In a post a few years back I noted the parallel between Norman Lewis's description of liberated Naples and what was, is, taking place in Iraq. Patrick Cockburn has done the same in The Occupation:
By the time Bremer left Iraq just over a year later there were few, either among the Iraqis or the Americans who dealt with him, who had a good word to say for him. The White House and the Pentagon blamed him for everything, conveniently forgetting they once shared his imperial hubris and misconception that Iraq was a tabula rasa they could reconstruct [write on, surely?] as they wished. Bremer had many faults but they were not without precedent. He may not even have been, as some believed, the worst American proconsul in history. Towards the end of Bremer's tenure in Baghdad I reread Naples '44, the fascinating account by Norman Lewis, then a low-level member of British intelligence, of the US occupation of Naples in World War Two. I wanted to see if American rule in Baghdad sixty years later was uniquely incompetent and corrupt or if American occupations were always like this. Naples sixty years earlier and Baghdad in 2003 were both dangerous cities. Each was inhabited by destitute and desperate people equally willing to work as a gunman or a labourer. The US viceroy in Naples, General Mark Clark, left behind an even murkier reputation than Paul Bremer. On his first night in the city, Clark dined on exotic fish looted from the Naples aquarium and appointed Lucky Luciano, the head of the New York mafia, as his senior security advisor.Alan Whicker was quite scathing about Mark Clark in Whicker's War, accusing him of allowing German forces to slip away while he concerned himself with making a triumphal entrance into Rome.
Probably Luciano knew a lot more about Naples than some of Bremer's American-Iraqi advisors did about Iraq.
We're used to thinking about Iraq as a catastrophe, but an article by Jim Holt in the London Review of Books from 18th October 2007 put forward quite a different interpretation:
Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney’s 2001 energy task force? One can’t know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of ‘executive privilege’. One can’t say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive. But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. [...] The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.The entire article is not very long and well worth reading. I'm no economist or mathematician, so I have to take the figures quoted on trust, though I see that Joseph Stiglitz reckons the cost of the invasion is $3 trillion, not $1 trillion as Holt says. However, the thrust of it is clear enough: the human cost of the invasion, and the consequences for regional and global stability, are considered negligible when set against securing the oil resources and the revenues derived from them. The description of the 'super-bases' I find particularly interesting.