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How hard is Iraqi reconstruction?
2003-10-20

This quote from General Garner's FrontLine interview gives me some perspective:
Did you plan for looting?

Well, yes and no. I felt sure there would be looting, but I didn't think the looting would have the impact that it did have. When we went up north in 1991, there was looting up there. The looting up there was going into a building, taking everything, stealing everything in it, taking everything out of it, and that was it. So that when we went up north, we just took the building, put furniture in it, put people back in there.

What happened in Baghdad is not only did they take everything out of the buildings, but then they pulled all the wiring out of the buildings, they pulled all of the plumbing out of the buildings, and they set it on fire. So the buildings were not usable at all. In fact, some of them probably are not structurally sound enough to ever be used -- they'll have to be torn down and rebuilt.

I recommend reading the full interview. It makes it sound as if they weren't prepared for the following reasons:
  • They expected a humanitarian crisis: it never happend. Therefore, they had to move on to the next step (rebuilding) but they weren't ready for that yet.
  • The war was over faster than they expected. They weren't ready yet.
  • They didn't have the contractors ready for the rebuilding, because they couldn't get the appropriations signed. Hard to get the appropriations signed if you haven't gone to war yet. It takes the contractors 30-70 days to get ready and trained after the contracts were signed.
Of course, who knows what the situation is actually like over there, given that our wonderful "news" sources here report nothing but the bad and sensational news. I mean, I read Salam Pax's blog on occassion (until I heard him on NPR (ok, he doesn't have an RSS feed, that's the main reason I don't read it more often. I wish Blogger would hurry up and add that to the free version)) but that's still only part of Baghdad, and Iraq is larger than just Baghdad. But its good to know they have one of the 10 most popular Burger King franchises in the world.


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