20 February 2008

WaPo Editor Gives Inside Scoop on Iraq to UD Audience

More ridiculous examples of the Bush boondoggle:

The impressive zeal of Ambassador Paul Bremmer, the first American viceroy in Iraq, to help the Iraqi people made Chandrasekaran a believer. But Bremmer’s plan to occupy Iraq was faulty, and Chandrasekaran soon recognized why.

“One would think the White House would send the most qualified people to Iraq,” Chandrasekaran said. “But in many cases they sent the loyal and the willing.”

This is one of the main reasons American occupation of Iraq went wrong, according to Chandrasekaran. Instead of sending those fluent in Arabic or those with experience in the necessary fields, the White House leaned towards hiring conservatives.

Chandrasekaran heard multiple accounts from applicants seeking work in the American-occupied zone in Iraq, considered the “Green Zone,” in which they were questioned not on merit, but on political party affiliation. People were asked their political party, whether they voted for Bush in 2000, and in some cases, their views on capital punishment or abortion, he said.

...a 24-year-old with only an internship was sent to Baghdad to open a stock exchange. A physician helping Iraq’s medical field with a Ph.D. and a “wall of credentials” was replaced by a 60-year-old social worker. In Iraq, where the hospitals resemble the “fifth circle of Hell,” this social worker put an anti-smoking campaign at the top of his to-do list.

...they weren’t in touch with the reality of Iraq’s problems. For example, in a country like Iraq, where unemployment is between 40 and 50 percent, the logical solution would be creating more jobs. The Americans instead, in their air-conditioned Green Zone offices, decided to rewrite Iraq’s tax code.

When Americans noticed the traffic laws in Baghdad needed reform, they handed the job to a personal injury attorney from Maryland. He was not educated in traffic laws, so instead he went on the Internet, downloaded Maryland’s traffic code and translated it to Arabic. Iraq never fully put it into effect.

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