Saturday, June 18, 2005

Squandered Victory

Laura Rosen over at War and Piece links to the NY Times review of Larry Diamond's "Sqandered Victory." It is not a pretty picture.

"The failures of the Bush administration to prepare adequately for the postwar period in Iraq are by now well known, underscored by the revelation this week that a briefing paper, prepared for Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain eight months before the invasion, warned that 'a postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise' and that 'little thought' had been given by the United States to 'the aftermath and how to shape it.'It is a subject explicated in chilling - and often scathing - detail by 'Squandered Victory,' a new book by Larry Diamond, a former senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and a leading American scholar on democracy and democratic movements. In this book, Mr. Diamond contends that the postwar troubles in Iraq - a bloody and unrelenting insurgency, the creation of a new breeding ground for terrorists and metastasizing ethnic and religious tensions - are the result of 'gross negligence' on the part of a Bush administration that rushed to war. He asserts that 'mistakes were made at virtually every turn' of the occupation, and that 'every mistake the United States made in Iraq narrowed the scope and lengthened the odds for progress.'

His book not only provides an unsettling account of the mind-boggling challenges involved in trying to bring democracy to Iraq (ranging from practical matters like setting up an infrastructure for the electoral process to political and philosophical issues dealing with the drafting of a constitution) but also lays out a thoughtful, pull-no-punches analysis of the missteps and misjudgments by the Bush White House and the Pentagon in the months before and after America's toppling of Saddam Hussein.

It is a book that should be read by anyone interested in understanding why the United States' quick military victory has given way to an increasingly virulent insurgency and nearly daily reports of car bombings and suicide attacks, why even post-election hopes have been shadowed by worries about the continuing violence spiraling into a Lebanon-style civil war. . ."

About a year ago in a post at this site called Arrogance and Ignorance I wrote about James Fallows' "The 51st State" posted on the Atlantic Monthly site in November of 2002. This article used to be available in its entirely without a subscription but no more. Nevertheless, Fallows proved far more thoughtful and prescient than the Bush administration.


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