Apostates Need Not Apply
The Bush administration sent "the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest" to govern Iraq in the early days ...
The Bush administration sent "the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest" to govern Iraq in the early days after the conclusion of "major combat operations" there. So concludes Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post.
Chandrasekaran has put out yet another book on failures in Iraq. His home paper ran a long excerpt Sunday that is worth reading for those concerned with the question of appointing those who are politically connected as opposed to those with the best qualifications.
According to this account, there were plenty of inexperienced 24-year-olds put in charge of billion-dollar budgets or getting the local stock exchange back on its feet, while those with serious knowledge about postwar reconstruction were kept out if they couldn't give the right answers to questions about their loyalty to President Bush's politics or even their personal views regarding Roe v. Wade.
I haven't seen a rebuttal of Chandrasekaran's portrayal. By way of criticism, though, it's worth noting that the Post is frequently criticized for running prominent excerpts of books by its staff members. I was particularly struck that the paper would run a favorable review of the book on the same day it was being excerpted. Chandrasekaran was also featured yesterday in an online chat on washingtonpost.com, which he partially oversees as an assistant managing editor.
The Bush administration isn't the only institution that plays games of who-you-know, in other words. Still, this account is sobering. Patronage scandals have been much in the news at the state level over the past couple of years, but this stuff is more shocking.