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by Larry Diamond

Download Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq ePub
  • ISBN 0805078681
  • ISBN13 978-0805078688
  • Language English
  • Author Larry Diamond
  • Publisher Times Books; First edition (June 14, 2005)
  • Pages 384
  • Formats mobi rtf azw lit
  • Category Different
  • Subcategory Humanities
  • Size ePub 1122 kb
  • Size Fb2 1932 kb
  • Rating: 4.8
  • Votes: 175

America's leading expert on democracy delivers the first insider's account of the U.S. occupation of Iraq-a sobering and critical assessment of America's effort to implant democracy In the fall of 2003, Stanford professor Larry Diamond received a call from Condoleezza Rice, asking if he would spend several months in Baghdad as an adviser to the the American occupation authorities. Diamond had not been a supporter of the war in Iraq, but he felt that the task of building a viable democracy was a worthy goal now that Saddam Hussein's regime had been overthrown. He also thought he could do some good by putting his academic expertise to work in the real world. So in January 2004 he went to Iraq, and the next three months proved to be more of an education than he bargained for.Diamond found himself part of one of the most audacious undertakings of our time. In Squandered Victory he shows how the American effort to establish democracy in Iraq was hampered not only by insurgents and terrorists but also by a long chain of miscalculations, missed opportunities, and acts of ideological blindness that helped assure that the transition to independence would be neither peaceful nor entirely democratic. He brings us inside the Green Zone, into a world where ideals were often trumped by power politics and where U.S. officials routinely issued edicts that later had to be squared (at great cost) with Iraqi realities. His provocative and vivid account makes clear that Iraq-and by extension, the United States-will spend many years climbing its way out of the hole that was dug during the fourteen months of the American occupation.

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Larry Diamond’s ‘Squandered Victory’, portraying his take on the war in Iraq, and while I was taking a moment to reflect . Given the poor after war planning and the inherent religious and cultural fissures in Iraq itself, this is debatable. Nonetheless, a good addition to one's Iraq library.

Larry Diamond’s ‘Squandered Victory’, portraying his take on the war in Iraq, and while I was taking a moment to reflect on what I had learned from reading his experience, I found, quite by coincidence, that I can draw similar lessons from the two other recently finished reads.

Squandered Victory book. Chilling-and often scathing-detail.

His book Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq, published in 2005, was one of the first public critical analyses of America's post-invasion of Iraq strategy. Despite the surge of democracy throughout the world up until the 1990s, Diamond believes democracy must improve where it already exists before it can spread to other countries.

In Squandered Victory he shows how the American effort to establish democracy in Iraq was . So in January 2004 he went to Iraq, and the next three months proved to be more of an education than he bargained for.

In Squandered Victory he shows how the American effort to establish democracy in Iraq was hampered not only by insurgents and terrorists but also by a long chain of miscalculations, missed opportunities, and acts of ideological blindness that helped assure that the transition to independence would be neither peaceful nor entirely democratic. He brings us inside the Green Zone, into a world where ideals were often trumped by power politics and where . officials routinely issued edicts that later had to be squared (at great cost) with Iraqi realities.

The bottom line is this book is on page 290: We never listened to the Iraqi people, or to the figures in the country that they respected

The bottom line is this book is on page 290: We never listened to the Iraqi people, or to the figures in the country that they respected

occupation of Iraq-a sobering and critical assessment of America's effort to implant democracy In the fall of 2003, Stanford professor Larry Diamond received a call from Condoleezza Rice, asking if he would spend several months in Baghdad as an adviser to the the. American occupation authorities.

Today he will be discussing his book, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and .

Today he will be discussing his book, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq. It has been over two years since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and Iraq still remains a country awash in tragedy.

Squandered Victory : The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq

Squandered Victory : The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq. Squandered Victory" is, I submit, a book which will have wide appeal to those who are intellectually interested in America's recent intrusion into Iraq, its justification for that intrusion, and its problem with "building a peace" after defeating the Iraqi military, bringing down Saddam Hussein, and occupying the country.

Talk about Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq


Maldarbaq
Larry Diamond’s ‘Squandered Victory’, portraying his take on the war in Iraq, and while I was taking a moment to reflect on what I had learned from reading his experience, I found, quite by coincidence, that I can draw similar lessons from the two other recently finished reads.

