Wednesday, April 28, 2004
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More tales from the CPA
The Chicago Tribune interviews Northeastern Illinois University accounting professor Yass Alkafaji, and Iraqi émigré who went to Baghdad in January to "serve in the Coalition Provisional Authority as the director of finance for the Ministry of Higher Education." Read the whole interview -- but here are some of his thoughts:
David Adesnik also has some good links on Iraq.
posted by Dan on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM
This and the earlier post on Paul Diamond suggests one of the stories that should get more attention in the mainstream press: the work being done by Americans in Iraq who are not members of the uniformed military.
The military had embedded reporters during the invasion (there are still a few left). There isn't anyone embedded at CPA in Baghdad that I know of; press coverage of Bremer and all the civilians who work for him is much more conventional, and indeed much reporting on CPA is done from Washington.
Now, I come to this subject with the belief that we are asking rather a lot in terms of civil affairs and cultural liaison activities from combat units of the military. One of the remaining embeds, Pamela Constable of the Washington Post, reported yesterday that the Marines around Fallujah had six Arabic translators available to them. Six! So I really wonder whether CPA is giving the uniformed military the support it ought to have, and more generally what all those civilian CPA employees in Baghdad do all day. Thanks to Dan for providing links that begin to throw some light on this subject.posted by: Zathras on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
Agree with Z,
Also - Good 'get' on Question 1, Dan. For what it's worth, I'll pass it on.
It's something we try to stress to Commander's, but it's hard to make stick since treading lightly is a 'second order' self-defense concept. Yass correctly identifies the 'problem' with those of the 1st Order.posted by: Tommy G on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
Where Dr. Alkafaji agrees with the official press releases of the CPA, we thank him for his service.
To the extent that Dr. Alkafaji's takes differ with the official press releases of the CPA, what do you expect? He WASN'T EVEN BORN IN AMERICA.posted by: Viceroy Bremer on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
Seems to me that the person while in the compound was very isolated from real events. How could they not know about the violence and the bombings? It just seems odd that they were there and had no clue. Must be nice to be in a palace watching movies while MArines are dying a few miles away.posted by: Kat on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
"I think [the U.S.] has shown to the rest of the world that we are really ignorant when it comes to dealing with other cultures. We have a great military power, but when it comes to building nations we have no idea. You can see the tension in the clashes between the British and Americans in the palace. The Americans will say `do this or do that' and the British will just be shaking their head. But the British have a much longer history in the Middle East, and they know how to deal with the Arab mentality. They feel very marginalized..."
Yet again we are told how ignorant we are and how the British are so wise and experienced. Let us remember that the British nation-building in Iraq in the '20s was ultimately a failure that we are now having to correct. And the British administration of Palestine: wow, what a great success that has proven to be.
Why is it that only the US is indicted for being ignorant of other cultures? The assumption here is that ONLY the US is ignorant; all the other countries in the world are wise and experienced. But what evidence is there for this? When was the last time Denmark or Costa Rica or New Zealand or Argentina tried their hand at nation building? When have they demonstrated their great wisdom and insight into other cultures?
The great and wise countries of the world are of course free to build some aircraft carrier battle groups and assume the responsibilities of world powers and demonstrate how informed they are of other cultures. But I don't see that happening. Despite their protestations they seem to be quite content with the US being a world power. After all they get the benefits of US power and the opportunity to condemn us without consequences. It's the perfect world for them...posted by: phil on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
Perhaps after having blown two of the greatest empires in history the British finally learned not to say "do this or do that". Or perhaps they no longer have the power to. Either way there is a lesson for us.
"When was the last time Denmark or Costa Rica or New Zealand or Argentina tried their hand at nation building? When have they demonstrated their great wisdom and insight into other cultures?"
When was the last time that those countries meddled in another countries affairs so that they had to try their hand at nation building?posted by: Kiwi Boy on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
> Yet again we are told how ignorant we are and
I am not saying Wolfowitz & co. do not have noble intentions, or that Iraq *would not* be a better place if it embraced secular democracy and capitalism. The problem is our "values" are not quite as universal as these guys think.
posted by: Marcus Lindroos on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
NZ took over the German colony of (Western) Samoa during WWI and made a total hash of it. Far worse than the U.S. did in American Samoa. Lost a huge proportion of the population to the deadly 1918-19 flu, refusing help from the Americans nearby, who took much more effective measures and saved many more lives in American Samoa. NZ PM Clark finally issued a formal apology to Samoa in 2002. More here.
What is the evidence that the British understand the Arab mentality? How does it help them to achieve their aims, if they have any? In the articles I´ve read their advice is essentially "be nicer, you stupid cowboys". It´s all a bit vague, isn´t it?posted by: wf on 04.28.04 at 11:21 AM [permalink]
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