Squandered Victory

Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq
By Larry Diamond
© Times Books 2005
For my “Middle Eastern Politics and Diplomacy” class I gave a presentation on Squandered Victory, a book focusing on our failed efforts in Iraq. I was tasked with answering two questions: why did we do so poorly and how could’ve we done better? Below is an outline of those answers. I encourage anyone to read this book if you want not only a look from outside the government at our goings-on with and in Iraq from 2001-2005, but also for Diamond’s stories about his involvement as an academic advisor to the CPA.
I. Why did the US effort in Iraq fail?
1. We invaded in the first place
2. No plan before the war for turning power back over to the people
3. Designated Pentagon as lead agency in postwar reconstruction
a. First time since ww2 that state dep didn’t do transition
b. People chosen to deploy for rebuilding by General Garner were vetoed by the Pentagon as “soft”
c. Arrived with no Arabic speakers
d. Didn’t use exiled Iraqis input
4. Didn’t pay civil servants
5. Created colonial-like occupation
a. Redrew district boudaries
b. Announced we’d be out by August 2003
6. Lack of knowledge of customs
a. Refused to meet with religious leaders
b. Uninterested in Iraqi violence against other Iraqis
7. Formed the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)
a. Gave all power (executive, legislative, judicial) to adminstrator: Ambassador Paul Bremer
b. Made Iraqi got nevervous of occupation
c. Disbanded Iraqi army, banned Baath Party from gov employment
d. Appointed constitutional assembly, ignoring calls for an elected body
e. Refused to consider earlier elections
8. Insist on 180 days to produce and vote a provisional constitution in face of mountains of evidence against.
a. Preferred to preserve the timeline at the cost of governence
9. Constant refusal to engage with Ayatollah Sistani, Shiite religious leader
10. Slow on Washington side
11. Slow to react to Sadr’s Mahdi Army growing strength and attack
a. Dismissed as bandits
II. What would it have taken to succeed?
1. Understand that democracy only occurs in special environments
2. Understand history and political situation
3. Use one of the many transition plans constructed before invasion
4. Follow plans created after occupation
a. Train and assist transitional politics
5. Accept more help from non-US led organizations
6. Trust Iraq to self-govern
7. Put state dept in charge, bringing in experts earlier
8. Did I mention not go in the first place?
9. Insist on strong legislative branch to ensure legitimacy
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