[Marxism] A rightwing brat pack in Iraq
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun May 23 07:34:26 MDT 2004
In Iraq, the Job Opportunity of a Lifetime
Managing a $13 Billion Budget With No Experience
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 23, 2004; Page A01
BAGHDAD -- It was after nightfall when they finally found their offices
at Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace -- 11 jet-lagged, sweaty,
idealistic volunteers who had come to help Iraq along the road to
When the U.S. government went looking for people to help rebuild Iraq,
they had responded to the call. They supported the war effort and
President Bush. Many had strong Republican credentials. They were in
their twenties or early thirties and had no foreign service experience.
On that first day, Oct. 1, they knew so little about how things worked
that they waited hours at the airport for a ride that was never coming.
They finally discovered the shuttle bus out of the airport but got off
at the wrong stop.
Occupied Iraq was just as Simone Ledeen had imagined -- ornate mosques,
soldiers in formation, sand blowing everywhere, "just like on TV." The
28-year-old daughter of neoconservative pundit Michael Ledeen and a
recently minted MBA, she had arrived on a military transport plane with
the others and was eager to get to work.
They had been hired to perform a low-level task: collecting and
organizing statistics, surveys and wish lists from the Iraqi ministries
for a report that would be presented to potential donors at the end of
the month. But as suicide bombs and rocket attacks became almost daily
occurrences, more and more senior staffers defected. In short order, six
of the new young hires found themselves managing the country's $13
billion budget, making decisions affecting millions of Iraqis.
Viewed from the outside, their experience illustrates many of the
problems that have beset the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority
(CPA), a paucity of experienced applicants, a high turnover rate,
bureaucracy, partisanship and turf wars. But within their group, inside
the "Green Zone," the four-mile strip surrounded by cement blast walls
where Iraq's temporary rulers are based, their seven months at the CPA
was the experience of a lifetime. It was defined by long hours,
patriotism, friendship, sacrifice and loss.
The CPA was designed to be a grand experiment in nation-building, a body
of experts who would be Iraq's guide for transforming itself into a
model for democracy in the Middle East. Unlike previous reconstruction
efforts, it was to be manned by civilians -- advisers on politics, law,
medicine, transportation, agronomy and other key areas. They were
supposed to be experts, but many of the younger hires who filled the
CPA's hallways were longer on enthusiasm than on expertise.
L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's top civil administrator, may have been the public
face of the CPA, but it is these rank-and-file workers who defined the
occupation at the ground level. This account of the budget team's time
in Baghdad is drawn from direct observation and interviews with more
than three dozen civilian and military members of the occupation
The Marxism list: www.marxmail.org
More information about the Marxism