By His Own Rules by Bradley Graham

By His Own Rules by Bradley Graham

Author:Bradley Graham
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: PublicAffairs

Over the next few months, Bremer moved farther away from the idea of arranging for the transitional Iraqi authority that Garner and Khalilzad had pursued and that Rumsfeld and his staff thought was still a main objective. Bush had endorsed the plan for an Iraqi Interim Authority at an NSC meeting shortly before the invasion on March 10. But Bremer contends that by the time he was asked to take the CPA job in late April, fresh doubts had arisen—at least among some top U.S. officials—about trying for a rapid transfer of sovereignty.

While senior Pentagon officials still favored ceding authority early to a small group of Iraqi exiles, State Department and CIA officials were arguing again for a longer-term effort to manage the deep divisions in Iraqi society. Bremer understood from his discussions with Bush and from NSC meetings that the president had tilted toward the take-your-time advocates and had come to favor a longer-term process to build support for democracy in Iraq.

“Sometime after March 10—I’ve been told by various participants it was early April—Bush decided the idea of a short occupation and a quick handover wasn’t going to work,” Bremer said. “But the problem was, I don’t think it was ever documented. No one ever put a piece of paper in front of him and said, ‘Here’s the new guidance,’ and so there was a lot of confusion.”

Rumsfeld himself appeared somewhat ambivalent. Although he believed a sooner transfer was better than a later one, he was not as eager as Wolfowitz, Feith, or some conservatives outside the Pentagon, such as Richard Perle, to see an immediate handover. Rumsfeld’s initial focus was on ensuring U.S. forces were free to root out terrorist elements and locate suspected stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. He worried that establishing a new Iraqi governing entity too soon could interfere with these efforts.

Rumsfeld also anticipated a lengthy new political process ahead in Iraq. In memos in May to the NSC and to Feith, he cautioned that the transition to democracy in Iraq would not happen fast or easily and urged that elections not be rushed. Feith recalls Rumsfeld expressing concern to him about the Iraqis pressing for power before they had expanded their leadership council. Noting reports of a lack of discipline among Iraq’s emerging leaders, Rumsfeld cautioned as well against creating an Iraqi governing entity that might undermine Bremer’s ability to do his job.

Nonetheless, Rumsfeld expected a relatively early turnover of sovereignty to the Iraqis and assumed that Bush’s approval of the plan to establish an Iraqi Interim Authority as soon as possible after liberation remained in force. Bremer, for his part, has pointed to a paper trail indicating that he kept Rumsfeld apprised of the shift in approach and that Rumsfeld raised no objection.

On May 22, for instance, Bremer outlined to Rumsfeld a plan to move first to a constitution and then to elections. Bremer wrote several more memos to Rumsfeld and the Pentagon through the rest of the spring and summer and


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