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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

bremer and some media history

This lead graf to the story reporting on Proconsul Bremer’s upcoming testimony before a House committee contains some good material:

“The last time L. Paul Bremer testified before Congress, he was lauded as an American hero. Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) congratulated Bremer, who was leading the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq, for a "tremendous success." Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) commended his "energy and focus." Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) praised his "brilliant analysis."”

Interesting what you can find going through the old quotes. This is from a Washington Post editorial (probably a Fred Hiatt editorial) from August 17, 2003, about Iraq:
The reality is more mixed. Certainly the U.S. effort is greater than some critics suggest, and the results are less gloomy than you might imagine from the inevitable daily attention to the latest problem. Some of the worst scenarios, widely foretold before the war, have not played out; there have been few revenge killings between Iraqis and little of the kind of communitarian violence that would threaten Iraq's unity. The majority Shiite community, though resentful of America's abandonment in 1991 and suspicious of the occupiers' motives, seems willing at least for the moment to tolerate a U.S. presence. Nor is the absence of negatives the only good news. As the fear of one of the 20th century's most vengeful rulers lifts, many Iraqis are reveling in new freedoms. There has been an explosion of political activity, of debate on campuses, of political parties and newspapers. In many cities, U.S. authorities have helped create local governing bodies that are ethnically mixed and broadly representative; an interim national council is also in place. U.S. service men and women are working heroically, tolerating stifling heat and difficult living conditions and often accomplishing with great patience and sensitivity tasks of municipal administration for which in many cases they had little training.
But that can-do spirit raises questions: Why are combat troops receiving so little help in these jobs? Why are there not more military police and civilian police trainers, more civil administrators, more democracy trainers? Why do the opportunities for communication between Iraqis and American authorities remain so limited? Why are troops stretched so thin in areas where they remain under threat? After an inexcusably hapless beginning, the occupation has gained some traction under the firmer guidance of L. Paul Bremer III. But is he really being given all the resources he could use? Could the United States really not be doing more to get Iraqis back to work, to turn the electricity and the air conditioners back on, to convince ordinary Iraqis that ordinary life will improve?”

Here’s WAPO’s opedist and conduit to Chalabi, Hoagland, September 21,2003 – months after the decision to disband the Iraqi army – giving Bremer the manly pat on the back:

“A man with $20 billion to spend is certain to accumulate a lot of things, including new troubles and determined rivals for control of that fortune. The hot seat that L. Paul Bremer occupies as America's proconsul in Iraq is about to get even hotter.
Bremer of Baghdad has exercised uncontested authority with a toughness and dogmatism needed to surmount the chaotic conditions he found when he arrived in Baghdad in May.
Those qualities won him support even from Iraqis and Americans he had to rebuff; in today's rapidly changing diplomatic and political environment, similar stubbornness could easily undermine Bremer's early successes.”

Those early successes – who can forget them? or, actually – who can remember them? What were they again? Ah, yes, they were all about dispelling the absurd idea that we were in for “revenge killings”, “communitarian violence” and all the other claptrap mouthed by the blame America first crowd.
Here is Krauthammer – a Churchill among columnists, a man whose eloquence has prodded us on in this long long long long war against the forces of evil and Mordred and all the grimy little hobbit killers out there who are out to get President Backbone before he puts Barney in the volcano… uh, I think. Isn’t that how this epic goes? Anyway, here he is, October 3, 2003:

“Garner was the right guy in the wrong place. There were other jobs to do, and Garner could not do them well. This error cost us a month, a crucial month.
His successor, L. Paul Bremer, has done remarkably well. Consider the task he faces. He has had to rule on privatization, the nature of the currency, the establishment of a central bank, the structure of the oil industry. And these are just the economic questions. Daily, he has had to make political, infrastructure, security, religious and ethnic decisions that will profoundly affect Iraq's future. In the United States, any one of these decisions would take months of deliberation, hearings and arguments. Bremer has to make them within hours or days. The re-emergence of life and structure in a country that six months ago had no civil society at all is testimony to his success.
His major mistake was disbanding the army. And even this judgment should be rendered with a bit of humility. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do. In the Middle East, a major obstacle to democracy has always been the military: military power, military autonomy, military coups. Keeping Hussein's army risked the worst possible outcome: a future return to power of a Baathist army. For the long-run health of the new Iraq, it made eminent sense to abolish the army and start over.”

Life was good back then. The privatizations were particularly dear to the Iraqi heart – for decades, the toiling, moiling masses had cried out in their hearts, if only we had deregulation in the agricultural sector! and as for the flat tax, make it at 15 percent, so that liberty and justice will be like dust in the desert wind!
What happened since we all know. The MSM made up a bunch of stories to disguise the outstanding successes that have made Iraq the envy of nations. We look forward to the Hiatt editorial explaining this at some later date.

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