‘The Best and the Brightest’ and the ‘Coldest Winter’, both by David Halberstam, about our involvement in the Vietnam war and in the Korean wars, which I had submerged in the months prior to turning the pages in ‘Squandered Victory’ – they are all about decision makers’ hubris and arrogance and their deficiencies in historic perspectives. In ‘The Best and the Brightest’, an overly confident statistician from Ford, an insolent egoist from Harvard, an un-elected, unassured president, had teamed up in setting up the most dreadful and the most humiliating blunder of American’s foreign conflict in its history. In the ‘Coldest Winter’, another self-aggrandizer egomaniac, Douglas Macarthur, told his soldiers that they’ll be home for the 1950 Xmas before plunging in the coldest, bitterest, carnage that took 35 thousand American lives and close to a million North Koreans and Chinese lives before settling on the same 38th geographic parallel as before the conflict – it gives me the chill with our current administration, lacking, even worse, in historic perspective and their oversized egos, managing the world during the most delicate timing of its political and climatic state, and leading us calamitously forward.
Yadon
Larry Diamond is an internationally recognized expert on the processes, concepts and development of democracies. Thus it made perfect sense for Condoleza Rice to ask him to go into post-war Iraq and assist with the transition of Iraq to a democracy. This book details his experiences in Iraq from which he draws his conclusions about the many errors the United States made in regard to Iraq. The first nine chapters cover his experiences in Iraq. The tenth chapter summarizes the mistakes he thinks were made by the United States. The eleventh and final chapter covers his future predictions as to how Iraq will now evolve and whether democracy is possible under the conditions he observed while serving his nation in Iraq.

There were mistakes made in regard to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The war itself will probably be seen by future generations as the major mistake made, however management of the occupation was a tragedy. There was a plan to quickly win the war but no plan how to secure the peace and maintain the victory. Neo-conservatives had been lead to believe unrealistic scenarios fabricated by Iraqi expatriates such as Ahmed and Salem Chalabi. The US only provided support to the Oil Ministry building in Baghdad and all other buildings were ransacked. The US War College oddly enough had fully predicted much of the chaos that would occur if insufficient troops were used to secure the victory. A major tragedy was that there were not enough quality supplies and materials available to the US servicemen and women post invasion. It was as if no planning what-so-ever had occurred as to how to secure the victory. The lives of these young men and women who died because the $400,000 canvas-top covered Hummers offered no real protection lies at the feet of Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, the Vice President and the President.

Diamond would point out that the lack of post-war planning prior to the invasion would have to rank as one of the greatest mistakes made, one which had many unintended negative consequences for the Iraqi people and for the image of the United States. The neo-conservatives were dismissive of the UN yet needed the UN to offer the US coverage after the invasion. The British were insistent upon a larger role for the UN since it gave the invasion more legitimacy. The US wanted the UN to cover the US in regard to world opinion but never interfere in the occupational decisions.

Another major mistake documented by Diamond is the disbanding of the entire Iraqi army of 700,000 soldiers as well as disbanding the civil infrastructure of teachers, librarians, college professors, civil servants, etc., al of which numbered around 400,000 persons. Thus the very forces that might help hold the country together were disbanded. Diamond indicates that one negative consequence of disbanding the military is that the borders were no longer secure, which allowed terrorists, spies, and other forces that wished to stimulate insurgency ready access to Iraq. Iran took immediate advantage of this major mistake and began to fill the power vacuum by ensuring that Shiite Iraqis sympathetic to and under Iran's influence received funds, weapons, and support to foster insurgency.

A third major mistake was misunderstanding the cultures of Iraqi's major ethnic and religious groups. Diamond reports that young inexperienced Americans with inability to speak Arabic or with no background knowledge of the region were given vast responsibilities which they carried out in insensitive manners, frequently making matters worse rather than better.

This is especially true in regard to Ayatollah Sistani, the leading religious influence and leader of the Shiites. Sistani had the ability to undermine every US effort and yet he was never engaged in a respectful manner and when he was eventually engaged by the US, much harm in relationships had occurred. This is a critical point because whereas the US wished Iraq to become a democracy with federalist attributes to protect the rights and resources of the Kurds, the Shiites recognized that with 60% of the population they could establish a democracy and yet maintain control of the entire country due to their numbers. Thus the Shiites wished for early elections, quick removal of the US, and then domination of the new government. Sistani was key to slowing down this rush to power which could stimulate a civil war and yet since he was never engaged properly he continued to support elections, starting with elections to determine who would write the new constitution. After months of work writing a new temporary constitution with appointed Iraqis, the Shiites walked out and refused to sign. This could have been avoided had Sistani been included more often in a meaningful way. In addition, whereas Iran has a theocracy where laws are reviewed and approved by religious leaders before enactment, Sistani was more liberal in his interpretation of the role of Islam in a democratic society. He was a potential ally. Whereas there are Shiite factions that receive support, funds, training and information from Iran; Sistani has not lined up with these forces and remains an Iraqi nationalists, resistant to undue influence from Iran. Sistani was also highly suspicious of the US efforts to divest the oil interests into private hands as quickly as possible.

