Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 9th, 2004
Very, very, very bad. From Christine Hauser’s report in the New York Times:
An official in the occupation authority said Wednesday that allied and Iraqi security forces had lost control of the key southern cities of Najaf and Kufa to the Shiite militia, conceding that months of effort to win over the population with civil projects and promises of jobs have failed with segments of the population.
“Six months of work is completely gone,” the official said. “There is nothing to show for it.”
We kept calling to Higher for Air Support, for Evac, for reinforcements. They’d say, “Sure, they’re on their way…” Twenty minutes later, we’d find out–not be told—that in fact they weren’t. This happened about eight times. During the time they weren’t reinforcing us, the enemy mined the bridge that’s the sole way out of there with IEDs. Then Higher ordered us to Evac our way across that bridge. It was explained to them over and over that the bridge was mined. They’d listen, then issue the order again. [...]
Even at the end, the governor was still playing games. We worked it out with the Ukrainians to get out, and the governor refused to go. He wanted to negotiate or whatever. With people like this? I’m sorry, but Sadr just has that Jim Jones glint in his eye, except with well-armed followers. Furthermore, they’re a lot more hostile than Jones’ followers were, too. I kept thinking that we were going to have a Fallujah repeat on our hands, except perhaps they weren’t going to wait till we were dead. And I didn’t want my brother to go through that.
(via Seeing The Forest)
I’ve been crossing my fingers for months now, but I might as well uncross them. What an absolute incompetent mess the CPA and the Bushies have served up. (‘Here’s an idea: now that Iraqis back us, let’s poke Sadr with a stick and see what happens.’)
Mr. Kuhaida goes to Iraq
From a Bob Fowler’s report in the Knoxville News Sentinel (registration required) on Jerry Kuhaida. Mr. Kuhaida comes from my home town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he was once mayor; he resigned his City Council position last September to join the respected North Carolina firm RTI in the reconstruction of Iraq.
Kuhaida said he quickly discovered that there had been no post-war plan by the United States for Iraq.
“There was no plan at all after the war,” he said. “In spite of what (U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld said, there was absolutely no plan.
“The whole thing was running on a whim, basically. There wasn’t even a bad plan out there. I am totally disturbed by my government and the lies that were told to me. I take them personally.”
The lack of planning affected his work, Kuhaida said.
“There were very few major infrastructure projects that were ever completed. By the time you got something figured out, the U.S. government would change direction and emphasis on where the funding would go.”
What few accomplishments there were, were “fluffed up,” he said. “Somebody would have one success, and that would be used to indicate that this is what we were doing in Iraq.
“We kept getting pressure to make reports look as positive as possible.” [...]
“From my perspective, the mindset of the CPA was, ‘We’re getting out of here. We’re leaving.’ That seemed to have a negative effect on everything that was done from then on.”
Soldiers like “ginmar” will, I hope, give us some kind of second chance in Iraq. But that definitely should not be a second chance for this administration after November. Iraq alone is too important to be left to a bush league team.