In a report on the federal history of Iraq's reconstruction to be presented in Feb, "it depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure." As I've said before, we have helped rebuild one of the most transparently corrupt governments and called it a democracy, mostly due to lack of planning and incredibly stupid executors of the policy, both civilian and military. It took over five years before General Petraeus came upon the winning strategy of bribing our enemies not to attack us and give up their extremist ways. There are incredibly brave young men and women risking themselves in situations that will adversely effect them for the rest of their lives, and instead of giving them something tangible that they can be proud of, we leave a legacy of torture and an infrastructure more dishonest and fractured than when Saddam Hussein ruled.
From Afghanistan, Sarah Chayes writes that we are not giving the citizens much of a choice either, a repressive, extremist force in the Taliban, or a government that treats them like dirt to be kicked and ignored while bleeding away all aid money from the UN allies. " The hopes expressed by every Afghan I have encountered -- to be ruled by a responsive and respectful government run by educated people -- have been dashed. Now, Afghans are suffering so acutely that they hardly feel the difference between Taliban depredations and those of their own government. "We're like a man trying to stand on two watermelons," one of the women in my cooperative complains. "The Taliban shake us down at night, and the government shakes us down in the daytime." Mostly people want a chance to live their lives with dignity and respect, and if you provide a government that treats them accordingly, you will have won their hearts and minds.