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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Failure to Communicate

Michael Gordon, author of the book C.O.B.R.A. II covering the planning and execution of the Iraq War, appeared on Charlie Rose on September 4, 2007 to discuss the current sitation and America's choices. Towards the end of his segment, the issue of communication between Paul Bremer and Bush and his Cabinet was discussed and some amazing information divulged.

The new Bush biography written by Robert Draper mentions the fact that Bush thought he set a policy to retain the Iraqi army to help secure the country and the policy of dismantling was not part of the initial planning. Paul Bremer of course has been providing his view of events and stating he wrote to Bush personally and told him he planned on dismantling the Iraqi army and there should have been no surprise.

Gordon stated that Bremer really doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Gordon has personally seen the documents and summaries of the original war plan supported by commanders in the field, supported by the first appointed interim governor Jay Garner and presented to and agreed to by President Bush which explicitly stated Iraqi army forces were to be used for security in the country.

Uh oh.

Bremer is hanging his hat on the following text in his letter to Bush (#1):

I will parallel this step with an even more robust measure dissolving Saddam's military and intelligence structures to emphasize that we mean business. We are seeing signs that the outlawed organizations are behind some of the street violence here.

Gordon points out that the decision to completely dismantle the military itself (not just "intelligence structures" or the "ministry of defense") was actually an "audible" call made by Bremer in those first days of the war when they found vast numbers of the military had gone AWOL and couldn't be found to be reorganized / reconstituted. In essence, after realizing much of the force had vanished anyway, they decided to completely eliminate the entire army as part of their other primary goal of de-Baathification and thereby send a stronger message to Iraqis that all vestiges of Saddam would be eliminated.

Gordon also points out that this decision was made by Bremer and supported by Rumsfeld and others in the strategy department assembled within the Pentagon but was not popular with field commanders and was not shared with Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice or apparently (as we now know) the President of the United States.


The purposeful lack of communication and intra-squad power struggles within the Bush Administration while attempting to plan and conduct a war simply defy belief. Bremer clearly doesn't have a leg to stand on with his story. However, the President and his Cabinet failed in their role as well. With disastrous consequences for the United States.


#1) http://www.nytimes.com/ref/washington/04bremer-text1.html