Skip to comments.No Smoking in the Green Zone
Posted on 09/19/2006 6:31:35 AM PDT by SheLion
There have been a bunch of books about the mistakes made after the American invasion of Baghdad, George Packer's Assassin's Gate and Thomas Ricks' Fiasco being the two best in my opinion.
Yesterday, the Washington Post published an excerpt from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's effort. He was their bureau chief there for a few years and his book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone, will be released tomorrow.
I haven't read the book, but the excerpt is as damning as anything could be. It outlines how people were recruited to serve in the Coalition Provisional Authority, the group that ran Iraq right after the invasion. Instead of qualifications in Arabic or post-conflict experience or anything, Chandrasekaran reports that the key item on anyone's resume was ties to the Republican Party.
One little bit in the piece explains something that baffled me at the time. Here's the quote about James K. Haveman Jr., who was put in charge of Iraq's health care system:
Haveman arrived in Iraq with his own priorities. He liked to talk about the number of hospitals that had reopened since the war and the pay raises that had been given to doctors instead of the still-decrepit conditions inside the hospitals or the fact that many physicians were leaving for safer, better paying jobs outside Iraq. He approached problems the way a health care administrator in America would: He focused on preventive measures to reduce the need for hospital treatment.
He urged the Health Ministry to mount an anti-smoking campaign, and he assigned an American from the CPA team -- who turned out to be a closet smoker himself -- to lead the public education effort. Several members of Haveman's staff noted wryly that Iraqis faced far greater dangers in their daily lives than tobacco. The CPA's limited resources, they argued, would be better used raising awareness about how to prevent childhood diarrhea and other fatal maladies.
Iraqis smoke. I have no idea what the percentage is countrywide, but the idea of a no-smoking area hasn't really penetrated. The convention center in the Green Zone (where the new Iraqi parliament meets) is one of the ugliest buildings I've ever seen, a massive concrete structure that looks like a fortress. For years after the invasion, the building was a no-smoking zone. Uptight Americans would reprimand everyone who lit up, including Iraqi political leaders. A group of Iraqi politicians and aides would gather and look guiltily around until they hit a crucial number -- maybe 15 or so -- then everyone would light up at once. It was a weird sight. And then some American would tell them to put it out. Now, this is in the building that is the center of the new Iraqi government and the politicians were told by low-level hacks to not smoke. And, of course, the smoking area outside occasionally got hit by mortars.
I am happy to report though, that the new government has now installed ashtrays in the convention center and parliamentarians can now smoke in peace, and maybe try to grapple with some real issues.
"Chandrasekaran reports that the key item on anyone's resume was ties to the Republican Party."
WOW, imagine that, the elected administration that is making the tough choices turns to their internal allies for support! Who woulda thunk it!
NPR = Neurotic Paranoid Radio
I do believe that the US Military no longer allows smoking in Basic Training. I don't smoke, but back then I relied upon those Smoke Breaks to catch my own breath each day, LOL!
Whatever. It's still good news for people who choose to smoke over there.
I have lost track of active duty military now, so I don't know if the trainee's are allowed to smoke now or not.
Cigarettes are still sold in the BX and Commissary's, so if smoking is banned, I wonder how they justify the selling of it?
Profit? Tax Revenue? Same as anywhere else, I'd guess. ;)
I'm not sure anymore what the BX and Commissary's charge today as far as taxes go. When we were buying from the BX and the Commissary, they had a minute surcharge, and no tax. Which made the cigarettes really cheap. Or they were sold for what they were worth, I mean.
When Loring AFB closed up here, we traveled to Bangor Commissary a few times a year. But the state of Maine raised the prices on cigarettes there as well, and hubby said "Well, those trips are over. By the time I spend the money on gas to get there, the cigarettes aren't going to be cheaper at all."
I guess this is the second wave where we send in the Big Government Mommy and Daddy liberals. What next? Mandatory helmets for motercycles and bicycles? No wonder the whole world hates us.
Did I mention anything about smoking?
No, but since that is the theme of this thread, I just figured you were throwing a barb at it.
I don't smoke but I respect other's right to do so. I just can't stand NPR
Monday, September 18, 2006
Imperial Farce [Ramesh Ponnuru]
(Full disclosure note: Jim OBeirne is a friend, as is his wife, my colleague Kate OBeirne.)
Rajiv Chandrasekarans front-pager in yesterdays Washington Post, about how Jim OBeirne allegedly hired Bush loyalists over experts to staff the Iraqi occupation, was a hit piece, pure and simple: thinly sourced, fantastic in parts, and propagandistic. Note, for instance, the photo accompanying the story. It shows two U.S. troops relaxing in a swimming pool in the Green Zone, where, according to the caption, many Coalition Provisional Authority officials spent their days. (In the pool?) This has nothing at all to do with Chandrasekarans thesisOBeirne, even on the reporters account, was in charge of political appointees, not the R&R of troops. But the implication is clear: OBeirne was sending these political appointees to cushy jobs in Iraq. The article is excerpted from a book titled Imperial Life in the Emerald City.
Chandrasekaran repeats some of the innuendo of earlier iterations of the Iraq-cronyism charge, notably the claim that the daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator was tapped to manage Iraqs $13 billion budget, even though she had no background in accounting. Thats a double lie: The woman in question, also a friend of mine, does have a background in accounting, and she wasnt managing the budget.
To get to the main point of the article: OBeirne wasnt in charge of staffing the Coalition Provisional Authority; he didnt have a staff of his own, let alone one that could ask crudely political questions of applicants; he didnt ask anyone he interviewed about his views on Roe v. Wade (a claim that, careful readers will see, Chandrasekaran doesnt quite tie to OBeirne); he was eager to find Arabic speakers; and he has never been deluged with job applicants who opposed the Iraq war and the Bush administration but wanted to serve in a war zone (surprise, surprise). Much of the article recapitulates the well-known rivalry between the State Department and the Pentagon (where OBeirne works), with some extra bitterness added by Fred Smith, a CPA official who was forced out. Great story otherwise!
The bloggers who have decided they believe the Posts accountsome of whom distrust the Post in generaldont know a thing about OBeirne, but are happy to accept the veracity of an account that gibes so well with all of their prejudices. Posted at 11:05 AM
Smoking aside, this is simply a hit piece on the Bush administration and the reconstruction effort in Iraq.
Oh! Ok! I know very little about them. The story caught my eye. :)
You know what? This isn't meant to be political. I have no idea what you just wrote here. I posted this thread about smoking still being allowed in the "Green Zone."
"Hit piece?" How do you figure, metesky?
Like I told Dilbert: I don't know much about this NPR and I sure don't know anything about who Dilbert was quoting. I posted this piece to show that the anti-smokers didn't get their way for forcing a ban on smoking over there.
That is all. I have no personal agenda and no "read between the lines," here. The smoking issue is the sole reason I posted this thread.
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