Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 23, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

BABES IN TOYLAND....It's pretty obvious that Ariana Eunjung Cha of the Washington Post was doing her best to write a fairly neutral story about the young people who were recruited to work in Iraq for the CPA last year, but it's really pretty appalling:

By the fall, when [Simone] Ledeen and peers arrived, the CPA had a serious staffing problem. Initial plans called for 3,700 people, but for most of the year it had been operating with 1,300. Moreover, many of those who did come stayed the minimum 90 days. Mark St. Laurent, 36, a D.C. paramedic who was assigned to the economics team, said the short commitments made getting work done difficult: "One month learning the ropes. One month doing actual work. One month lame duck -- you don't want to do anything because you don't want to piss off the guy coming next."

....[Lt. Col. Joseph] Yoswa said the recruiting office had to hire quickly for the Madrid donors conference that fall and "turned to the Heritage Foundation, an educational facility, albeit a conservative one, but primarily a place where you can get good, solid people." He said this was a one-time event and that there was no organized effort to hire Republicans.

....Brad Jackson, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve who worked with the CPA, said the budget team regularly asked other ministries at the last minute to produce information that would take hundreds of people half a year to gather.

"There were a lot of people who, being political science majors, didn't know what an income statement was, who were asking the impossible. . . . That was giving us ulcers, quite frankly," he said.

The young budget advisers are the first to admit that they weren't the most qualified to be managing Iraq's finances. "We knew we were overwhelmed. We wanted help," Ledeen said. "We were doing maintenance, trying to make sure there were no riots, that no one went hungry."

All kudos to the kids who went to Iraq and put in 100-hour weeks on this stuff, but you just have to shake your head at the supposed adults who allowed this to happen. Instead of going the extra mile to seriously work with NGOs and other experienced reconstruction experts, they preferred to hire inexperienced college grads who happened to be ideologically pure. Unfortunately, it's sort of a metaphor for this entire operation.

Kevin Drum 1:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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