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Redsfaithful
06-06-2005, 03:53 PM
This is written by Newsweek's Baghdad Bureau Chief, who's leaving after spending two years in Baghdad.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8101422/site/newsweek/


By Rod Nordland
Newsweek

June 13 issue -

Two years ago I went to Iraq as an unabashed believer in toppling Saddam Hussein. I knew his regime well from previous visits; WMDs or no, ridding the world of Saddam would surely be for the best, and America's good intentions would carry the day. What went wrong? A lot, but the biggest turning point was the Abu Ghraib scandal. Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work. There is no evidence that all the mistreatment and humiliation saved a single American life or led to the capture of any major terrorist, despite claims by the military that the prison produced "actionable intelligence."

The most shocking thing about Abu Ghraib was not the behavior of U.S. troops, but the incompetence of their leaders. Against the conduct of the Lynndie Englands and the Charles Graners, I'll gladly set the honesty and courage of Specialist Joseph Darby, the young MP who reported the abuse. A few soldiers will always do bad things. That's why you need competent officers, who know what the men and women under their command are capable of—and make sure it doesn't happen.

Living and working in Iraq, it's hard not to succumb to despair. At last count America has pumped at least $7 billion into reconstruction projects, with little to show for it but the hostility of ordinary Iraqis, who still have an 18 percent unemployment rate. Most of the cash goes to U.S. contractors who spend much of it on personal security. Basic services like electricity, water and sewers still aren't up to prewar levels. Electricity is especially vital in a country where summer temperatures commonly reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet only 15 percent of Iraqis have reliable electrical service. In the capital, where it counts most, it's only 4 percent.

The most powerful army in human history can't even protect a two-mile stretch of road. The Airport Highway connects both the international airport and Baghdad's main American military base, Camp Victory, to the city center. At night U.S. troops secure the road for the use of dignitaries; they close it to traffic and shoot at any unauthorized vehicles. More troops and more helicopters could help make the whole country safer. Instead the Pentagon has been drawing down the number of helicopters. And America never deployed nearly enough soldiers. They couldn't stop the orgy of looting that followed Saddam's fall. Now their primary mission is self-defense at any cost—which only deepens Iraqis' resentment.

The four-square-mile Green Zone, the one place in Baghdad where foreigners are reasonably safe, could be a showcase of American values and abilities. Instead the American enclave is a trash-strewn wasteland of Mad Max-style fortifications. The traffic lights don't work because no one has bothered to fix them. The garbage rarely gets collected. Some of the worst ambassadors in U.S. history are the GIs at the Green Zone's checkpoints. They've repeatedly punched Iraqi ministers, accidentally shot at visiting dignitaries and behave (even on good days) with all the courtesy of nightclub bouncers—to Americans and Iraqis alike. Not that U.S. soldiers in Iraq have much to smile about. They're overworked, much ignored on the home front and widely despised in Iraq, with little to look forward to but the distant end of their tours—and in most cases, another tour soon to follow. Many are reservists who, when they get home, often face the wreckage of careers and family.

I can't say how it will end. Iraq now has an elected government, popular at least among Shiites and Kurds, who give it strong approval ratings. There's even some hope that the Sunni minority will join the constitutional process. Iraqi security forces continue to get better trained and equipped. But Iraqis have such a long way to go, and there are so many ways for things to get even worse. I'm not one of those who think America should pull out immediately. There's no real choice but to stay, probably for many years to come. The question isn't "When will America pull out?"; it's "How bad a mess can we afford to leave behind?" All I can say is this: last one out, please turn on the lights.

RedFanAlways1966
06-06-2005, 04:15 PM
Seems like nothing more than someone with an agenda. Someone who works for a mag that got caught with its pants down about 2-3 weeks ago.

One man's opinion. Opinion, I said. That is what his article is. My guess is that this person wishes for failure in Iraq. Then he can say, "See, I told you all along." Because being right is the most important thing. Did he bother to ask the Shiites or Kurds about the U.S. presence? Or does he just ask Sunnis?

Pot shots at Abu Gharib leaders (imagine that). How many of those leaders have been convicted of wrongdoing or derelict of duty? But I am supposed to believe Joe Blow from Newsweek? Is Joe Blow a former militray leader or does he just shoot from the hip? Was Joe Blow inside the prison observing these leaders who did not do their job? Why didn't Joe Blow tell someone sooner instead of later? Hmmmmm.

Opinion. And one from a guy who claims he was for the initial attack. I truly don't believe he felt that way. Makes for a good opening line for this article though. Sounds like plagerism from that Moore guy's anti-Bush movie. You know... where kids were flying kites and playing hopskotch in the streets before those big bad Americans starting bombing them and their families. Good to see this bad influence leave Iraq. He is bad for morale.

