John Agresto’s memoir of his service in Iraq as senior advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education came out this week. He’ll join me in the third hour today.
It is a very personal book, full of regret and sober observations on the mistakes made throughout the post-invasion period. There is plenty of blunt talk as well. Example:
We insisted that the Ayatollah Sistani was surely a “moderate” and a friend to civil and religious liberty despite all the hard evidence to the contrary. Let me repeat my previous observations and predictions: The Ayatollah Sistani is an Islamist bent on establishing a theocracy not far removed from that found in Iran. He is an open anti-Semite and a not-too-subtle anti-Christian. he threw his support behind democratic elections because they were the handy vehicles for imposing religious authority all over Iraq. Nor is he the only one, or even the worst, only the most prominent. Yet while I believe the evidence is as clear here as it is in the case of Chalabi, we only see what we want to see,, not what’s visible. In our religious lives, Hope may well be a virtue — but in foreign policy it is more often a sin, a temptation to willful blindness.
Agresto spent ten years as the president f St. John’s College in Santa Fe, and served as a senior appointee for much of the Reagan Adminstration. He ought to be speaking on every show as one of the very few civilians who has lived and worked in post-invasion Iraq.