On April 20, 2003, the NYT, under the headline From Power Grid to Schools, Rebuilding a Broken Nation, reported:
“United States military officials here make the point that the precision of the smart-bombs dropped on Baghdad limited damage to the most important infrastructure, including power and water facilities. Col. Mike Marletto, commanding officer of the 11th Marines regimental combat team, who also coordinates with Iraqis and aid groups here, said Iraqi electrical engineers told him that the damage this time was far less than during the gulf war in 1991, when power and water plants were direct targets for bombing.
''They say this is a piece of cake compared to what they had to do in 1991,'' he said.”
On May 3, 2003, reporting on the appointment of Philip J. Carroll, of Dutch Shell, to “advise” the oil ministry, the Times reported:
“The revival of Iraqi oil production, even partially, is crucial to restoring power and with it, water purification, as power plants here burn oil to generate electricity. That improvement in living conditions would greatly advance the Bush administration's goal of winning over average Iraqis, experts said.
''The most important thing we have to realize is that, apart from security issues, our time is running out,'' said Lawrence J. Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation. ''With electricity and water, we don't have time. We have to get to it right now.'
On June 21, 2003, The NYT’s headline was:
“The electricity system of Iraq, already damaged by the war, is now being torn apart by systematic looting and possibly by sabotage.
Not far from the Bayji power plant in northern Iraq, high-tension cables that run to Baghdad now either hang like spaghetti or have disappeared altogether.”
Near the southern city of Basra, dozens of the biggest electric towers have been toppled in the past few weeks and now look like giraffes with their necks broken.” Interestingly, the day before they had reported that Bremer had promised to “privatize” all Iraqi industry. This is an interesting decision for a non-Iraqi to make, especially as it would immediately benefit the invading nation.
On July 23, 2003, The NYT headline read “U.S. to Outline 60-Day Plan For Iraq Rebuilding Projects.” Apparently, Bremer, multitasking from his main goal, which was to rob Iraq blind for a consortium of American companies –uh, no, I mean to deliver democracy to freedom loving Iraqis, decided to concentrate the beams of his intelligence on the pesky power problem:
“The top American civilian administrator in Iraq is to announce on Wednesday a 60-day plan for that nation, including restoring power to prewar levels, resuming criminal courts, awarding mobile-telephone licenses, and distributing revised textbooks to newly opened schools.”
This was the day after the report on Wolfowitz’s tour of ‘vindication’ in Iraq:
“In the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in south-central Iraq -- despite a tense confrontation between Americans and crowds of Iraqis supporting a young ayatollah in Najaf over the weekend -- American marines have worked closely with tribal and religious leaders to win their trust. At one point, Mr. Wolfowitz gloated that many of the dire predictions of ''uninformed commentators'' and Middle East experts that Shiites would rise up against the American occupation forces have so far not materialized.”
Of course not. Those uninformed commentators would be, of course, astonished at the urban renewal American forces affected in Najaf a year later, as Wolfowitz’s vindication just got deeper and deeper. But that is getting ahead of this little timeline.
On August 16, 2003, with our 60 day plan plugging ahead, and free enterprise in the very air of the country, stirring up the patriotism of Iraqis willing to make any sacrifice to increase the stock values of American companies… er, to show freedom loving people everywhere that freedom loving Iraqis love freedom, John Tierney issued a joshing report, Baghdad on the Blackout: A Path to Enlightenment? He gathered kids say the darndest things quotes from Iraqis advising Americans coping with the heat without a/c on what to do about the electrical situation. Of course, the importance of the situation was that real human beings (Americans) were suffering.
“But even as they smiled at divine justice, Iraqis showed their generous side. To Americans panicked by a few hours without air-conditioning in 90-degree weather, they offered survival strategies coolly developed on 125-degree days.”
Of course, since there were absolutely no mistakes made by the Bush administration, a point often underlined by the man in charge, the electricity must have been restored by the end of September, 03, right? By that time, Bremer should be concentrating his eagle eye on divvying up the oilfields to Exxon and Gulf and other great Iraqi firms, in the quest for freedom, as in free lunches for big businesses, for the freedom loving. But something – don’t call it a mistake, call it treason on the part of the Democratic party – seems to have held up the plan.