Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 17, 2006

WB: The RNC Branch Office on the Tigris + Miracle Worker


II. Miracle Worker

Now we can see why the occupation of Iraq -- the toughest foreign policy job taken on by the U.S. government since the Vietnam War -- came to be run by the kind of conservative dimwits who post at The Corner. How much more do you need to know to understand that failure in Iraq wasn't just an option -- it was inevitable.

I. The RNC Branch Office on the Tigris

Posted by b on September 17, 2006 at 5:50 UTC | Permalink


But it wasn't the Washington Post or the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or any of the other corporate media that originally broke the story. It was the blogosphere's own Josh Marshall, Laura Rozen (of War and Piece) and Colin Soloway, writing for the Washington Monthly, in December 2003. That was almost three years ago. And now -- only now -- it's showing up on the front page of a major national newspaper.

I don't know if it's fair to blame the media for this one. (Not that I'm complaining -- framing a guilty man and all that). But for anyone who was paying attention, this has been obvious for some time. Heck, even the Washinton Times talked about their incompetence.

The Baghdad-based authority's lack of cohesion has prompted some soldiers in Iraq to joke that its acronym, CPA, stands for "Can't Produce Anything."

It's like you said before Billmon. This goes well beyond a media failure. It's a citizen failure.

Posted by: Vin Carreo | Sep 17 2006 8:44 utc | 1

When I first read this story back in early 2004, I was shocked. But as an example of the CPA's inept Republican cronyism, this is one of the best examples I found. The first sentence tells the story, but you really need to read the entire link to fully achieve sthe proper level of stunned disbelief:

At Yale University, Jay Hallen majored in political science, rarely watched financial news stations and didn't follow the stock market.

All of which made the 24-year-old an unlikely pick for the difficult task of rebuilding Iraq's shuttered stock exchange. But Mr. Hallen, a private-sector development officer for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, was given the job immediately after arriving in Baghdad in September.
Grad Has Bigger Job Than He Bargained For

Posted by: Ensley | Sep 17 2006 13:30 utc | 2

These guys are like Pacino's character in "Glengarry Glen Ross": great at sales, but only sales. Bush seems to think that's enough in a president. And the poor voting rubes have to walk down the circus midway every four years and buy something from a tout. Popeil Presidency. Slicer Dicer Democracy.

Posted by: | Sep 17 2006 13:32 utc | 3

Ronco Republicans

Posted by: | Sep 17 2006 13:33 utc | 4

And can we please stop mistaking a low-and-slow speaking style -- Cheney doing Kissinger doing John Wayne -- for gravitas?

Posted by: | Sep 17 2006 13:53 utc | 5

Baker has offered some hints of his thinking -- and his dismay with the way the Iraq occupation has been handled by the administration.

"The difficulty of winning the peace was severely underestimated," Baker wrote in a recent memoir, citing "costly mistakes" by the Pentagon. These included, he wrote, disbanding the Iraqi army, not securing weapons depots and "perhaps never having committed enough troops to successfully pacify the country."

Link to WaPo

Baker's bi-partisan commission has two impossible tasks to perform: first, it has to describe the problem at hand without engaging in an honest post mortem, and second, it has to find a "way out" of Iraq which is not a headlong retreat (the article linked above describes this singular charge).

For the moment, Baker not only has to say something (if only to justify the urgency and gravity of his mission), he also has to say it in ways receivable by Bush. And the quote cited above shows us how he intends to thread this particular needle, viz., by describing the problem strictly (or merely) in military terms. Thus "Peace" was a thing to be "won," just like a "war," and it was "the Pentagon's" task to win it. And how was it "lost," and not "won"? Strictly through military actions--by disbanding the Iraqi army, by not securing the weapons depots, and by not committing enough troops.

Rumsfeld & Co., then, will take more than its share of the blame, while the White House, whose role is really criminal, will go completely unmentioned.

This also suggests that the only actions to be recommended by Baker's commission would be military in nature--the staging of a politically acceptable military retreat of some kind. We'll be hearing no talk from Baker about schools and hospitals, roads and bridges, stock markets and electrical grids.

We have yet to learn who told Bush that the dregs of the Republican party could handle the occupation.

The process can partly be understood in terms of the ongoing turf-war: no one working with Powell would be acceptable to the neo-cons, for example. But I have trouble believing that the Pentagon itself is entirely to blame, if only because its operation was run entirely by men like Wolfowitz, whose contacts with the Republican party would have been rather modest, or even minimal.

This would suggest that Cheney grabbed the reins. But where could Cheney find folks who would answer to him and not to Powell? Certainly not in the bureaucracies of Washington. He had to find his civilians on the outside. But who would know where to find those outside civilians? Who indeed but Karl Rove, who knows every Republican operative in the country?

