Book excerpts from the journalists featured in "The Lost Year in Iraq"; speeches from Bush & Rumsfeld on nation-building; and other resources.
Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq
Following fall of Saddam' regime, some 1,500 Americans were hired by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to administer $18 billion in reconstruction funds. But "applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction," writes Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post. "What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration." In this article, adapted from his book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Chandrasekaran profiles three of the CPA's political appointees and attempts to explain why "the decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest" is among the administration's biggest mistakes. (Sept. 17, 2006)
In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam
In this article, adapted from his book Fiasco: The American Military Adventures in Iraq, Thomas Ricks, senior Pentagon reporter for The Washington Post, argues that in Iraq, the United States has failed to heed the lessons of guerilla warfare and has fought an unconventional war conventionally. Mistakes include the CPA's decisions on de-Baathification and dissolving the Iraqi military, the U.S. Army's routine ground patrols, and "draconian interrogation ideas." These decisions, Ricks writes, have "helped spur the insurgency and made it bigger and stronger than it might have been." (July 23, 2006)
It Looked Weird and Felt Wrong
A second article adapted from Ricks' Fiasco profiles the 4th Infantry Division and its commander. He writes that the unit's aggressive security tactics "alienated large parts of the population," and in some cases made neutral Iraqis supporters of the insurgency. He also examines charges that the members of the unit indiscriminately detained Iraqis and, in some cases, murdered them. (July 24, 2006)
Welcome to the Green Zone
In this November 2004 article for The Atlantic, correspondent William Langewiesche takes readers on a tour of Green Zone, the American-controlled oasis inside war-torn Baghdad, nicknamed "The Bubble" by residents. He describes the Americans living inside the protected zone as deluded by their own safety that their presence in Iraq was a positive force. "Much has been made of the lack of planning that preceded the invasion, but it was the isolation afterward that turned out to be as great a problem," he writes. "It is a famous paradox that walls that protect you also hem you in."
Snowflakes from the Secretary
Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent for The New York Times, was embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the war and co-authored a book about his experiences, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. This excerpt, named after the terse memos Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld showered on his generals, describes how the secretary's plans for military "transformation" played out -- over the objection of military leaders -- in the development of the war plan for the invasion of Iraq.
Oral Histories from USIP's Iraq Experience Project
An initiative led by the United States Institute for Peace's (USIP) Professional Training program, the Iraq Experience Project collects oral histories from U.S. government officials, military officers and contractors who have served in Iraq. By distilling and disseminating the experiences of U.S. civilian and military personnel, the USIP hopes to provide lessons for others who may serve in Iraq and beyond. Over 38 interviews (in PDF format) cover topics such as governance, security and reconstruction. Of related interest are USIP's three reports summarizing lessons learned, including how to provide successful economic reconstruction, maintain public security and prevent breakdowns in local government.
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Web Site
Although the CPA was dissolved and replaced by an interim Iraqi government on June 28, 2004, its Web site has been preserved and remains an important historical artifact. Read the controversial CPA orders, including Order No. 1 titled "The De-Baathification of Iraqi Society" and Order No. 2. disbanding the Iraqi military. Review a list (PDF) of contracts awarded in the reconstruction process, and read the CPA's outline for establishing a new national government and transferring sovereignty to Iraqis.
Beyond Nation Building
In this speech delivered just weeks before the American invasion of Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld outlines his philosophy of international military engagements. Although he focuses on the American mission in Afghanistan, he also foreshadows the military's plan for the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq: "The objective is not to engage in what some call nation building," he says. "The goal would not be to impose and American-style template on Iraq, but rather to create conditions where Iraqis can form a government in their own unique way." (Feb. 14, 2003).
A Period of Consequences
President Bush gave this speech to cadets at the Citadel while campaigning for president. In this speech, he lays out his ideas for the role of the U.S. military abroad: to deter wars, to encourage allies to take a broader role, to curtail open-ended deployments, and "to replace uncertain missions with well-defined objectives." "[W]e will not be permanent peacekeepers, dividing warring parties," he says. "This is not our strength or our calling." (Sept. 23, 1999)
Turning the Page
In this speech addressed to the Iraqi people, CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer III summarizes the economic and security situation in the country 10 weeks before the transfer of sovereignty. He also admits that there are problems with de-Baathificaton, but he refuses to abandon the policy. "The debaathification policy was and is sound. It does not need to be changed," he says. "It is the right policy for Iraq. But it has been poorly implemented." (April 23, 2004)