June 29, 2004

Krugman's Review of the Occupation

Paul Krugman has a harsh review for the Bush occupation of Iraq and every point is right on. No one can accuse him of stretching the truth.

The Iraq venture may have been doomed from the start but we'll never know for sure because the Bush administration made such a mess of the occupation. Future historians will view it as a case study of how not to run a country.

Up to a point, the numbers in the Brookings Institution's invaluable Iraq Index tell the tale. Figures on the electricity supply and oil production show a pattern of fitful recovery and frequent reversals; figures on insurgent attacks and civilian casualties show a security situation that got progressively worse, not better; public opinion polls show an occupation that squandered the initial good will.

What the figures don't describe is the toxic mix of ideological obsession and cronyism that lie behind that dismal performance.

The insurgency took root during the occupation's first few months, when the Coalition Provisional Authority seemed oddly disengaged from the problems of postwar anarchy. But what was Paul Bremer III, the head of the C.P.A., focused on? According to a Washington Post reporter who shared a flight with him last June, "Bremer discussed the need to privatize government-run factories with such fervor that his voice cut through the din of the cargo hold."

Plans for privatization were eventually put on hold. But as he prepared to leave Iraq, Mr. Bremer listed reduced tax rates, reduced tariffs and the liberalization of foreign-investment laws as among his major accomplishments. Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics.

Read it and weep. Do you blame the Iraqis for being happy to see the back of Bremer and his wingnut cohorts?

Posted by Mary at June 29, 2004 06:46 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |
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