Review: We Meant Well – How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People

6 Star Top 10%, America (Founders, Current Situation), Budget Process & Politics, Civil Affairs, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Diplomacy, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Humanitarian Assistance, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Iraq, Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction
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Peter Van Buren

5.0 out of 5 stars 5.0 out of 5 stars Six Stars & Beyond–Open Heart Surgury on a Corrupt Ignorant Government,September 29, 2011

FINAL REVIEW

The author himself begins the book with a reference to Dispatches (Everyman’s Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) followed by Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition, to which I would add A Rumor of War. This is a great book, an important book, and I salute the Department of State people with integrity that approved it for publication, while scorning the seventh floor craven autocrats that have bullied the author for telling the truth. This book is the real deal, and I have multiple notes along the lines of gifted writing, humble *and* erudite, quiet humor, ample factual detail, gonzo-gifted prose, an eye for compelling detail, *absorbing,* a catalog of absurdities and how not to occupy a country.

Late in my notes I write “Reality so rich it stuns. A time capsule, priceless deep insights into occupation at its worst.”

And also write down an alternative subtitle: “The Zen of Government Idiocy Squared.”

This is a book, from a single vantage point, of the specifics of “pervasive waste and inefficiency, mistaken judments, flawed policies, and structural weakness.” Speaking of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), the author says “We were the ones who famously helped past together feathers year after year, hoping for a duck.”

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