Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Nation Builder's Victory Lap

George W. Bush is on a farewell visit to the country he liberated this weekend as spoilsports in Washington leak details of a 513-page report showing the American-led reconstruction of Iraq as "a $100 billion failure" caused by "bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure."

The Lame Duck was apparently hoping to limp out of Washington before the bad news came out in February, but the New York Times has it all today as a final Christmas present to a nation already depressed over what happened to the economy on the Bush Administration watch.

In the first 2000 presidential debate, candidate Bush criticized Al Gore as a closet nation-builder: "I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place."

Now we have evidence that his instinct was right in the new federal report titled “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction headed by a Republican lawyer with a staff of engineers and auditors.

According to the Times, it is a "searing critique" of what its director calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” that led to "the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise."

To the heaping plate of problems that the new President will find on the table January 20th, add the cleaning up of our "success" in Iraq and figuring out how to avoid repeating it in Afghanistan.

Maybe Bush will send him a "Wish you were here" postcard from Baghdad this weekend.

Update: As the President finished his final press conference alongside Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, an Iraq TV journalist threw his shoes at him. Some of us back here know exactly what he was feeling.

1 comment:

Stimpson said...

Gore's "instinct" wasn't right because the occupation has been messy. It was right because the invasion and occupation was the morally wrong thing to do from the start, and because the invasion and occupation gravely damaged the system set up post-WWII in the hopes of avoiding another massive war.