A fourth major mistake was the assumption of the neo-conservatives in the highest leadership positions in the Pentagon that the Iraqis would accept us with open arms as liberators and that the movement toward democracy would be speedy. The fostering of the democratic process requires multiple structural supports and cultural precursors. The neo-conservatives continued to have a negative influence on all decisions made after the invasion. They did this by vetting decisions made by the new Iraqi provisional council through Bremmer. Bremmer would negotiate a deal only to have it undermined by the neo-conservatives in Washington.

Many of these mistakes lead to the two front insurgencies that occurred. The rise of al-Sadr and his Mahdi army was a highly negative force, disrupting much of the southern sections of Iraq where the Shiite majority resides. The Mahdi army created makeshift Sharia courts and tried and executed Iraqis for violation of Islamic law. Entire gypsy villages were destroyed due to the conflict between gypsy culture and Islamic law.

The insurgency has many faces and origins now, resulting from multiple nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, and criminal influences. Unfortunately the unemployment of 700,000 soldiers provided ample manpower for the various factions. In addition, poor control of conventional Iraqi weapons meant they quickly fell into the hands of the insurgency, making life much more risky for US armed forces. Further incompetence lead to US funded weapons for police services also being diverted to the various insurgencies.

Diamond and his colleagues worked hard to educate the people of Iraq about Federalism, a political conception that would allow for the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds to move toward democracy, form a central government, share power and resources, and maintain minority rights. They worked hard to create a transitional government and transitional constitution that would guide the way toward democracy. Yet they lacked resources. Not only did they need hard cars to travel safely around the country, there were insufficient educational and media campaign resources and materials. The democracy education process was vastly under resourced, as were resources needed just for personal safety of US citizens working in Iraq.

Diamond, upon leaving Iraq, writes Condoleza Rice a detailed assessment outlining his fear of the high potential for civil war in Iraq. There were pitfalls in holding elections too soon and pitfalls in holding them too late.

What does the future hold? Diamond pointed out that tremendous resources were being used to build military bases in Iraq. The case seems clear that the US sees that it must be in Iraq for an additional ten to twenty years to ensure a stable Iraq that can counter the force and influence of Iran. These bases help protect and support our four major clients in the region: Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Diamond suggests that the US consider allowing an agency such as USAID to specialize in post conflict reconstruction. He suggests that Sistani was correct that local elections for mayors should have begun early so as to build the capacity to understand democracy at a local level and then move to regional and then national levels. Diamond's final chapter would indicate that the forces toward democracy are many and sometimes they seem counter-intuitive. Despite the mistakes there is still hope.
Agrainel
Larry Diamond's Squandered Victory is interesting but also somewhat disappointing.

Diamond was among those Americans who went to Iraq after the invasion to try to support democratization. One of the sadder aspects of this book is the author's confidence that his forays into the Iraqi community to lead discussions on democracy had any chance of success. As one reads the volume, the optimism seems to have been misplaced (especially given our knowledge of what has happened over time) that it leads me to think of the author as somewhat naive (believing that meetings with small groups of Iraqis could make much of a difference, based on the larger context in Iraq; and I am familiar with and respect his other work on democracy).

Nonetheless, there are useful insights in this volume. On a number of occasions, he notes the likelihood that the key figures in the Administration's Iraqi policy group were caught up in "groupthink," where they lost their ability to be self-critical. On page 205, he observes that "But by now I had become accustomed to this kind of internal spin and groupthink." A similar reflection occurs on page 291.

Poignant was Condoleezza Rice's alleged nonresponse to his feedback to her on his assignment. This was his attempt to pass on to her the lessons that he saw as a result of his experiences in Iraq.

All in all, another volume on Iraq that helps to provide context; it adds a useful component to the full set of books on Iraq. The title, "Squandered Victory," however, suggests that the American adventure was winnable from the get go. Given the poor after war planning and the inherent religious and cultural fissures in Iraq itself, this is debatable. Nonetheless, a good addition to one's Iraq library. . . .
Goltikree
The inside, unbiased review of the disaster happening now in Iraq. Too bad our President doesn't like to read