Friday, March 24, 2006

The truth about the reconstruction of Iraq

Here's an amusing photo of CPA chief L. Paul Bremer. Amusing -- if only the context weren't so bleak. Once again, I wonder what's going through his head. What's he thinking? Anything? Go on, play fill in the bubble.

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More to the point:

At Newsweek, Michael Hirsh (who provides us with yet another must-read) looks at the recent re-emergence of Andrew Natsios, the former head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who is now a professor at Georgetown and, since just recently, a harsh critic of "the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq occupation": "In an interview with NEWSWEEK on Tuesday, he harshly criticized the Coalition Provisional Authority led by L. Paul Bremer III for botching the reconstruction effort and allowing ill-qualified or corrupt contractors to dominate it."

More and more, the truth is coming out. However fabricated the case for going to war may have been, and however much that debate still rages, the undeniable truth, it seems to me, is that the reconstruction of Iraq -- more broadly, the occupation of Iraq by U.S. forces and civilian authorities -- has been an abject failure. Natrios once seemed like little more than an apologist for the war, a purveyor of the sunny Wolfowitzian optimism that was quickly overcome by the realities on the ground. But now, better late than never, he's as good an authority there is on just what went wrong and why.

Hirsh: "Natsios’s criticisms mark another significant milestone in the great Republican crackup over Iraq—especially since they came on the same day that President Bush reiterated, at a news conference, that he would not ask any senior staff to resign in connection with the mess in Mesopotamia. The president’s refusal to consider replacing senior officials, especially Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has angered many Republicans, as well as Democrats, who say the administration needs to show a sense of accountability for its many mistakes in Iraq. At the very least, Natsios’s criticisms represent the latest effort by a Bush supporter to distance himself from America's new quagmire."

Will more supporters emerge from the political quagmire that this war has become? Other than his long-time pals and most ardently thoughtless apologists, will Bush have anyone left on his side now that the war, if you'll pardon the expression, is blowing up in his face, both over there and over here?

What will Bush's approval rating be -- what will his legacy be -- once the truth comes out in full?

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