Joseph Robert argues in today’s Washington Post that one of the real failures of the Bush Administration in Iraq has been the failure of civilian agencies and workers to commit to real rebuiding efforts there:
Only one element of the U.S. government — the military — seems to be treating Iraq as “the vital national interest” that President Bush declares it to be. Across Iraq, military personnel are heroically managing local reconstruction and development projects for which they lack the proper training or tools. Meanwhile, back in the Green Zone, hundreds of civilian positions — from the departments of State, Justice, Commerce and Agriculture — go unfilled.
The impact? A Justice system that still doesn’t work, power infrastructure that, in many places, is worse than it was before the war, local governments without basic services. It is gross negliglence for the civilian managers to continuing sending our soliders into harms way when they lack the resolve to do the hard work of nation-building.
One of the recurring memes advanced by conservatives is that the media is refusing to report the good news from Iraq. It would seem that a more complicated analysis is warranted. The federal government just isn’t giving the military the support it needs to make the efforts succeed in the long term. It’s the body armor failure in bureaucracy.
Ultimately, Robert somewhat paradoxically concludes that the US cannot pull out before Iraq is stabilized. It’s just awfully hard to see this inept administration ever having accomplished that, much less now.