Drezner on staffing the CPA

Dan Drezner looks at one of the roots of failure in Iraq.

Some time ago, Daniel Drezner commented on the “bipartisan piss-offedness” among people who actually know something about foreign and security policy at the sheer amateurishness of the Bush Administration in (among other things) the occupation of Iraq. Yesterday Dan followed up on one of his own earlier posts about the politicization of the hiring process at the Coalition Provisional Authority, which led to the staffing of that crucial agency with people who held the approved views about, e.g., abortion, but didn’t, e.g., speak Arabic or know anything technically relevant to the jobs they were hired to do.

Read Dan’s piece, follow the links, and reflect on the high cost of “strategery,” Mayberry-Machiavelli style. Even when it comes to things we absolutely positively can’t afford to blow, the Bushites will always choose loyalty (to the President, not the country) over competence. (Recall, for example, that the White House version of the Homeland Security operation was staffed the same way; I haven’t seen any follow-up on patronage hiring within DHS.)

Dan Drezner is the sort of person who (once he gets tenure) might easily be considered for senior foreign-policy jobs in Republican administrations. He must know his frankness isn’t doing him any good in career terms. He deserves enormous credit for his courage in saying what others are thinking.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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