iraq chaos 'born in washington'

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    Iraq’s stubborn guerrilla war, electrical blackouts, looting and chaos were born in Washington — as US officials missed cues and battled over ideology, a report published yesterday said.

    “What do we mean by ‘regime change,’ anyway?” military commander Tommy Franks asked Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — in the midst of the war, according to the recent issue of Newsweek.. Franks and most of the Pentagon were focused on winning the war, which they did. But, the newsweekly said, the occupation was a second thought. One example is the Coalition Provisional Authority. “CPA stands for the Condescending and Patronizing Americans,” a Baghdad diplomat told Newsweek.

    “So there they are, sitting in their palace: 800 people, 17 of whom speak Arabic. One is an expert on Iraq.” What happened to the Iraq experts? According to Newsweek, Rumsfeld ordered 16 of the 20 Pentagon staffers picked to go to Baghdad be cut because they were “Arab apologists,” had positive opinions of the United Nations or other opinions not acceptable to the neo-conservatives running the US government. Rumsfeld’s interference “got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion,” a member of the original team said.

    Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is outside the neo-con circle reportedly told Rumsfeld: “I can take hostages, too,” Newsweek said.

    “How hard do you want to play this thing?”

    Powell lost, Newsweek said. His number-two, Richard Armitage, gave at least a partial explanation for difficulties he had with Pentagon officials: spies. “Bats,” Newsweek reported Armitage as saying. “Because they hang upside down all day, with their wings over their eyes, pretending they don’t see anything. But at night, they spread their wings and fly off to whisper, whisper, whisper.”

    If those lines of communication worked well, others did not. White House staffers, especially national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, did not raise their objections to the postwar end game as they might have, Newsweek said.

    While Pentagon officials derided the United Nations, the State Department was getting information from UN officials on the conditions of the infrastructure, especially the power grid, whose dilapidation took the Pentagon by surprise, the New York weekly said.

    “We have until Ramadan to turn it around,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s emissary to the region, John Sawyers, told US officials. “After that it will be too late.” The Muslim month of prayer and fasting begins October 27. —AFP
 
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