To: Ambassador Crocker
From Manuel Miranda, Office of Legislative Statecraft
Date: February 5, 2008
Re: Departure Assessment of Embassy Baghdad
Foreign Service and the State Department’s bureaucracy at the helm of America’s number one policy consideration. You are simply not up to the task, and many of you will readily and honestly admit it. I believe that a better job can be done. It is simply that we have brought to Iraq the worst of America – our bureaucrats – and failed to apply, as President Roosevelt once did, the high-caliber leadership class and intellectual talent, whose rallying has defined all of America’s finest hours.
America’s success in Iraq requires pacifying the country and assisting its government to inspire the confidence of Iraq’s people.
… This past year, the State Department and the Embassy has been led by two misguided premises: first, the obsessive aim that the Embassy be turned into a “normal embassy” and, second, that the State Department cannot be faulted for things that the GOI is not doing, i.e. “the Iraqis need to do this themselves.”
… The second mantra, that political success in Iraq depends entirely on Iraqis, amounts to little more than excuse-making by people who cannot imagine alternative paths and who are limited by their own limited experience in government and economic development.
The Foreign Service’s gripping culture of excused inaction is also framed and exacerbated by the paralyzing question of the “buy in” of Iraqi officials in some of the areas in which they most need, and that we can offer, assistance. The obvious reality that nothing can happen without Iraqi support is over-used as an excuse by bureaucrats who simply do not have the ability of conceiving or executing scenarios of institution-building assistance that does not comport with their past experience and over-cautious diplomatic instincts.
Simply put, this fellow explains that our Foreign Service officers are not equipped to pacyify and manage an American colony. They do not even understand that colonization is our goal!
Failure in Iraq is certain if this attitude is widespread among our Foreign Service officers in Iraq. If would not matter if every Foreign Service Officer combined the best characteristics of TE Lawrence, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Metternich. How many Americans would like a several divisions of heavily-armed Islamic warriors over here pacifying us? This guy might be a rocket scientist but, given his apparent lack of diplomatic skills, perhaps he should not criticize the Foreign Service.
Of course, this is not the only neo-colonial noises coming from Americans about Iraq. Kilcullen’s recent presentation had a very colonial sound to it. Even more explicit is the “After Action Report” about Iraq written by Barry R. McCaffrey USA (General, USA, Retired) (18 December 2007). Some excerpts:
There is no functional central Iraqi Government. Incompetence, corruption, factional paranoia, and political gridlock have paralyzed the state. The constitution promotes bureaucratic stagnation and factional strife. The budgetary process cannot provide responsive financial support to the military and the police — nor local government for health, education, governance, reconstruction, and transportation. Mr. Maliki has no political power base and commands no violent militias who have direct allegiance to him personally — making him a non-player in the Iraqi political struggle for dominance in the post-US withdrawal period which looms in front of the Iraqi people.
… US Forces have now unilaterally constituted some 60,000+ armed “Iraqi Concerned Local Citizen Groups” to the consternation of the Maliki Government.
… The US company and battalion commanders now operate as the de facto low-level government of the Iraqi state…schools, health, roads, police, education, governance. The Iraqis tend to defer to US company and battalion commanders based on their respect for their counterparts’ energy, integrity, and the assurance of some level of security. These US combat units have enormous discretion to use CRP Funds to jump start local urban and rural economic and social reconstruction. They are rapidly mentoring and empowering local Iraqi civilian and police leadership.
… There is no clear emerging nation-wide Shia leadership for their 60% of the Iraqi population. It is difficult to separate either Shia or Sunni political factions from Mafia criminal elements– with a primary focus on looting the government financial system and oil wealth of the nation. In many cases neighborhoods are dominated by gangs of armed thugs who loosely legitimize their arbitrary violence by implying allegiance to a higher level militia.
The Iraqi justice system…courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police investigators, jails for pre-trial confinement, prisons for sentences, integrity of public institutions — does not yet exist.
… The dysfunctional central government of Iraq, the warring Shia/Sunni/Kurdish factions, and the unworkable Iraqi constitution will only be put right by the Iraqis in their own time — and in their own way. It is entirely credible that a functioning Iraqi state will slowly emerge from the bottom up…with a small US military and diplomatic presence holding together in loose fashion the central government. The US must also hold at bay Iraq’s neighbors from the desperate mischief they might cause that could lead to all out Civil War with regional involvement.
He describes a colonial operation. The Iraq people can be forgiven for believing that this is our goal considering that…
The Iraq State disintegrated after our invasion, following disbanding of much of the government and military on our orders.
The construction of large, extremely expensive, and very permanent-looking bases in Iraq. Not the sort of investments made by a great power planning a short stay.
Construction of a administrative complex more like Vatican City than an “embassy.”
Our number one priority for the Iraq Parliament: passing legislation making Iraq more friendly to foreign oil companies than (for example) Canada.
This is truly cracked given the consistent failure of colonial ambitions since WWII. It is doomed not only due to the lack of support for this among the Iraq people, but also among the American people.
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- Posts about America’s national defence appartatus
- Posts about Military and strategic theory (note the section about “grand strategy)
Posts on the FM site about the State Department:
- Ready, Aim, “foreign policy” away, 7 March 2008
- Thoughts on fixing America’s national security apparatus, 11 August 2008
- The State Department needs help, stat!, 22 December 2008