Former ambassador L. Paul Bremer recently spoke at his local library renovation fund raiser in Weathersfield, Vermont.
Frankly, I don’t much think about L.Paul Bremer, former U S Ambassador and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004. Probably hadn’t since noticing in 2005 that he had a summer place in Southern Vermont. I found out this real estate fact when I came across a Washington Post article in the style section titled: From Diplomacy to Demi-Glace, His Classically Inspired Menu Gets Some Touches Acquired in Iraq. Bremer is a foodie too, classically inspired!
He also once managed Henry Kissinger’s international consulting business and was part of a fix-it crew brought in at the “end” of the fighting in Iraq. This bunch, including Condolezza Rice, was advertised as the pragmatic second team who could supposedly clean-up earlier neo-con blunders.
His talk, presented at the Weathersfield Meetinghouse to raise money for the local library renovation fund, was titled: Is America Still An Indispensable Nation? The VNews.com report doesn’t say how big a room it was, but it was said to have been “packed”.
So it seems the event was probably a success and good for the library fund. Happily, during the Q & A Martha Hennessey did stand in the front of the room with a sign reading simply: “Paul Bremer unindicted war criminal.” Thank you Martha.
What'd he say!
What did L.Paul Bremer have to say? Well, in broad terms he claims we need to re-assert US power in the world conflict arena and suggests:
“We went from leading from behind to effectively sitting on the bench,”
The man who disbanded the late Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army rejects the idea that the new Iraqi army was not properly trained and blames Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the recent debacles in facing Islamic insurgents. He also must have misremembered some key recent history when he said:
…the decision of the Obama administration to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2011 directly contributed to the deteriorating security situation in the country today, where insurgents currently control large swaths of territory. “It was a mistake,” Bremer said. “Effectively what it meant is we no longer had people on the ground to do counterterrorist training, to do intelligence collection, to help conduct special ops against targets.”
What Bremer doesn’t bother to recall (and the VNews correspondent, Zach Despart, or sadly his editors, don’t bother to enlighten readers about) is that it was not Obama’s decision. The troop withdrawal agreement that Obama implemented was signed in 2008 by George W. Bush and Nouri Al-Maliki. Certainly Bremer knows and remembers this inconvenient fact. At the time, Mid-East expert Juan Cole said Bush’s agreement was :
The price the Iraqi parliament extracted for allowing the US troops to remain  was an iron-clad guarantee that they would all be out by the end of 2011. Bush and his generals clearly expected, however, that over time Washington would be able to wriggle out of the treaty and would find a way to keep a division or so in Iraq past that deadline.
That is kind of an important detail for such smart man to um…overlook.
This recent history is so quickly being forgotten and intentionally blurred by those in power at the time. It’s worth remembering the human toll and vast amounts of wealth poured into Iraq that were wasted.
At the end of the Iraq war, vast sums of money were made available to the US-led provisional authorities, headed by Paul Bremer, to spend on rebuilding the country. By the time Bremer left the post eight months later, $8.8bn of that money had disappeared. The CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) maintained one fund of nearly $600m cash for which there is no paperwork: $200m of it was kept in a room in one of Saddam's former palaces.
I, for one, would love Bremer explain those reports. Maybe he will another time at another library event.