Monday, February 20, 2006

The road to hell is paved with best intentions or is it worst intentions.

I just finished another important book, The Assassins Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer. This book is quite eye-opening, it traces the beginning of the Iraq war to its ideological birth in the neoconservative camp, and also in the Iraqi exile community.

While the role of Wolfowitz et al is quite well documented, the idealistic Iraqi exiles (to distinguish them from opportunists, Iranian stooges and ex-Baathists) has been sort of overlooked, and the author highlights that.

After reviewing the stirrings that led to the war, the author offers a very objective view of the mistakes that America has committed in Iraq since the fall of the Saddam regime. The Author himself is not anti-Iraq war, and as a New York Times and The New Yorker correspondent, he kept going to Iraq, spending his time outside the "Green Zone"

The book recounts a very sad story, on how the "perpetrators" of the war in the Pentagon wanted to just depose Saddam, impose Ahmad Chalaby, and then leave within 90 days. The refused to plan for the aftermath of the war, and were ideologically opposed to "nation building", this intentional failure of planning, led to many missed opportunities for the US and led to many calamities that mainly afflicted the poor Iraqi people.

The author document how inept the American CPA (Coalition Provincial Authority) was and how removed from the Iraqi population and the situation on the street. How the untrained US army and basic failure to deliver security wasted all the goodwill that came with "liberation". Also how the American rash moves have turned an entire community of Iraqis (Sunnis) into losers, and how that strengthened the hand of extremists and old regime supporters.

The story goes on, with extensive details and impressive reporting, with stories of Iraqis from all walks of life and of Americans in the middle of the quagmire (my description, not the author's), the big conclusion you get out of the book is, while the US will go home in a few years and study the 'lessons of Iraq", it is the Iraqis will suffer for ages from the Americans' mistake, many of them committed by incompetence rather by malice, and often with the best intentions.

While I do not agree with the author on that point, I highly recommend the book, it gives a lot of insight into the inner works of the US government and its internal battles. It also documents from an American view the first 2 years of occupation, and its many mistakes.

This is a link to the book on Amazon.


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