KittyDuran
06-06-2005, 04:30 PM
Seems like nothing more than someone with an agenda. Someone who works for a mag that got caught with its pants down about 2-3 weeks ago.

One man's opinion. Opinion, I said. That is what his article is. My guess is that this person wishes for failure in Iraq. Then he can say, "See, I told you all along." Because being right is the most important thing. Did he bother to ask the Shiites or Kurds about the U.S. presence? Or does he just ask Sunnis?

Pot shots at Abu Gharib leaders (imagine that). How many of those leaders have been convicted of wrongdoing or derelict of duty? But I am supposed to believe Joe Blow from Newsweek? Is Joe Blow a former militray leader or does he just shoot from the hip? Was Joe Blow inside the prison observing these leaders who did not do their job? Why didn't Joe Blow tell someone sooner instead of later? Hmmmmm.

Opinion. And one from a guy who claims he was for the initial attack. I truly don't believe he felt that way. Makes for a good opening line for this article though. Sounds like plagerism from that Moore guy's anti-Bush movie. You know... where kids were flying kites and playing hopskotch in the streets before those big bad Americans starting bombing them and their families. Good to see this bad influence leave Iraq. He is bad for morale.
Sigh... how about discussing the issues and not the messenger? :(

Redsfaithful
06-06-2005, 04:31 PM
RFA, I don't think it was framed as anything other than an opinion article, with some facts mixed in. I'm sorry that people giving their opinions seems to offend you so much.

ochre
06-06-2005, 04:37 PM
And of course those first hand accounts of the difficulties faced over there should just be dismissed as "agenda"?

Johnny Footstool
06-06-2005, 04:54 PM
Because being right is the most important thing.

I think that's why many conservatives supported Bush in the last election. And why he can do no wrong in some people's eyes. No one likes to admit that they were wrong.

Falls City Beer
06-06-2005, 05:43 PM
I think that's why many conservatives supported Bush in the last election. And why he can do no wrong in some people's eyes. No one likes to admit that they were wrong.

There's a reason why Dante made "pride" the deadliest sin.

Rojo
06-06-2005, 05:50 PM
My guess is that this person wishes for failure in Iraq. Then he can say, "See, I told you all along."

Sorry to break this to you, but this is a done deal. Its officially a failure. The "I told you so" stage has long passed.

dsmith421
06-06-2005, 06:52 PM
RFA, I don't think it was framed as anything other than an opinion article, with some facts mixed in. I'm sorry that people giving their opinions seems to offend you so much.

It's much easier to say "this person has an agenda" or "this person hates America" then have to look yourself in the mirror and say, "maybe some of the stuff I bought into was a lie."

The current right-wing is less a political movement than a personality cult centered around George W. Bush. Anything tending to show his fallibility is bound to get rejected in the most vehement terms, because there's really nothing else there to fall back on. Everything about it, the Bible-thumping, the over-the-top jingoism masquerading as patriotism, the intolerance for dissent, all of it is based upon keeping that one myth alive. It would be an incredibly interesting social phenomenon if it wasn't so scary.

Falls City Beer
06-06-2005, 06:58 PM
It's much easier to say "this person has an agenda" or "this person hates America" then have to look yourself in the mirror and say, "maybe some of the stuff I bought into was a lie."

The current right-wing is less a political movement than a personality cult centered around George W. Bush. Anything tending to show his fallibility is bound to get rejected in the most vehement terms, because there's really nothing else there to fall back on. Everything about it, the Bible-thumping, the over-the-top jingoism masquerading as patriotism, the intolerance for dissent, all of it is based upon keeping that one myth alive. It would be an incredibly interesting social phenomenon if it wasn't so scary.

This is a brilliant post. Encapsulates my feelings exactly.

wally post
06-06-2005, 08:51 PM
yep

RedsBaron
06-06-2005, 09:23 PM
No one likes to admit that they were wrong.
I can agree with that statement, but I would add that it is a failing hardly exclusive to those who are politically conservative.

Falls City Beer
06-06-2005, 09:26 PM
I can agree with that statement, but I would add that it is a failing hardly exclusive to those who are politically conservative.

Of course not. But when an administration passes the buck and blame as much as this one, let me know. This administration is defined by this failing.

Johnny Footstool
06-07-2005, 12:30 AM
I can agree with that statement, but I would add that it is a failing hardly exclusive to those who are politically conservative.

Of course not. We liberals were wrong to think that John Kerry was a strong enough candidate to unseat Bush.