Friday, January 04, 2008

08.01 Imperial Life In The Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Imperial Life In The Emerald City (2006) by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Trade, Vintage, 364p.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is the National Editor for the Washington Post and former bureau chief for the Post in Baghdad. His new book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is a scathing portrayal of early period of occupation in Iraq and the bungled implementation of authority by the US based out of the Green Zone.

Following the invasion of Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was set up by the United States to serve as a transitional government. The CPA was installed in the Green Zone, a huge enclave surrounded by blast walls and razor wire. Now you would think that world class experts in their respective fields would be brought in to help restore the bombed and looted ministries. Education, law enforcement, hospitals, etc were all instead headed up by neophyte uber-Republicans whose only qualifications were some sycophantic connection with the Bush administration.

For example, when "America's Police Chief" Bernard Kerik, is recruited to increase security and train Iraqi police, he finds himself sharing an office with Iraqi judges:

"Bob, who are these people?" Kerik asks.... "Who the fuck are these people?"

"Oh, those are Iraqis," Gifford replied.

"What the fuck are they doing here?"

"Bernie, that's the reason we're here."

The book presents a scathing series of missteps by the CPA headed by L. Paul Bremer. Many of the revelations are nothing new however it is revealing to see them presented so clearly and in the context of looking back nearly 5 years since the CPA handed over nominal authority to the Iraqis. A good read.


Olman Feelyus said...

I'm worried about you hanging out too much with those upper class east coast liberals. This is exactly the kind of book that would make them feel happy seeing it in your hands. Stay the course!

Doc Holaday said...

I have been tempted by this one before. My impression has always been, though, that Starship Troopers and Ender's Game (two fantastic reads) are the same, but better.

Flawed as it sometimes can be, I love golden age sci-fi.