March 02, 2006

The Best and the Brightest

Geez, now even the Washington Times is reporting on the fecklessness of Bush. In an article this week, they highlighted the Inspector General's report that found that the Bush administration didn't plan for the aftermath and then couldn't bother to hire the calibre of people into the Coalition Porvisional Authority (CPA) needed to rebuild Iraq.

The Bush administration never drew up a comprehensive plan for rebuilding Iraq after the March 2003 invasion, which contributed to a severe shortage of skilled federal workers in Baghdad and to the mismanagement of the country's oil money, according to a new government report.

"There was insufficient systematic planning for human capital management in Iraq before and during the U.S.-directed stabilization and reconstruction operations," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in a new "lessons learned" report released yesterday. "The practical limitations ensuing from this shortfall adversely affected reconstruction in post-war Iraq."

...When the CPA took over that May, the deteriorating security environment made it all the more difficult to recruit federal workers.

"The ability and willingness of U.S. government agencies to provide detailers to CPA had declined," according to the report.

"The coalition nations have millions of the most talented individuals in the world," said retired Rear Adm. David Oliver, who directed CPA's budget. "We needed, and did not have, several thousand of them. Our partners sent some of the best and brightest. The United States did not proportionally provide."

But, if you recall, the administration was quite particular about who should be hired for their nation building project. After all, as we learned, the main requirement for getting an exciting job in Iraq was having your resume posted at the Heritage Institution.

Simone Ledeen is serving her country. She is the daughter of Michael Ledeen, the Iran-Contra luminary, AEI scholar, and all-around capo in the neocon mafia. She's 29, a freshly-minted M.B.A., with little to no experience in war-torn countries. But as an advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad, she is, in essence, helping shape one quarter of that nation's economy.

When the history of the occupation of Iraq is written, there will be many factors to point to when explaining the post-conquest descent into chaos and disorder, from the melting away of Saddam's army to the Pentagon's failure to make adequate plans for the occupation. But historians will also consider the lack of experience and abundant political connections of the hundreds of American bureaucrats sent to Baghdad to run Iraq through the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Those skilled federal workers who others might have believed were important would have just gotten in the way of the nation-building neocons. By setting up a lightly regulated government designed to encourage the market, they could show how free market policies would unlock the potential of Iraq. Heritage Institute applicants knew they were on the front-line for showing the world what a utopia a truly free market would create. Too bad it didn't quite pan out in reality. So what is Simone Ledeen doing these days?

Posted by Mary at March 2, 2006 01:45 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |