Late Edition: Even With 20/20 Hindsight, Bremer Would Do It All Again The Same Way

[media id=4609] [media id=4610] (h/t Heather) Former head of the Iraqi Provisional Government and Neo-Con Apologist L. Paul Bremer comes on Late Ed

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Former head of the Iraqi Provisional Government and Neo-Con Apologist L. Paul Bremer comes on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq to admit, that yes, mistakes were made (and gosh, he had made recommendations that were ignored over assumptions that turned out to be false)...blah blah blah, but even still, he doesn't think they would have done anything differently in retrospect.

BREMER: Well, I respectfully disagree with the senator. I think under the circumstances the president faced and the country faced in 2003 with our intelligence agencies, the agencies of France, Germany, Russia, Israel, Britain all thinking that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and concerned about the possibility that Al Qaida terrorists, Islamic extremists would get their hands on this stuff, I think the decision to go into Iraq was the right one at the time.

BLITZER: You still think it was the right decision?

BREMER: Yes, I do.

BLITZER: Despite everything we now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that any connection between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein was very minimal if there was anything serious there. You still think it was the right thing to do?

BREMER: I do. I think it was the right thing to do, and I think Iraq is on the road now to becoming -- it will take time -- a democratic government in the middle of the Middle East, which is, in itself, quite an accomplishment.

So, I respectfully disagree with the senator. And I think it's not clear -- he makes the argument -- I don't think it's true -- that we are less safe than we were before. I don't think that's true. We have lost almost 4,000 Americans' lives there, and that's a tragic cost that we have had to pay.

Wow. A very tragic price to pay considering we went in for NO REASON, Bremer. And this tired meme that all these other countries agreed with our intelligence continues to be put out without any challenge. OUR OWN weapons inspectors questioned it. The UN questioned it. France and Russia questioned it.


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I posit that this is an auxiliary to the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result): knowing that you have brought forth a tragedy of global and epic proportions, saying that you'd do it again make you not only mentally deranged but unworthy of being given a national platform to spout such insanity again. And Wolf? Maybe a challenge or two to the insanity spewed in front of you might make you seem a little less like a mouthpiece for the White House. Even Chris Wallace manages it occasionally.

Transcripts below the fold:

BLITZER: Welcome back. After almost five years of war and the loss of nearly 4,000 U.S. troops, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said this week Iraq's leaders so far have failed to take full advantage of the reduction in violence that resulted from the so-called military surge in troops.

And there are new reports that show that violence is actually beginning to increase somewhat, as the front line troops start to head home.

So where is the U.S. in Iraq after five years?

Joining us now to discuss this is Ambassador Paul Bremer. He was the director of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq during those crucial years immediately after the invasion, spent a year working there.

Ambassador, thanks for coming back.

BREMER: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: You write, in the New York Times today, on the op-ed page, this. I'll read it to our viewers.

"Prewar planning provided for fewer than half the number of troops that independent studies suggested would be needed in Iraq. And we did not have a plan to provide the most basic function of any government, security for the population."

I would have pushed sooner for a more effective military strategy. Because, from 2004 to the end of 2007, Al Qaida took advantage of this gap.

Those are three important points that you made in that little paragraph right there. Why weren't there enough troops deployed to begin with?

BREMER: Well, you know, Wolf, I think part of the problem, both in terms of the number of troops and the strategy involved, a legitimate concern on the part of the military leaders, particularly the Army, that they would become overstretched -- and, indeed, it put a lot of strain, not only on the regular Army, but, as we have seen, on the National Guard and on the Reserves.

BLITZER: But General Shinseki, who was the chief of -- the Army chief of staff, he wanted more troops. And he was, sort of, rebuked, at the time, by Paul Wolfowitz, among others, for even suggesting the U.S. might need hundreds of thousands, as opposed to 150,000.

BREMER: Well, I had the luxury of being a businessman during the runup to the war.

BREMER: So I don't know what happened all but during the war. I did say before I left for Iraq that independent studies showed we needed perhaps twice as many troops as we actually had at the time.

BLITZER: 300,000.

BREMER: Yeah, or more. And we didn't have them there, and in fact, we never got them. It's really only when the president changed the strategy and put into effect the surge a year ago that we've seen some good news on the violence front.

BLITZER: Second point, you say we did not have a plan to provide the most basic function of any government. There was a plan in place that retired General Jay Garner would go in and start to deal with the civilian infrastructure immediately after the military objectives were achieved. There was a plan. What was the problem?

BREMER: Well, the plan for a reconstruction was based on, as it turned out, false assumptions. We assumed there would be large-scale humanitarian disaster, we assumed Saddam would set fire to the oil wells, we assumed there would be large-scale refugee movements inside the country. None of these things actually happened. So, General Garner, who is a wonderful, patriotic man, found himself in a situation where the planning that had been done before the war was based on assumptions that...

BLITZER: And that's when they sent you in?

BREMER: Well, that's when I arrived. And I found that in fact the situation on the ground was far worse than we thought. The economy was completely devastated, and we had quite a job trying to reconstruct it.

BLITZER: The basic criticism leveled against you is that you took charge instead of letting Iraqis take charge.

BREMER: Well, I've seen that argument. I just don't agree with it. Within 60 days of my arrival, we put in place an interim Iraqi government. I gave them full authority. They appointed the ministers who ran the government for the rest of the time I was there. I never overruled a minister my entire time I was there, though I had the authority to do it.

[snip]

BLITZER: I want you to respond to Barack Obama. He said this on Thursday, looking ahead, if he were president as far as his strategy in Iraq. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The strategy of invading Iraq has been and continues to be a strategic failure of enormous proportions. My conclusion is at a enormous cost of blood and treasure that has also weakened our economy. It hasn't made us more safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. What do you think?

BREMER: Well, I respectfully disagree with the senator. I think under the circumstances the president faced and the country faced in 2003 with our intelligence agencies, the agencies of France, Germany, Russia, Israel, Britain all thinking that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and concerned about the possibility that Al Qaida terrorists, Islamic extremists would get their hands on this stuff, I think the decision to go into Iraq was the right one at the time.

BLITZER: You still think it was the right decision?

BREMER: Yes, I do.

BLITZER: Despite everything we now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that any connection between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein was very minimal if there was anything serious there. You still think it was the right thing to do?

BREMER: I do. I think it was the right thing to do, and I think Iraq is on the road now to becoming -- it will take time -- a democratic government in the middle of the Middle East, which is, in itself, quite an accomplishment.

So, I respectfully disagree with the senator. And I think it's not clear -- he makes the argument -- I don't think it's true -- that we are less safe than we were before. I don't think that's true. We have lost almost 4,000 Americans' lives there, and that's a tragic cost that we have had to pay.

BLITZER: Ambassador Bremer, thanks for coming in.

BREMER: Good to be with you.

About Nicole Belle

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Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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