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Reconstructing Iraq: Regime Change, Jay Garner, and the ORHA Story
     

Reconstructing Iraq: Regime Change, Jay Garner, and the ORHA Story

by Gordon Rudd
 

When President George W. Bush stood on the decks of the U.S.S. Lincoln in May 2003 and announced the victorious end to major combat operations in Iraq, he did so in front of a huge banner that proclaimed "Mission Accomplished." American forces had successfully removed the regime of Saddam Hussein with "rapid decisive operations"—and yet the United States was

Overview


When President George W. Bush stood on the decks of the U.S.S. Lincoln in May 2003 and announced the victorious end to major combat operations in Iraq, he did so in front of a huge banner that proclaimed "Mission Accomplished." American forces had successfully removed the regime of Saddam Hussein with "rapid decisive operations"—and yet the United States was unprepared to effectively replace that regime. Gordon Rudd's excellent history reveals why in stark detail.

Between the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the creation of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that May, the Allied forces struggled to plug the governance gap created by the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime. Plugging that gap became the job of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Cobbled together with staff from diverse federal agencies and military branches, ORHA was led by Jay Garner, a key figure in assisting Kurdish refugees following Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Garner and ORHA were given mere weeks to stabilize a nation that had come completely apart at the seams. Iraq's infrastructure was in such a shambles-thanks to years of poor maintenance, international sanctions, and massive looting-that the mission was doomed to fail from the start.

Rudd, field historian for ORHA and CPA, offers a critical look at this impossible effort. He shows that, while military planning for the invasion of Iraq had been conducted for over a decade, planning for regime replacement was haphazard at best. The result was an unnecessarily large loss of lives, treasure, time, and American prestige, despite the inspired efforts of Garner and his staff. Based on nearly 300 interviews and time on the ground in Iraq, Rudd's account also provides an unsettling look at the awkward transition from ORHA to CPA, revealing how Ambassador Paul Bremer managed to make things even worse.

Garner here emerges as both heroic and tragic, a charismatic leader of great enthusiasm who took on a task of grand proportions but was poorly served by those who chose him for the mission. As Rudd makes clear, the key lesson of this experience is that regime removal solves nothing without effective regime replacement. That lesson, learned the hard way, serves as a cautionary tale for our engagement in future foreign conflicts.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In May 2003, President George W. Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and proclaimed triumphantly "Mission Accomplished" regarding his invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein mere weeks before. However, as Rudd (strategic studies, U.S. Marine Corps Sch. of Advanced Warfighting), an insider, demonstrates, the United States had misjudged the nature of Iraqi society and the enormity of the task of rebuilding the country and transforming it into a stable region. Rudd provides a detailed account of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), set up in April 2003 for the transition, and its leader Jay Garner, a retired army lieutenant general charged with managing the immediate post-Saddam regime. Rudd, who joined ORHA as field historian at Garner's invitation, demonstrates the enormity of the task of reckoning with postconflict Iraq. Garner's tenure was brief: Rudd documents Garner's falling out with the Bush administration and what Rudd considers the disastrous steps taken by the successor Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), led by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer. VERDICT Although Rudd is a Garner insider, his book does not offer many revelations. The author praises Garner but comes across as evenhanded. Readable and accessible, this is a good choice for general readers interested in our recent involvement in Iraq and for academic libraries collecting comprehensively.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile
From the Publisher

“Rudd’s authoritative account held my interest all the way through. It is a detailed, convincing, and finally infuriating dissection of a major policy disaster.”—James Fallows, author of Blind into Baghdad: America’s War in Iraq “A devastating account of the haphazard preparation for the liberation and occupation of Iraq that should be required reading in America’s war colleges. . . . We ignore Rudd’s lessons at our peril.”—Peter Mansoor, author of Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander’s War in Iraq “A must read, packed with insights and anecdotes, conflicts and controversy.”—James Dobbins, coauthor of Occupying Iraq: A History of the Coalition Provisional Authority

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700617791
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
03/08/2011
Series:
Modern War Studies Series
Pages:
478
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

Gordon W. Rudd is professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting and author of Humanitarian Intervention: Assisting the Iraqi Kurds in Operation PROVIDE COMFORT 1991.

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