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Bremer Blames Bush, Rumsfeld

Washington (UPI) Jan 16, 2006
Former Coalition Provisional Authority boss L Paul Bremer is now trashing the Bush administration for its mistakes in Iraq, but even his public statements are inconsistent with what he wrote in his new book of memoirs.

In his new book of memoirs, "My Year in Iraq", Bremer is highly critical of decisions made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, especially those concerning U.S. troop levels and the allocation of resources for battling the early Sunni Muslim insurgency.

Bremer reveals in the book a policy conflict between administration officials particularly, Rumsfeld and then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, over the number of troops needed in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad to U.S. forces in spring 2003. He also makes frequent reference to a study by the RAND Corporation that recommended tripling the U.S. troop levels that were sent to Iraq. That recommendation -- which urged troop levels of around 400,000 in Iraq, was also ignored by the administration.

Also in the book, Bremer is not afraid to reveal his frank conversations with President George W. Bush expressing his doubts about U.S. military strategy in Iraq. But his warnings, he wrote, were not heeded. Bremer was also critical of restrictions and regulations dictating procedure for government re-construction contracts.

Almost immediately, Bremer writes, resources were needed to protect U.S. troops from the insurgency but they had to be wrenched away from the unsuccessful efforts to find chemical and biological weapons.

Bremer claims in the book that as early as July 2003, he was aware of the need to "refocus resources" to battle the insurgency. He claims that he recognized the need to protect U.S. troops from insurgent rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attacks over the search for weapons of mass destruction.

Bremer also argues that the failure of coalition forces to crush the insurgency in it's early days was primarily caused by Washington's inattention to his requests for more troops and to prioritize resources away from the search from the non-existent WMDs.

Speaking at the National Press Club Jan. 10, Bremer defended his widely criticized decision to disband the old Iraqi Army of Saddam Hussein. He also took credit for the creation of the current, U.S.-organized and trained new New Iraqi Army.

Bremer claimed the old army had disintegrated during the U.S. drive to Baghdad in March-April 2003 and that therefore there was no effective national force left to disband. He argued that recalling or reconstituting that army of primarily conscripted Shiite soldiers and Sunni officers empowered by Saddam would have been a sure "recipe for civil war."

However, on Jan. 10, he told his National Press Club audience that "80 percent of the total force and 100 percent of officers and NCOs" in the new Iraqi Army of which he was so proud "come from the old forces."

Unlike President Bush, Bremer seemed to have no trouble in saying the words, "I made a mistake." He acknowledged that turning the enforcement of his de-Baathification policy over to a group of Iraqi politicians was a mistake. The group implemented the removal of Baathists much more broadly than Bremer and his office had intended, he claimed.

Bremer expressed frustration in his NPC address with the reluctance of non-U.S., particularly Spanish, forces to maintain "robust rules of engagement" and act offensively against the insurgents.

Bremer was also critical of Iran saying Tehran "played an unhelpful role" in controlling borders and security.

Bremer was of course faced with one of the most difficult tasks in diplomacy. He was tasked with organizing a cohesive, self-governing society in a nation with almost no infrastructure, even less available resources, a worthless currency and an active violent resistance. There appears to be a widespread consensus in both America and Iraq that he failed disastrously. Now, in his book and public appearances, he is trying to defend his record and spread the blame around.

Source: United Press International

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Washington (UPI) Jan 16, 2006
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