Monday, September 18, 2006

Politics Trumps Progress For Bush In Iraq

I read this article on Sunday and I was thoroughly disgusted by its contents. Not because it is not true. Quite the contrary, it affirms every bad thing that I had previously thought about the Bush Administration. It is not an exaggeration, in the slightest, to say that everything is political to the Bush crowd. Nothing -- not even the re-building of Iraq -- is ever removed from politics, and no one other than political hacks are given any position of responsibility inside this administration. It is truly pathetic how politics trumped progress in Iraq.

When I read the article, I wanted to find out who Bush's GOP screener, James O'Beirne, really was. How did he get the job of deciding who was "Republican enough" to get the important positions in the re-construction of Iraq (because the only qualification required was that all applicants be registered Republicans). James O'Beirne is married to conservative pundit and National Review editor Kate O'Beirne. Kate, coincidentally, has written numerous columns and spoken on countless political talk shows about how great a job has been done with the re-construction of Iraq. I wonder if she ever disclosed to her readers/viewers that her husband was responsible for the staffing decisions! Kate was also one of those annoying right-wingers criticizing the media for failing to report the "good news" from Iraq. I hope that Ms. O'Beirne's comments and columns about Iraq will be ingested with a great deal of suspicion now.

When the history books are written and historians discuss why the US lost the Iraq War, they will cite the major reason for our failure is precisely the cronyism laid out in this article. Be warned, if you have high blood pressure, you better take your pill before reading this. It will make your blood boil.

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues. (read the rest here)

1 comment:

J. Marquis said...

I heard about this on Air America today. They were even asking prospective employees what they thought about Roe v. Wade...