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[casi] Cordesman: "Iraq: Too Uncertain to Call"


CSIS Strategist Anthony H. Cordesman was in Iraq Nov. 1-12, and his report --
"Iraq: Too Uncertain to Call" -- is available here:

Cordesman reports on the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches taken by the
Bush administration, the CPA, and the IGC, including:
• The Political and Economic Forces Driving Uncertainty
• Low Intensity Conflict
• The Efficiency of the CPA and U.S. Political Efforts in Nation Building
  [Cordesman is not flattering, here]
• Transition from the IGC
• The Information Battle for Hearts and Minds
  ["Slogans and platitudes do not win hearts and minds and spinning the
situation to give the most favorable picture is quickly seen as lying by
• The Quality and Impact of the U.S. and International Aid Effort

Concerning aid efforts, Cordesman is again critical of US efforts.  His
recommendations include the following:

<begin excerpt>
--Bring in as many people with actual area expertise as possible, and
“internationalize” as much of the effort in terms of non-US expertise as soon as
possible. Integrate Iraqis fully into the planning, project selection, and
contract award process. Shift from US to Iraqi contracting and project standards
as soon as possible.
--Open up every aspect of the aid effort to Iraqis with full, near real time
transparency, and create Iraqi teams to publicly evaluate contract performance.
--Publicly crucify the first major US contractor foolish enough to non-perform
as an international example to the others.
--Understand that oil revenues are the key to power in Iraq and the success of
the future Iraqi government. ...
--Allow for the fact no one can really survey the needs and costs of the
petroleum sector at this point, predict the impact of sabotage and combat
conditions. or predict near term revenues. Be adaptive, be prepared for things
to go wrong, and do not count on near term oil reserves.
--Do make it clear that the US will seek to create an Iraqi constitution that
ensures revenues will be shared with some equity.
--Look beyond the aid often to Iraq’s overall financial position. Do not forget
the whole aid issue will be moot if Iraqi is left with a Weimar Republic-like
heritage of debt and reparations payments.
<end excerpt>

Btw, this post is made in the hope there's no replay of the recent over-wrought
reaction to Cordesman.  Suffice it so say, Cordesman's boneheaded draft document
that acquiesced in 'excessive force' is dissected here
( and here

Note that Alex Cockburn used Counterpunch to plug a later Cordesman memo,
"Planning for a Self-Inflicted Wound" (noted by Gabrield of VoicesUK,  Cordesman's "Self-Inflicted"
(posted by Colin Rowat to CASI) proved one of the more prescient analyses of the

Cordesman also gave us one of the great quotes of the run-up: "Only fools would
bet the lives of other men's sons and daughters on their own arrogance."
Perle's ears should have burst into flame as this aired.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

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