Air a few months ago, when she was talking about Afghanistan. She said something along the lines of how average, civilian Americans don't realize that their foreign policy is often set these days by privates. As a former private, I knew exactly what she was talking about: without a plan, without clear and concise guidance and orders, 19-year-olds with rifles have to make the decisions, and their reaction or lack thereof will dictate how the locals feel about America as a whole. This is exactly what is happening in Iraq right now: our foreign policy and how we are viewed there is not being guided by Washington as it should be. It is shaped -- some days for the better, some days for the worse -- by soldiers who are simply trying to react and to survive.

posted by y2karl at 10:10 PM on November 3, 2003


give it up karl, no one gives a shit. nice info though, at least you try. matteo for instance, he got creamed here. I made him look stupid and he was foolish to go after me when i have my facts straight and he wont come back here, like the rest of the cowards, they will not admit defeat or wrong. i wish i had time to try and answer your questions but i stuck to one and have proven my point.
posted by clavdivs at 8:26 AM on November 4, 2003


An always safe rule of thumb is that when people tell you they've proven their point, they haven't.
posted by y2karl at 11:45 AM on November 4, 2003


say la
v
posted by clavdivs at 2:58 PM on November 4, 2003


no...
No. Ok Karl its debate time. ok, first i need to retract my coward comment to Matteo. A free poke in the gut for Matteo (rabbit punch please) I was more cowardly and moreover rather frothy with trying to draw him out.
But dam it, he makes me SOOOO mad.
but i do not think there too many more clever/smart people (here)
((well top 10 or twenty))

so, my tysonesque aside. I admit wrong and more importantly a bit of shame.

okey doke Karl You posit...... that the brilliant war plan is hampered or stymied or lack of a post war plan.
ok i did not respond to this, only one point, that some accuse Bechtel of being some boiler room or taking jobs away from iraqis'. The other high atmosphere bantering about war and purpose is just conversation and with Matteo this is always good.

i have no proof that Becthel has done anything harmful concerning Iraq.

So you post a flurry of allegations, maybe, more likely some truths. One cannot swear all that Karl, because it takes more work to refute then construct an argument. This is the burden of being correct or at least as close as possible.

Through out a position just a sentence or two and then the evidence because my keyword spooky history google jaunt is much easier, fun and conducive to learning then...the mass info blurt which i do admire.
posted by clavdivs at 5:02 PM on November 4, 2003


Bechtel, the U.S. construction giant, has the prime contract, now worth over $1 billion, for restoring Iraq's infrastructure. That includes Daura, Baghdad's largest power plant, which should supply one third the city's generating capacity but today, six months into the U.S. occupation, is producing only ten percent. And Daura offers a small window into problems that have become all too typical of America's postwar morass in Iraq, a Newsweek investigation shows.

Iraqis like to point out that after the 1991 war, Saddam restored the badly destroyed electric grid in only three months. Some six months after Bush declared an end to major hostilities, a much more ambitious and costly American effort has yet to get to that point. It is only in recent weeks that the Coalition amped up to the power-generation level that Saddam achieved last March.


Iraq: An expensive & corrupt Vietnam?
Newsweek
Oct 27, 2003, 07:42
posted by y2karl at 9:36 AM on November 5, 2003


alright Karl, good stuff
That includes Daura, Baghdad's largest power plant, which should supply one third the city's generating capacity but today, six months into the U.S. occupation, is producing only ten percent

right, but why only 10 percent instead of 33%?

what is the reason, sabotage, outdated infra? spare parts problems. Did the engineers decide to upgrade before going to 100%? (33% of total power to Baghdad)
this is not your fault that the reasons seem vague or even not given...the why?
Now if there is some lag or something Bechtel is at fault fine but i don't see a reason given. But i can see the subcontractor and even sub-sub contractors could create a problem as most of these subcontractors are lined up to handle the real heavy equipment and other high tech construction stuff. there is a finite amount of specialty equipment and this must be allocated so as not to interfere with other projects.

I will not defend halliburton though.
posted by clavdivs at 3:30 PM on November 5, 2003


im winning karl
posted by clavdivs at 4:05 PM on November 7, 2003


i win in 5 days
posted by clavdivs at 2:21 PM on November 8, 2003


i win
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 AM on November 12, 2003


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