Iraq Blame Game Points At Ideology

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I’m going to ask all of you to do something right now, and I’m asking quite sincerely.

All you have to do is read this entire piece:

After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans — restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O’Beirne’s office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O’Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O’Beirne’s office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was sent to reopen Baghdad’s stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget, even though they didn’t have a background in accounting.

These are the people who get to run our country? These are the stewards of our Democracy? Jeezus…I am so thoroughly ashamed at how disgustingly uncaring these hacks are, and how much disdain they have for the Iraqi people. And do know that they simply do not care about the Iraqi people. There’s no other explanation for why somebody would jeopardize success in the war over something as crudely base as ideology. Roe v. Wade? Are you kidding me?

This part about the priorities of those who were trying to rebuild the health care in Iraq are even more infuriating…especially the part about taking away Iraqis free health care. Yes, you read that right. It seems that James K. Haveman Jr. didn’t like the fact that Iraqis didn’t pay for their health care…so he simply took it away.

Apparently, being a good Christian means being a good Capitalist…

Haveman arrived in Iraq with his own priorities. He liked to talk about the number of hospitals that had reopened since the war and the pay raises that had been given to doctors instead of the still-decrepit conditions inside the hospitals or the fact that many physicians were leaving for safer, better paying jobs outside Iraq. He approached problems the way a health care administrator in America would: He focused on preventive measures to reduce the need for hospital treatment.

He urged the Health Ministry to mount an anti-smoking campaign, and he assigned an American from the CPA team — who turned out to be a closet smoker himself — to lead the public education effort. Several members of Haveman’s staff noted wryly that Iraqis faced far greater dangers in their daily lives than tobacco. The CPA’s limited resources, they argued, would be better used raising awareness about how to prevent childhood diarrhea and other fatal maladies.

Haveman didn’t like the idea that medical care in Iraq was free. He figured Iraqis should pay a small fee every time they saw a doctor. He also decided to allocate almost all of the Health Ministry’s $793 million share of U.S. reconstruction funds to renovating maternity hospitals and building new community medical clinics. His intention, he said, was “to shift the mind-set of the Iraqis that you don’t get health care unless you go to a hospital.”

But his decision meant there were no reconstruction funds set aside to rehabilitate the emergency rooms and operating theaters at Iraqi hospitals, even though injuries from insurgent attacks were the country’s single largest public health challenge.

Again, the article is long, but if you don’t read the whole thing, you’re really doing yourself a disservice.

So ashamed…so fucking ashamed…

  • http://modleft.blogspot.com Jeremy

    And the kicker? It just proves their supporters’ theory that government is fundamentally incompetent and should be made small enough to drown in the bathtub. Win, win.

  • Eural

    As I’ve posted elsewhere this is horrible but changes little domestically – all of my conservative friends still chant “but the Dems would be worse” because thats how they defend the Bush fiasco now. Whatever the evidence, whatever the lie, whatever the incompetence…at least the Dems aren’t in charge to screw it up more.

    You cannot reason – or change – someone with that outlook. I know, I’ve been trying for 3 years now!

  • ES

    I was there in the CPA area with the military. The CPA senior advisors I was aware of and had interactions with were competent and serviceable; some were even outstanding. Some of the senior advisor’s staff had folks with knowledge and drive (minus one and he was a first grade jack-hole and lout). The problem I had seen was at the lower levels where the young’uns worked. Some of these folks were intelligent themselves but they lacked a couple of things: they could not work in a bureaucracy (not only US military, US Government, but also what the Iraqis had themselves), they seemed to shot for the ‘pie-in-the-sky’ solution even though the realities of the situation dictated a different solution, and they at times were colossal pains in the *** when they controlled the purse strings to get projects out to be constructed (tied the other two points).

    The guys came over with the State Department’s exception to be given these appointments while their salaries were GS-15 and SES positions. The GS-15 civilian rate is equivalent to an O-6 in the military and a fair number of political hacks with no business knowledge were able to pull up to $140,000 for four months of work after regular pay, overtime, hazard and post differential pays, and probably a bonus at the end. So people were padding their resumes, pulling in some big bucks for a short period of time, making decisions that a number of them SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MAKING, and HIDING either in Palace or the LSA trailer parks – what exactly did we get?

