I just finished devouring “Imperial Life in the Emerald City“, a fascinating observance of post-invasion Iraq by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who was the bureau editor for The Washington Post in Bagdahd.
It’s hard to find a post-war analysis of any conflict that doesn’t lean towards some bias, especially so soon after the conflict, but Chandrasekaran, who is evidently a fantastic story teller, left you feeling that outside of selection bias, you were left with the real facts of what went on.
The story is at times frustrating, because Chandrasekaran manages to illustrate the bravado with which Republican administration would appoint Republican and Bush supporters into positions of authority in Iraq for which they had no past experience. The ridiculous and wildly corporate mentality with which the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) micromanaged Iraq, but without a real vision, was staggering. Hundreds of millions spent on creating new traffic laws, while people continue to live without water or adequate food distribution, and the disregard for both the culture and the national identity of the country that the CPA was occupying. The stories pile up as the pages flip by.
In the end, I felt most horrible for the Iraqis. Such a rich tribal history, but such a mangled century in their past, it will take a long time to move on from this. In the end, you have to wonder if they need western democracy, or just a leader whom they can trust for now.