THE IRAQI ARMY….I haven’t been very critical of Paul Bremer during the past year because the guy pretty clearly has an impossible job and it seemed best to cut him some slack. And yet, looking back, I wonder if history will decide that his appointment was the turning point in Iraq.
Originally, remember, Jay Garner planned to keep the Iraqi army in place, purging it of its worst Baathist elements and holding on to the rest. It was only when Bremer took over that the decision was made to disband the army, and that decision seems to have been the key mistake that’s prevented us from keeping order in the most volatile areas in Baghdad and elsewhere in the Sunni Triangle. This Washington Post story from last November is a good refresher on this issue if it’s disappeared down your memory banks and you no longer remember what it was all about.
It’s possible, of course, that nothing we could have done would have made a success of Iraq ? and Garner probably had his faults too. But from where I sit, the hasty decision to disband the army seems like it was the one big mistake from which all the others have followed. Just another indication that the Bushies only seem to have two kinds of plans: bad ones and nonexistent ones. There are times when it’s hard to say which is worse.
UPDATE: Lerxst suggests that Bremer really wasn’t at fault for this. Bush was.