    About three or four weeks ago, an appeals court overturned a decision to have Custer Battles (CB) to repay $10M to the US Government for a variety of over-charging and other wrong doings. CB is a private security firm over in Iraq. The appeals court said even though the monies paying the Contractors by the CPA were from the American folks, the way the Contracting Office was set up by these yahoos caused office to be a non-entity even though both parties signed contracts. The Contracting Office had a very big part in the reconstruction part and it was flawed by enabling various Contractors to walk away and over-charge on the contracts with no means of retribution for wrongdoing. We might as well as have given the Contractors a blank check and tell us what we needed.

  • ME

    First we had Katrina

    That made us look around…and we realized

    We now have a Katrina war on terror
    We have a Katrina Iraq reconstruction
    We have a Katrina education system
    We have a Katrina deficit
    We have a Katrina health care system
    We have a Katrina army

    Everything they touch turns to Katrina!

  • JustAnotherIdjut

    I know this is only anecdotal evidence, but…

    I have relative who served as an Army Ranger in both
    Afghanistan and Iraq. When his 6 years was up, he got out and
    signed on with BlackWater. He provides security for visiting State
    department employees. He says 90% of them spend their time
    mouthing off about Bush, the war, and Blackwater or Haliburton.
    They all try to get a short stint in Iraq just to build their resumes.

    My question is: How do these people get past this O’Beirne guy?

    Should I believe my relative or the WP?

  • ES

    The question, “How do these people get past this O’Beirne guy?” can be answered by saying the gate keeping was being done in the opening parts of the build-up in CPA. Though I do not know, and that is the caveat, I would suspect the gate keepers are long-gone. The environment that day is probably not going to be the same as it was back then – early deployments are like the Wild West: very little oversight and rules by the garrison.

    The period of time spoken of is right after the administration, the neo-conservatives, and the water-carrying pundits felt vindicated by their moves into Iraq. Andrew Jackson had “To the victor goes the spoils.” Iraq was the spoils for their support of the administration and the deeds in which the regime replacement was done. I would also suspect whoever is running the staff over there is going to be a little more selective on who is to be hired – the Wild West days should be over.

    You had asked, “Should I believe my relative or the WP?” Again, the Post article is about the early days in the CPA. It sounds as if your relative is a recent addition to the staff over there. Different periods of time.

    Just to show a sign of the times, when I had gotten to my duty station, we used to drive on Irish with two unarmored vehicles with a driver and a shooter in each vehicle. Six months later, we were ordered to get in a military convoy with lots of vehicles and guns or to use a privatized security firm one of our sister units had a contract with. If a newspaper writer were to write a story of those earlier days does not mean the same stimuli and events are there today.

    While I was there, I bad-mouthed: Halliburton, ALL privatized security firms (I disagree with the Roman model the US has gone with getting people with guns to do the job over there), private contractors and their money grubbing ways, CPA employees (on a continual basis, especially those yahoos who were bottlenecks in getting the job done), the food, the Saddam Revenge, long days and long nights, US Army typical BS, lack of resources and support, and so forth. What does that say about me? I am not being confrontational about this – I complained about a myriad of things while I was there. Some of it I think are legitimate gripes, and some were because of my discomfort.

  • BrianOfAtlanta

    “Apparently, being a good Christian means being a good Capitalist…”

    Where did this come from? The article had many good points, but I don’t think there is anything in it to suggest that Mr. Haveman’s questionable ideas had anything to do with him being a Christian.

  • JustAnotherIdjut


    Point taken. Two different points in time. I tend to drift off during the longer posts.

    “…private contractors and their money grubbing ways”

    heh – that’s why he signed on with Black water. The money is very good. GOD, I love Capitalism!

    “…long days and long nights, US Army typical BS, lack of resources and support…”

    and that’s why he left the Army.

    I judge from your post that you were in the Army there.
    If so, thank you for your service!

  • http://www.kozoru.com Justin Gardner

    Remember, the guy who hired all these people asked interviewees about Roe v. Wade. So I didn’t mix religion and politics here, they did. And since there’s obviously a religious/ideological aspect to this situation, I find it interesting that while a true Christian viewpoint on health care would be to give the most people the most health care, it’s the Capitalist’s viewpoint to privatize the industry and make people pay for it. What won out here? Well, capitalism.

    Frankly, I don’t know if Mr. Haveman is a Christian or not, but because the guy who hired him obviously is making people pass some sort of Roe v. Wade/ideology test, I find it ironic and sad that we’d take the free health care away from the Iraqis after we just bombed their country to kingdom come. It belies a certain, sad, common-sense blindness that seems to be the pervasive in the Republican Right these days. I hope moderate Republicans take over soon, because we’re truly seeing the head-shaking effects of religio-political mindset at work.