BLAME THE PENTAGON, NOT THE CONTRACTORS: A READER RESPONDS
A US military official who served in Iraq during the US occupation has responded to my story, posted Monday, about the Marine colonel who blamed contractor arrogance in part for igniting the Iraqi insurgency.
"The Colonel would do well to examine the legion failures of senior leadership to first employ an effective post-conflict/occupation/reconstruction strategy," the unidentified official wrote in a note to a military affairs list-serve that posted my article (read the note in its entirety below). "Water, electricity, jobs, and security would have gone a long way in undermining the support base the bad guys now enjoy."
The official makes a good point. But he overlooks the fact that privatization itself was a key element in the policies of the "senior leadership" of the occupation, which was led by L. Paul Bremer. And remember, Bremer was drafted for his position from Marsh Inc., the world's largest insurance company, where he ran a unit that consulted with corporations and governments about counter-terrorism. Still, my respondent is correct to note that the true responsibility for the fiasco in Iraq lies at the feet of Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the other civilian leaders at the Pentagon, and with President George W. Bush himself.
Here's the posting (thanks to David Isenberg at the British American Security Information Council for passing this along):
Saying the arrogance of PMC's contributed to the Iraqi rebellion is like saying the pre-fabricated housing outside the Embassy over there offers some degree of protection from indirect fire. Yes, some PMC's have done some boneheaded things (see the Tucker Carlson Esquire article from last year). However, in comparison to the things the occupation did to inflame the insurgency, this is a drop in the bucket. I wasn't at this event, but the Colonel would do well to examine the legion failures of senior leadership to first employ an effective post-conflict/occupation/reconstruction strategy (actually, ignoring same. See Department of State/Tom Warrick's Future of Iraq Project), then recognize that a genuine insurgency was developing, and finally identify methods to effectively counteract this development. Water, electricity, jobs, and security would have gone a long way in undermining the support base the bad guys now enjoy. The first report I sent up through US and UN chains-of-command identifying water and electricity as basic security concerns was on 1 April 2003. Many folks smarter than I identified the same concern and reported on it early. The Iraqis were saying this clearly to us every time we spoke with them. I don't remember water pump and power station repair as part of the Terms of Reference for security companies over there.