Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: A Wreck in Iraq

As I languished this weekend in a cold/flu-induced catatonia, I still managed to get through a book or two as a means of passing the time between sneezes and hacking, lung-expelling coughs. Among the reading materials was Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, his recounting of life in the Green Zone in Iraq during the aftermath of the U.S. invasion and the reign of U.S. viceroy J. Paul Bremer.

I can't really say I enjoyed the book. It's not that Chandrasekaran isn't a good writer or that the tale he tells isn't compelling. It's just that the ongoing recitation of the shocking range of ineptitude became numbing after a very short while. Clearly, it didn't make me feel any better about the U.S. efforts to put Iraq back together again following the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

While Chandrasekaran makes it clear that there were members of Iraqi society ready and willing to work with the U.S. and there were U.S. government employees on the ground making a legitimate attempt to make things better, by and large their efforts was ignored or swallowed up and spit out by the staggering incompetence of those placed in charge by Dubya, Dick "Dark Lord of the Sith" Cheney, and and Don "Freedom is Messy" Rumsfeld. Honestly, they couldn't have fucked things up more if they'd set out to do so.

Of course, there were moments of levity scattered throughout the book, mostly as a result of sarcastic, knowing comments made about the neo-con efforts in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. Among my favorites was the simple poster in the British barracks in the Green Zone:

"Yeehaw is a not a foreign policy."

So true. So very very true.

It's not a book I'll probably ever read again but it was worth plowing through at least once, if only to clarify just how lucky we are that the 8-year desolation known as the Bush Presidency is over.

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