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Iraqi insider details U.S. mismanagement

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070409/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_insider_s_account Iraqi insider details U.S. mismanagement By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2007
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      Iraqi insider details U.S. mismanagement

      By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent 1 hour,
      7 minutes ago

      NEW YORK - In a rueful reflection on what might have
      been, an Iraqi government insider details in 500 pages
      the U.S. occupation's "shocking" mismanagement of his
      country — a performance so bad, he writes, that by
      2007 Iraqis had "turned their backs on their would-be

      "The corroded and corrupt state of Saddam was replaced
      by the corroded, inefficient, incompetent and corrupt
      state of the new order," Ali A. Allawi concludes in
      "The Occupation of Iraq," newly published by Yale
      University Press.

      Allawi writes with authority as a member of that "new
      order," having served as Iraq's trade, defense and
      finance minister at various times since 2003. As a
      former academic, at Oxford University before the
      U.S.-British invasion of Iraq, he also writes with
      unusual detachment.

      The U.S.- and British-educated engineer and financier
      is the first senior Iraqi official to look back at
      book length on his country's four-year ordeal. It's an
      unsparing look at failures both American and Iraqi, an
      account in which the word "ignorance" crops up

      First came the "monumental ignorance" of those in
      Washington pushing for war in 2002 without "the
      faintest idea" of Iraq's realities. "More perceptive
      people knew instinctively that the invasion of Iraq
      would open up the great fissures in Iraqi society," he

      What followed was the "rank amateurism and swaggering
      arrogance" of the occupation, under L. Paul Bremer's
      Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which took big
      steps with little consultation with Iraqis, steps
      Allawi and many others see as blunders:

      • The Americans disbanded Iraq's army, which Allawi
      said could have helped quell a rising insurgency in
      2003. Instead, hundreds of thousands of demobilized,
      angry men became a recruiting pool for the resistance.

      • Purging tens of thousands of members of toppled
      Saddam Hussein's Baath party — from government, school
      faculties and elsewhere — left Iraq short on
      experienced hands at a crucial time.

      • An order consolidating decentralized bank accounts
      at the Finance Ministry bogged down operations of
      Iraq's many state-owned enterprises.

      • The CPA's focus on private enterprise allowed the
      "commercial gangs" of Saddam's day to monopolize

      • Its free-trade policy allowed looted Iraqi capital
      equipment to be spirited away across borders.

      • The CPA perpetuated Saddam's fuel subsidies, selling
      gasoline at giveaway prices and draining the budget.

      In his 2006 memoir of the occupation, Bremer wrote
      that senior U.S. generals wanted to recall elements of
      the old Iraqi army in 2003, but were rebuffed by the
      Bush administration. Bremer complained generally that
      his authority was undermined by Washington's

      Although Allawi, a cousin of Ayad Allawi, Iraq's prime
      minister in 2004, is a member of a secularist Shiite
      Muslim political grouping, his well-researched book
      betrays little partisanship.

      On U.S. reconstruction failures — in electricity,
      health care and other areas documented by Washington's
      own auditors — Allawi writes that the Americans'
      "insipid retelling of `success' stories" merely hid
      "the huge black hole that lay underneath."

      For their part, U.S. officials have often largely
      blamed Iraq's explosive violence for the failures of
      reconstruction and poor governance.

      The author has been instrumental since 2005 in
      publicizing extensive corruption within Iraq's "new
      order," including an $800-million Defense Ministry
      scandal. Under Saddam, he writes, the secret police
      kept would-be plunderers in check better than the U.S.
      occupiers have done.

      As 2007 began, Allawi concludes, "America's only
      allies in Iraq were those who sought to manipulate the
      great power to their narrow advantage. It might have
      been otherwise."
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