Global Policy Forum

We Tried to Rebuild Iraq Based on


By Nick Owens

Sunday Mirror
October 28, 2007

"The plan to rebuild Iraq was so vague that those given the job of reconstruction turned to an out-of-date Lonely Planet guide book for help and inspiration." Former American ambassador Barbara Bodine, who was given the job of helping to reconstruct Iraq, said: "It is a great guide book, but it should not be the basis of an occupation." "Ms Bodine was one of 170 officials sent to rebuild Iraq after the UK and US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. "But in a BBC investigation shown tonight, Ms Bodine reveals how the team of diplomats was given no information about how they should go about it. "So they consulted the 1994 Middle East edition of the Lonely Planet for information on the economy, the Government and addresses of important buildings and embassies. "It proved essential when Bodine and her colleagues spent days wandering the Baghdad streets to try to round up politicians to help in the mission of restoring order ..."

And this bit makes ironic reading:

WHAT '94 and 2007 BOOKS SAY...

Visiting Iraq

1994 Iraq is steeped in history. Since the 1950s it has expanded enormously. There are a number of interesting places to visit.

2007 One of the most dangerous places on Earth. Westerners are targets for kidnapping and suicide attacks. This is not a place for a holiday.

On Baghdad

1994 Since the 1950s the city has expanded enormously. Middle-class neighbour-hoods have sprung up. Visit the race track and fast-food restaurants.

2007 The city has fallen on hard times - the response of a nation's anger against another occupation by a foreign power

Hopping on the bus

1994 Iraq has a good road network and there are regular buses between towns and cities.

2007 Much of the road network in Iraq is damaged. Public transport is not safe to use.

Hailing a cab

1994 Shared taxis can be used between towns and cities. Both ordinary and shared cabs are orange and cream in Iraq.

2007 At the time of writing Iraq was not safe for independent travel.

Taking in the sights

1994 Museums in Iraq are excellent. Many are free and are home to numerous interesting items.

2007 Most of the museums have been looted in the aftermath of the 2003 war Museums may or may not be open.

Read before you go

1994 There are many books available offering a fascinating insight into Iraqs ancient sites.

2007 Institute for War and Peace Reporting offers all the latest news from Iraq.

On getting away

1994 Iraqi airways is the main airline. There are international airports at Baghdad and Basra.

2007 The spiralling descent into Baghdad International, necessitated by constant insurgent attacks on aircraft, means that only those who absolutely must fly into Baghdad do so.

The solo traveller

1994 Explorers can find overland routes to Iraq from Jordan and Iran. There is a rail line connecting Baghdad to Mosul and Basra.

2007 You'd be mad to go there.


More Information on Iraq
More Information on Reconstruction of Iraq
More Information on Iraq's Humanitarian Crisis
More Information on Corporate Contracts


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