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October 20, 2006

Not In Spite Of, But Because

The people running everything in the U.S. government obviously don't know the most basic information about life on earth. Do they get to their positions in spite of not knowing anything, or because they don't know anything?

Here are some interviews, from a recent Frontline special called The Lost Year in Iraq, about the appointment of Paul Bremer to be head of the CPA:

THOMAS RICKS (author of Fiasco): [Bremer] had worked for Henry Kissinger, kind of respected in counterterrorism from a diplomatic point of view, but doesn't know a whole lot about the Middle East, doesn't speak Arabic, doesn't know the region...

JAMES DOBBINS (former Assistant Secretary of State): What he lacked was the practical experience, and it was that lack of experience that commended him, in large measure, to the Bush administration.

MICHAEL WOODS (co-author of Cobra II): Bremer had never served in the Middle East...we were sending a person who had never served in the Middle East and who had no nation-building experience to be the dominant personality in Iraq. Now, given where the Bush administration was coming from, this apparent lack of qualifications was seen as a plus, because he didn't have the Middle East mind-set of the State Department, and he wasn't contaminated by the Clinton-era thinking. But there were really huge gaps in his résumé.

Not in spite of, but because.

Posted at October 20, 2006 10:50 PM | TrackBack

"I was deeply concerned about terrorism and homeland security and felt that it was important that we had defeated Saddam Hussein who, as far as we knew, was [the head of] a state which supported terrorism. He had been so identified by administrations of both of our political parties, and I felt that the idea of bringing decent government to the Iraqi people was a good thing."

So Bremmer thought bringing decent government to Iraq was a good thing. God save us all from the goodie two-shoes of the world because with an Adolph Hitler at least you know who your enemies really are.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is because and not in spite of. When you live in a world where appearances are everything what can you expect?

This may be a little beside the point but concerning that incident of pulling the statue of Saddam down the pictures and videos that were shown to the public presented a scene that appeared to have huge numbers of Iraqi people standing there cheering the Americans on. However later I saw a photograph of the same scene taken from a distance and what I saw was a relatively small group of people, probably people willing to play the part for a little cash. Appearances are everything.

Posted by: rob payne at October 21, 2006 01:28 AM

Greg Palast's latest book (Armed Madhouse) describes how Bremer's predecessor, Jay Garner, was taking steps which might have been more beneficial to the Iraqi people than they were to American corporations. Therefore, Garner, who had some Iraq experience following the Gulf War, had to be replaced immediately. According to Palast, it wasn't so much knowledge or lack thereof as a matter of priorities. However, lack of knowledge probably suited the administration's real priorities just fine.

Posted by: Bob at October 21, 2006 07:21 AM

Frontline's storyline -- that the Bush administration meant well but fucked up (and badly) because of incompetence and ideological arrogance -- is b.s. The CPA was designed to fail.
The Bushies did not invade Iraq thinking they'd turn it back over to the Iraqis in six months. We're supposed to be there until the region's oil wells are tapped out.

Posted by: Lloyd at October 21, 2006 08:24 AM

Cal, that bit about the Sunnis being a majority in Iraq was media and beltway conventional wisdom for years. It only began to change in 2002, when debate over the invasion (online and off) forced the facts into the faces of reporters and pundits.

Posted by: Nell at October 21, 2006 12:29 PM