Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

by lestro

While the Great Shoe-Throwing Incident of 2008 will undoubtedly be the only thing anyone is talking about today (that and the uncanny ability of the Buffalo Bills to almost literally throw away a game in the final minutes), there is another big Iraq story today, one that might even help explain what drove an Iraqi journalist to risk EVERYTHING to take a pot-shot at the President of the United States.

Today the New York Times details a 500+ page draft report of the “official history” of the Iraq war and the picture is not a pretty one.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

According to the Times (and I’ll trust them – the actual report is here, if you want to read it, but at 500 pages, I don’t see myself getting through it today…), the last five years have been an unmitigated failure of leadership.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Let’s be clear here: No one is slagging the military.

The military mission of defeating and overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the capital was a magnificent success. The military, with a few notable exceptions, have acted honoarbly and done their very best to complete the undefined, politically-motivaed and completely nebulous mission(s) handed down by the civilian leadership.

This is NOT a failure or defeat for the US Military. They did their part.

This is a political and diplomatic failure. Yet another example of how everything the Bush Administration touches seems to turn to shit.

Like everything else proposed and enacted by the Bush Adminstration, this whole thing has been a poorly thought-out premise with no plans for an end game. It is a collection of tactics that have been mostly outsourced and seems to following no overarching strategy other than getting Bush’s already fabulous rich friends even richer.

“But beyond the security issue stands another compelling and unavoidable answer: the U.S. government was not adequately prepared to carry out the reconstruction mission it took on in mid-2003,” he concludes.

The history cites some projects as successes. The review praises community outreach efforts by the Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department’s plan to stabilize the Iraqi dinar after the invasion and a joint effort by the Departments of State and Defense to create local rebuilding teams.

But the portrait that emerges over all is one of a program’s officials operating by the seat of their pants in the middle of a critical enterprise abroad, where the reconstruction was supposed to convince the Iraqi citizenry of American good will and support the new democracy with lights that turned on and taps that flowed with clean water. Mostly, it is a portrait of a program that seemed to grow exponentially as even those involved from the inception of the effort watched in surprise.

It’s no wonder that even the journalists are tossing their shoes at the president.

At the end of his narrative, Mr. Bowen chooses a line from “Great Expectations” by Dickens as the epitaph of the American-led attempt to rebuild Iraq: “We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us.”

But perhaps as the Bush Era winds down, it’s another Dickens quote, from the detective story “Hunted Down,” that can best sum things up:

I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don’t trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.

36 days to go.

Advertisements

4 Responses to Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

  1. shaho says:

    Believe me this is the real nature of all Arabs they are rural and ignorant, they just know fight like crazy women not like an honors men, look this is journalist (their educated man)!!! Imagine what are their ignorant or rural people? May be they are real animals!!

  2. shaho,

    This post is about the gross failures of the Bush Administration. It suggests that there is an understandable and logical reaction of frustration in response to Bush Administration policy.

    But your comment is impressive in how it manages to be racist, sexist, elitist and ignorant in so few lines of text.

  3. lestro says:

    shaho –

    i refuse to accept your premise.
    it’s like saying all americans are fat, stupid and lazy when that is not true either.

    sure, it may seem that way sometimes, but your gross generalization actually shows you to be the ignorant one.

  4. follower2 says:

    I’m not sure how much attention a shoe-throwing incident merits, even if it concerns our president. However, anything I have to watch replayed at least 10 times on TV at the gym has to mean something to somebody. But, then again, that “something” is unknown to me and the “somebody” is an American. Hence (my circular argument), the entire situation befuddles me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: