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 Last night Rick Perry confirmed on ABC/Yahoo GOP Presidential debate that he would send troops back into Iraq.

I think the idea we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country [Oh yes, this is what he actually said!] with all the treasure, both in blood and money, we have spent in Iraq because the President wants to kow-tow to his liberal, leftist base and move out those men and women- he could have renegotiated that timeline.”

Well, the best that might be said for this is that it is bold, novel even, and certainly innovative – none of which terms when used by policy wonks, in political speak, are good things.  We can only assume that struggling to regain any sort of foothold or coverage he just blurts out whatever he feels might appeal to a state with deep interests in defence.  It smacks of desperation.

He might have been better advised to read something on the subject from one who knows, so I would like to point Mr Dumb-as-a-mud-wall 1976 towards “We Meant Well: How I helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” where Peter Van Buren, a long term veteran of the Foreign Service, has written on his time as head of the embattled and embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team.  Not that he made any friends in the Foreign Service doing this though.  He was part of the biggest nation-building exercise in history, and his descriptions written in clear style with vinegar dry humour would make a stone weep.  He most famously describes the entire exercise as “past[ing] together feathers year after year, hoping for a duck”.  Money poured anywhere and everywhere, squandered by everyone in charge who ever touched it, with no thought and only the hope that some might do some good along the way.  Pastry making classes for Iraqi widows, chicken processing factories that unpredictably produce no chickens and push bikes for local kids to ride on roads too pock marked by shells to use.  Building an embassy the size of the Vatican state in the middle of a city staffed by thousands, doing God alone knows what.

One could not see any administration willingly going back for a second dose of this!

If you will not check the book, then you could usefully take a look at his blog.

There is only one duck in this story and it’s Rick Perry – he’s easy to spot, he’s the dead one.

Copyright David Macadam 2012

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