December 07, 2003

HERE'S AN INTERESTING WASHINGTON POST PIECE on how things are going in Iraq, consisting of email from commanders there. In general, they seem to think that things are going pretty well, but here's one problem that needs attending to, fast:

During July and August, we were able to out-spend the FRL [former regime loyalists] and foreigners in most of the theater -- more particularly in the 101st AO [area of operation]. It was simply more economical to work with and for the Americans because we were disbursing more money into the local economy than Saddam had ever done, and the FRL could not keep up. Additionally, the benefit of the money was all local in the form of infrastructure rebuilt, schools and clinics back into operation or upgraded. The benefits from U.S. occupation during those two months were tangible to the average Iraqi. Why risk getting killed by shooting at Americans when you can work for them or with them and get paid more in the long run? . . .

As the money getting directly into the hands of the commanders dried up in September, the FRL/foreigners were then able to fill that gap with their money and we have witnessed a sharp increase in attacks ever since. . . . Although more money has been approved for Iraq, we have seen none of it out here yet, and the result is increasing disenchantment or indifference with our presence on the part of the average Iraqi. If we are not able to improve their daily existence as we were back in July and August, then we have become an occupation force. The money that is available is kept in Baghdad; [there is] a Byzantine process which commanders must navigate to get the funds; and there are all sorts of strings and bureaucracy attached.

It is virtually impossible for me to have the same overwhelming effect I had on the area back in JUL/AUG.

(I think this means that the CERP money hasn't returned as promised. More on this issue here and here.)

Someone in Washington needs to fix this. Now. Who do we write?

UPDATE: Read this piece from StrategyPage on "lessons identified" versus "lessons learned." ("It's easier to identify a lesson than to get an organization to act on it and implement a useful solution.")

And here's a firsthand report of Bush's visit to Iraq, and here's another firsthand report from one of the engineer units in Iraq.

Also don't miss these reports of support for the troops on the home front. Bravo.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more from Rich Galen, who's blogging from Iraq now. He had a bit of a hiatus in posting, and I lost the habit of checking, but he's got quite a few interesting posts, with photos, now.

And, really, how dangerous can it be if a guy can dress like this and not have his lunch money stolen? . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a report from a 75-year-old woman who visited Iraq to see her daughter, who's serving in the military there. Best line: "I had better luck with the men in Iraq than I have at home."