Cheney's the Eichmann of this affair--by which I mean that he's rather boring and colorless, and hard to catch in the act. Which is why Patrick Fitzgerald is taking his own sweet time: he's seen the type before, as with that erstwhile Governor of Illinois, whose name escapes me for the moment.

Posted by: alabama | Sep 17 2006 15:11 utc | 6

Ryan, of course....

Posted by: alabama | Sep 17 2006 15:47 utc | 7

Ronco Republicans...

hahaha, that cracked me up...I barely remember that, but I do remember another, form the late seventies, 'K-tel', Ronco republicans and their counterpart the K-tel

As seen on TV!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 17 2006 15:59 utc | 8

The foundation of American exceptionalism were the myths of morality, competence and common sense. The Bush Administration has turned these myths into nightmares. The last Empire based on fidelity to the Party disintegrated in 1991. Following the Kremlin’s guideposts, America’s collapse appears to be just about as quick and sure.

Posted by: Jim S | Sep 17 2006 16:44 utc | 9

We have yet to learn who told Bush that the dregs of the Republican party could handle the occupation.

I don't think anyone told Bush anything about this. Bush was told that it was being handled. Bush was told where to go and what to say.

Other than enforcing loyalty in the upper echelon, Bush is not involved in any of the policy-making or the policy-execution.

Posted by: James E. Powell | Sep 17 2006 17:08 utc | 10

No one would have said to the President, "Mr. President, only the dregs of the Republican part can handle this occupation". But I can imagine someone saying "Sir, we can promise you that you're in charge here; there will be no end runs by State, the CIA, or even the Pentagon. Because you, Sir, are THE DECIDERATOR, and you're going to keep those creepy bureaucrats in their places!"

So who might perform a triage that would yield this confident promise, and carry out this amazing process of selection? Not, I believe, Powell or Tenet or Mueller or even Rumsfeld (always vocal in his impatience and disdain for any task distracting him from that grand restructuring of the Pentagon).

Surely certainly Feith and Wolfowitz played a major part; but these folks are Likudites, not Republicans, and I doubt they'd ever heard of most of the freaks who turned up in Baghdad. Cheney, that bumbling control-freak, strikes me as a much better candidate for the task.

But I'm just guessing here. I should read what Bremer has to say, along with this new book being cited by the WaPo (along with a hundred other things as well).

Posted by: alabama | Sep 17 2006 18:10 utc | 11

Cheney working with Rove, I meant to say.

Posted by: alabama | Sep 17 2006 18:12 utc | 12

Who do we have to nudge to get the IRS to audit all these Bush cronies, etc. who were given these jobs. With all the billions gone missing isn't it probable that they stuffed their pockets on the way out the door? We need to see their bank accounts and those of their family members. There was too much money loose over there to believe that they overcame temptation.

Posted by: mpower1952 | Sep 17 2006 19:15 utc | 13

We need to see their bank accounts

something tells me their money isn't hanging out at bank of america. more likely some swiss vault. or some place in bermuda or dubai.

Posted by: annie | Sep 17 2006 20:19 utc | 14

Not happy with the rookie colonial admin? Rejoice, serious folks with a long view are looking into the how-to of neoclassical imperialism:

... Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld has a "strategy guy" whose job is to teach this new way of warfare to high-level military officers from all branches of services and to top level CIA operatives. Thomas Barnett is a professor at the Navy War College in Rhode Island.


In order to implement this new military vision, Barnett maintains that the U.S. military must move away from its often-competing mix of Air Force-Navy-Army-Marines toward two basic military services. One he names Leviathan, which he defines as the kick ass, wage war, special ops, and not under the purview of the international criminal court. Give us your angry, video game-playing 18-19 year olds, for the Leviathan force, Barnett says. Once a country is conquered by Leviathan, Barnett says the U.S. will have to have a second military force that he calls Systems Administration. This force he describes as the "proconsul" of the empire, boots on the ground, the police force to control the local populations. This group, Barnett says, "will never come home."

Found last year via the very decent Past Peak blog.

Posted by: Alamet | Sep 17 2006 21:30 utc | 15

So, it's the 2nd group mentioned at the end of Alamet's post that's doing such a smashup job running things in Afghan. & Iraq? But here's another interesting bit from that article:

National Guard units across the U.S. are now being assigned the task of developing on-going basing relationships with each nation on the African continent.

Posted by: jj | Sep 17 2006 22:19 utc | 16

The RNC Branch Office on the Tigris
The CPA was based in one of Saddam's palaces. As the old (circa 2004) joke went, it wasn't called the Republican Palace for nothing.

Another name for the CPA was the "Condescending and Patronising Americans".

Posted by: Gag Halfrunt | Sep 18 2006 13:50 utc | 17

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