August 25, 2004 11:10 AM   Subscribe

What Went Wrong in Iraq, By Larry Diamond, From Foreign Affairs, September/October 2004
posted by semmi (19 comments total)
Or, rather--

What Went Wrong In Iraq
Although the early U.S. blunders in the occupation of Iraq are well known, their consequences are just now becoming clear. The Bush administration was never willing to commit the resources necessary to secure the country and did not make the most of the resources it had. U.S. officials did get a number of things right, but they never understood-or even listened to-the country they were seeking to rebuild. As a result, the democratic future of Iraq now hangs in the balance.

Larry Diamond is Co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. From January to April 2004, he served as a Senior Adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

The article has an interesting discussion of the failed first campaign against Moktada Sadr that was written well before the current one began.
posted by y2karl at 11:22 AM on August 25, 2004

Cordesman's opinion (.pdf file)
posted by matteo at 11:30 AM on August 25, 2004

Cordesman's Opinion in HTML.
posted by y2karl at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2004

Cordesman's Opinion in HTML.

Or so I thought--my bad. Well, carry on...
posted by y2karl at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2004

An article like that is the icing on the cake. If by icing I mean shit, and by cake I mean the faces of the current administration's top officials (State dept. excluded).

Regardless of the bad intelligence on WMDs, the lack of a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, etc., these people are just bad leaders. Period.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:03 PM on August 25, 2004

This seems like a big deal to me because of its source. The Hoover Institution is widely acknowledged to be a right wing think tank If *those* folks are talking this way, I wonder if it has larger implications about the movement of right wingers away from the present administration.
posted by jasper411 at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2004

This is a decent piece, but it omits one major aspect of what has been a historic blunder: the economic side.

Naomi Klein has a piece in the current harpers - "Baghdad Year Zero" - that, if accurate, is among the most amazing things I've ever read; it places much of the blame for the continuing insurgency at the feet of Bremer's/the administration's economic plans for Iraq, whereby they were going to turn it into the world's most open market, Milton Friedman writ large. This, among other things, would have meant the complete sell-off of formerly nationalized companies - and the attendant job losses this would have entailed.

The subtitle of Klein's piece was "Pillaging Iraq in persuit
of a neocon utopia"; it might well have been "Even in Iraq, it's the economy, stupid."
posted by kgasmart at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2004

What kgasmart said.
Read the piece by Klein as soon as you get a chance.
Neocon wet dreams.

Yes, the Hoover Istitution definitely is a right wing [ahem] "think tank" (feeling generous today).
posted by nofundy at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2004

The Hoover Institution may be a right wing think tank, but they are no friend of the neocons and certainly not the neocons who got us into this mess. I believe traditional conservatives such as the types at the Hoover Institution tend to think that the neocons are quite mad.
posted by caddis at 2:34 PM on August 25, 2004

Condolezza Rice is a fellow...
posted by jasper411 at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2004

Christian Parenti's bit on NOW (transcript) makes some similar observations, particularly about infrastructure trouble and the level of control.
posted by juiceCake at 3:52 PM on August 25, 2004

jc: Great link, thanks.
posted by semmi at 5:51 PM on August 25, 2004

interesting link, but a postmortem on an ongoing (and endless) occupation is weird and useless, since the adminstration has just dug us in deeper and does not listen to even constructive criticism, and-- the question can be answered in one sentence:

We invaded and occupied a country that had done nothing to us, and was not a threat, but, thanks to our actions, now is.

Maybe a) they should have been speaking of this stuff pre-invasion, if they truly did/do have sympathetic ears in the white house, and b) they shouldn't treat Iraq as if it's over and already history, which belies the continuing and ongoing costs--in lives and dollars, etc.
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2004

they are no friend of the neocons and certainly not the neocons who got us into this mess.

Rumsfeld is listed in the Wikipedia article as a past or present fellow.
posted by weston at 6:49 PM on August 25, 2004

Rummy is no neocon. Wolfowitz and crew have certainly turned some of these old school conservatives like Rummy, Condi and Cheney toward their way of thinking. At their core the neocons are radical, and they promote radical change. The old school conservative typically resists change. A schism of sorts has opened up on the right between the neocons and the old school crowd. Oh the neocons were exciting at first with their energy, optimism and right wing ideas. However, now that the optimism has turned out to be wrong and things are all screwed up in Iraq some of the old school conservatives just see the neocons' failures as damaging political prospects for the right, not that many of them want to air their dirty laundry in public though.
posted by caddis at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2004

I second (third, now that I look) kgasmart's recommendation on the Klein article in Harpers. Just got done reading it over lunch today. Fantastic.
posted by boredomjockey at 9:57 PM on August 25, 2004

Haven't read the Harpers article, not sure how much overlap there is, but here's an article on the same subject by Klein from April: Bomb before you buy.
posted by dinsdale at 10:44 PM on August 25, 2004

The article has an interesting discussion of the failed first campaign against Moktada Sadr

And does the present time change what happened before? If the 1st campaign was a failure, what makes this change now?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:56 AM on August 26, 2004

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