clap clap blog: we have moved

Monday, May 19, 2003
Don't let them get away with this shit, kids. On the problem of looting in a post-war Iraq:

Mr. Bush's aides cautioned reporters before the war that even the best plans would have to be rewritten on the ground.

Those plans called for quickly returning Baghdad police officers to duty to maintain a semblance of order, and having Iraqi soldiers build roads and clear rubble. They envisioned cheering crowds and a swift restoration of electricity and other utilities. The quick establishment of a civilian Iraqi interim authority, officials said, would help demonstrate to a suspicious Arab world that America would not act as an occupier, as in Japan and Germany.

"We will in fact be greeted as liberators," Vice President Dick Cheney said on March 16, three days before the war started.

But many of Baghdad's 10,000 police officers are just now trickling back. The Iraqi soldiers disappeared. No one in Washington anticipated the degree to which the chaos would undermine that central goal of presenting the United States as a liberator, senior officials said.

In fact, that instinct may have worsened the problem, senior officials said in interviews. Inside the White House, officials feared that if the looters were shot — the fastest way to send the message that the United States was intent on restoring order — the pictures on Al Jazeera would reinforce the worst images of America in the Arab world.

Don't even start with this shit, you lying motherfuckers. We all know damn well that the problem wasn't that soldiers were threatening looters but were unable to shoot them; the problem was that there weren't enough soldiers, and those that were there were guarding the goddamn oil ministry. This is an outright lie. There's been enough fucking coverage of "non-lethal weapons" in the decade since Somalia that we all know (or should know) that there were ways to stop criminal Iraqis besides just fucking shooting them in the back. It's also presumably what you could have done to those dead protesters besides shooting them.

You guys do remember non-lethal weapons, right? Does anyone know why we're not hearing about those in Iraq?

Within the administration, the backbiting has intensified. Some say Jay Garner, the retired Army lieutenant general initially charged with the physical and political rebuilding of Iraq, moved too slowly.

The sense that General Garner's team got off to a slow start was reinforced when he and a small team of aides finally arrived in Baghdad in late April to discover that they had no functioning e-mail, no way for outsiders to reach them by telephone, no cars and drivers to get them around the city and no interpreters. Aides say those problems have since eased.

And this is why, despite their flaws, we needed to work with the UN and international aid organizations. They can be inefficient and corrupt, it's true, but they also have a large body of institutional knowledge that allows them to get the job done.

He acknowledged in videotaped testimony to Congress last Tuesday that his Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance was just now — after three weeks on the ground — getting its arms around a set of immensely complex issues, and making headway on problems like salary payments and gasoline distribution.

"This is an ad hoc operation, glued together over about four or five weeks' time," he told the House International Relations Committee, adding that his team "didn't really have enough time to plan."

Hold on, hold on--liberals knew this war has been coming for about, what, six months now? Did the Pentagon honestly not get together a team for post-war planning until four weeks before the goddamn bombs started falling?

But problems were already cropping up. Critics complained that he failed to build support on Capitol Hill. He sent lower-level officials to meet with aid groups, who complained to the White House that their efforts to help were being stymied. "The humanitarian community made repeated efforts to meet with Garner to express our concerns," said Sandra Mitchell, vice president of the International Rescue Committee. "He was always unavailable."

Yeah, dude--you would have learned that in the first week of a college public policy course, OK? Geez. "Why are you guys complaining about putting military contractors in charge of Iraq? They can do the job too, you know!" No. We need bureaucrats and politicians. I know the folks on the right hate bureaucrats and politicians, but I'm sorry, they do sometimes come in handy.

Look--let's just admit at this point that we're royally fucking up the peace, that plans were left unmade, that fairly obvious contingencies were not planned for, that our arrogance and pride got in the way of helping the Iraqi people, that Rumsfeld's war plans worked great for a conflict and shitty for a post-war situation--let's admit this, and admit that we need help, and start letting a few other countries and organizations help us out.