I’m watching Frontline and their report on The Lost Year in Iraq which pretty much illustrates where America went wrong in dealing with the aftermath of the war:
Today, as America looks for an exit strategy, FRONTLINE examines the initial, critical decisions of the U.S.-led regime in Baghdad in The Lost Year in Iraq. From the same team that produced Rumsfeld’s War, The Torture Question and The Dark Side, the film is based on more than 30 interviews, most of them with the officials charged with building a new and democratic Iraq.
The Lost Year in Iraq begins on April 9, 2003, as American troops help a crowd of Iraqis topple a statue of Saddam Hussein. In Washington there was celebration, but in Baghdad the looting was beginning. Jay Garner, the retired general picked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to lead reconstruction, was forced to wait in Kuwait for authorization to enter Iraq. He and his team had arrived from Washington without computers, telephones or a plan. “Everybody was focused on the war; they were focused on regime change,” Garner tells FRONTLINE. “That took all of their energy. I wasn’t the central focus.” On the day Garner finally arrived in Baghdad, he received a phone call from Rumsfeld: He was being replaced by L. Paul Bremer.
Bremer, who arrived with sweeping plans to remake the country, had a young and inexperienced team, but his staff had passed a political litmus test in Washington. “It’s a children’s crusade … of former Republican campaign workers, White House interns [and] Heritage Foundation people,” says Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post. Col. T.X. Hammes, a counterinsurgency expert and adviser to Iraq’s Interior Ministry, felt Bremer’s staff could have been better trained. “We had so many of these very, very young people that are dedicated Americans, brave enough to take a chance and go into Iraq to try to do something right for their country,” he tells FRONTLINE. “But [they] didn’t get any training; they have no background. … And yet we put them in charge of planning at [the] national level.”
It originally aired back in October of last year and I missed it the first time around, but caught the repeat tonight. It’s a stunning series of bad decisions on the part of the administration and the inexperienced, but politically loyal, administrators they put in charge of Iraq. The footage shown is, at times, quite shocking but it’s an important show that more people should watch. And you can watch it online for free. It’ll leave you outraged.