Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rice: We Didn’t Know How Bad Iraq’s Infrastructure Was Because Baghdad Looked So Modern

One of the major problems for the United States before the invasion was the complete lack of knowledge the administration had about Iraq. This was summed up perfectly in an interview with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on NBC’s Meet The Press on September 28, 2003. She said the U.S. didn’t know about the devastation of Iraq’s society because Baghdad looked so good. She told Tim Russert, “We did not have perfect foresight into what we were going to find in Iraq. The fact of the matter is that this deteriorated infrastructure, one that was completely covered and covered over by the gleaming picture of Baghdad that made it look like a first-world city.” It seems that Rice looked towards TV and pictures as her main source of information on Iraq, because there were several studies done beforehand by think tanks and experts on the problems with Iraq’s services and infrastructure, and the United Nations had a wealth of information as well. In December 2002 for example, the Council on Foreign Relations and the James Baker Institute at Rice University estimated that it would cost $20 billion to restore Iraq’s power system to its 1990s level, and $30-$40 billion to restore the oil industry. A 2002 U.N. report said that Iraq’s electrical network wasn’t meeting demand because of a lack of spare parts and maintenance. A military war college professor also briefed administration officials on the power system saying that it was likely to fall apart even if it wasn’t attacked during the war. None of this was considered because the White House believed in a best-case scenario for post-war Iraq where its ministries and services would all be up and running the day after the war ended. $24.42 billion later in U.S. reconstruction funds and Iraq’s services are still a mess.

SOURCES

Elliott, Michael, “So, What Went Wrong?” Time, 10/6/03

Fineman, Mark, Wright, Robin, and McManus, Doyle, “Preparing for War, Stumbling to Peace,” Los Angeles Times, 7/18/03

Meet The Press, “Transcript for Sep. 28 GUESTS: Dr. Condoleeza Rice, national security adviser Rep. Dick Gephardt, (D-Mo.), Democratic presidential candidate Tim Russert,” moderator,” NBC News, 9/28/03

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/09

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