If the military is the brawn, then the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are the brains behind the occupation of Iraq. According to a White House fact sheet, the PRTs aim to bolster moderates, promote reconciliation, foster economic development, and build provincial capacity. In January, when Bush ramped up reconstruction efforts by increasing the number of PRTs from 10 to 25, he might have been overeager to rely on a program that was, according to Ginger Cruz, deputy special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, already facing staffing problems and a lack of coordination. Foreign service officers are being shipped off to Anbar and other far-flung provinces with little language and cultural training. Is it possible that in spite of the problems plaguing the PRTs, they are making the inroads that Bush promised? Or are the PRTs sinking into the quagmire? Thomas Wise was one of the first diplomats appointed to the civilian teams, and he'll talk about his experiences in the war.
Wed., Sept. 19, 7 p.m.