Sunday, April 15, 2007

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

I just finished reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. It is well written and an easy read.
Here is a short summary about it from Publishers Weekly via, and I quote:

"As the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post, Chandrasekaran has probably spent more time in U.S.-occupied Iraq than any other American journalist, and his intimate perspective permeates this history of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquartered in the Green Zone around Saddam Hussein's former palace. He presents the tenure of presidential viceroy L. Paul Bremer between May 2003 and June 2004 as an all-too-avoidable disaster, in which an occupational administration selected primarily for its loyalty to the Bush administration routinely ignored the reality of local conditions until, as one ex-staffer puts it, "everything blew up in our faces." Chandrasekaran unstintingly depicts the stubborn cluelessness of many Americans in the Green Zone—like the army general who says children terrified by nighttime helicopters should appreciate "the sound of freedom." But he sympathetically portrays others trying their best to cut through the red tape and institute genuine reforms. He also has a sharp eye for details, from casual sex in abandoned offices to stray cats adopted by staffers, which enable both advocates and critics of the occupation to understand the emotional toll of its circuslike atmosphere. Thanks to these personal touches, the account of the CPA's failures never feels heavy-handed"

It adds to growing list of books about the early failures of the Bush Policy in Iraq, and it primarily covers the period from 2003 thru 2005.
It does not focus so much on the war itself, but the Coalition Provisional Authority and life in the Green Zone.

To read it is to become aware of the stupefying level of incompetence, cronyism, corruption, and cultural unawareness, of the personnel under Bremer, and of how Rumsfeld and Cheney, were influencing choices entirely through their own pre-conceived notions, and idealogical rigidities.

I found it to be a book hard to put down, as Rajiv has so many inside stories, it makes intriguing reading. Well worth your time, if you want to know how your tax dollars were wasted and mispent.

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